January 2016 Food of the Month

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Acorn squash are a great source of potassium, vitamins A and C, and fiber!  These nutrients can help keep your eyes and skin healthy.  They can also help to prevent diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Acorn squash were named because of their acorn-like shape.  They are in season all winter in this part of the country.  Use in soups, pastas, pies, ravioli, or stuff with brown rice and veggies.  And don’t toss the seeds.  Roast them in the oven with some herbs for a nutritious snack!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

 

December Food of the Month

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Mushrooms are rich in various vitamins and minerals we don’t hear about too often.  In addition to being high in fiber, omega 6 fatty acids, and potassium, mushrooms also contain a notable amount of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, copper, niacin, and selenium.

These nutrients are important for metabolism and energy, healthy skin, maintenance of hemoglobin and blood vessels, and preventing oxidation.  Depending on which type of mushrooms you choose, the nutrient content will vary.  But feel free to experiment with any mushrooms from the store!  They’re all great options!

Mushrooms are a rather versatile food.  They serve as great toppings/sauces for pasta, bases for vegetarian dishes such as veggie burgers, and hearty additions to soups, salads, breakfast eggs and omelets.  Of course they’re also a great option to munch on plain!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

November Food of the Month

Fennel is a deliciously unique plant.  Both its bulb and its seeds are often used in cooking, yet have completely different tastes.  While the bulb is actually a member of the carrot family, its flavor and aroma resemble that of licorice!  The seeds, on the other hand, are often used in Italian cooking, such as sausages.

Just as both have different tastes, both have different nutritional contents.  The bulb is a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C, while the seeds are a good source of omega 6 fatty acids and manganese.  Therefore, to say fennel is a super food is an understatement!

Never tried fennel?  Now is the time to change that.  Fennel is at its seasonal peak in this part of the country in November.  Therefore, it should be abundant, fresh, and affordable!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

August Food of the Month

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Zucchini is a nutritious option in season during the late summer and early fall months of the year.  It is a good source of heart healthy fats and vitamin C as well as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and manganese, which are essential for metabolism, growth, and development.  Don’t forget: like most all fruits and vegetables, zucchini are also high in fiber.  Fiber is helpful for digestive health, weight loss, and lowering cholesterol among other functions!  Zucchini is one of the most versatile types of squash.  It can be included in numerous foods from muffins to shish kabobs to pastas to smoothies.  Explore a variety of recipes and don’t be afraid to think outside the box in the kitchen!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

July Food of the Month

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Who doesn’t love a fresh, juicy peach in the summer?  There are few foods more refreshing on a hot day in July.  Whether you just bite in to a whole peach or add it to a smoothie, this fruit will satisfy your taste buds and provide you with valuable nutrients.  Peaches, like many fruits, are high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.  Vitamin C, in addition to warding off the common cold, can also relieve stress!  Peaches are freshest during the mid-late summer months in the Philadelphia area.  However, frozen peaches bought any time during the year will taste just as ripe because they are frozen just after harvested.  That means the frozen peaches you buy in the dead of winter are just as refreshing and nutrient-packed as the ones you buy now in July!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

June Food of the Month

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Cherries are a nutrient-packed, flavorful fruit, high in fiber, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.  Together, these nutrients can benefit blood pressure control, digestive health, and heart health among other things.  A lot of people take omega 3 (fish oil) and/or omega 6 supplements for these health benefits.  However, these fatty acids are readily found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices in addition to seafood.  So save a few dollars and get these nutrients through foods such as cherries as opposed to buying extra supplements.  Cherries aren’t only delicious added to desserts.  They serve as a great addition to numerous meals such as salads, cereal, and chicken salad.

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

May Food of the Month

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Spinach is one of the most popular leafy green vegetables.  It has a very neutral flavor that can be mixed well with a variety of foods, particularly in salads.  Compared to plain lettuce, spinach contains more omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, potassium, and fiber.  These nutrients are important for heart health, your eyes and skin, blood clotting, metabolism, lowering your blood pressure, and keeping your bowels “regular.”  Try spinach raw or cooked.  Add it to smoothies, salads, soups, pasta dishes, etc.  It’s a great addition to nearly any meal and can help you feel healthier in nearly no time!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

April Food of the Month

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Asparagus is a super food in season this month.  It is high in various important nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin A.  However, it is particularly high in vitamin K.  In fact, one serving equals seventy percent of the average adult’s daily recommended value of vitamin K.  What does vitamin K do?  We hear a lot about vitamins A, C, or D, but not so much about vitamin K.  Its primary function is blood clotting, yet vitamin K also helps to build and maintain bone strength.  If you’re not a huge fan of plain asparagus, try hiding it in some dishes to get more vegetables in your daily diet without noticing it.  Throw some in an omelet.  Toss some into macaroni and cheese or your favorite pasta meal.  Get creative!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

February Food of the Month

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Sweet potatoes are nutrient-packed starchy vegetables.  Their bright orange color is from a pigment found in vitamin A, the same component in carrots that everyone tells you to eat to protect your vision. Vitamin A also keeps your skin young and healthy.  Sweet potatoes, compared to regular white potatoes, contain more fiber, calcium, copper, and vitamin C.  While white potatoes are not a bad choice, replacing items such as French fries, chips, baked and mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes is an easy way to pack a few more nutrients into your diet.  Sweet potatoes are at their peak in the Northeast during the winter season, making them a very affordable food this time of year.

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

January Food of the Month

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Barley is one of various types of whole grains.  Whole grains are types of grains which contain all parts of a grain: the bran, germ, and endosperm.  Refined grains only contain one of these parts.  By choosing refined grains instead of whole grains, you can miss out on important nutrients that keep your body healthy and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Barley, in particular, is high in fiber, potassium, and selenium, important nutrients for everyone’s diet.  These nutrients aid in digestion, blood sugar stabilization, lowering blood pressure, and the prevention of inflammation – a win, win!  Don’t know where to start with barley?  It is a great addition to soups, pilafs, and hot cereals, the perfect hearty food to add to your diet during the cold winter season!

Colleen Forrest, RDN, LDN
Spectrum Health Services, Inc.