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. 

https://www.facebook.com/banisternutritionllc

https://www.instagram.com/banisternutritionllc/

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:

Entrees:

Sweet potato salad with kale, beets and tahini dressing https://www.walderwellness.com/sweet-potato-salad-with-kale-beets-tahini/

 

Stuffed Sweet Potato

https://greatist.com/eat/stuffed-sweet-potato-recipes#cheesy

 

Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata

https://island-bakes.com/sweet-potato-and-kale-frittata/

 

Side Dishes:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

https://www.spendwithpennies.com/balsamic-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

 

Asparagus and Parmesan

https://momsdish.com/baked-parmesan-asparagus

 

Cauliflower and Cabbage Steaks In Air Fryer

https://dailyyum.com/air-fryer-cauliflower-steaks/

https://dinnersdonequick.com/air-fryer-red-cabbage/

 

Winter Pear Salad

https://bluebowlrecipes.com/winter-salad-with-pears-and-pomegranates/

 

Citrus Fruit Salad

https://www.lemontreedwelling.com/winter-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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
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

 

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

Brain Gains!

Having a healthy brain and adequate cognitive function is essential. There are certain foods we can include more of in our diets to ensure our brain is performing at its best. Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance in the number of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. When free radicals are not balanced by antioxidants, they don’t fight off pathogens as well. This can lead to infection, damage to fatty tissue, DNA and proteins. Below is a list of foods to help combat oxidative stress, cognitive decline, and promote healthy brain function.

  • Avocado: Packed with healthy mono-saturated fats, avocados can help improve blood flow to the brain, reduce blood pressure, and support information-carrying nerves in the brain. All of which combat cognitive decline.
  • Berries: Berries contain antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the brain and body. They can also improve memory.
  • Coffee: With antioxidants that are great for brain function, coffee can increase the brain’s capacity for processing information. 
  • Dark Chocolate: This contains many antioxidants that boost mood and alertness as well as improving brain plasticity which is a key contributor for learning.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon and many other fatty fish contain omega 3 fatty acids which can improve the structure of neurons in the brain and improve blood flow to the brain.
  • Nuts and Seeds: These contain many antioxidants but they are particularly high in Vitamin E, which helps combat oxidative stress and improves cognition.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains also contain vitamin E and vitamin B, which reduces inflammation. They can also help maintain blood sugar throughout the day, keeping you focused and alert. 

Incorporate more of these foods into your diet and see how much more focused and alert you feel! Whether you are going back to school, trying to stay sharp at work or just performing your best at daily life, we hope these brain-boosting foods could have a positive impact on your life.

KR

Caprese Salad

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Caprese Salad


Description

Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese – 

My favorite summer entree salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It is quick, easy, healthy and very satisfying.

This salad was created in Italy in the early 1920s. It is a patriotic reflection that visually incorporates the tricolors of the Italian flag red, green and white.


Ingredients

Fresh mozzarella: I like to buy the pre-sliced to make the assembly go faster.

Extra virgin olive oil: Make certain your olive oil says “extra virgin” which will be less processed with more flavor.

Fresh tomatoes: Garden grown tomatoes are the best.

Balsamic vinegar:  Place full bottle of vinegar into a pan, heat on low 15-20 min. to reduce it  down and it becomes thickened. I keep the extra balsamic glaze in my refrigerator to have ready for my next salad.

Salt and pepper:  add to taste to bring out and compliment the flavors of the dish.


Instructions

Assemble salad:  Layer tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Why is Breakfast So Important?

Eating in the morning is beneficial because it affects important processes within your body, including:

  • Metabolism: Eating breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism, helpingyour body burn calories.
  • Adequate Nutrient Intake: When you skip breakfast, that’s one less meal to contribute to necessary daily nutrients. 
  • Concentration/Alertness: Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, which helps improve your memory, cognitive ability, and attention span.
  • Mood: Eating breakfast can improve mood by providing glucose to your famished brain. No one likes to be “hangry”!

Eating breakfast also prevents unhealthy eating later in the day: When you are hungry because you skipped breakfast, you are more likely to binge eat or consume convenient, unhealthy foods.  People who eat breakfast tend to be healthier and have fewer weight problems and associated issues like diabetes. 

To ensure you have time for breakfast, think “Plan & Prep”:

  • Plan: Plan your meals for the week ahead of time so you are not scrabbling for something as you run out the door.
  • Prep: Put everything in containers the night before so there is no hassle in the morning.

Not a breakfast person? It helps if you plan meals you actually enjoy eating. Try some overnight oats topped with fruit or make a breakfast bowl with turkey bacon, eggs, a little cheese, and maybe some veggies. Or break away from traditional breakfast foods altogether: Can you eat soup for breakfast? Of course! Spring rolls? Go for it! The important thing is . . . when you wake up, eat up!

kr

Food Waste & You!

Three Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste and Improve Nutrition

 

Between National Arbor Day and National Gardening Day, April is a month of celebration for all that our beautiful earth provides. This, of course, includes one of the most precious resources that we happen to enjoy every day – food! Try the 3 strategies below to power the planet and your body at the same time.

 

Number 1:   Shop Smart

One of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to food waste and good nutrition is buying more than we can use in one week. When planning ahead, a practical approach is to plan one week at a time, with an emphasis on seasonal, local options. Keep in mind that fresh produce and meat stay fresh for about 3-5 days on average. Knowing this, a good strategy is to be sure to include a mix of fresh, frozen, and, believe it or not, even canned goods in your meal plan. Next time you are planning, try this –

  • Focus on 2-3 fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables each week and try to think of ways to include these in multiple recipes. Oh, and avoid shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Contribute to a greener and healthier environment over time by reducing your carbon footprint. When we buy locally we are reducing the travel time for those wonderful fruits, vegetables, dairy, and even meat that often comes from across state lines. By doing this, we are enjoying fresh, crisp goods while reducing CO2 emissions which in turn helps support a healthy food supply for decades to come.
  • When it comes to health and packaged goods is to always look for items that are low in added sugar and salt. This small change can help those managing their cardiovascular health, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone health, and much more and still feel good about their environmental impact. On the flip side, make sure to recycle aluminum and glass when you can to help reduce the impact on our landfills and ecosystem.
  • Like our canned goods, when it comes to frozen foods we want to look for items that are not pre-seasoned or flavored. Seasonings and flavors tell us that there has likely been salt, sugar or even preservatives added. By doing this, we can then add unique flavors to make it work with whatever dish is on the menu. Way more fun!
  • Bonus – frozen goods are great for those cooking for one because you can easily get one serving out and then pop the rest back in the freezer for next time.

The truth is, there are many healthy options when it comes to packaged and fresh foods – and staying informed is one way to help meet your health and environmental goals.

Number 2:   Proper Food Storage

Americans discard more food than any other country, nearly 40 million tons — or 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply. So what can you do?

  • Follow FIFO! If this term is new to you, it stands for “First-In, First-Out” and refers to a food storage method that is used for both sanitation purposes and food waste reduction. What it means is that as you are putting away the groceries make sure to put them away in an order that allows you to use the oldest items first. For example, yogurt in the refrigerator is one of those that inevitably end up spoiled in the back of the fridge. If we are intentional in placing the newest yogurt behind the old one, it will remind us to use the oldest first. I know it’s tempting to grab the freshest one however when it comes to food waste we’re doing ourselves a disservice for minimal flavor difference.
  • Preserve foods by keeping your leafy green in an airtight container with a dry paper towel. This will help absorb the moisture and keep the item fresher longer.
  • Another idea is to keep items like celery in the refrigerator with a small amount of water around the root which will keep the leaves thriving and fresh longer.
  • When it comes to fruit, try not to cut this too far in advance which will help it from turning mushy before you’re ready to enjoy it.
  • Use eco-friendly glass, plastic and other items like re-usable storage bags for both improved freshness, financial savings, and concerning nutrition – reduced intake of potential carcinogens.
  • Use reusable drink holders more often and reduce bottle water intake. This will help to make keeping up with daily water intake fun and even motivating.

Number 3:   Use EVERYTHING!

For many, the idea of eating leftovers is nothing short of boring. However, we know that with a high rate of food waste here in the United States an easy change like including 1 to 2 leftover meals per week can have a big impact. But who wants to eat the same thing twice in a row? Me either! Instead, try “re-inventing” it into something completely new and exciting!

  • Keep leftover meat and vegetables for a quick stew or chili.
  • If vegetables like corn, peas, and beans are leftover, try adding to a cold salad the next day for added flavor and texture.
  • If you happen to be among those that enjoy leftovers, refrigerating and freezing leftovers in individual serving sizes is one of the best ways to help ensure that always have something nutritious available for those crazy days when cooking goes out the window.
  • When it comes to peels and scraps from items like oranges, lemons, limes, try saving for everything from dried seasoning and rubs, salad dressing, vinaigrettes and jam – bring on the phytonutrients!

It is encouraging to know that small changes each day with food purchasing, storage, and enjoyment can work together to support our health and environmental goals. On behalf of Banister Nutrition, thank you for all you are doing to support a healthy, happy world for yourself and others. ~AS

 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi 

Cast Iron Breakfast Hash

Gluten-Free Dining

Keeping Produce Fresher Longer

Keeping fresh produce “fresh” can be tricky. In recent months, I have backed off on how many times I grocery shop each month. Keeping fresh produce around for longer than a week can be challenging, but I have started using some of these strategies to keep produce looking and tasting great for weeks!

Storing Produce Properly

Let’s start with how to store your produce! Avoid storing produce at the top of the refrigerator where it is more likely to freeze. Instead, keep fresh produce in the center of the refrigerator to prevent freezing or thawing. Let’s dive into storing techniques for common grocery buys: 

  • Asparagus: Place in a glass of water (like flowers) and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Carrots: Store in a covered container of water in the refrigerator to keep firm until ready to use. Replace the water every 2 to 3 days.
  • Celery: Wrap in aluminum foil to maintain freshness and crunch and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Cucumbers: Store on the countertop at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Lettuce/herbs: Place a dry paper towel around to soak up excess moisture that can cause mushiness, molding, or browning. Change towels every 2 to 3 days. 
  • Mushrooms: Keep in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator to prevent excess moisture causing mushiness, molding, or browning.
  • Tomatoes: Store on the countertop at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Winter squash/pumpkin/onions/potatoes: keep in a dry, cool space like the pantry or garage. Ensure these foods are not overcrowded and have adequate air circulation to prevent breakdown.

 

Washing Produce

It is recommended to wait and wash produce prior to using it to prevent excess moisture during the storing process. Berries are a bit different. Try soaking them in a vinegar solution (3 parts water to 1 part vinegar) for 5 to 10 minutes. Fight the urge to rinse the vinegar off. The vinegar helps fight off molding. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar on your sweet berries. Let berries dry completely. Then, return to a breathable container prior to storing in the refrigerator.

 

Isolation to Prevent Ripening

Some fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, pears, and potatoes produce a gas called ethylene. When this gas is released it can cause any produce near it to ripen faster. Prevent this by storing these foods separately in the refrigerator or on the countertop. Alternatively, you can even place these items near avocados if you are impatient like me and ready to devour the avocados before they’re ripened!

 

Slow Down The Ripening Process

The cold environment of the refrigerator or freezer can allow you to store produce for much longer. Always allow fresh produce like pears, avocados, melons, bananas, peaches to ripen at room temperature first. When at ideal ripeness, transition the produce to the refrigerator until ready to use. Before any produce goes bad, use the freezer to keep it “fresh” until ready to use. Most vegetables need to be blanched before storing in the freezer. Blanching helps halt enzyme activity that impacts flavor and texture; it also helps to clean the produce prior to storing. Put herbs in ice cube molds with olive oil. Chop up green onions and place in a plastic bottle for easy dispensing. Place all produce in an airtight container and use within 6 months.

 

I hope these strategies are as helpful for you as they have been for my family! LN