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Welcome to The Dietitian's Corner by Best Choice!

Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!

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Making Any Recipe Organic

No need to buy a special cookbook to find the best organic recipes. These days virtually any family favorite dish can be made organic by purchasing the right ingredients. We no longer have to hunt for organic foods. They’re available in virtually every aisle of the store and abundant in the produce section, and in many cases with increased availability comes better prices.

Now that we can find flour, sugar, butter and many staple items available in an organic variety it becomes easy to convert traditional baked goods into organic treats. As the holidays approach try making your favorite dish organic! It adds wholesome pure ingredients to any recipe.

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Tips For Roasting Vegetables

A roasted vegetable done right can turn any veggie naysayer into a believer. The best part about roasting vegetable is that virtually anything goes, no complex recipes need to be followed. Most people have everything they need (oil, salt and pepper) for roasting already in their pantry. If a few simple rules are heeded, then you can be on your way to cooking up flavor rich vegetables everyone will love.

 

  1. Oven Temperature. Be sure you put veggies in a hot oven. I think 400 to 425 degrees is the best roasting temp. Any more than 425 can blacken and burn vegetables on the outside without cooking the middle. Any lower then 400 would extend cooking time and not provided the desired toasty edges that makes roasting so delicious.
  2. Give your veggies space. Spread your vegetables out on the baking dish. Leave a generous amount of space between each piece. If the food is stacked on top of each other or to close it will steam and not roast. Don’t be afraid to split up your product. It still works great to roast two pans at a time, just keep them in the middle of the oven and rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
  3. Don’t skimp on the oil and spices. Add enough oil for all the veggies to be coated but not so much that oil starts to pool at the bottom of your bowl or on the roasting pan. Same general guide for salt, pepper or any desired spices, add enough so that each piece looks evenly seasoned.
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Oats

When it comes to breakfast cereals any type of natural oats are an excellent choice. Most unflavored oats are made from minimally processed whole grains. Oatmeal and oat bran contain a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. This is the substance that gives oatmeal its ability to help lower cholesterol. Several types of oats are available on store shelves but each offers high quality nutrients and beta-glucan.

Steel-cut, stone ground and rolled oats are the common oat varieties sold at the grocery store. However, their nutritional profiles are very similar. Some of the biggest differences in the types of oats comes down to how you prepare the food and the resulting texture of the grain. If you prefer a hardy chewy cereal you would likely enjoy steel-cut oats. Old-fashioned and rolled oats offer a smoother texture with shorter cooking and preparation time. Any way you cut it oats are a great addition to your next meal or recipe.

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Apple Season

One of my favorite signs of fall is the delightful array of apples that start flooding into my local grocery store. Each type of apple has a distinct flavor and purpose. It’s amazing how one type of fruit can have so many different varieties. Each kind of apple has unique characteristics based on its flesh, firmness and response to cooking.

While their are literally hundreds of apple varieties, most stores carry about a dozen options that suit the local climate. Red and Golden Delicious are well known varieties that are great for fresh eating and go well mixed with salad greens. Gala, Jazz, Fuji, Braeburn and the ever popular Honeycrisp are strong sweet apples. All of these options can be juicy, tart and crisp. The best apples for pies tend to be Braeburn, Granny Smith, Cortland or Pink Lady to name a few. Some of the best varieties for sauces and cider are Jonathan, McIntosh, Granny Smith or Winesap. While apple season is going strong try testing out a new recipe with your favorite variety of fruit.

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One Dish Meals

Do you ever find yourself short on time when making dinner? Yet you don’t want to compromise preparing a healthy meal for the convenience of a packaged entree. When considering what to make in a pinch try a one dish meal. By combining simple ingredients into one pot or pan you can prepare a healthy and delicious meal.

Your one dish can be a skillet, a roasting pan or a sautéed pan. If you keep lean meats and fresh veggies on hand it’s easy to prepare a balanced meal. Pork chops, chicken breasts or thighs and salmon are great lean proteins for a one dish meal. Sweet potatoes, squash, onions, brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower are some of the best vegetables for roasting with marinated meat. One dish meals are the perfect quick healthy fix. These protein and vegetable based combinations can also be made in advance. If you pre-chop veggies and meat you can let them sit together in a marinade for a day, then your meal is ready for cooking right when you walk in the door.

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Colorful Plate

We all know we should eat a balanced diet. However, it’s difficult to know what that looks like on your plate everyday. One possible guide to good nutrition is focusing on having a colorful plate at each meal. This mantra has been a guide in many diet programs over the years. Health professionals believe that to reap the most benefits from fruits and vegetables we should consume at least one daily serving from each of the five main color groups: blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange and red.

Blue and purple foods include nutritious items such as blueberries, grapes, egg plant, blackberries and prunes. Green foods could be leafy greens, spinach, kiwi and honey dew melon. The white color group includes cauliflower, onions, garlic, banana, pears and potatoes. Yellow and orange options are carrots, oranges, pineapple, peaches, sweet potato, pumpkin and cantaloupe. Red foods include tomatoes, raspberries, red apples and watermelon. Now just imagine a daily meal plan with foods from each of these color groups paired with lean meats and fish. Focusing on having a colorful plate is a great guide for consuming a balanced diet with an variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Cooking With Quinoa

This ancient grain has grown in popularity in recent years. You might have seen it on the menu at your favorite restaurant. It can be mixed with a variety of foods from omelettes to green salads, quinoa even goes great in baked goods. However, you might be wondering what is so special about this new wonder food? First of all it is an excellent gluten free grain alternative. It has a mild flavor, so it can easily be incorporated into a multitude of recipes.

The protein content of quinoa is also impressive. The best characteristic of this superfood is that it’s considered a complete protein, which means it supplies the body with all nine essential amino acids necessary for optimal health. Our bodies can’t make these nutrients on its own, so we have to consume them frequently through food. Amino acids support muscle growth and strengthen our immune system. Not all plant based proteins offer this kind of nutrition profile. Watch for some new quinoa recipes on the blog soon. Also cheek out:

Herbed Quinoa Burger

Chicken Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

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Health Benefits Of Cherries

Cherries are known as Americas super fruit. They are not only delicious they’re also loaded with antioxidants that offer us a variety of health benefits. Studies suggest that cherries can help reduce inflammation and reduce risk factors for high cholesterol and diabetes. The sweet nature of this fruit makes it a perfect choice for a daily natural dessert.

There are several different varieties of cherries. The two most common options sold in stores are Bing and Rainier. Bing cherries are characterized by there bold color and purplish red flesh. This is the most abundant variety of cherry sold at the super market. Rainier cherries have yellow or pinkish skin with a milder yet surprisingly sweeter flavor than the traditional Bing cherry. Rainier cherries cost more per pound because most producers wait until the fruit is at its peak of sweetness before picking. This can then cause the cherry to bruise more easily making for a smaller yield of product during their short growing season. However, many consumers say the added price tag is worth it for the stellar creamy flavor of Rainier’s. The peak season for cherries is only a few short months in the summer, so pick up a hearty supply of this super food before they’re gone.

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Food Journaling

If you’ve ever embarked on a weight loss journey, and met with a nutrition or fitness professional, you’ve likely been asked to keep a food journal. It’s a dreaded activity in most peoples opinion. However, if you’ve accepted the challenge to food journal for a few days you’ve likely realized how eye opening and insightful it can be. Journals reveal the source of your calorie consumption. It can also help identify situations or circumstances that cause you to eat too much or to little.

 

In our modern era it’s easy to use online calorie trackers to help estimate your consumption, but a piece of paper and pen still work just as good for showing the reality of your meal plan. Sometimes people think they’re eating adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit, but once they journal a few days they realize they’re only eating one serving of vegetables a day and over 70% of their calories are coming from carbohydrates or processed foods. The simple act of writing down the foods you consume also makes people more aware of portion control. By measuring the cereal you put in the bowl one can become aware that they might be eating more than they think. If you’ve never been challenged to keep a food journal, consider this your opportunity to try it out. It’s time well spent to improve your health.

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Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle changes can take many forms. They can be conscience decisions to change an aspect of your life, like your exercise or eating habits. They can also be sparked by a change in your circumstances that ultimately leads to a shake up in your daily routine. I’ve recently been going through a lifestyle change. My husband and I had a baby on May 21st of this year. Our little girl has enriched and blessed our life beyond measure. However, much like everyone warned me, kids change everything! I don’t wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to go workout. In fact, I’m lucky if I get to the gym. I also don’t have as much time to prepare meals and snacks. I use to love recipes full of unique ingredients and spices, now I much prefer something simple.

 

I say all this not to join the band wagon of “kids are the reason we eat poorly and don’t exercise”. I mention these struggles to point out that I am finding a new way to enjoy my traditional activities of daily living with my little girl. Dinner preparations may be scaled back and simplified for awhile, but cooking with local organic food is something I wish to instill in my child. Therefore, finding easy family friendly recipes is my new passion. You’ll likely see some of these options appear on the Clearly Organic blog. I look forward to sharing this journey and lifestyle change.

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