Fresh Produce Tips

Do you struggle with consuming fresh produce in the winter? In Oklahoma, we have a wide variety of produce through warmer months, and fortunately, we also have a wide variety of produce that is in season this time of year! At Banister Nutrition, we post a list of produce in season for Oklahoma at the beginning of every month. When produce is in season, it tastes its best and it can usually be purchased at a lower cost. Check out our social media sites to view these each month.

Here are some ways you can utilize our fresh produce list:

  • You can keep it simple and just pick up these items to eat raw. Some examples are carrots, broccoli, or pears as side options with a meal or consumed as a snack.
  • You can add them to meals you are already preparing by swapping the out-of-season veggie for the in-season veggies in the list. 
  • Try some new recipes. Here are some of my favorite ways to include produce in season from our February list:


Sweet potato salad with kale, beets and tahini dressing


Stuffed Sweet Potato


Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata


Side Dishes:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Asparagus and Parmesan


Cauliflower and Cabbage Steaks In Air Fryer


Winter Pear Salad


Citrus Fruit Salad

Heart Healthy Blueberry Walnut Baked Oats

Heart Healthy Blueberry Walnut Baked Oats
Prep Time: 15 Minutes ● Baking Time: 45 Minutes ● Total Time: 1 Hour
Makes 8 Servings


  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk (or plant-based milk of choice)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup unflavored protein powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 ½ cups blueberries (frozen or
  • fresh)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F°
2. Grease a 9X9 pan with oil or cooking spray.
3. Mash 2 bananas in a bowl until mostly liquid with some small chunks
4. Add milk, beaten eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup to mashed bananas and mix well
5. In a separate bowl, add oats, flax seed, protein powder, cinnamon, salt, and then sift in 2 tsp baking powder. Mix well
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well
7. Fold in 1.5 cups blueberries (thaw in cold water first if using frozen) and 1 cup chopped or crushed walnuts – mix until distributed evenly throughout the batter8. Add batter to greased 9×9 baking dish9. Bake in 350 F° oven for 45 minutes OR until the top is lightly golden brown and a toothpick or knife comes out with minimal batter on it10. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve with additional warmed maple syrup and butter or margarine if desired.

Storage Instructions: These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days OR frozen for up to 6 months. To reheat from frozen, recommend placing in fridge to thaw for 1-2 days and then microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Make Ahead: These can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and reheated in the oven at 325 F° for 20-30 minutes or until heated to 165 F° internally.

Nutrient Information

Per 1/8 of recipe: 350 calories, 15 grams total fat (2 grams saturated fat, 13 grams unsaturated fat), 47

 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 42 grams carbohydrates with 8 grams fiber and 12 grams total sugar (3 grams added sugar), and 20 grams protein


National Soup Month

One of our Banister Nutrition team members, Ruth, is blessed with a wonderful South Indian family heritage.  As January is National Soup Month, she’d like to share a favorite soup her parents make: South Indian Sambar. Ruth says, “We usually eat this soup along with another dish called Idli, which is a steamed rice cake.” 

Even though the origin of Sambar is not known, it has become an integral part of South Indian cuisine and is enjoyed in various forms across the country. These various forms can be seen as a soup (more liquid based) or stew (thick, hearty texture). Sambar is a tangy and spicy lentil-based stew, typically made with tamarind, pigeon peas (toor dal), and a mix of vegetables, and it is seasoned with a unique blend of spices.

South Indian Sambar Recipe:



-6 baby carrots

-5-6 frozen moringa pods

-2 red potatoes 

-½ snake gourd (padavalanga)

-1 green hot pepper (adjust to spice preference)

-¾ red onion

-3 or 4 cloves garlic

-1 small ginger root

-1 cup lentil (toor dal)

-1 yam

-2 tomatoes (such as Roma)


-2-3 tbsp Sambar seasoning

-½ tbsp turmeric powder

-Salt (to taste)

-¼ tsp asafoetida

-1 tsp mustard seeds

-½ tbsp coconut oil


Prepare Lentils:

  1. Wash lentils then soak in 1 ½ cup water for 10-15 minutes. 

Prepare Vegetables:

  1. Thaw 5-6 frozen moringa pods in cold water.
  2. Remove skin from yam, ginger, and snake gourd (remove seeds as well).
  3. Cut red potatoes, yam, snake gourd, ½ red onion, and tomatoes into medium-size pieces (approximately 1-inch cubes). 
  4. Cut ginger into small size pieces (approximately ½ inch or less).
  5. Wash all vegetables (except tomatoes) after cutting.

Cooking in Stovetop Pressure Cooker:

  1. In a pressure cooker, add soaked lentils, all vegetables, sambar seasoning, turmeric powder, asafoetida, thawed moringa pods, and salt.
  2. Ensure the above ingredients are covered with water (DO NOT add coconut oil or mustard seeds until tempering step – see below).
  3. Start cooking in the pressure cooker. 
  4. After two-three whistles (or after 25-30 mins) take the pot off the heat. Wait for all the pressure to come out before opening the lid. The lentils and vegetables should appear cooked and have a soft texture.

Tempering (Tadka):

  1. Cut ¼ red onion into small pieces.
  2. In a fry pan, heat ½ tbsp coconut oil, then add 1 tsp mustard seeds, and cut onion.
  3. Cook until golden brown.
  4. Place on top of the cooked Sambar.


Enjoy this delicious South Indian soup by itself or with your favorite accompaniment, such as steamed rice cakes (Idli).



Nutritional Psychiatry

“Food and mood” is gaining attention in the mental health field. There  is considerable increase in research between psychiatric disorders and diet.

Nutritional psychiatry means using food and food supplements as alternative treatments for mental health disorders.

Your brain is on 24/7, taking care of  movement, breathing, heartbeat, sleep, senses and millions of daily decisions. Your brain requires a constant supply of fuel which comes from the foods you eat. Your brain functions best on premium fuel, which includes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats, limiting processed foods and sugar.

We may think of our emotions as solely related to the functioning of our brain or our central nervous system. The functioning of our gastrointestinal tract  also affects our emotions via production of serotonin, gut microbiome, and constant communication between the gut and brain through our vagus nerve. A person’s intestinal distress can be the cause or result of anxiety, stress or depression. This is because the brain and gastrointestinal system are intimately connected.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter referred to as the “feel good” chemical. It helps regulate sleep, appetite, moods and pain. Almost 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin production is influenced by the “good” bacteria in your intestinal microbiome.  Adequate presence of “good” bacteria is affected by the quality of your diet. “Good” bacteria improve how well you absorb nutrients from your food affecting health.

Many medications used to treat anxiety and depression target increasing the level of serotonin in your brain. Research indicates consuming a “premium fuel” diet also supports increased serotonin production, leading to improvement in mood and sleep plus many other factors.  This connection between quality of diet — good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, serotonin production, and mood enhancement is considered nutritional psychiatry.

Sunday Stew

From our registered dietitian Annie Thorp, MS, RD/LD:

“Hello Friends, Happy New Year! This recipe is a family favorite for us that we call “Sunday Stew”—a delicious hot stew that covers our food groups for dinnertime—rich in protein along with tasty veggies and sweet potatoes to help us fill our meal with the macronutrients we need all in one pot!”



1 tbsp. vegetable oil (we prefer avocado oil or olive oil)

2-3 lb. beef chuck stew meat, cubed into 1″ pieces

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into rounds

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tsp. salt (adjust higher or lower by preference or dietary needs)

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 c. beef broth

1 c. red wine

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dried or fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 lb. sweet potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces or smaller (we often use two 10 oz. bags of frozen sweet potatoes; or sometimes frozen butternut squash)

1 c. frozen peas (we often substitute 10 oz. of chopped fresh kale or frozen spinach)

1/4 c. freshly chopped parsley, for garnish



Step 1 – Set Instant Pot* to saute, heat one tablespoon of oil, then add beef and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Transfer (with any liquid) to a plate or bowl.

Step 2 – Recoat Instant Pot with another tablespoon of oil, then cook onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add wine to pot and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any caramelized onion. 

Step 3 – Return beef to pot. Add broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves, sweet potatoes, and veggies. 

Step 4 – Set Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for 35 minutes. Then let pressure release on its own for at least 20 minutes. The result is very tender meat and a rich broth.

Step 5 – Remove bay leaves and serve. Our kids (who aren’t all convinced about stew) prefer to eat the stew over fresh steamed rice.


*Note:  If you want to skip the pressure cooker, just use a large pot or dutch oven. After step 3, just cover and simmer for about 60 minutes or longer.


Adapted from Lena Abraham at (link)

Embracing the Future Plate: 2024 Food Trends

In the ever-evolving landscape of food and nutrition, 2024 brings forth a harmonious blend of health-conscious choices and innovative culinary experiences. Let’s dive into a few trends that are reshaping our relationship with food.


Functional Foods: Beyond mere sustenance, consumers are seeking foods that offer targeted health benefits. From gut-friendly yogurts to immune-boosting teas, functional foods are taking center stage. Probiotics, antioxidants, and adaptogens (plants and mushrooms that improve your body’s response to stress) are becoming kitchen staples as people recognize the profound impact of nutrition on overall well-being. 


Caffeine-Alternatives: In an era where stress and anxiety are pervasive, a shift towards caffeine alternatives makes perfect sense. Health-conscious individuals are exploring herbal infusions, adaptogenic elixirs, and mindful hydration to manage stress levels. This trend reflects a holistic approach to well-being, acknowledging that what we consume plays a crucial role in not only our physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. 


Plant-Based Proteins: Plant-based eating is no longer a niche choice; it’s a mainstream movement. From plant-powered burgers to pea protein powders, consumers are embracing a diverse range of plant-based proteins. This trend extends beyond dietary choices, influencing the supplement market as well. The focus is on sustainable, cruelty-free options that align with both personal health goals and environmental concerns.


At-Home Cooking: The kitchen is making a comeback, fueled by at-home cooking options that cater to busy lifestyles. Meal kits, featuring pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, simplify the cooking process and supports skill building. Additionally, health-savvy consumers have motivated food manufacturers to revamp select frozen foods to boast quality ingredients and exciting flavors, while offering convenience without compromising nutrition. Cooking at home has never been so accessible and enjoyable!


Food for Function, Not Vanity: In a departure from diet culture, there’s a growing emphasis on food for function over aesthetics or morality. The idea that food is neither inherently good nor bad is gaining traction (thank goodness). Instead of chasing fad diets, consumers are prioritizing nutrition that supports overall health and vitality. This shift marks a more balanced and sustainable approach to eating, fostering a positive relationship with food.


As we navigate the culinary landscape of 2024, these trends reflect a collective desire for holistic well-being, sustainability, and a deeper understanding of the role food plays in shaping our lives. Discover more about these trends and how you can leverage them for a healthier lifestyle by following us on social media for daily insights and tips! 


Embrace the future plate where nourishment meets innovation, keeping a healthy relationship with food as your guiding principle. #FoodTrends2024 #WellnessJourney #HealthyLiving”


 – AS

Scents for the Holidays

From our dietitian Lauren Northcutt,
“My family loves to fill the house with the scent of Christmas around the holidays. Potpourri is also one of my favors gifts to give friends, neighbors, coworkers and teachers. It can look super festive when combined in a mason jar. BONUS: I love a good food themed gift!!”
1 cup fresh cranberries
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp whole cloves
2-3 star anise
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 small clementine
16 oz wide mouth mason jar
1. To a 16 oz. mason jar, add the cranberries, then stand up the cinnamon sticks, add whole cloves, anise, rosemary, and then the clementine on the top. Close the lid.
2. Use twine or ribbon to attach a gift tag.
3. To use: slice the clementine, and place all the ingredients in a medium-sized pot on the stove with 4-6 cups of water. Let it simmer (not boil) for a few hours and up to a day with the lid off. Enjoy the aroma!

The Importance of Having a Dietitian on Your Side When Taking Weight Loss Medication

There is a lot of buzz around the new drugs in town for weight loss. These medications belong to a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RA) used to treat diabetes; medications under this class include Victoza, Trulicity, Ozempic/semaglutide, Rybelsus, Wegovy and Mounjaro. Their method of action is to increase insulin release with food, slow gastric emptying, promote fullness, and suppress glucagon. 

As an RD, I am seeing patients having success with weight loss, diabetes management, improvement in insulin levels, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced blood pressure and improvements in confidence using GLP-1 RA. While these medications can help patients progress towards their health goals, it is important to be mindful of their impact on the body. Medication can be a great tool, but working with an RD to improve dietary/lifestyle behaviors in tandem with taking these medications can be really beneficial long term. 

Nutrition concerns I am seeing with these patients include:

  1. Suppressed hunger can help with reduction of calories to aid in weight loss; however, it can also lead to behaviors like skipping meals, causing inadequate nourishment and malnutrition. Missing out on important nutrients can impact our whole system: gastrointestinal tract/constipation, fatigue/energy level, bone density, strength, immunity, hair loss, sleep, and more.
  2. While losing weight rapidly might sound great, it is hard on the body. It causes metabolism to slow down, increases muscle and bone mass breakdown, makes weight harder to keep off, increases risk of gallstone formation, and leads to electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Weight loss of no more than 0.5-2 pounds per week is much gentler on the body.

Special Considerations:

  1. If patients are breaking down their lean muscle mass stores, this will decrease the calories burned on a daily basis and slow down metabolism. Long term, this is going to make it challenging to maintain this weight loss.We know with age, muscle mass is harder to build and can impact balance/mobility. We want these patients to preserve as much lean muscle mass as possible.
  2. Long term, we do not know the impact of these medications on body dysmorphia or eating disorders due to limited studies available. Drastic changes in weight, appearance, dietary behaviors, or appetite while on the medication or when coming off the medication have the potential to greatly influence these conditions.

In short, these medications can be very helpful with progress towards health goals – specifically for folks whose weight puts them at health risks and those for whom lifestyle changes alone have not been successful. Working with an RD can help modify dietary and lifestyle behaviors alongside medication use to have long term success, muscle preservation, and create a positive relationship with food.

Sweet Victory: The Science Behind Your Sugar Cravings

Do you ever find yourself desperate for something sweet and not finding satisfaction until you finally get that bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake? Many of us have been there, wrestling with a sugar craving that feels impossible to shake. While sugar and other simple carbohydrate foods are not to be demonized or considered “bad,” these desires can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health, particularly when they occur often or regularly. But is it a matter of low willpower, or is there more to it? Below are a few scientific drives for increased sugar cravings.

The Why Behind the Craving
• Poor sleep: Sleep deprivation can disrupt hormonal regulation, including hormones that control hunger and appetite. This hormonal imbalance can lead to increased cravings for high-calorie, sugary foods.
• Inadequate energy/carbohydrate intake: Dips in blood sugar due to lack of caloric consumption or, more specifically, low carbohydrate intake have been shown to cause an increase of neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptide Y is a neurotransmitter (or messenger to the brain) that stimulates appetite and increases the desire for carbohydrate foods.
• A diet mindset: Similar to the abovementioned reason, just thinking about restricting foods and food groups can significantly increase our desire for those “restricted” foods. Food deprivation increases neuropeptide Y and cortisol production, driving up those cravings even before we begin to limit them.
• Anxiety/stress: Appetite and stress are closely related. High stress levels can trigger cravings for foods high in sugar due to their ability to provide a temporary sense of relief. Sugar consumption can stimulate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Getting that boost of serotonin and dopamine during and after consuming sugar-rich foods can lead to the unhealthy habit of utilizing food as a “treat” after a stressful day or situation.
• Nutrient deficiency: A deficiency in a nutrient or multiple nutrients has been shown to increase cravings for carbohydrates. Those deficiencies include magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, protein, fiber, iron, and chromium, to name a few. These deficiencies could be due to a lack of variety in the diet or poor overall intake.

Combatting Cravings
The first step in combatting your cravings is to find the root cause (or causes) of the specific food desire you are experiencing. Documenting your mood/emotions, daily intake, and cravings may help with this. This mindfulness practice can lead to self-discovery and empowerment as you delve deep into the why behind the sugar cravings and explore the remarkable idea of treating the root cause rather than just the symptoms. Working with a registered dietitian is recommended as they can decipher these food behavior logs expertly and create a nutrition intervention that meets your unique needs.


Sustainable Farming vs Regenerative Farming

Sustainable farming and regenerative farming are both approaches that aim to promote environmentally friendly and ethical practices in agriculture. While they share some similarities, there are important differences between the two concepts.

Sustainable farming focuses on maintaining agricultural practices that can be continued indefinitely without depleting natural resources or causing significant harm to the environment. It aims to strike a balance between economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. Sustainable farming practices often include measures such as conserving water, reducing chemical inputs, promoting biodiversity, and minimizing waste and pollution. The goal is to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Regenerative farming, on the other hand, takes a more proactive approach to restore and enhance the health and vitality of agricultural ecosystems. It goes beyond sustainability by seeking to actively regenerate and improve the natural resources and ecological functions of farmland. Regenerative farming practices focus on building healthy soils, enhancing biodiversity, improving water cycles, and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By adopting regenerative practices, farmers aim to improve soil fertility, increase resilience to climate change, and create self-sustaining and self-renewing agricultural systems.

In essence, while sustainable farming aims to minimize the negative impact of agriculture on the environment, regenerative farming takes it a step further by actively working to restore and revitalize ecosystems, with a particular focus on soil health and regeneration.

So, what can you do to contribute? A good place to start is by looking for products that support sustainable and regenerative practices. While identifying these products can be a complex task, here are a few guidelines that may help:

  • Use online directories and platforms: Utilize online directories and platforms that specialize in connecting consumers with regenerative farmers and their products. Some popular options include:
    • Regenerative Agriculture Network: A platform that connects consumers with regenerative farmers and offers a directory of farms and products.
    • LocalHarvest: An online directory that allows you to search for organic and regenerative farms in your area.
    • Regeneration International: Their website provides information on regenerative agriculture and a directory of farmers practicing regenerative methods.
  • Visit Farmer’s markets and local food co-ops: These venues often feature farmers who prioritize regenerative practices. Speak with the farmers directly to inquire about their methods and products.
    • Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs: Join a CSA program in your area. Many CSA farms prioritize regenerative practices, and by participating, you can support their efforts. In addition, CSA programs often allow you to purchase a share of a local farm’s produce in advance. Check out Oklahoma CSA Farms Community Supported Agriculture | for more information.
    • Online resources and social media: Use search engines and social media platforms to search for keywords such as “regenerative farming,” “regenerative agriculture,” or “sustainable farms” along with the name of your city or region. Explore websites, blogs, and social media accounts of farms to learn about their practices.
    • Networking and word-of-mouth: Engage with like-minded individuals or groups who are interested in sustainable and regenerative practices. Attend workshops, conferences, or community events related to agriculture, sustainability, or environmental conservation.

Regenerative and sustainable farming practices vary, so it’s essential to ask farmers about their specific methods and certifications to ensure they align with your expectations and values. By considering these factors and making informed choices, you can enjoy flavorful products that have a lower environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable future.