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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fall Flavor Crave

As the seasons shift and we anticipate cooler weather, our tastes and craving naturally shift as well.  Fall means comfort foods full of warm, rich, flavors unique to the season. The health benefits of eating seasonally include keeping produce intake high, fiber, vitamin A, C, Potassium and other nutrients and compounds that actually boost our immune system and reduce inflammation to keep us healthier this time of year.  Here are some ways to enjoy fall flavors while boosting nutrition at the same time:
Maple is a classic fall flavor and pairing it with some smoky and fall fruit flavors makes for a quick and fresh lunch or dinner go-to sandwich.  I love Eckrich ham fresh from the deli because it is a quality product that makes meal prep simple and quick so you can enjoy more time together as a family.  Spread some rustic bread with a maple mustard, added some Swiss cheese and then some sliced fresh pears and some spinach and deli ham.  It is a simple, yet satisfying way to work in some great nutrition while satisfying some fall flavor cravings.

A discussion on fall flavors wouldn’t be complete without pumpkin.  Caribbean pumpkin-ginger soup is a recipe that packs in all sorts of health benefits. Vitamin A and fiber are some of the obvious nutrients this fall comfort food offers but there are some heart health benefits as well.  September is Cholesterol awareness month so using Mazola corn oil in the recipe also adds some health benefits.  The Journal of Clinical Lipidology has published a study that found that corn oil like Mazola can help lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil.  Another one of my fall flavor traditions is to make homemade fried apple fritters, and corn oil works perfectly for that as well.  

Add fall fruits in unexpected ways.  Kale, spinach and cabbage are in season right now, so consider tossing some cubed or sliced apples or pears into your salad.  And enjoy some anti-inflammatory health benefits by poaching or baking up some apples or pears with some cinnamon for the quintessential fall dessert.  

The take home message is that the more appealing our food is, the more likely we are to enjoy it and find satisfaction from the meal. That behavior increases the nutritional benefit as well as helps reduce stress hormones and promote wellbeing. So the good news is that enjoying seasonal flavors is actually the healthiest as well as the tastiest plan.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Apple A Day

Think that the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is stuff and nonsense? Think again.  Here are just a few of the nutrition benefits of one of the most modest members of the produce department.
Apples are good sources of:
  •  fiber
  • vitamin C 
  • all sorts of phytonutrients.  
Eating apples on a regular basis helps lower cholesterol and subsequently risk of:
  • heart disease and stroke
  • lowers risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes
  • helps improve gut health 
  • helps with weight management.  

One of the main benefits of apples is also a reason they are passed over – they are so universally available that they are almost invisible.  So start seeing apples.  They are one of the most consistently available and inexpensive items in the produce department, to say nothing of being found at breakfast buffets and fruit bowls everywhere.  

But you may be a bit tired of the traditional plain apple, so here are some ways to fall in love again with nature’s unsung powerhouse:

Add apples to your oatmeal or as part of your parfait. Bring apples into the breakfast scene by slicing them onto your oatmeal (you can cook them with the oatmeal if you like a softer, cooked texture), or dice them and put them on your Greek yogurt parfait.  

Top your toast or English muffin with some nut butter and thin sliced apples, or even add it into your grilled cheese for a sophisticated flavor combination of savory, sweet and tart. 

Make an apple sandwich for lunch.  Spread a cross-sectional slice of apple with some peanut butter, sprinkle with some granola and put an apple slice on top.  

Pull out your apple-prep tools.  Chances are you have an apple slicer, corer or peeler somewhere in the back of a drawer or pantry.  And since a lot of the nutritional benefits are found in the peel, let your kiddos eat the apple “ribbons” as you run them through a peeler. 

No time or energy to bake an apple pie? Make a batch of baked apples in a crockpot or bake them in the oven and freeze them in individual portions for the perfect comforting snack or addition to breakfast on a cold morning.