Eating whole, nutritious foods is important for living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet can help you reach and maintain an optimal body weight, increase your energy and mood, reduce inflammation, and enable cell repair, which can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer.

A healthy, well-balanced diet includes:

  • Vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and peas

  • Whole fruits, such as blueberries, apples, avocados, and strawberries

  • Whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oats

  • Lean protein, such as beans, chicken, and fish

Our Nutrition Corner serves as a place to learn about new fruits and vegetables, their benefits and how they can help you, and simple ways to prepare them.

Glossary of Terms

Click on a term to learn more about the benefits of fresh food.

Compounds, such as vitamins A, C, and E, are naturally found in many plant-based foods. These compounds help to stop or delay free radicals, which cause cell damage that has been associated with cancer development.

Highly reactive and unstable compounds that may attach and bind to normal cells in the body and interfere with their ability to function properly. Antioxidants are known to stabilize free radicals.

Nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and sodium, that are found in the earth or water, which are absorbed by plants and animals for proper nutrition. Minerals perform many different tasks for the body, including carrying oxygen throughout the body and building strong bones.

Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, and selenium, molybdenum, chromium, and fluoride

Organic compounds that the body cannot produce enough of on its own, which it must get from food. Vitamins are essential for proper cell and nerve function, growth, and energy.

Click on a category for a tasty recipe

VEGETABLES

Why do we need to eat vegetables?

Many vegetables are an important source of essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C. A diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure and reduce risk for chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat, calories, and cholesterol.

What are some vegetable options?

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended to eat 1-4 cups of vegetables a day. Some of the most nutritious and readily available options include:

Spinach

Romaine Lettuce

Kale

Zucchini

Asparagus

Broccoli

Sweet Potatoes, Yams

Butternut Squash

Carrots

Onions

Mushrooms

Beets

FEATURED VEGETABLE OF THE MONTH

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

What is it?

Butternut squash is a type of winter variety of squash that is nutty, sweet, and creamy. Technically, squash is a fruit; however, it is more commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. Its tan, hard rind gives it a long shelf life, and can be kept for about a month when stored in a cool, dry place.

What are its health benefits?

Butternut squash is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, it is low in calories and high in fiber, making butternut squash a great way to feel fuller for longer and support long-term weight loss.

How to prepare: Butternut squash is extremely versatile and can be prepared several ways, including roasting/baking, boiling, steaming, and sauteing. Its flavor is extremely versatile as well – you can add it to sweet, savory, or spicy dishes!

How to roast butternut squash halves:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise using a large knife and remove the seeds.
3. Place the halves cut side up onto a baking sheet or dish and brush with olive oil or melted butter.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste (if desired).
5. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Suggested use: Try making a butternut squash mash by scooping the flesh into a bowl and mashing with butter to taste. You can also spoon out some of the flesh and stuff the roasted halves with a mixture of your favorite grains, beans, vegetables, and cheese!

How to roast butternut squash cubes:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a large knife, cut off the ends of the squash.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer skin of the squash.
  4. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
  5. Cut into 1” cubes.
  6. In a mixing bowl, toss your cubed squash with approximately 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  7. Transfer to a lined baking sheet, and roast for approximately 25 minutes, or to desired tenderness.

Suggested use: Serve as a tasty side dish to entrees, or use to top salads. Try mixing kale, cooked quinoa, red onions, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans together and top with roasted butternut squash cubes and balsamic vinaigrette to create a bright, flavorful salad packed with nutrients!

FRUITS

Why do we need to eat whole, fresh fruits?

Many whole fruits are an important source of essential nutrients, including Vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and are naturally low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Regularly consuming whole fruits can decrease the risk of many diseases as well as help support a healthy weight loss and management plan.

How should we be consuming fruits?

It is recommended that you obtain your daily intake of fruits by eating them whole, rather than drinking juices, which may be filled with added sugars, or blended drinks, which can lose some of its fiber during the blending process. Both juices and smoothies can affect one’s blood sugar as the higher sugar concentration is more quickly absorbed by the body, which can cause blood sugar spikes.

What are some whole fruit options?

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended to eat at least 1 cup of whole fruits a day. Most whole fruits have a low to moderate Glycemic Index (GI), making them a healthy choice for diabetics to consume as well. Some of the most nutritious and readily available options include

Apple*

Avocado*

Banana

Blueberries*

Cantaloupe*

Cherries*

Grapes*

Orange*

Pear*

Strawberries*

* Has a low GI

FEATURED FRUIT OF THE MONTH

APPLE

What are the health benefits?

Apples are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols, which may boost digestion, improve brain health, and help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. To get the most nutrition out of apples, leave the skin on when you eat it.

Recipe: Apple Nut Butter Sandwich

There’s some truth to the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’! Need a fun way to eat them? Try this kid-friendly recipe for a healthy, mid-day snack or lunch side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, sliced (any variety)
  • Nut butter of any kind (almond butter and peanut butter are great choices)
  • Optional: granola (try to look for low sugar kinds)

Steps:

  • Spread the nut butter atop your apple slices and sprinkle half of them with the granola. Put two slices together and eat.

Tip: If you’re packing for lunch or eating later, brush the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning.

WHOLE GRAINS

Why do we need to eat whole grains?

Whole grains are an important source of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and selenium, and phytochemicals. Consuming whole grains help reduce the risk of chronic diseases as well as help with weight management due to their high fiber content, which will help you feel fuller for longer with fewer calories. Choosing whole grains over refined grains also helps those with diabetes control their blood sugar as they have a lower glycemic index (GI) and take longer to digest.

What makes up a whole grain?

  • Bran – Fiber-rich outer layer of the grain. In addition to fiber, it contains many important minerals and B vitamins.
  • Endosperm – Largest part of the grain and the least nutritious. It contains starchy carbohydrates, some protein, and a small amount of vitamins and minerals.
  • Germ – The embryo, or core, of the grain that is filled with nutrients. It contains many B vitamins, vitamin E, phytochemicals, minerals, and healthy fats.

What is the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain?

The milling process refine a grain removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm, which is easy to chew and digest but has very little nutritional value. The milling also removes most of the fat content in the grain, which gives refined grains their long shelf life. Examples of refined grains are white rice and white flour.

What are some some whole grain options?

There are many different whole grain options to choose from. Some of the most nutritious and readily available sources include:

Barley

Brown Rice*

Old Fashioned Oats

Quinoa

Spelt

Steel -cut Oats

Rye

Wild Rice

Wheat Berries

FEATURED GRAIN OF THE MONTH

BROWN RICE

What are its health benefits?

Brown rice is high in fiber, relatively low in calories, and contains no cholesterol. It contains many important nutrients, such as folate, iron, and magnesium, which are involved in many bodily functions. Plus, brown rice is gluten-free, making it a great option for those with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

How to prepare Brown Rice:

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt before cooking.
  2. Add one part rice to two parts boiling water or broth. Example: if you’re cooking 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups water or broth, or if you’re cooking 4 cups of rice, add 8 cups water or broth to your pot.
  3. Optional: stir in a teaspoon of salt.
  4. After the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  5. Check the rice to see if most of the liquid has been absorbed. A little water at the bottom is okay. The rice should be tender and chewy; if it’s still crunchy, add some more water and continue to cook for approximately 5-10 more minutes.
  6. Take the pot of rice off of the heat, and let it sit covered for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Suggested use: Serve as a tasty side dish or as a base to a variety of entrees. Try creating a grain bowl using brown rice as a base and top with veggies and a protein of your choice. You can also use brown rice as an alternative to white rice or white pasta in soups, risottos, or stir fries.

LEAN PROTEIN

Why do we need to eat protein

Protein is essential for cell maintenance and repair, healthy hormone functions, and helps build muscles as well as antibodies for your immune system to better fight off infections. Protein also helps regulate blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which is why it’s important to eat when managing a healthy weight.

What is lean protein?

The USDA defines a lean protein source as having less than 10 grams of total fat. Lean proteins typically have fewer calories per serving than other sources of protein because of their lower fat content.

What are some lean protein options?

There are many different plant-based and animal-based lean protein sources to choose from. Some of the most nutritious and readily available sources include:

White Meat Chicken

Ground Turkey

Beans, Peas, Lentils

Eggs and Egg Whites

Almonds

Tuna

Cod

Salmon

Tofu

Plain Greek Yogurt

FEATURED PROTEIN OF THE MONTH

BAKED CHICKEN BREAST

This super simple recipe is healthy, features very few ingredients and keeps the chicken breasts moist and tender! Their mild taste is perfect for simply placing on a bed of quinoa or rice, as well as adding to salads, pasta dishes, wraps, and so many more meals. Best of all, they can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days after baking, so you can make these ahead to use all week in your dinners or packed lunches.

LEAN PROTEIN RECIPE: BAKED CHICKEN BREAST

Ingredients:

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, or Kosher Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Chicken Broth (Regular or Low Sodium)

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place chicken breasts on an unlined baking sheet or roasting pan with at least a 1” high rim.
  • Drizzle or rub ½ teaspoon of olive oil over each chicken breast.
  • Sprinkle each with a dash of salt and pepper. You can also customize your seasoning to include crushed red pepper, thyme, rosemary, or garlic powder – it depends what you will be serving them with.
  • Pour the broth into the pan to fully surround the sides of the chicken breasts. Be careful not to completely submerge the chicken in the broth.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, flipping the chicken breasts after 20-25 minutes.