Figure-friendly fall fruits and vegetables
Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthful eating. This week, Rachel Ernzen writes about fall vegetables.
The holiday season brings to mind the sights and smells of home, with tasty treats and indulgent dishes. To help you maintain your health (and food budget) this year, consider serving locally grown fruits and vegetables. Purchasing local and seasonal produce brings the ripest food items to your plate. Usually the most economically priced, these items have traveled fewer miles from the farm to your table. What’s in season now? Learn more at www.marylandsbest.net.
Try starting your celebrations with a side salad or savory soup. Leafy green spinach and cruciferous vegetables like red or green cabbage and brussels sprouts are rich in cancer-fighting compounds called indoles. These nutritional superstars fair well in both warm and cold side salads. For the freshest brussels sprouts, choose those with bright green leaves. They can be boiled, braised, microwaved, steamed or roasted until tender. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or roasted with chestnuts.
Tantalize your taste buds with soups using winter squashes, including acorn or butternut. These veggie-packed, hearty soups sport serious flavor without the added fat or calories of their cream-based counterparts. Winter squash is a rich source of potassium, beta carotene (Vitamin A-precursor) and B vitamins. Learn more on how to pick and store your winter squash at: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.
Simple substitutions can significantly improve the nutrition profile of your holiday dishes. Swap half or all the potatoes found in traditional recipes, such as creamy mashed potatoes or potato latkes, for cauliflower. Doing so not only lightens the caloric density but triples the vitamin C content. Take it up another notch by using low-fat milk or olive oil in place of whole milk or butter. Also, try baked versions of your favorite fried-food recipes. These tricks can easily save you 100 calories or more per serving without sacrificing flavor.
Got a sweet tooth? Consider naturally sweet, fiber-rich foods like apples or sweet potatoes. Fat-free, low in sodium and rich in potassium, sweet potatoes lend themselves well to decadent treats like pudding or pie. Baked apples or a simple rustic galette (tart) typically require as few as five ingredients. And don’t forget the cranberries. Try a cranberry pie or cranberry coffee cake. Seeking recipes? Aim for choosing ones with less than 250 calories per serving. Explore www.eatingwell.com, www.epicurious.com, www.cookinglight.com and www.allrecipes.com.
Finally, mix it up. Setting smaller plates, planning events or games to fill time between meals, and simply scaling down seasonal recipes to yield smaller portions can allow enjoyment of holiday flavors with fewer calories. However you paint your plate this holiday, keep your and your family’s health to heart.