Although we're nearing the end of July, the bounty of summer produce is still in full swing! Check out the ratatouille recipe below to utilize those juicy garden tomatoes, plentiful zucchini, and fresh herbs. Mix up your staple grains with fluffy whole grain couscous and try making your own nutritious salad dressing!
Ratatouille is a French dish featuring vividly colored vegetables layered over a richly flavored tomato sauce baked in a casserole dish or cast iron skillet. It can also be made as a stew. This dish is best made in the summertime when all of the ingredients are in season and their flavor and nutrient profiles are at their peak. Farmers markets will often carry heirloom varieties of vegetables in different colors, adding more visual appeal to the dish. For those with little ones, try including them in the vegetable layering steps. This is a great way to increase their curiosity of the rainbow colors of fresh ingredients and entice them to try a delicious vegetable packed dish they helped create!
Makes 12 side servings
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
For the sauce
Nutrition Facts per Serving (1/12th of recipe): 78 calories, 15g carbs, 4.5g fiber, 2g fat, 3.3g protein, 276mg sodium, 655mg potassium
Tangy Honey Mustard Dressing
Store bought salad dressings are convenient, but they often have a lot of added sodium and sugars to make them taste good. Making dressings yourself can help to reduce sodium intake if salads are a part of your daily routine. The best part about making your own is that it's very easy and you can customize your dressing to your desired taste and texture! Simple ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, and herbs can turn into a vibrant dressing with a little know-how. This honey mustard recipe features the use of probiotic filled yogurt as a way to add creaminess to the dressing without adding the extra calories from mayonnaise. It also uses fresh lemon juice for extra tanginess and stone ground/dijon mustard for a nice kick.
Makes 12 servings
Recipe adapted from Cookie + Kate
Nutrition Facts per Serving (2 Tablespoons): 68 calories, 6g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g fat, 1g protein, 107mg sodium, 40mg potassium
Perfect Whole Wheat Couscous
Couscous is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually a pasta. It is a wonderful starch to have on hand, especially if time is running short. All you need is boiling water and 10 minutes. That’s all it takes to put this wonderfully fluffy pasta on the table. It goes great with rich stews and saucy main dishes because it soaks up flavor so well. Be sure to get whole wheat couscous to increase the fiber content of your meal.
Nutrition Facts per Serving (1/2 cup): 88 calories, 18g carbs, 1g fiber, 0g fat, 3g protein, 72mg sodium, 6mg potassium
~Genesis, MS Nutrition, Dietetic Intern
What is a Whole Grain?
Why Choose Whole Grains?
Mix it Up!
There is a whole world of whole grains to choose from! Check out this list of A-Z grains compiled by the Oldways Whole Grains Council.
Where Can I Find These Grains?
Italian Farro and Vegetable Salad
This colorful, versatile salad uses farro, a grain commonly used in Italy. The recipe was adapted from a cooking class taken during a study abroad in Florence, Italy! Feel free to have some fun and swap in different seasonal veggies for the ones listed. You can even experiment with different grains! Want an extra punch of flavor? Try a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish off this beautiful, nutritious dish!
~Leah Swanson, RDN
What is protein? Why do we need it?
Protein is a nutrient that is made of amino acids. Amino acids are what make muscle, bone, skin, and hair. Our bodies make some amino acids, but there are several amino acids that our bodies can’t make – these are called essential amino acids. We have to get these through our food!
Benefits of plant proteins
Plant protein are packed with fiber and other important nutrients. There has been research that correlates plant-based diets with lower risks of heart disease, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
They're good for the environment, too!
Studies have shown that eating more plant foods and less animal foods is better for the environment. As mentioned in Today’s Dietitian, “Diets high in meat increase greenhouse gas emissions from food production and global land clearing, as well as rate of species extinction.”
You definitely get more bang for your buck with plant proteins. Not only are they packed with nutrients, but plant proteins are also very affordable. You can buy a lot more beans, peas, and lentils, for example, than meat when comparing grams of protein.
As mentioned before, there are certain amino acids that we need to get through food. Protein foods that contain all of these amino acids are called “complete proteins.” A few plant proteins that are complete proteins are quinoa and soy products. Many of the other plant proteins that you eat are not complete proteins.
As long as you eat a variety of different plant proteins during the day, you will easily get all of the amino acids that you need. These foods do not need to be eaten at the same time or even at the same meal!
You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to benefit from plant proteins. Test out the waters by going meatless once per week. Your body will thank you!
Below are a few recipes that we prepared at our recent Plant Proteins class at the Verdant Community Wellness Center. Enjoy!
~Leah, Dietetic Intern
Black Bean Burgers
Makes 4 servings
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
Makes 8 servings
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetarian Cookbook
Makes 4 servings
Recipe adapted from Wellnessmama.com
Tempeh is one of those foods that may not be on everyone's weekly grocery list. Often confused with tofu, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and offers a whole host of health benefits. Let's see why you should incorporate more tempeh into your into your healthy diet.
These tasty tacos are quick to prepare and will be sure to impress! The combination of spices and seasoning pack a punch of flavor that won't leave you missing the meat. You can use whole-wheat flour tortillas or pre-made tostadas in place of the corn tortillas. Enjoy!
~ Lauren, Dietetic Intern
Lauren shared this recipe with me a while back and I finally got around to trying it tonight for our first dinner after returning from a Hawaii vacation. It definitely helped with the post-vacation blues and took me back to the Island at least in flavor. I also love the various textures and colors in this easy and quick dinner option. Give it a try and let us know what you think. With Aloha - Megan
“Why should I care?” you might ask… If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to many other negative side effects, like heart disease and stroke. So let’s protect that heart!
Potassium is also an important part of preventing high blood pressure by combating the effects of sodium. Potassium can be found in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and legumes. Check out some good sources of potassium here.
“How can I eat less sodium?” Here are a few tips to help guide you to a flavorful low-sodium diet. Yes, it’s possible!
Check out these lower-sodium holiday recipes!
Nutrition per Serving: 130 calories; 6g Fat; 4g Protein; 15g Carbohydrates; 2g Fiber; 46mg Sodium
Green Bean – Cauliflower Casserole
Makes 8 servings; Recipe adapted from www.thealmondeater.com
Tasty and Lower Sodium Holidays to You!
~Leah, Dietetic Intern
With the temperatures cooling down, its human nature to start craving hearty, cooked meals that warm you from the inside out. Soups and stews are a popular choice, but by mid-November it’s easy to get bored of the regular recipes. When I start getting chilly, I reach for my curry powder.
The word curry actually means “sauce” in Indian and Asian cultures. It is typically made with a cream base, cooked with meats and vegetables of choice and served over rice. There are many different kinds of curries from the dairy-based Indian curries to the coconut milk-based Thai curries.
The fun part about making your own curry is that it is pretty much impossible to mess up! They can be a one-pan meal or even done in a slow-cooker. You can use any vegetables that you like, your favorite protein source, and can use cow’s milk, coconut milk, or a vegetable stock as your liquid base. Additions like curry powder, red curry paste, lemongrass, garlic, and onion will bring ethnic flare to your dishes and can be found in most grocery stores.
Nutrition facts per 1/6 of recipe: 483 calories; 18g fat; 54g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 27g protein; 231g sodium.
This next recipe uses seasonal vegetables, is vegetarian, and is easy on the wallet! The lentils pack a ton of iron, fiber and protein to help satiate you until your next meal. Butternut squash lends a slight sweetness, and bright green kale adds a great dose of vitamin K. Curry powder is made of a blend of healthy spices, but doesn’t make the dish spicy-hot. This may be better for children and folks with sensitive palates. Since this dish is so hearty, it doesn’t need to be paired with rice and can be eaten more as a stew. Feel free to add in whole grain brown rice if you miss it.
Autumn Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry
Curries are a wonderful way to satisfy your comfort food cravings and still pack in a ton of nutrients. These two recipes are very versatile, so feel free to add and take out any vegetable or other ingredient that you like. Try out your own variations and leave us a comment about what you did!
Lauren - Dietetic Intern
This past Saturday, 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. Some of our participants will be starting classes again in just a week or two! Here are a few highlights and a favorite recipe from our class.
Three Steps to Healthy Lunches
1. Planning: Get kids involved in the planning process
2. Preparation: Practice food prep skills and food safety with your children
3. Packing: Put it all together for a nutritious and safe lunch
Nutrition: (for example combination – ½ C quinoa; ½ C mixed edamame/cherry tomatoes/orange bell pepper; sugar snap peas; 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinaigrette dressing)
Happy planning, prepping, and packing ~ Wishing you all an excellent start to a new school year!
Over the last several months, Amanda and I (Anna) have been leading a Seasonal Eating class at Verdant Health Commission in Lynnwood. During each class, we create recipes to emphasize seasonal and local produce. We cook the recipes, discuss various nutrition topics, and taste test all the food at the end of class. (That seems to be a favorite part!)
During our most recent class, we prepared dishes that highlighted a variety of local and seasonal produce for the month of August—corn, potatoes, tomato, cucumber, onion, plums, melon, berries, parsley, basil, mint, arugula, grass fed beef and more! The recipes we utilized were fresh, light, colorful and, of course, nutritious.
First up, we prepared the Herbed Potato Salad.
The recipe for this potato salad was a fun twist on a traditional potato salad, using an olive oil based dressing instead of mayonnaise. We chose to use olive oil, as research shows it helps to reduce inflammation in the body and is great for heart health. The combination of herbs in the dressing offered beautiful color, mouth-watering aroma, and a punch of flavor to the sauce. Additionally, herbs contain a variety of polyphenols (plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), which research shows help protect against a variety of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.
During class we discussed the concept of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber in starchy foods, such as potatoes, corn, grains and beans. When these starchy foods are cooked, and then cooled, the starches form a crystalline structure, which makes them resistant to digestion (hence the name “resistant starch”). By being resistant to digestion, these fibers offer a whole host of health benefits! To read more about the long list of benefits of consuming resistant starch, as well as ways to incorporate more into your diet, check out THIS article!
Color indicates nutrition! Even greater, different colors indicate that the different foods contain different phytonutrients (for example, red/pink could indicate that a food contains the antioxidant lycopene; orange, beta-carotene; purple/blue, anthocyanin). These phytonutrients provide amazing health benefits, stemming from protection against heart disease to cancer prevention.
As a side note, grass fed beef can be quite expensive. One way around the cost is to purchase 1/4 or 1/2 a cow from a local farmer and split the cost with a friend or family member. From personal experience, doing so can cut the cost of grass-fed beef down by about half. The website www.eatwild.com is a great resource to find local farmers who sell pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry and dairy. At the end of the day, though, we have to balance our own personal values with our budget. So of course, do what you can, when you can!
Thanks to those who joined us for this class! We had a lot of fun, great conversation and, best of all, tasty food! We enjoyed all of our participants and hope you join us for the final installment of our Seasonal Eating series on August 22nd. For more information on class schedules, head to www.verdanthealth.org.
Let’s face the facts: as much as we may love our kale, good things do not last forever. We have all faced the disheartening moment when your once-crisp spinach turns into a pile of bruised, unappetizing mush. Never fear, there are a few tips that you can use along the way to prolong the quality your leafy greens! Our last visit to the farmer’s market included sharing such tips, in addition to classifying different greens, and ideas for preparation. Families gathered ‘round to spin the “head of knowledge” and put themselves to the test. Have you used produce wash on your greens? Apparently such an act, despite us believing it’ll benefit us, is a big “no-no”. Are you on top of your salad game? Look below to find out!
We love our spinner - can you tell? This week it is a "salad spinner"!
Top Tips for Washing Leafy Greens from Eatright.org
Bruised greens? No problem.
Both of the recipes below have enough flavor and texture to disguise most lettuce that crosses into the “not ideal for salads” zone. The kale chip recipe is not only packed with B vitamins, it provides a crave-worthy salty and crunchy alternative to the average bag of chips! And the green smoothie is so good, spinach is the last ingredient you- or your family members- will think of when you sip on it.
Preheat oven to 250 F. Wash, spin or pat kale dry. Remove the stem and cut or tear kale into bite site pieces. Toss kale in oil. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread kale leaves over the sheet and sprinkle seasoning of choice. Bake for 30 minutes. Kale chips should be crunchy and green. They burn easily, so be sure to check on them and adjust the time as needed.
YIELD: 2 servings
2 cups Spinach, 4 Strawberries, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Combine vinegar, oil, mustard, and sugar in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well.
Toss spinach, blueberries, goat cheese, and hazelnuts in a large salad bowl.
Drizzle with dressing and toss gently; serve immediately.
If you’re lucky enough to frequent the Everett Farmer’s Market, take this recipe along with you! Almost all of the above ingredients can be found at the market right now. If your shopping loyalties lie elsewhere, not to worry. This salad is composed of in-season produce that can be found almost everywhere in the PNW. No hazelnuts? Almonds slices or pumpkin seeds will do the trick! Adding a hardboiled egg, chicken breast or salmon fillet would also revamp this salad from a snack to an evening meal.
I hope salading down in the kitchen with your newly acquired lettuce facts will help you find your inner peas. :)
Feel free to visit us for another beautiful day at the Everett Farmer’s Market, this Sunday, July 24th!
Summer fruits and vegetable harvests are always a treat to look forward to, aren’t they? There are few things in the world as delightful as enjoying a bowl of freshly picked cherries in the heat of July. Sound Dietitians spent the last Sunday of June at the Everett Farmer’s Market, highlighting this magical little drupe; cherry nutrition facts, varieties, tips for storage, and delicious recipes were provided. Did you know that cherries contain both iron and protein? Thus making them an even more perfect addition to your pantry for snacking, smoothies and sauces! Peer down below for some great cherry recipes to add to your summer to-enjoy list.
Here is the lovely Amanda, providing cherry knowledge to market shoppers. Check out our booth every other Sunday to see what we’ll have in store next!
Looking for something light and quick to prepare? Bite into a simple yet satisfying cucumber-cherry salad! The cherries contribute a whole-new pop of sweetness to this traditional Japanese side dish.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
2 cucumbers (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
In a medium bowl, toss the diced cucumbers with the white wine vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the halved cherries and cilantro leaves, toss lightly and serve. (Recipe adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com)
Divide mint leaves, cherries, and honey into two glasses. Mash all ingredients with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in lime juice and dissolve honey. Add ice cubes and top with seltzer. Stir and enjoy!
Cherry chicken wraps make for a fresh lunch, or omit the tortillas and you have a great salad to bring to a summer pot-luck. This tasty recipe packs enough macronutrients to give you sustained energy throughout the day!
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ginger and chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, teriyaki sauce and honey until mixed together. Add and toss together chicken mixture, cherries, carrots, chives and almonds.
3. To Serve: Spoon 1/12 of the chicken/cherry mixture onto the center of each wrap; roll up wrap around filling and serve.
Nutrition per serving with Tortilla: Calories: 269; Carbohydrates: 29g; Fiber: 6g; Protein:18g; Fat: 9g; Sodium: 300mg
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!