The good: Omega 3 Fatty Acids & Vitamin D
Fish and seafood have unique health benefits that can be difficult to get from other foods. You may have read before that fish have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are dietary unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are fats that are in their liquid form at room temperature (think olive oil and canola oil). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and heart health and can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s Disease.
Fish and seafood also have vitamin D, which is not abundant in many foods. Many people, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, struggle to get enough vitamin D from the sun. Incorporating fish into our diet is a great way to combat this! Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines, have more vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids than fish with less fat.
What about mercury?
While they do have important nutrients, nearly all fish and seafood have varying amounts of mercury. Larger predatory fish (fish that eat other fish) generally have more mercury than smaller fish. It is good to avoid eating high-mercury fish often, but this is more of a concern for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children. For most people, eating low-mercury fish often is not harmful, and eating high mercury fish sparingly is okay, too. The Food and Drug Administration has done some work for us and created a list of fish with the lowest and highest amounts of mercury to guide your choices – see below!
Fish and the environment
Like many foods, fish and seafood have sustainability considerations. The ways fish are harvested in the wild and fish farms have a varying impact on the environment. Some commercial tools can affect the physical environment, and some can catch species unintentionally. Certain seafood types are caught using tools that drag across the bottom of the ocean, like in the photo below. This can damage the seafloor and can displace other bottom-dwelling species. Some methods of catching fish and seafood allow for a more intentional capture, where the likelihood of catching and harming unwanted species is much lower. Explore Fishing and farming methods | Seafood basics to learn more about how different types of fish are caught!
You can also look for specific certifications on your seafood packaging for sustainable options. Here are a few examples:
How much seafood should I eat?
It is recommended to have two servings of fish per week, and these servings should be around 3-4 ounces (the size of your palm). If you are concerned about mercury content, you can choose from the “best” or “good” choices in the table above!
Try these easy recipes for new ways to add seafood to your diet:
Easy Pesto Salmon by A Couple Cooks
One-Pan Seafood Roast by Cassie Best
Shrimp Fajitas by The Modern Proper
Fish and seafood are delicious and beneficial protein sources to add to our diet. Explore types of seafood and sustainable options to find the right way to incorporate fish into your week!
Emma Suzuki, Dietetic Intern
There are many products out there claiming to defy the process of aging or, better yet, reverse the clock. While there is no cure for aging, there are ways to keep your skin strong and healthy. You can start by changing perspective to look at what causes initial signs of aging. I am referring specifically to wrinkles, dark spots, inflammation, and overall dullness. Bioactive compounds found in foods are able to help combat aging through oxidative defense, lowering inflammation, increasing collagen production, and protecting against UV-ray damage.
The damage begins at the cellular level with free radical damage, also known as “oxidative stress,” which is the root cause of many diseases. Therefore, it is no surprise this oxidative damage can also affect our body's biggest organ - our skin! Plants are a great source of antioxidants, which combat this damage. Typically, the more vibrance and color, the greater the benefits.
Bioactive compounds found in foods such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E, phenolic acids, and polyphenols have been shown to have positive impacts on skin health. These compounds play a role in skin health by:
Top 5 Foods to Add to Your Diet for Skin Health:
Blueberries are known for being one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
Blueberries are versatile and can be added to many dishes like yogurt parfaits, salads, or even a blueberry balsamic dressing.
2. Citrus Fruits
Oranges and tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is important for collagen production. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, an antioxidant important for protecting the skin from sun damage.
Have oranges ready on your countertop for a quick snack on the go. It is almost peak season for tomatoes, consider homemade marinara sauce in batches, so you can freeze them and eliminate some prep later in the month.
3. Leafy Greens
Kale is another reputable veggie known for its skin benefits. Kale’s composition includes the antioxidant vitamin K, which is important for cell hydration and overall firmness. Vitamin K may also reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.
Oh, Kale-ya! Try out some homemade Kale chips; they are easy to make and are mild in flavor. Be creative and try different toppings such as red chili flakes, sea salt, nutritional yeast, or even garlic powder.
4. Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes
You drive me nuts but in a good way! Nuts and legumes are not only a good source of plant-based protein, but they also provide a positive skin aesthetic. Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyphenols, and alpha tocopherols (an abundant form of vitamin E found in human tissues). Alpha tocopherols are the only form of Vitamin E that has an active effect on the body. It is involved in forming antioxidants and, therefore, reducing the amount of free radical damage.
Create some trail mix with a combination of your favorite nuts, and include seeds such as pepitas and sunflower seeds. If you are looking for a sweeter flavor profile, toss the nuts and seeds in a bit of honey, sprinkle some cinnamon, and bake in the oven at 350° until lightly toasted. Nuts and seeds are also great toppers for salads, yogurts, and oatmeal.
5. Decaffeinated Green Tea
While the hydration component of green tea is important, the antioxidants are the stars. The flavanols in green tea, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may offer some UV protection, increased elasticity, and overall bounce to your skin.
The bottom line regarding the information on food and skin health is a diet higher in whole foods is known to show significant changes in skin health and aesthetics. The best foods for our skin are those packed with nutrients, vibrance and are plant-based. An abundance of fruits and vegetables will not only benefit your skin but will also support overall health.
Julie Allocco, Dietetic Intern
Fam VW, Charoenwoodhipong P, Sivamani RK, Holt RR, Keen CL, Hackman RM. Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. 2022;122(3):614-629. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2021.10.024
After a long and chilly winter, Washington farmer’s markets are beginning to fill up with fresh, colorful produce! Washington has a variety of local produce, but did you know Washington’s sandy soil is ideal for growing asparagus? Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant species - meaning it can live for more than two years. Their young shoots are the delicious green stalks seen at the grocery store. Asparagus is harvested from late February until June, peaking in the spring months. Asparagus is full of flavor and loaded with vitamin A, folate, and potassium. These nutrients are great for our skin, heart and blood health, and so much more!
Nutrients found in just 4 spears of asparagus:
Protein 1.4 grams
Fat 0 grams
Fiber 1.2 grams
Folate 89 micrograms
Potassium 391 milligrams
Vitamin A 606 IU
Vitamin K 30 micrograms
Asparagus & Skin Health
While asparagus is full of nutrients that nourish the whole body, it is especially beneficial for skin health. After months of dry winter air, you may find your skin needs some extra care. A diet low in antioxidants may prevent new collagen from forming and limit the body’s healing process. With asparagus being rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, it can be a helpful addition to your spring diet to help repair your skin.
Asparagus & Blood Health
An important nutrient for blood health is vitamin K, and asparagus is rich in just that! Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and the healing process. Though this vitamin is fat-soluble and can be stored, the body only keeps a small amount, so it’s good that asparagus is in a large variety of foods. Other sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, and broccoli.
Asparagus & Heart Health
Asparagus is also an excellent source of fiber and potassium, which are great for heart health! A diet high in fiber may improve heart health in many ways, such as reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Here are some tips to make the most of this seasonal vegetable.
Tips to remember at the store:
Tips to remember at home:
Ways to Include Asparagus In Your Diet:
-By itself because why not (baked, grilled, steamed, etc.)
-Toss into your favorite pasta dish
-Bake into a casserole
-Cut spears into halves, then cook into an omelet
-Add small pieces to a stir-fry
-Spice it up! Try this Pickled Asparagus recipe by Marissa Stevens
Wishing you all a nutritious and happy spring!
Violet Lederman, Dietetic Intern
Katie Shepherd, RDN
While it’s still chilly and rainy here in Seattle, we are slowly inching our way into warmer and dryer weather! Soon we will be surrounded by Spring blossoms, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the coveted Pacific Northwest Sunshine. Spring is an exciting time of new growth! With Spring cleaning and the tradition of starting fresh, this is a wonderful time to incorporate more healthy habits into our routine. As the weather warms up, outside activities like biking, kayaking, and hiking are enjoyed by many! Activities like these depend on a strong and healthy heart to keep them going. Below you’ll find out how fats, fiber, and flavor impact our heart health and how to create habits that allow us to enjoy all of our Spring activities with confidence.
Fat in foods helps keep us fuller longer and makes our food satisfying to our taste buds! Fat found in plants typically have a higher proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol numbers and reduce the risk of heart disease. Generally, fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products will have higher amounts of saturated fats. Wild-caught salmon is a great example of a source of omega-3, an unsaturated fat that’s excellent for heart health and, as a bonus, also high in potassium which can help regulate blood pressure.
To limit saturated fats, try some of these tips when cooking:
Increasing Fiber-Rich Foods
When we increase the amount of fiber in our diet, we can lower our risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels - all while increasing the amount of vitamins and minerals we’re getting. Fiber slows down digestion in our gut which prevents blood sugar spikes, offers prolonged satisfaction, and can help reduce eating past fullness and the feeling of discomfort associated with that experience.
To increase your fiber, consider adding more of these foods to your meals:
Our bodies only need a small amount of sodium to function. The general recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for adults is to enjoy 2,300mg or less of salt a day. However, many Americans are consuming amounts way above these recommendations. Consuming high amounts of salt can increase blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. While reducing sodium may seem challenging at first, try slowly incorporating some of the tips below. You may be surprised at how satisfying they can be!
Tips to keep the flavor and reduce salt:
Make It Fun!
Adding heart-healthy habits to our daily eating patterns doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or boring. Start with some tips that feel doable for you and invite some friends to join in! Try having a themed dinner night where you and a couple of friends all bring a dish to share that focuses on fat, fiber, or flavor and see how creative you can get! Sometimes a little healthy competition is just what we need.
Other ideas to immerse yourself in heart-healthy habits:
Friendly Reminder: Prioritizing your heart health doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert!
In fact, dark chocolate contains flavonols that can help with lowering blood pressure. Below are two delicious recipes for when you want something sweet that’s also heart-healthy.
Almond and Apricot Biscotti makes 24 cookies
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons low-fat milk
½ teaspoon almond extract
⅔ cup dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup almonds, chopped
Optional: dark chocolate for melting
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Whisk to combine. Add eggs, milk, oil, honey, and almond extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until it just begins to come together. Using floured hands, add in apricots and almonds until well-blended. Place dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log 13x3 inches and 1 inch high. Invert dough by lifting plastic wrap and placing the top-side face-down onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut on a diagonal into 1” slices. Transfer back onto the baking sheet, cut-side down. Bake for an additional 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Heat chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until completely melted. Drizzle over biscotti and let sit to harden.
(adapted from mayoclinic.com)
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt makes 4 cups
4 cups frozen strawberries
3 Tablespoons honey
½ cup plain Greek zero or low-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Add frozen strawberries, honey, yogurt, and lemon
juice to the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy – about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
(Adapted from www/justataste.com)
Violet Lederman, Dietetic Intern
It’s the depth of winter, which means there’s little color to find in anyone’s garden. The produce section has plenty of fruits and vegetables to pick from, but which are actually in season? If you’re looking for vegetables that are in their prime and wallet-friendly, turn to root vegetables.
Root vegetables are ripe in the fall through spring and most often eaten in the winter as hearty soups and stews, bakes, mashes, and pot pies. Appropriately labeled, root vegetables are found in the ground.
So, what counts as a root vegetable?
There are over a hundred different types of root vegetables worldwide. The most commonly known ones in the United States are the following:
Other root vegetables have made a name for themselves as well, most commonly in the international districts and Asian markets. These include:
Root vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
A 100g serving of carrots or sweet potato packs over 90% of the Recommended Daily Amount of vitamin A! Vitamin A contributes to good vision and supports immune function. Potatoes, turnips, and parsnips are excellent sources of potassium. Potassium helps regulate the heartbeat and keep muscles and nerves functioning properly. Root vegetables are also low calorie, at just 100 calories per cup.
Some root vegetables have interesting origins.
Sweet potatoes and yams were first cultivated in South America and Africa and slowly made their way to the United States with the colonial wave. Taro, an Asian root similar to the potato, may have been cultivated as early as 5000 BCE and predates rice as the main starch in the East Asian and South Asian diet.
Not all root vegetables are the same. In fact, there are many different categories.
Bulbs: Like fennel, shallots, and onions, they have a distinctive layering in their flesh and high water content. Bulbs are essentially underground stems that the plant uses for storage to survive the colder months. They are typically used for flavoring due to their pungent taste and odor, and they have a sweeter flavor and softer texture when cooked.
Corms: Like celery root and water chestnut, corms are very similar to bulbs, but they lack the layered scales that characterize bulbs. Like bulbs, they are also underground plant stems used for nutrient storage during the winter.
Tap Roots: Like beets, carrots, and parsnips, taproots are a swollen central root of a plant that breaks off into smaller, tendril-like roots. They are typically hard when raw and soften when cooked.
Tuberous Roots: Like sweet potatoes and yucca, tuberous roots (tubers for short) are typically the base of the root and part of the stem that can protrude from the ground. They are swollen nodules of the plant’s root system and do not require much digging to be removed from the ground. An excellent example of this is the Casava plant, cultivated in South Asia and used for savory dishes, desserts, even to make reusable bags!
Rhizomes: Like ginger, turmeric, and garlic, rhizomes are typically used for seasoning other foods. Rhizomes, unlike the roots listed above, grow horizontally rather than vertically. They contain antioxidants and become more aromatic when cooked.
Tubers: Like potato and yam, tubers are different from tuberous roots. While tuberous roots are swollen nodules of the plant’s root system, tubers are swollen plant shoots used for vegetative reproduction.
Produce costs vary by season
When in season, root vegetables are budget-friendly. A pound of carrots can cost as little as $0.99, and a pound of beets $1.12. If you’re looking for a nutritious, affordable, and versatile vegetable to add to your dinner plate, root vegetables are the way to go!
Emily Strawn, Dietetic Intern
Winter is here and in full swing! Thanks to weather changes, nutritional needs change from season to season. In the winter, we are constantly switching from cold outdoor temperatures to dry, heated indoor environments, increasing the risk of infection. One of the best ways to sustain a robust, healthy immune system this winter is by maintaining a balanced diet rich in various nutrients and incorporating daily movement. Sticking to a balanced diet won’t prevent you from getting sick necessarily, but a well-supported immune system can help better protect you. So, the question is, what foods will support our immune system and overall health this winter? Here are a few tips to keep in mind during these colder months of the year!
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common and
is associated with:
Food Sources of Vitamin D:
Some examples include:
There are several foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like:
Here are two delicious recipes that are packed with nutrients and perfect for the wintertime ~
Ultimate Winter Salad
Yield: 8 entrée servings or 16 side servings
6 oz. weight shredded kale
½ small lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. weight shredded vegetables (Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots)
2 medium apples, cored & diced
1 ½ cups candied pecans (see note)
4 oz. weight crumbled goat cheese
1 ½ cups roasted delicata squash (see note)
½ cup pomegranate arils
For the Dressing:
½ cup red wine vinegar
4 tsp. whole-grain or Dijon mustard
4 tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Put the shredded kale in a large salad bowl. Add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and olive oil into the greens - about a minute or so. The kale should wilt slightly and deepen in color.
2. Add the other shredded vegetables/greens, chopped apple & candied pecans to the bowl.
3. Make the dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a lidded glass jar or canning jar. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour the dressing over the salad & mix well.
4. Add the crumbled goat cheese, delicata squash, and pomegranate arils to the top. Serve & enjoy!
Nutrition per serving: 330 calories; 27g Fat; 11g Protein; 17g Carbohydrates, 250mg Sodium, 375mg Potassium
Hot Spinach Dip
Yield: 3 cups (24, 2 Tbsp. servings)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained well
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ lemon, juiced
1 (6.5 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained & mashed
½ cup light cream cheese
¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
½ cup grated Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Mix together spinach, bell pepper, garlic, lemon juice, artichokes, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and cheese. Season with pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a 1-quart baking dish. Top with crushed red pepper if desired.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Enjoy with whole-grain crackers, tortilla chips, bread, or your favorite vegetables.
Nutrition per 2 Tbsp. serving: 37 calories; 2g Fat; 2.7g Protein; 2.3g Carbohydrates, 82mg Sodium, 62mg Potassium
Stay healthy & warm this winter!
Companies have mass-marketed mushroom products the past few years, such as powder blends, mushroom complex dietary supplements, and even mushroom lattes. Why this influx of new products? Curious consumers are looking into the wide range of benefits mushrooms provide. Although mushrooms have recently become a trend, fungi themselves have had known benefits for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Egypt, where fungi were believed to provide immortality. Believe it or not, they were not too far off.
-Like plants and animals, fungi have their own kingdom in the classification of living things; mushrooms are just one type of fungi
-There are 14,000 different species of mushrooms
-Only 300 species are edible
-30 species are domesticated
-10 species are commonly grown
Let’s discuss some of the benefits of those obtainable and edible. Mushrooms provide a tremendous amount of nutrients, composed of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The composition of nutrients in mushrooms benefits the immune system, cellular system, and vital organs.
Mushrooms are a rich source of beta-glucans, a soluble fiber found in the cell walls of fungi. These beta-glucans are essential in supporting immune health through their involvement in the activation of white blood cells (WBCs). WBCs are involved in fighting off infections and preventing disease.
Mushrooms have a rich source of dietary antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, selenium, and beta-carotene, all of which reduce the amount of cellular damage caused by free radicals. The inhibition of free radical damage to our bodies decreases our risk for cancer, heart disease, brain disease, etc. Porcini mushrooms contain an abundance of ergothioneine and glutathione, two of the richest antioxidants responsible for anti-aging properties.
As the name suggests, Lion’s Mane is known for its “hair-like” features and its proposed cognitive benefits in supplement form. As mentioned previously, antioxidants play a huge role in anti-aging properties. A 2017 animal study researching the efficacy of Lion’s Mane on cognitive health found improved memory and neuronal function in healthy mice. Lion’s Mane contains two compounds involved in stimulating brain cells and preventing neuronal damage: hericenones and erinacines.
Mushrooms also contain prebiotics, compounds found in foods that provide nutrition for the probiotics found in our guts. The role of prebiotics is to help promote a healthy microbiome, reducing the potential risk for diseases associated with an imbalance of the gut microbiota.
Speak to your healthcare provider before taking any mushroom supplement. These could be made from traditional mushrooms used in culinary dishes, certain medicinal mushrooms, or a mixture. Supplements are sometimes in the form of extracts or powders. It is important to research any product thoroughly before taking them as well.
Brandalise, Federico et al. “Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2017 (2017): 3864340. doi:10.1155/2017/3864340
The holidays only come once a year, so it’s important to find ways to remember every moment. There is one commonality to every holiday that brings us all together, and that’s food! As exciting as bringing our holiday favorites back, it can be stressful for some to think about. Practicing mindfulness over the holidays involves having moment-to-moment awareness. It also involves using your senses to have new observations with foods familiar or new to you. It is a unique practice unlike any healthy eating trend, focusing on reconnecting with food without judgment. Mindful eating allows us to appreciate food and the nourishment it gives our bodies truly. It is effective for an extended period of time, not a short-term goal with “fast results.” There are no food rules and restrictions associated with mindful eating; the goal is to savor the moment and have your own unique experiences.
10 Strategies to practice Mindful Eating:
#1 Be Intentional. Choose your most meaningful holiday meals. Don't feel pressured to choose items you are not desiring.
#2 Get Creative and Consider Alternatives. Try swapping out ingredients with those supporting your health goals.
#3 Remove Distractions. Try to become more present while eating by creating ambiance and removing distractions, i.e., Cellphones, TV, Workload, books, etc.
#4 Stay Hydrated. Remember to stay hydrated during colder months. Consider trying hot tea with lemon, warm milk (with molasses - Yum!), sparkling water, or flavoring your water.
#5 Noticing your Hunger and Fullness. Determine if a pre-meal snack is necessary before a holiday gathering. You never have to "save up" for a holiday meal or party; this may cause you to be overly hungry and eat at a faster pace or past fullness. Eat slowly; it takes about 20 minutes for your hormones to kick in and tell your brain when you have had enough food.
#6 Using your Senses. Before taking your first bite, notice the smells, colors, and food arrangements. When you take your first bite, take it slowly and notice the textures, flavors, and sounds coming from the food.
#7 Have a Strategy. Bring your favorite dish and try using a smaller plate to help your portion sizes and satisfaction factor. Develop a well-balanced plate and look over all your options before choosing.
#8 Add Joyful Movement to Your Holiday Traditions. Plan ahead to try new activities, such as going for a group walk, playing a game of charades, or looking at Christmas lights after dinner.
#9 Manage Stress. Identify the true source of your stress to respond in a way that is helpful to you. Try breathing techniques, get outside, go for a walk, journal, or have a stretch break.
#10 Drop the Food Guilt, Be Present & Practice Gratitude. Remember to enjoy yourself; the holidays only come once a year. Try to be in the moment and cherish them. Acknowledge everyone surrounding you and the meals placed in front of you. Recognize the time it took to prepare for the holidays—practice gratitude with your friends and family.
With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, we have a few ideas to add to your table! We created some side dish recipes for you to share & enjoy this holiday season with good company. These recipes may be new twists to the holiday classics, additions to your favorite dishes, or possibly something new entirely. Thanksgiving Day can be stuffed full of nutrients – so you and your loved ones can enjoy all the benefits.
Our first recipe, CAULIFLOWER MASHED POTATOES, is a new way to prepare traditional garlic mashed potatoes. This dish has a nice nutty flavor and texture and is relatively low in carbohydrates. Cauliflower is known as a superfood due to its numerous health benefits. It’s also one of the few plants that contain Choline, a nutrient vital to metabolism and brain health. Consuming enough Choline in our diet may reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Dementia as well as heart and liver diseases. Other health benefits of cauliflower include:
Gratitude helps us see what is there, instead of what isn’t.
Our next two recipes highlight two nutrient-packed foods.
PUMPKIN & GREEN BEANS - These foods are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which play a vital role in our eye/vision health, immunity, and tissue repair.
Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.
Our last dish is a delicious and easy dessert. Our baked pear recipe is the perfect option if you’re making 1-2 servings, but you can easily serve a crowd with these as well.
Pears are full of potent polyphenol antioxidants, which help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol. The antioxidants are concentrated in the pear’s skin, so aim to eat the whole thing, skin and all! You don’t want to miss out on the heart benefits or the soluble and insoluble fiber that help aid our digestion.
We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we did. And most importantly, we hope you enjoy this holiday season – may your heart be full of gratitude and your belly full of fabulous foods!
-Paige Johnson, Dietetic Intern
The tiny Blue Zone island of Ikaria, Greece, is known as a place where people forget to die. Blue Zones are areas around the world where people tend to have longer life expectancies and lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Ikaria is one of only five total Blue Zones, which begs the question, what are these islanders doing (besides losing track of time) to live to 100?
The Mediterranean Diet
The people of Ikaria, Greece, eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This diet includes fresh, nutrient-rich, whole foods that may reduce inflammation in the body. The diet also contains a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats such as omega-3s.
It is known that this type of diet can help prevent heart disease and stroke and lower risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid outlines the defining characteristics of the diet as follows:
The Ikarian diet especially emphasizes legumes, wild greens, potatoes, goat milk, honey, some fruit, and small amounts of fish. This plant-based diet focuses on local produce and appears to be a key to longevity. With more than 150 varieties of wild greens all over the island, there is plenty for the picking.
The Mediterranean is more than a Diet- it’s a Lifestyle
Residents of the island who live in the highlands and spend time doing yard work or tending to their gardens are among those who live the longest.
The Trick to Longevity
The people of Ikaria don’t only embrace a diet filled with nutrient-rich foods and healthy fats. They also enjoy a relaxed pace of life and the simple pleasures life has to offer. By incorporating physical activity into their daily lives and maintaining strong social bonds, these islanders can ignore their clocks and push past the bounds of time.
Let’s Get Cooking
Now let’s put some of these Mediterranean-style recipes to the test. Here are two recipes we tested in the kitchen authentic to the Blue Zone Ikaria, Greece.
Tomato Pasta Soup
Makes 10 servings. The following recipes have been taken and adapted from the Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 recipes to live to 100.
2 cups water
4 cups vegetable broth
1 - 15-ounce can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes (or equivalent ~2 cups fresh)
1 cup roasted tomato sauce, fresh or store bought
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound orzo or similar short cut pasta
Optional salt and pepper, to taste
Bring water and vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, olive oil, and orzo. Stir to combine. Lower heat to bring soup to a simmer. Cook until broth is thickened and pasta is cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally so orzo does not stick to bottom. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition per serving: 223 calories, 4g fat, 7g protein, 42g carbs, 3g fiber, 423mg sodium
Winter Potato Salad
Makes 6 servings
8 cups water
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (Yukon gold or red potatoes work best)
½ cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 to 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups arugula (chopped)
2 cups spinach (chopped)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small head green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped
Optional salt and pepper
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add potatoes and cook uncovered until tender, they’re ready when pierced easily with a fork, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool. In a small bowl, combine dill, olive oil, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. In a serving bowl combine together the dressing and the potatoes. Add mixed greens and onion to serving bowl and toss to combine.
Nutrition per serving: 313 calories, 19g fat, 4g protein, 34g carbs, 5g fiber, 25mg sodium
Hope you enjoy!
Rachel Brennen, Dietetic Intern
Eating to Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From the Blue Zones (2015),
Ikaria, Greece https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/ikaria-greece/
What is the Mediterranean Diet? (2020) https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet
8 Defining Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet (2016) https://www.eatrightpro.org/news-center/nutrition-trends/health-promotion/8-defining-characteristics-of-the-mediterranean-diet
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!