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November 30, 2011

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

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:

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,, and

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.

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nutrition

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About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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