New Hampshire Harvest of the Month: June, Herbs and Dairy

Categories: Uncategorized

Jenna Minniti, Keene State College Dietetic Intern 2018-2019

The first New Hampshire Harvest of the Month for June is dairy!

By now you have heard that dairy is part of a healthy diet, but what does that mean? A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of foods from within all food groups and includes foods you truly enjoy. Dairy is extremely versatile and can be included in your diet in many enjoyable and healthy ways to help boost vitamin and mineral intake.

Did you know that living in New Hampshire means our bodies are not able to make vitamin D from the sun between the months of November through February [1]? That means we could potentially lose out on adequate vitamin D during the winter months. Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and immune health to name a few [2]. Though the human body can store vitamin D to use when we become low, it’s still important to consume foods that contain vitamin D regularly. The good news is that fortified dairy products can serve as a little vitamin D “insurance policy”.

A few ways to include more dairy in the diet is to eat cheese or cottage cheese as a snack, use milk instead of water in oatmeal, and use plain yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream. The best way to know if a dairy product is fortified with vitamin D is to look on the nutrition facts label and ingredients list. Always check a dairy item label to see if it contains vitamin D, to ensure you are getting enough of the sunshine vitamin.

Dairy naturally contains the minerals calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D, found in fortified dairy products, actually helps our body to absorb more calcium and phosphorus and helps transport them to our bones! Vitamin D and calcium are the perfect pair to help protect us from losing bone mass.

The New Hampshire Harvest of the Month for June also includes herbs! This is a perfect time to talk about the benefits of these small and mighty plants.

Late-spring and Early-summer are prime times for planting an herb garden, whether it is a few plants on the porch, or an entire spread in your backyard garden. People often think of fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine as our only source of antioxidants. The truth is that herbs are actually a rich source of antioxidants, too!

Antioxidants are thought to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by unstable molecules found in our environment but also as by-products from natural body processes such as metabolism. Interestingly, research has shown that a small amount of an herb can contain the same, if not more, antioxidants as their fruit and vegetable counterparts. Just 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano has the same amount of antioxidants as 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes! Among all herbs tested, oregano, sage, peppermint, thyme, and lemon balm had the highest level of antioxidants [3]. If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, dried herbs are just as beneficial. Dry herbs are about two to three times as potent as their fresh counterparts, so be sure to adjust recipes when substituting dried for fresh in order to avoid overpowering the dish. Dried herbs can have a shelf life of six months to three years, so be sure to look for fading flavor and color to help guide when they should be thrown out.

 

Here is a recipe that combines both dairy and an herb! Perfect for dipping those cold and crispy veggies into on a warm summer day.

 

Here is a recipe that combines both dairy and an herb! Perfect for dipping those cold and crispy veggies into on a warm summer day.

 

Dill Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (fortified, if possible)
  • 1 clove minced or shredded garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel (finely grated, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • In a small bowl, mix yogurt with garlic, fresh dill, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Recipe adapted from eatwell101.com

  1. Engelsen, O. (2010). The Relationship Between Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure and Vitamin D status, Nutrients, 2.

https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2050482

  1. Nair, R., & Maseeh, A. (2012) Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin, Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics, 3(2).

https://doi.org/10.4103/0976-500X.95506

  1. Dragland, S., Senoo, H., Wake, K., Holte, K., Blomhoff, R. (2003) Several Culinary and Medicinal Herbs Are Important Sources of Dietary Antioxidants, The Journal of Nutrition, 133(5).

https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/133.5.1286