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.

October Food of the Month

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Pumpkin is a seasonal favorite for many, and not only as a decoration!  Pumpkin drinks, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin soups… the list goes on, but it is certainly a staple in the fall.  The nutrients contained are reason enough to consider it a staple, let alone the flavor.  Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.  In fact, 1 cup of cooked pumpkin contains nearly two and a half times the amount of vitamin A the average person needs in one day!  Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that benefits our skin and vision.  This fall, serve up pumpkin frequently to get those extra servings of vegetables in.  That’s right, enjoy the pumpkin spice phenomenon!  Just be careful with portion sizes on the sweets.  Most anything in moderation.

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.

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.