When I was thinking about which vegetable to highlight, as we are leaving the winter season, I thought of the sorely-misunderstood and poorly cooked Brussels sprouts. They are one of my family’s absolute favorite foods – I’m on the third batch in as many weeks - but most folks treat them badly and I wouldn’t like them cooked that way, either!
Brussels sprouts are in the same cruciferous vegetable family as some of the other vegetables I’ve written about: turnip, rutabaga, & kohlrabi. As well as other, more commonly-eaten vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. While a Brussels sprout bud has the many layers like cabbage does, Brussels sprouts buds grow on a stalk and cabbage is a large head that has its own root.
You will usually find Brussels sprouts year-round in the grocery store, but they are most abundant in the winter months - think of those large, fresh stalks you can find during the holidays. Those stalks are cheaper, due to less labor to harvest, and they stay fresher longer. Brussels sprouts, in their present form, were cultivated in Belgium, which is where their name originated from. Brussels is the capital of Belgium, so remember the capital “B” and the “s” in the name when you talk about these delicious vegetables!
What do Brussels sprouts taste like?
How do you cook Brussels sprouts?
Most folks boil them, sliced in half or whole. Because the buds are round (or half-rounds), some sections are over-cooked and other parts are raw. Consider trying a different cooking method next time you prepare Brussels sprouts!
If you do boil or steam your Brussels sprouts, it is vital that you cook them until just bright green. They will continue to cook from residual heat. It’s also important that you slice them the same size so they will cook at the same rate.
You can also roast them to bring out their sweet, nutty flavor. Coat them with oil, salt, and pepper first. Click here for more detailed preparation options.
How nutritious are Brussels sprouts?
Brussels sprouts are low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are also a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, folate, manganese and vitamin B6 (1). Studies show that cruciferous vegetables play a key role in cancer-fighting (eaten raw; 2), among other health claims. Click here to read more about their “super food” capabilities.
Below is my family’s favorite recipe. For many years, we ate the Brussels sprouts thinly sliced, by hand or by food processor. Recently, I accidentally chose the wrong slicing disc for the food processor and ended up shredding them like cheese! We are totally in love with this new texture and how quickly they cook. Note: Amounts don’t need to be exact, so use these amounts as a loose guideline. I hope you will give Brussels sprouts another chance.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cranberries
*Trader Joe’s has an affordable bacon option of “ends and pieces.” Use as much or as little or none of this as you’d like.
This is an original recipe. Click here for a similar recipe, with different cooking methods and slightly different ingredients.
Click here for another delicious-looking recipe. I’m anxious to try it! Leave a comment below if you try it to let me know what you think!
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
It's that time of the year - school is here! If you’re a parent or caregiver, you may already feel overwhelmed just thinking about packing school lunches for your kiddos. Lunch planning and packing are actually great activities to involve your kids in. As the parent, your roles are to ensure nourishing food options are available to pack and to provide guidance/assistance to your child. Your child’s jobs are to communicate their food preferences, give feedback on how much food is satisfying for meals and snacks, and to assist or independently pack their own lunch, depending on their comfort or maturity level. This may be a work in progress, but with time, your child will learn how to pack healthful food to fuel them for a day of school.
As you ease into passing along lunch packing duty, assess your child’s readiness level. Children in grades 1 to 3 may not be ready to pack independently, but they can certainly help with making decisions about what they’d like you to pack. This would also be a good time to brainstorm and plan together with this handy chart! Have discussions with your child about what should be included in a healthful lunch. Aim to always have “growing food” (protein and whole grains), fruit, and veggies on hand.
By grade 4 to 6, your child may be ready to pack all or part of their lunch independently. Maybe they could assemble a wrap, sandwich, pasta salad, or leftovers, but they may need more assistance with slicing fresh fruits and veggies and packing food up properly to ensure food safety. And don’t forget to involve your child in grocery shopping so they can take pride in their selections for the week.
Last month, the Sound Dietitians team had a blast talking about planning healthy lunches and doing some hands-on prep with kids and families at Verdant Community Wellness Center. This was an excellent way to conclude Kids Eat Right Month and prepare for the start of school. Here are some tasty recipes from our class!
Leftover chicken breast or rotisserie chicken can easily be chopped or shredded to be used in lunches and additional dinner meals. Toss shredded chicken on salad or pasta, season for tacos or quesadillas, or make a batch of this delicious chicken salad. It is perfect for school lunches or snacks and can be enjoyed as a sandwich, wrap, or with whole grain crackers. Just remember to pack it with some cold packs so it stays chilled until lunch time.
Nutrition per 1/2 cup serving (with almonds and grapes): 240 Calories; 12g Fat; 27g Protein; 7g Carbohydrates; 1.5g Fiber; 300mg Sodium
Rainbow Power Bowl with Easy Red Wine Vinaigrette
This bowl was a HUGE hit with our class! The kids loved shaking up their own dressing and choosing a variety of colorful veggies for their bowls. One kiddo commented “the cucumbers are so crunchy and refreshing!” After assembling, these grain bowls are too pretty to pass up.
Makes 2 Cups
Recipe adapted from: https://www.superhealthykids.com/rainbow-buddha-bowls-kids/
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
Nutrition per one example bowl (½ cup quinoa; 1/3 cup each cucumber/peppers/tomatoes, ¼ cup roasted sweet potato, 2 Tablespoons roasted chickpeas; 2 Tablespoons vinaigrette dressing): 355 Calories; 19.5g Fat; 7g Protein; 38g Carbohydrates; 6.7g Fiber; 210mg Sodium
Chocolate Cherry Energy Balls
These energy balls are a great alternative to packaged, processed snacks because they are only lightly sweetened and also provide protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can have fun mixing them up on the weekend and enjoy throughout the week.
Makes 24 Energy Balls
Recipe adapted from: https://www.smartnutrition.ca/recipes/mix-n-match-energy-ball-recipe/
Nutrition per energy ball: 55 Calories; 2.5g Fat; 1.5g Protein; 7g Carbohydrates; 1.2g Fiber
Fun extra: Check out America's Test Kitchen's "Kid Friendly Recipe & Activity Testing" to encourage food, cooking, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics)!
Happy planning, prep, and packing ~ Wishing you all an excellent start to a new school year!
You can find this root vegetable in most grocery stores from September through May (and some have it year-round). It ranges in size from the size of a baseball to much larger. Look for smaller ones, which are less fibrous. The flavor is different from celery, though similar. The texture is also different from that of celery.
Adding celeriac to your vegetable rotation will add essential vitamins and minerals that you may be missing in your diet that are needed for the proper functioning of your body. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables each day is crucial in order to get an assorted range of nutrients. A pill isn’t the same.
Try the delicious celeriac recipes below to add a new vegetable to your meal planning!
Note: You can usually ask an employee in the produce section to cut the celeriac in half, if needed, before buying it. And only take half, if you feel it is too large.
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe adapted from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5136/celeriac-coleslaw and the Joy of Cooking
Celeriac and Pear Purée
Makes 4 (2/3 cup) Servings
Recipe adapted from
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
Last Tuesday, at Verdant Community Wellness Center, the Healthy Living Coaching Group took participants through a crash course on metabolism. The Healthy Living Coaching Group meets weekly to discuss specific ways to improve dietary and physical habits to lead healthier lives. In previous classes, individual factors that affect weight management have been explored. In this class, we introduced the science and revisited previous topics, to illustrate the complexity of metabolism. It was also demonstrated that we all have the tools to develop habits to support a healthier metabolism. Here are the main takeaways from the class.
What is Metabolism?
When thinking about metabolism we often think about weight and how fast or slow someone burns calories. We hear phrases like “oh he has a slow metabolism” or “she has a fast metabolism” to account for why someone is of a particular weight. In part this is true. But it’s also so much more.
Metabolism is all of the physical and chemical reactions in the body that maintain life. It’s a balancing act between the reactions that build products up and consume energy (anabolism) and break things down (catabolism) for energy (ATP). The food we eat contains the building blocks for these reactions. Essentially, food is fuel. We use this fuel for immediate energy or store it for later use. Metabolic rates are determined by how fast energy can be produced and used. These rates are affected by various factors. Some are out of our control like age, gender, and genetics, but others we can regulate.
What, when, and how we eat play a large role in supporting our metabolism. Three manageable changes are: eating breakfast, eating small frequent meals, and mindful eating.
Listen to your mom (and dad)! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it “wakes” up your metabolism. While sleeping, your metabolism slows way down so it needs a jump start first thing in the AM. It is recommended to eat within 1 hour of waking. Make sure to have a meal that contains a protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber source to set the stage for the rest of the day.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Although metabolism can be greatly improved through dietary changes alone, there are some daily activities that also play a large role.
Exercise & Activity Level
Length and quality of sleep is such an important factor and really could be a discussion all on its own. But I am running out of space, so here is the short version. You want to get enough sleep to avoid fatigue during the day. Fatigue means less activity which will lead to decreased metabolic rate. Fatigue can also impact stress which impacts appetite hormones which then impacts if we eat too much or too little which then affects our metabolism. The domino effect of poor sleep is real. So, try to aim for 7-9 hours a night of undisturbed sleep.
Metabolism is complicated and multifactorial. These are just a few factors from a very long list. However, they are within our reach. Create healthier habits by focusing on one or two factors at a time. Here are some recipe ideas to inspire you along the way!
Shakshuka with Greens
Nutrition per serving (1/4th of pan): 217 Calories; 15g Fat; 10g Protein; 13g Carbohydrates; 3.5g Fiber; 216mg Sodium
Fruit & Yogurt Parfait
Nutrition per 8 ounces: 150 Calories; 4g Fat; 7g Protein; 26g Carbohydrates; 3.5g Fiber; 85mg Sodium
Analyzed using KIND Cinnamon Chia Granola and sliced almonds
~Kelsy, Dietetic intern
The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet combines portions of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet. It was developed by researchers at Rush University who created a nutrition plan to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and cognition. However, the MIND diet may improve cardiovascular function and cognition, in addition to lowering the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that those who adhered to the MIND Diet the most reduced their risk for Alzheimer’s by 53% compared with those who did not adhere closely to the diet. Even those participants who partially adhered to the MIND Diet were able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35% compared with those who did not follow the diet.
4. Nuts – at least five servings per week
Nuts can help to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. They may also help prevent memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E, which is linked to improved cognitive function. Walnuts, loaded with polyphenols and Omega-3 fatty acids, are known to improve memory and concentration.
5. Legumes – at least 4 servings per week
Legumes, like lentils and beans, are comprised of low glycemic carbohydrates that supply your brain with fuel at a steady pace. Legumes also have a lot of fiber which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
6. Whole grains – at least 3 servings per day
Like legumes, whole grains contain a lot of fiber which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Foods that promote cardiovascular health are also good for your brain. If the brain gets adequate oxygen-rich blood it will be better at thinking and memorizing.
7. Fish – at least 1 serving per week
Oily fish such as trout, sardines, salmon and herring contain a significant amount of DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain function. Higher intakes of DHA may improve memory and cognitive ability and may also slow brain aging. Fish is particularly beneficial when it is baked or grilled instead of fried.
8. Poultry – at least 2 servings per week
Choosing chicken and poultry over red meat is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. White meat, like meat from the breast, is preferred over darker meat. It is best to prepare poultry without the skin.
9. Olive oil – use as your primary cooking oil
Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat reduces inflammation and improves the functionality of blood vessels. The MIND diet suggests using olive oil as your primary cooking oil.
10. Wine – one serving per day
One glass of wine, especially red wine, per day can preserve memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Wine, when consumed in small amounts, can have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain. Higher amounts of alcohol can damage the brain so it is important to consume wine sparingly.
The MIND diet suggests limiting the following foods:
1. Butter and Margarine – limit butter to less than 1 teaspoon per day & omit margarine altogether
2. Fried food – limit to 1 serving per week
3. Red meat – consume fewer than 4 – 3oz servings per week
4. Cheese – limit to 2 ounces per week
5. Pastries and sweets – consume less than 4 treats per week
Granola with Nuts and Dried Berries
~Sara, Dietetic intern
1. Take Advantage of Coupons and Specials
Check out your local newspaper or grocery store mailings to find out which stores are having sales and when. Explore company websites and apps for coupons. Using store coupons can be a great way to save money! Also, look for in-store deals like "manager's specials" or day-old baked goods that are close to their expiration date.
2. Buy in bulk
Foods tend to be quite a bit cheaper when bought in bulk. You can increase savings by buying bulk items when they are on sale. Non-perishable foods like grains, pastas, nuts and seeds, canned goods and spices can all be bought in bulk and kept in your pantry for an extended period of time. Try freezing grains, flours, and nuts and seeds to make them last even longer. You can also buy larger quantities of meat when it is on sale to keep in your freezer. Fruits, vegetables and other frozen items can also be bought in bulk and kept in your freezer.
3. Pick foods that are in season
Fruits and vegetables change price throughout the year according to seasonality. Fruits and vegetables are typically much cheaper when they are in season. Melons, peaches, tomatoes and berries tend to be cheaper during the summer months whereas squash and potatoes are usually cheaper in the fall and winter months. Your food dollars will stretch farther when you buy fruits and vegetables in season. In addition to being cheaper, fresh fruits and vegetables are usually more flavorful when they are in season.
4. Use store loyalty cards and choose store brand items
Most major grocery stores have loyalty cards that give the user special offers and discounts in addition to other coupons. Along with signing up for grocery store loyal programs, consider choosing store-brand food items instead of name-brand food items. Most grocery stores sell store-brand food items that are comparable (and sometimes better than) name-brand food items. The store brands use the exact same ingredients but cost significantly less. Grocery stores have frequent sales on their store brand items.
5. Consider canned or frozen vegetables
Not only can frozen and canned foods be less expensive than fresh but sometimes canned and frozen foods are easier to prepare. They can also be more nutritious than fruits and vegetables that are not in season because the canned and frozen foods are packaged when they are perfectly ripe. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables also last much longer in your pantry or freezer than fresh fruits and vegetables. It is common for canned or frozen vegetables to have added sodium so be sure to check the nutrition label. The only ingredients should be the actual fruit or vegetable and sometimes water. Look for products that say "no salt added" or "reduced sodium."
6. Make recipes with less expensive proteins
Plan recipes that use less expensive proteins like chicken thighs, bone-in chicken, canned tuna, pork shoulder or chuck steak. Meat that tends to me more expensive like fresh fish, chicken breast, pork loin or strip steak will go on sale so be sure to watch newspapers and mailings for coupons or sales.
Farmer's Market Summer Soup
Makes 4 servings
Nutrition per serving: 200 Calories; 14g Fat; 3g Protein; 17g Carbohydrates; 4g Fiber; 197mg Sodium
~Sara, Dietetic intern
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!