Root Vegetable and Bean Soup

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(Serves 4)

I have sad news for you: winter in Central New York will be here before you know it. Halloween is just over two months away and the snow has been known to start flying that early around here. But hang in there; I am going to help you get through with warming recipes.

Try this delicious soup of Toby Amidor’s when the coldness starts making its presence known. I guarantee you will love it! This is just one of several of her amazing recipes in her new cookbook, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Click here to check out this new favorite cookbook of mine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packed cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained
  • and rinsed
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Stack spinach and cut in ribbons Work in batches if
  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmer Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth, mirin, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the bay Stir in the spinach

ribbons and black pepper.

REFRIGERATE: Store the cold soup in a resealable container for up to 1 week. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

FREEZE: Store the cooled soup in individual freezer-safe containers or in one large container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

 

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Seven Tips for Vegetarians

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While my diet is pretty plant-based, I am not a vegetarian. Many of my clients are vegetarians or have children who have recently become vegetarian.  Some complain that vegetarian diets get boring or do not feel filling; parents show concern that their veggie kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Let me dive into some tips that can help you maintain a vegetarian diet that is fun and healthy!

  1. Be sure to get enough protein

My number-one question for all vegetarian diets is: Where do you get your protein from? If you are a vegetarian and feel sluggish at all, it may just be that you are not getting enough protein. Protein feeds your muscles and your blood.  Consider it the fuel that keeps you moving.

Sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, tofu, tempeh, and some whole grains like quinoa. Low-fat dairy (Milk, cheese, Greek yogurt for example) and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

You may have heard that you need to eat a combination of proteins in each meal to get complete proteins, but that is not true as long as you have a decent amount of protein in every meal.

  1. Eat the colors of the rainbow

One way to assure you are getting enough nutrients is to eat as many colors of fruits and veggies as possible. This blog goes into detail of what nutrients are found in each color.vege-1-1

  1. Try a new recipe each week

You don’t need to eat a salad every day to be a vegetarian. There are so many fantastic vegetarian recipes out there. Hop on to Google or Pinterest and you will certainly find hundreds of easy recipes to try!

  1. Be careful with refined flour and sugar

It’s so easy to become a junk food vegetarian. Try not to rely too heavily on boxed food; the refined flour and sugar can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Check out fortified foods

While I just told you to be careful about packaged food; there are some healthy options like whole-grain bread. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamins to give you a boost in nutrients. If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  1. Pump some iron

Sadly, your body doesn’t absorb iron from plants as well as it does from menuts2at so it is essential that you get plenty of high-iron vegetarian foods in your diet such as beans and legumes, dried fruits, molasses green vegetables, and whole grains. Many cereals are fortified with iron just make sure that the cereal of choice is low in sugar (5 grams or less) and high in fiber ( 4 grams or more) as well.

  1. Consider a vitamin B-12 supplement

Getting enough B-12 is very difficult in a vegetarian diet. I highly encourage vegetarians to take a B-12 supplement.

If you have any questions about a vegetarian or vegan diet, please feel free to email our team and we’ll help you out!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

 

Celebrate Blueberry Month with Me

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Yay for blueberries! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, July is Blueberry Month. Go pick some at a local you-pick farm! Freeze a whole bunch of them and then you will have nutrient-dense blueberries to use for months ahead. Here are just some of the reasons that I love blueberries.

Blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost any other food. In fact, they help protect against oxidative damage. What’s that you ask? It’s a process that takes place every day at the cellular level; in short, it’s a fancy way to say “aging.” So, consider blueberries a great anti-aging food choice.

I have a great example of how blueberries counteract oxidative damage. In a 2007 study, 168 research subjects were instructed to drink one liter (34 ounces) of a mixture of blueberry and apple juice, every day. At the end of the study, oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20 percent.

Oxidative damage to the brain creates problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s. A recent study examined elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers gave each subject blueberry juice every day. After 12 weeks, they had seen improvements in several markers of brain function

These antioxidants that I speak of also help to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, making blueberries an awesome choice for your heart health.

Also, blueberries contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin. Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain. I know so many older adults who take an aspirin a day for their heart. I think that making good food choices is the best way to protect your heart.

Blueberries are also high in lutein; this phytonutrient is particularly helpful when it comes to your vision.

Aging isn’t just marked by wrinkles on our skin; our organs age as well.

We often forget of all of the amazing things that are happening to our body on a cellular level and I think it’s so awesome that we can make good things happen to our cells with our food choices. One thing is for sure, blueberries will always be in my food repertoire!

Blueberries are a superfood choice to keep you energized and young inside and out!

 

Spring into Health by Spicing it Up!

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I love spices because they are loaded with nutrition, low in calories, and they are a great alternative to salt, making my food tasty and healthy.  Best of all, spices come to the rescue when I don’t have much time to cook! Here are a few spices I recommend you try this spring and why!

Turmeric

Turmeric is my all-time favorite herb; it’s main component, curcumin, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Studies have shown that curcumin can even shrink cancerous tumors! It adds a yellowish/orangeish (very pretty) color to whatever you cook. Add it to veggies, eggs, soups, and rice. It’s taste is comparable to mustard but not as pungent.

Dill

Dill is a special herb because we can use the leaves and the seeds for seasonings! The leaves provide a sweet taste, while the seeds give a flavor of sweet, aromatic, but slightly bitter. Dill has been shown to be a natural anti-depressant. One study found that it was effective as some drugs prescribed for depression. And another neat thing about dill that comes in handy this time of year is that it is a natural bug repellant. Add it to salad. I also combine lemon juice, olive oil, and dill, and add it to meats that I bake.

Rosemary

Rosemary has a nice woody flavor. It is great to add to any grilled meat or a perfect addition to a soup for those spring days that are still a bit chilly. Studies suggest that regular consumption of rosemary can improve your memory and your ability to concentrate. It also is a natural anti-bacterial.

Cilantro

Cilantro is loaded with vitamin K (great for bones), but what I love about cilantro is that it can detox your body of heavy metals! It can also help balance blood-sugar levels! Bust those pesky sugar cravings! Combine a quarter cup chopped cilantro with the juice of a lime. Maybe add some garlic and spread on salmon—this is so good!

Ginger

Ginger is awesome because its unique flavor is both sweet and spicy. I love mincing it and adding t to salad or grilled meat. It has a compound called gingerol that has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great tummy settler too. Eat too much at lunch. Calm down that tummy with ginger tea or grated ginger on a salad for dinner!

Spice it up this spring and boost your health so easily!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

 

The Power of Processing: Local Family-Owned Dairy Farms + Innovation

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Kelly-SpringerNothing is better than fresh, pure milk products (milk, cheese and yogurt). We all know the slogan, “Milk—it does a body good,” but do you know why?

A Nutritional Powerhouse

First, dairy is an amazing source of protein, which is an important building-block of healthy muscle, skin, tissues, and blood. Several studies have shown that consuming milk products helps to maintain a healthy weight, most likely because of the protein. Milk is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important for building strong bones.

And here’s a fact not many people know milk has an abundance of electrolytes—it makes a great recovery sports drink for this reason!

Local Love

Most of the milk products you love come from local farms! For folks like myself in Central New York, we are lucky to have dozens of local, family-owned dairy farms. Team these local farmers up to create Cayuga Milk Ingredients and you get the freshest, purest milk products imaginable. Allow me the honor to introduce you to Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Cow to Carton

Cayuga Milk Ingredients (CMI) is a 108,000 square-foot milk-processing facility in Auburn, NY. Each day, 2.3 million pounds of milk comes through this facility, all from within a 25-mile radius of the plant. A range of high-quality milk products are produced expediently—from the time that the cow is milked, the finished product manufactured at CMI can take less than nine hours to produce!

Earlier this month, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Cayuga Milk Ingredients manufacturing plant. This company, near my hometown in Central New York is the ideal representation of how to produce fresh milk products.

As I arrived at the plant, a truck load of milk from a nearby dairy farm came in. The milk is tested for antibiotics and bacteria before it even enters the plant! This assures that the milk is wholesome and clean when it enters the facility, so that contamination is not possible. The importance of hygiene in this plant was very apparent—the facility was immaculate.

Cleanliness is King

Kevin Ellis, the CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, an operation with 70 dedicated employees, gave me the tour. His and his employees’ attention to detail, cleanliness and high-quality products is off the charts! To ensure superior hygiene, employees and visitors wear booties, hair nets, a smock, and remove jewelry, and are required to wash their hands and change their booties no less than four times when they move deeper into the facility.  Each increasing level of hygiene is strictly adhered to ensuring CMI’s products are of the highest quality.

Innovation

The way that the milk is processed is very innovative. Much of the production is computer-assisted to help reduce bacterial contamination and human error.

Both dried milk protein and liquid milk products are tested for quality assurance in this facility. The dried milk protein is held in the facility for 8-10 days with constant testing and retesting of microorganisms to assure that the finished product is as high-quality as possible.

At any given time, there are 2.5 million pounds of finished products, which include milk powders (used for…), and various milk protein powders. I am particularly intrigued by a product known as liquid ultra-filtered milk, which is produced with a high- pressure membrane system. This all-natural low-fat milk has double the amount of protein of standard skim milk and half the sugar! How cool is that?

I loved the approach of CMI’s CEO, Kevin Ellis: “Our employees are our most important resource. We’re dedicated to producing high-quality milk ingredients from our farmer owners’ high-quality milk, while simultaneously improving the dairy industry by raising the bar for high standards. We’re confident you’ll see that the finest products come from the finest ingredients. We promise to not only meet your expectations, but exceed them!”

To me, it is awesome to know that ultra-high-quality, nutritious and pure milk products are being produced by CMI in such a way that family-owned farms, where cows are treated humanely are part of the process.

 By Kelly Springer, RD, MS. CDN

What to Do with the Leftover Easter Eggs

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eggsAfter tomorrow’s Easter egg hunt, what do you do with those leftover eggs? I am definitely a proponent of hard-boiled eggs as a delicious, protein-rich snack for my girls, but they can only have so many hard-boiled eggs before they get bored with them. Here are some more exciting dishes I create with those left-over eggs:

Cobb Salad:

Who doesn’t love a Cobb salad for a quick and easy week-night dinner? I use romaine lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, shredded carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, grilled chicken breast, and a tiny bit of crumbled blue cheese in my Cobb salads.

Breakfast for Dinner:

Chop those eggs and add them to small chopped roasted potatoes with onions and green and red bell peppers. Add a bit of hot sauce for adults or ketchup for kids. This is a favorite in my household!

Done-up Avocado Egg Salad:

You can go ahead and make egg salad, but try my healthy rendition. Mash two hard-boiled eggs with one avocado, and add 2 tablespoons of  Greek yogurt and a dash of lime juice and a small squeeze of mustard. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Pickled Eggs

I turned my girls onto pickled eggs, which were a favorite of mine as a little girl. Drop the peeled eggs whole into a sterilized glass jar, cover with leftover pickle juice and seal to make pickled eggs; chill and enjoy for up to two weeks.

A Healthier Macaroni Salad

Add two chopped up hard boiled eggs, a can of tunafish, 2 chopped celery stalks, and four cups of cooked whole wheat elbows (or try quinoa or corn elbows). Add a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt and sea salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!! I hope you find these ideas helpful. And many of you may be thinking how long do Easter eggs last? Refrigerated, hard-boiled eggs are good for one week whether or not they are peeled or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help prevent cancer this New Year

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The scary “c” word is hard to think about. Chances are you have known someone diagnosed with cancer. In fact, 40 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime! It’s a terrible, terrible disease, one that you wouldn’t wish upon even your worst enemy.

Unless the person has been previously diagnosed with cancer, it’s rare that I have a client who creates a New Year’s Resolution about developing a cancer prevention plan. In my series about New Year’s Resolutions, I am including this because I think it’s a great one for everyone to have! Here are my top tips to help prevent cancer through your food choices.

Tip # 1: Focus on eating mostly WHOLE foods.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian on my cancer prevention plan, rather, just eat food in their most original form. Eat potatoes, not potato chips or French fries. Aim to have half of your plate be vegetables and include dairy and a lean meat. Try to kick out most of the processed food in your diet.

Tip # 2: Get serious about increasing your fruit and veggie intake!

Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They contain minimal fat, sodium, and calories. These characteristics are what your immune system requires to protect against illness, including cancer! Try to get in at least five servings of veggies and fruit!

Tip # 3: Reduce your meat intake and increase your fiber!

While I mentioned that you don’t need to become a vegetarian on my cancer prevention plan, you should at least reduce your meat intake. Research does show that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to get diagnosed with cancer. The main reason for this is that meat lacks fiber, so reduce your meat intake and increase your fiber intake.

You will automatically increase your fiber intake by following tip # 2. Another way to increase your fiber is by consuming whole grains, which in part, is what tip # 1 includes. Have oatmeal for breakfast. Have whole-grain bread when you eat sandwiches. Have brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or millet with your dinner.

When it comes to meat, pay special attention to reducing red meat and processed meats (deli meat, hotdogs, sausage, bacon, etc.). Reduce the portion sizes of meat. Consider adding it for flavor in a casserole instead of having a whole hunk of it as the main portion of your meal—see it more as a condiment!

Tip #4: Get 30 minutes of exercise a day!

Most people don’t associate exercise with cancer prevention, but there is a huge association! Physical activity decreases the risk of colon, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer. As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate, or for 30 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity every day. Definitely be under a doctor’s guidance if you are not used to regular exercise.

I sincerely hope you follow these tips not just for the New Year, but as a lifestyle. Not only will they help lower your risk of cancer, they will help you live a healthier life for a long time!