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Are you totally over winter? I am. By the end of it I am 100% ready to move on to warmer weather and cook up some fresh eats that are all about spring! Even though we are lucky enough to purchase produce year round thanks to frozen, canned, or dried products, there’s something special about fresh, seasonal produce. So what’s in season during springtime? Lots! Here’s a list!

In honor of spring, let’s talk more about the Artichoke.

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Photo credit: http://www.delallo.com

They are nutritious, versatile for the cook, and are literally a flower bud (How’s that for in season?)! First things first, how the heck do you pick a good artichoke? It’s easy! Just choose artichokes with plump heads and tightly closed leaves. As for storage, they can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Are there any health benefits? Yes! They are low in calories, low in sodium, and a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. Check out how well artichokes fit into recipes! Fruits and Veggies More Matters has a great Top Ten Ways to Enjoy Artichokes list. From grilling to stuffing, or just microwaving, artichokes really want a place on your plate and at your table.

How do you prep an artichoke? Well, lucky for us Michael Marks, aka the Produce Man and marketer for FreshPoint, Inc., shows us in this short video.

Easy right?

Test your artichoke skills with this Roasted Herbed Artichoke with Leeks appetizer recipe from Fruits and Veggies More Matters. It’s sure to please.

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Photo Credit: http://pinchmysalt.com

Roasted Herbed Artichoke with Leeks

Serves 6, Serving Size 1 Artichoke

Prep Time 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium to large artichokes
  • 1/3 lemon juice or white wine vinegar, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
  • ½ cup each chopped fresh basil, mint and Italian parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse artichokes, trim off and discard ends of stems and top third of petals. Cut stems off at base and set aside. Stand artichokes stem side down in large saucepot and add water to fill pot almost halfway. Add reserved stems, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Simmer, covered, until a petal pulls out easily (30-35 minutes). Drain and cool slightly. Chop cooked stems and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add leeks and cook until tender (7 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in chopped stems, herbs, salt and pepper. Using spoon, remove and discard fuzzy center of artichokes. Sprinkle remaining vinegar into center of artichokes. Divide leek-herb mixture among artichoke cups. Stand in 9×9 inch pan or baking dish and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Bake 10 minutes.
  5. To eat, pull off outer petals and dip bases into herb mixture in center of artichokes, then cut the heart into bite-size pieces.

 Don’t forget! You only want to eat the fleshy base part of the petals which you can pull off one by one after cooking. Do this by pulling the (bottom side of the) petal through your teeth to be able to eat the soft portion of the petal. Put the rest in your garden compost pile if you have one!

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Nutritional information:

Calories 174

Total fat 7.2 g

Saturated fat 1 g

% Calories from fat 32%

Protein 8 g

Carbohydrates 27 g

Dietary fiber 11 g

Sodium 459 mg

Written by Danielle Sobieski, CT Dietetic student, reviewed by Kate Wilson, RD, CDN.

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This snack is so easy, tasty, and is a perfect pre-workout or midday snack to give you long-lasting energy.  Many of the ingredients can be modified, for example instead of peanut butter substituting almond or sunflower butter or sesame seeds in place of chia.  Serving size: 2-3 bites. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 3 dozen

Ingredients

o    1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)

o    2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes

o    1/2 cup peanut butter

o    1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ

o    1/2 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)

o    1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

o    1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)

o    1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes about 20 bites.

Written by Melissa Mitri, RD, CD-N

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What is that thing? That is exactly what I said when I saw it at the grocery store.  Well, this is the pomelo (or pommelo), the grapefruit’s big cousin.  It is also known as the Chinese grapefruit.   It is grown mainly in South and Southeast Asia and Malaysia.  It is similar to the grapefruit, but bigger, and the rind is much thicker, which can be surprising when you peel it.  But when you do it is a great reward!  The pomelo is actually a bit sweeter than the grapefruit, and I prefer it over the regular grapefruit myself.  Like your other citrus fruits, it tends to be in season in the winter months.

As you would suspect from it being a citrus fruit, it is a good source of vitamin C.  It also provides some potassium, as well as small amounts of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.  It is a carbohydrate source, but also provides a small amount of protein as well!  A serving size is one cup, which gives you around 75 calories.  As with most fruits and vegetables you get some fiber also, around two grams per serving, about the same as a piece of bread.

Pomelo will go well as a snack by itself, or it can be a great addition to a mixed green salad.  You could always juice it and have a nice refreshing drink, or a mixer for a cocktail.  You can add it into your smoothies for some refreshing tang.  Anywhere that you would typically use citrus in your recipes or meal plans, you can use the pomelo.  I like to enjoy mine as a side with my breakfast, or a snack at night.

I like to peel it and eat the wedges.  Let’s look at how to go about doing that. 

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Even my dog likes pomelo, and when he knows I am eating one he is always scavenging for a piece ha-ha!  

It’s a citrus fruit, so those of you who are taking statin medications, or any other medication which can interact with grapefruit or citrus, will need to be careful and check with your health care professional before you try it out. 

Post written by Becky Crosby, CT Dietetic student, reviewed by Kate Wilson, RD, CDN.

References

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2047/2  Online February 28, 2014.

It’s that time of year where the temperature outside is colder and the sun has set before you even make it home from work.  After a long day it might be tempting to just kick up your feet and order take out from the local pizza place. Don’t fall into this trap, it is possible to continue making healthy, satisfying meals throughout the winter months. They don’t need to be long or involved and I find the best dishes only involve one pot. My favorite one pot meal to make throughout the winter months is a Three Bean and Beef Chili. This chili features many ingredients beneficial to the body. The beans provide both fiber and protein to the dish while peppers and carrots are good sources of vitamin A.  chili

Three Bean and Beef Chili Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger featured at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/three-bean-and-beef-chili-recipe/index.html

 Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:
Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Per Serving: Calories: 295; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams; Protein: 22 grams; Total carbohydrates: 35 grams; Sugar: 8 grams; Fiber: 10 grams; Cholesterol: 37 milligrams; Sodium: 512 milligrams

Article written by Michael Tedone-Didactic Program in Dietetics Student-University of Connecticut and reviewed by Kate Wilson, RD, CDN

During the month of February, the American Heart Association promotes “Go Red for Women,” an educational movement that advocates for more research and increases awareness on women’s heart health. Dr. Cynthia Thaik Cardiologist, Author, Founder Of Revitalize-U captures the campaign in a terrific post on www.huffingtonpost.com

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Parsnips can make any ordinary winter dish incredible!  Although it is not a usual cold-weather staple, this carrot-like veggie will add flavor and many nutritional benefits to your diet.  A 1 cup serving is 100 calories and provides 6 grams of dietary fiber.  They are also a reliable source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium.  Parsnips have a subtle nutty flavor and taste particularly great in soups.  You can also incorporate them in stir-fry, stew, rice, or risotto.  Shop for parsnips like you would shop for carrots.  Look for ones that are smooth, firm, and have a white root.

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For a simple parsnip recipe, try this Spiced Parsnip Soup!

Makes 4 servings, Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 3 ¼ C boiling water
  • ½ C light cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes/paprika for garnish

Directions

  1.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Fry the onion in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the parsnips, garlic and curry powder, and fry for a couple of minutes to release the flavors. Mix the bouillon cube into the boiling water, and pour into the saucepan. Stir to remove any bits of vegetable from the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes or until parsnips are soft and easy to break with a wooden spoon.
  2. Remove from the heat, and blend with a hand mixer or immersion blender. Stir in the    cream, and heat through. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with red pepper flakes or paprika.

Written by Brooke Dragon, CT dietetic intern, reviewed by Kate Wilson, RD, CDN.

Image from http://www.cookinglight.com

Recently there has been a lot of discussion on the health benefits of nuts in the media due to an article that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I wanted to investigate the study and see if nuts were all they were cracked up to be.

nuts

This article took data from two long term studies, The Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow Up Study with a total population of 118,962 participants. Both of these studies gathered data over the past 30 years and have information on diet, exercise, lifestyle and medical history. This article analyzed the information in a new way to determine the relationship between nut consumption and “death from any cause”.

What they found was that participants who on average consumed a one ounce serving of nuts per day, suffered less death from all causes including cancer, respiratory disease, infection and kidney disease. They used hazard ratios to describe the change, which in layman’s terms are the ratio of an event (here, death) compared to the sample size. Those who never consumed nuts had a score of 0.93 while those who ate them regularly had a score of 0.80, a 0.13 difference favoring the nuts!

The relationship was consistent in all subgroups including those with extremely low BMIs, diabetes, smokers and those on the Mediterranean diet. The connection was even more pronounced in overweight and obese subjects. Additionally, the high nut groups were found to weigh less and have smaller waists.

Due to the way these studies were conducted, there is a correlation between these events, but a causal relationship cannot be established. There are many other studies that show positive health outcomes related to increased nut consumption

Now what does this mean for you?

Regular consumption of nuts can be a key component in an overall healthy lifestyle. They contain:

  • unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, and fiber
  • vitamins like folate, niacin, and vitamin E
  • minerals including potassium, calcium, and magnesium
  • phytochemicals with antioxidant properties

With all of this evidence, if you like nuts, try including them in recipes or bring them along as a non-perishable snack. It may lower your risk dying from a chronic disease and help prevent weight gain while satisfying your nutritional needs and taste buds.

To read the full article through the New England Journal of Medicine, click here.

 

Wendy Baier is a Connecticut based Registered Dietitian. She runs her own health and nutrition blog at www.thebaiernecessities.com. Follow her @WendyBaier and visit her portfolio at www.wendybaier.com to see her work history.

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