By: Jennifer Dana, KSC Dietetic Intern 2018-19
Now that March is already here, so is National Nutrition Month®! This campaign was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month® was designed for us to take a moment and think of how we can make more informed decisions about how to treat our bodies through nutrition and movement. Treating ourselves well can mean many things. For example, listening to our bodies, finding physical activities that we genuinely enjoy, and eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients our bodies need, to name a few.
Eating healthfully doesn’t have to be complicated. Keeping meals simple, while including a variety of food groups is a great way to get a variety of nutrients. The MyPlate diagram can serve as a good reference point. The purpose of this diagram is to help you visualize what a proportion each food group might be in addition to what types of foods that would be beneficial to include in a meal.
During this time of year, with major holidays under our belt, money may be tight! With that in mind, there are ways to eat healthy, delicious foods and stay within your budget.
Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Plan what you are going to cook in advance and make a list for the grocery store. This way, you have a purpose for what you purchase which reduces waste and unnecessary items that you may not actually need.
- Look out for sales and coupons. Many times, coupons and sales are printed out at the entryway to grocery stores or in the newspaper. You can even find digital coupons on phone apps!
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes. By eating past the feeling of fullness, you can increase your food expenses.
- Choose foods that are typically low-cost but high in nutrient content: beans, peas, peanut butter, eggs, canned salmon and tuna, potatoes, oats, brown rice, etc. These foods can be great bases for meals and are inexpensive sources of protein.
- Try canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. These options can be cheaper depending on the time of year. Actually, frozen and canned produce is packaged at peak ripeness and its nutritional content is very comparable to fresh produce.
- Eat in-season produce! Fresh fruits and vegetables harvested during the current season or can be stored for several months are many times cheaper. One way to know what’s in-season, you can search through seasonalfoodguide.org for seasonal produce in your area.
Speaking of in-season, this month’s New Hampshire Harvest of the Month vegetables are beets and rutabagas! Beets and rutabagas are typically harvested in late summer to fall but can be stored through March and beyond. There are many specific types of beets, such as sugar beets, Chioggia, ruby queen, and so many more. Beets are known for their earthy taste and can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, or pickled. Beets provide an excellent source of folate and manganese. It’s also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
Rutabagas taste like an unsweet carrot, but once cooked, they become sweet and savory and can be used the same ways as potatoes. Rutabagas are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and a good source of calcium and fiber (United State Department of Agriculture, 2018). Fiber helps keep our blood sugars stable and regulates bowel movements. Potassium supports nerve transmissions, muscle contractions, and heart function. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects us from damage to our body’s cells and can help support our immune systems (Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University).
Eating beets and rutabagas is a great way to get a variety of nutrients you need to help support your health. See a yummy rutabaga recipe below for a creative way to consume this NH Harvest of the Month vegetable!
Maple Roasted Rutabagas
*This recipe is very flexible and you can use however many rutabagas you want, just adjust the oil accordingly*
- 1-2 large or 3 small rutabagas, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: top with fresh thyme or diced chives
- Preheat the oven to 390ºF. Place a roasting tin the oven to heat up.
- Peel the rutabagas and cut them into large chunks.
- Place the rutabagas in a and dress with the olive oil, maple syrup and dried thyme.
- Add in a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine well.
- Spoon the rutabagas into the roasting tin, reserving any dressing that has pooled at the bottom of the bowl.
- Roast in the oven, for 25 minutes, then drizzle over the reserved dressing and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden.
*Tip: Use real maple syrup. The maple flavored syrups burn easier in the oven.