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.

Five Simple Ways to Stay True to Your “Eat Healthier” New Year’s Resolutions

Keep frozen fruits and vegetables in your freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested and flash frozen at peak freshness and nutrients, making them just as healthy as the fresh alternative. Plus, they usually offer a longer shelf life than fresh fruits and vegetables!

Frozen vegetables are an easy, time-saving addition to any meal and can be incorporated into stir fries, soups, and other meals just like fresh, raw vegetables. Frozen fruits can easily be thawed under refrigeration and added to salads, yogurts, and oatmeal or kept frozen and added to smoothies or used in baking.

Try sparkling water or plain water that is infused with fruits. Drinking fruit infused water is an easy and delicious way to stay hydrated without increasing your sugar and caloric intake. Simply add 2-3 slices of any citrus to your glass of water or combine a variety of fruits, such as lemons and blueberries or limes and raspberries, together to create tasty, naturally sweet beverages to sip on throughout the day.

Don’t skip breakfast! Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day instead of conserving them. It will also help improve energy, concentration, and memory, making it incredibly important for children. Plus, eating a healthy, balanced breakfast means you are less likely to snack on less nutritious foods throughout the day.

For a simple, healthy breakfast, try a low-sugar whole grain cereal, breakfast smoothie, or plain greek or low-sugar yogurt topped with fruit and granola.

Eat more whole grains. A high fiber diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as help promote good digestive health. Instead of refined white grains, try making the simple switch to whole grain pastas, rice, and bread to increase your fiber intake. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber that is quick to cook and makes a great foundation for many entrees, such as burrito bowls or a simple chicken and vegetable medley.

Increase your whole fruits intake. Baked goods and other desserts provide very little nutritional value and are loaded with sugar. This causes blood sugar spikes, which leaves you feeling sluggish and hungry for more sugar filled foods. A fruit’s natural sweetness can help curb your sweet tooth and help you stay away from added sugars that are common in processed foods. Eating whole fruits, despite their natural sugar content, has been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

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:

CARROT

What are its health benefits?

Carrots are a root vegetable that are often known for being a good source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A to help support good vision. Carrots are also a great source of biotin, vitamin K, and potassium. A diet rich in carrots may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improve eye health and weight loss management.

How to prepare: When preparing whole carrots for meals, wash each thoroughly, cut off the ends, and peel the skin before cooking. Carrots are traditionally cooked by roasting, steaming, or boiling, but can also be cooked on the grill or by sauteing.

How to roast carrots:

  1. Chop into small slices or slice vertically in half.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Toss in 1 tsp. of olive oil or melted butter and choice of seasoning.
  4. Spread evenly out onto a sheet pan, making sure none of them are touching
  5.  Roast for 30 minutes

How to boil carrots:

  1. Slice carrots into thin rounds.
  2. Place them in a pot and add enough water to cover.
  3. Bring the water to a full boil, and continue boiling for 3-4 minutes, or until tender
    enough to be pierced with a fork.
  4. Drain the water and season to taste.

How to steam carrots:

  1. Slice carrots into thin rounds.
  2. Fill a medium pot with 2 inches of water. Set a steamer basket insert into the pot
    and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. *The steamer basket should not
    be submerged in water, but rather hanging over it.
  3. Place carrots into the basket, cover the pot, and cook for approximately 8
    minutes, or until tender enough to be pierced with a fork.

Suggested use: Along with a side hummus or fat-free ranch, raw baby carrots offer the perfect mid-day snack! Cooked carrots are an easy, nutritious side to virtually any meal and also make a great addition to near any soup or stew.

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:

BLUEBERRY

What are the health benefits?

Despite being small, blueberries are incredibly nutrient-dense and high in fiber. They have one of the highest antioxidant levels of fruits and vegetables, and are composed mainly of flavonoid antioxidants. Along with the other free radical-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids are associated with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties as well as can help fight against cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest just one cup of blueberries a day can help reduce blood pressure, heart disease, and even have anti-diabetes effects by lowering blood sugar levels!

How to thaw:

To defrost frozen blueberries and other berries, simply place the desired amount in a resealable plastic bag and place in your refrigerator overnight. If you didn’t prepare in advance, simply place the desired amount of berries in a bowl and cover with cold water for 5 minutes. If the berries are still slightly frozen, drain the water and then add more cold water and let them sit for another 5 minutes.

Recipe: Blueberry and Walnut Topped Plain Yogurt

This energy-packed recipe is a perfect way to start the day – the plain Greek yogurt provides an ample amount of protein and healthy probiotics, while blueberries and walnuts provide antioxidants and support a healthy weight by helping you feel fuller for longer. Plus, blueberries provide a natural sweetness, making this recipe a great alternative to sugar-packed fruit yogurt!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 oz. (approximately 1 handful) of walnuts

Steps:

  • Scoop yogurt into a bowl. Top with blueberries and walnuts and enjoy!

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:

QUINOA

What are its health benefits?

While quinoa is technically a seed, it is prepared and eaten similarly to rice, barley, and other grains. It is rich in protein and high in fiber, which can help reduce high blood pressure, diabetes, and lower cholesterol. It contains many important nutrients, such as lysine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B2. These nutrients are all involved in many bodily functions, including tissue growth and repair as well as energy metabolism. Plus, quinoa is gluten-free, making it a great option for those with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

There are three main types of quinoa: white, red, and black. While the red and black varieties have a slightly earthier flavor than the white variety, all three can be used interchangeably.

How to prepare Quinoa:

  1. Rinse thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt before cooking. This step also helps produce a moister, fluffier end product!
  2. Add one part quinoa to two parts boiling water or broth. Example: if you’re cooking 1 cup of quinoa, add 2 cups water or broth, or if you’re cooking 4 cups of quinoa, add 8 cups water or broth to your pot. *1 cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
  3. Optional: stir in a teaspoon of salt.
  4. After the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, and let it sit covered for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Suggested use: Serve as a tasty side dish or as a base to a variety of entrees – try swapping it out for any recipe you would typically use rice to increase your protein and fiber intake! It is also great for mixing into salads, chili, and soups.

Recipe: Simple Southwestern Quinoa Bowl

With only 5 ingredients, this recipe is ready to eat in under 30 minutes! Plus, it is easily customizable. While the quinoa provides an ample amount of plant-based protein, you can add lean meat protein, like baked chicken or ground turkey, to it as well as more vegetables, like tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, and avocados!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup salsa (Any brand/level of spiciness works well in this recipe)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • (1) 15 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin

Steps:

  • Preheat a large, 12” skillet over medium heat
  • Add corn and black beans and cook until corn is tender, approximately 3 minutes.
  • Add quinoa and cumin and mix all together, continuously stirring for another 3 minutes.
  • Stir in salsa and mix completely. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve.

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:

GROUND TURKEY

What are its health benefits?

Turkey is a high protein food and packs an impressive 22 grams of protein per serving. Turkey is also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, and is particularly rich in B vitamins to support energy levels and amino acid formation. It also has high levels of selenium, which produces thyroid hormones that help regulate your metabolism.

Suggested Uses

Ground turkey is incredibly versatile and makes a great replacement for ground beef. Mix with breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings to create turkey meatballs and hamburgers, use it to create tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, or mix it into casseroles, sauces, and so much more!

LEAN PROTEIN RECIPE: Ground Turkey Taco Boats

Reduce carb intake without skimping on flavor with this delicious, kid-friendly meal. This recipe is quick and easy to make, and any leftovers can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with a side of quinoa, brown rice, or corn!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ¾ cup salsa (Any brand/level of spiciness works well in this recipe)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 bell peppers
  • Shredded cheddar, Mexican-style, or Colby Jack cheese

Steps:

  • Cut out the top and deseed bell peppers. Slice the peppers alongside each outside crease, so you have about 4-6 vertical slices per bell pepper. Place each
    hollow-side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. *If you do not have foil, this is okay, but it makes clean up much easier!
  • In a skillet/frying pan, cook ground turkey until browned on medium-high heat. Drain any grease and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a mixing bowl, add the salsa and all of your dry ingredients together and mix completely.
  • Add cooked ground turkey to mixing bowl and stir to mix again.
  • Scoop turkey mixture into bell peppers to fill each “boat”.
  • Spread cheese over filled bell peppers.
  • Cook in the oven for 10-11 minutes.