Monday, November 14, 2011

Enjoy Healthy Harvest Foods this Thanksgiving!

Bountiful and Delicious: Healthy Harvest Foods Bring Color and Nutrition to the Table

When you think of autumn, you most likely envision the beautiful orange, yellow, and red hues of the season. Stroll down the produce aisle of your neighborhood grocery store and discover those same vibrant colors in the form of seasonal vegetables and fruits, such as pumpkins, squash, and apples. Best of all, these harvest foods also are packed with nutritional value.

Winter squash and pumpkins (both members of the gourd family) come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. they are versatile for use in both sweet and savory recipes, and they are good sources of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Pumpkins are especially good sources of alpha- and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin (an antioxidant), vitamin C, riboflavin, and iron. Cooking pumpkins (also known as sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins) are delicious in pies, cookies, custards, and soups. Their seeds are easily toasted for a crunchy high-fiber snack. The seeds are great eaten by the handful or added to fruit and vegetable salads. Pumpkin and squash seeds contain folate, carotenoids, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Bright orange and yellow squash contain significant amounts of carotenes, as well as some lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants). Butternut squash is good sliced, stewed, boiled, or baked in a pie. It is a particularly good source of calcium, magnesium, and carotenes. Spaghetti squash makes a wonderful casserole or side dish. Try it with tomato sauce in place of traditional spaghetti. Acorn and Hubbard squash are particularly good sources of potassium and fiber. Acorn squash also is high in thiamine.

Apples come in countless varieties, each with its own color, flavor, and texture. While some types of apples such as Honey Crisp or Gala are best for eating fresh and crisp, other varieties such as Crab, Bramley, and Jonathan apples are best for cooking in pies, cakes, crisps, and chutneys. Look for sauce, butter, pickle, and relish recipes that include apples. Apples are powerhouses of flavonoids, such as quercetin, as well as a great source of cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Apples also are a good source of vitamin C. In addition, apples with their skins are one of the best known sources of pectin—a type of soluble fiber shown to help reduce cholesterol.  Try cinnamon baked apples or you can core an apple and add cinnamon, pinch of brown sugar, and 1 TBS of granola and bake in the oven for a warm fall treat!

Fruit and Vegetable tips:
▪ Thoroughly wash all vegetables and fruit, as you would any produce, before eating or cooking to destroy any bacteria and to remove any pesticides or herbicides from their surfaces.
▪ Select produce without soft spots, blemishes, or cuts.
▪ Eat fruits and vegetables fresh or lightly cooked to obtain the most nutrient value. Avoid boiling when possible.
▪ Experiment with a variety of spices, herbs, and cooking methods.
LV's Pumpkinlicious Oatmeal

1 cup Light Vanilla Soy Milk
1 Tbs Brown Sugar
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 Tsp vanilla extract
¼ Tsp Cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tbs dried fruit (cranberries or raisins)
1 Tbs nuts (optional-almonds or walnuts)
1 TBS Ground or Milled Flaxseeds
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder to be added in at the end

1. In small saucepan, combine the soy milk, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and spice. Bring to a gentle boil and stir in the oatmeal. Reduce the heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft and creamy.
2. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls and sprinkle with dried fruit and nuts.
*Delicious and Nutritious Breakfast to warm you up for Fall.

Nutrition Facts per serving: (Makes 2 servings)
280 calories, 5g Total Fat, 0.5g Sat Fat, 60mg Na, 44g CHO, 9g Fiber,
22g Protein, Contains: Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron