Tuesday, March 27, 2012

National Nutrition Month: Cut Back on the Extras

By Gwen Hill MS, RD, LD

Our final challenge for National Nutrition Month encompasses a large request: cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars. This blog will cover the first topic: Decrease your sodium intake.

Many people love the taste of salt and have no desire to see it go -- so why cut back on salt? Here’s the deal: people who have a higher intake of sodium are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It can also increase the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Potassium, a mineral found in fruits and vegetables, negates the effect of sodium, depending on the quantities in which each is eaten. If you eat enough potassium-rich foods, you may offset the negative effect of sodium. However, most people don’t get the daily recommended amount of potassium -- just one more reason to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables!

Therefore, it is wise to follow the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to limit the amount of sodium you consume in a day to 2,300 mg. The American Heart Association recommends an even lower intake of 1,500 mg per day for heart protective effects. For reference, the average daily intake of sodium in America is 3,400 mg. If you eat pre-packaged or fast food often, your average intake will be much higher.

Here is the amount of sodium found in various measures of table salt. A little goes a long way:

1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,200 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,800 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Sodium is found in some foods naturally and it is also in the salt found in our salt shakers. But fast foods, pre-packaged foods and canned foods are the real problem, because producers add a lot of sodium to them. To limit sodium, look for reduced sodium versions of pre-packaged products and canned foods -- OR, even better, make food from scratch so you can control the amount of salt you add to your food. And, if you have a heavy hand with the salt shaker at the table, try to cut down on the amount you use.

Check out this week's recipe for a delicious way to cut back on the extras that might be weighing down your plate.

Weekly Recipe #58: Edamame Hummus

By Gwen Hill MS, RD, LD

This week's recipe is a tasty dip that can be a great appetizer or snack. It meets this week’s National Nutrition Month challenge by being low calorie and naturally low in sugar, and the salt content is determined by you. When you see “season with salt…,” use half of what you would typically use to cut down on your sodium intake. You may be pleasantly surprised at how delicious the other flavors are in the dish without the dominating taste of salt!

Edamame Hummus
Adapted from Bon Appétit

(Makes about 6 cups)

2 10-oz. packages frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
Kosher salt (add to taste)
2 10-oz. packages frozen peas
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
¼ cup chopped fresh mint plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Endive spears

1. Cook edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Return water in pot to a boil and add peas; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer peas to bowl with edamame; let cool. Drain well.
2. Working in batches, pulse edamame and peas in a food processor until a coarse purée forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in lemon juice, garlic, coriander and cumin. Gradually stir in 3/4 cup oil; mix well. Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro and 1/4 cup mint. Season with salt and pepper.*
3. Transfer to a serving bowl; drizzle with oil and garnish with more herbs. Serve with endive spears.

*Can be made 2 days ahead at this point. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

National Nutrition Month: Vary Your Proteins

by Gwen Hill, MS, RD, LD

National Nutrition Month continues to forge on! In week three, we challenge you to vary your proteins and switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Most of us know that protein is found in various types of food -- from animal meat to plant sources. Did you know there is a difference between these proteins? Let’s take a quick look at protein…

Protein is made up of amino acids which are classified in two groups, essential and non-essential. The body is not able to make essential amino acids; therefore, we must get them through food. Meat, dairy and quinoa contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need, making them a “complete protein.” Though quinoa is a complete protein, most other plant sources do not contain all of the essential amino acids, so they are not complete proteins. They must be paired with other foods at some point in the day to complement the amino acid profile to make a complete protein. Here are common pairs and examples:
  • Grains and beans/legumes: rice and beans, vegetarian chili with bread
  • Grains with nuts/seeds: peanut butter on toast, breadsticks with sesame seeds
  • Beans/legumes with nuts/seeds: Hummus (chickpeas and sesame paste)
Why is it so important to get complete proteins? Amino acids are the building blocks of the body. They are a part of every cell, tissue, and organ. Protein is an important part of the diet because it provides the amino acids that the body needs for growth, repairs and replacing tissues. By eating complete proteins, we ensure that our body has all of the building blocks it needs to heal and grow.

Most people need around 50-70g of protein per day, so eating protein at every meal is a good way to ensure you get the recommended amount. Try a variety of proteins to keep your diet interesting! Here are some ideas:
  • Seafood/fish: these provide an excellent source of omega-3’s, which help decrease inflammation in the body. This is beneficial for heart health, joint pain and skin appearance.
  • Lean meat: try chicken, turkey, lean ground meat, tenderloin cuts of beef and pork. A 3-oz. serving of meat (about the size of a deck of cards) has about 21g of protein.
  • Plant sources: beans, legumes and nuts provide fiber as well as protein! Half a cup of legumes has about 7g of protein.
  • Dairy: milk and yogurt contain a great source of protein. They are also a wonderful source of calcium and other minerals to help keep your bones strong and body healthy. One cup of milk or yogurt has about 7-11g of protein. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy or almond milk.
  • USDA MyPlate Recommendation: eat and drink low-fat dairy products. You will still get all of the protein and calcium your body needs without the extra saturated fat. This means lower calories and less damage to your cardiovascular system.
This week we've got two recipes that use alternative protein sources to help you get the protein you need. Plus, they're delicious! See the recipes>>

Weekly Recipe #57: The Trifecta Burger + Tofu Chocolate Mousse

By Jeanne Foels, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator

Enjoy the following tofu recipes -- perhaps a new source of protein for some of you. The first is a soy-based burger, and the second is a delicious soy-based dessert. Cooking with soy is just one way that you can achieve this week's National Nutrition Month challenge to vary your proteins!

Here are the ingredients in these recipes that will help you with this challenge:
  • TVP granules (texturized vegetable protein): TVP has the consistency of ground beef and is often used in place of beef in recipes like chili, tacos and beef & tomato soup.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a soft cheese-like food made from mashed soybeans that easily absorbs the flavors of other ingredients. Tofu is cholesterol-free, low in fat and calories, rich in protein and provides bone-healthy minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. There are different types of tofu, so make sure to use the form called for in these recipes.
  • Soy tempeh: Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans. Tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, but unlike tofu, tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor.

The Trifecta Burger
Adapted from Epicurious

(Serves 6)

1 cup TVP granules
1 cup vegetable broth
10 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
4 oz. plain soy tempeh
½ cup vegan mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade
2 tbsp. sriracha sauce
2 tbsp. sesame oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
oil, for frying (optional)

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together the TVP granules and the broth, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave for 5 to 6 minutes. Alternatively, bring the broth to a boil, pour over the TVP granules, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. In a mixing bowl, crumble the tofu and tempeh. Mix in the reconstituted TVP.
3. Add the mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well.
4. Slowly knead in the flour until well incorporated and form into 6 patties. Cook as desired.
5. Bake at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, or bake first, then finish off by lightly frying in a smidge of oil until golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

(Serves 4)

12 oz. package silken firm tofu (silken tofu is needed for the correct texture)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 strawberries (optional)
4 sprigs fresh mint (optional)

1. Mix tofu, cocoa powder and sugar together in a blender. Blend until smooth. Divide mousse among 4 glasses. Garnish with strawberries and mint (optional).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

National Nutrition Month: Wholesome Whole Grains!

By Dana Cordy, MPH, RD, Open Arms Volunteer

Here in week two of National Nutrition Month, we explore whole grains. This week, we challenge you to eat more of these amazing foods!

We hear about whole grains more than ever in the media, from our friends and particularly from health professionals. Even the food industry has started to market more and more whole grain products and is reformulating popular brands to include more of this important ingredient. But what is a whole grain and why should you eat it?

A whole grain is exactly what it sounds like. It is a grain that exists in its normal, natural, unprocessed state containing all of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that are inherent in the grain as it grows from the ground. Common whole grains in the United States are wheat, brown rice, rye, corn, barley and oats.

To understand how a whole grain is processed and becomes refined, let’s take a look at rice as an example. Rice is the intact grain, which includes the germ, endosperm and bran. When you see brown rice on a food label, this is referring to the whole grain. Once the grain is processed, the bran and the germ are removed, losing many important nutrients. White rice is the result.

A diet rich in whole grains has been linked to lower rates of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some cancers and obesity. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people get at least half of their grain intake from whole grain sources.

How can you include more whole grains in your diet? As many food manufacturers begin to recognize the importance of whole grains, there are many products entering the market which contain whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, and oats. For example, take a look at a box of cereal. If “whole wheat” is first on the ingredient list, it means it is the primary ingredient in your cereal. To have a breakfast of entirely whole grains, try a bowl of homemade oatmeal. It is inexpensive and contains nothing but whole grain oats!

Here are a few simple ideas for how to replace refined grains with whole grains in your diet:
  • Have brown instead of white rice. Start with a mixture of each if you don’t like the texture at first. Before you know it, you will realize how delicious this chewy, hearty whole grain can be.
  • Replace white bread with whole wheat bread – labels are critical here because many breads say “wheat” but are not actually “whole wheat” so read the label carefully!
  • Try whole wheat or brown rice pasta in place of plain white pasta. There are many different brands, just try different ones until you find the one you like best.
  • Incorporate a new grain into a favorite meal. Add a side of barley, quinoa, bulgur, or even popcorn to your plate. These grains can be found in the bulk section of many grocery stores and are packed with nutrients for a healthy diet – and when you buy in bulk you save money too!
  • Most importantly, have fun with it! Adding something new to your diet can be good for you. See this week's recipe for inspiration.

Weekly Recipe #56: Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

The recipe this week uses quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as the whole grain to help you achieve this week's challenge. Not only is this a ancient grain superstar, it also is a “complete protein,” a perfect addition to any vegetarian’s diet.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

(Serves 8)

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (½ cup)
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated (1 ½ cups)
2 cups water
1 ½ cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes or until soft. Add cumin and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes or until most of liquid has evaporated.
2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots and 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.
4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture and place in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour. Uncover and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tbsp. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Letters From Ethiopia: The Orphans Left Behind

By David Plante, Volunteer

On Tuesday, we visited the Mesfin Feyisa Initiative. In 2005, the Initiative began under the auspices of Adama Dawn of Hope
-- which Open Arms supports with nutrition and technical assistance -- when Mesfin took in a young woman who had been discarded by her family because she was dying of AIDS. 

The Initiative recently registered as a separate, charitable organization, independent of Adama Dawn of Hope.  

Over the course of seven years, Mesfin has grown that single act of compassion into a well-organized, effective rehabilitation center for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and an orphanage for the children whose parents “failed to rehabilitate.” This is no small task -- the incidence of HIV here hovers around 10%, resources are scarce, and unlike the U.S., it’s impossible to rely on a bunch of active, effective volunteers to accomplish this important work.

Still, the work is miraculously successful. Since 2005, 4,000 PLWHA have gone through the rehabilitation process: they’re monitored, medicated and fed, and when they’re well enough to leave, the Initiative's staff facilitates ongoing access to their antiretroviral regimen and enough nutrition to help them recover fully. Because of the generosity of Open Arms donors, clients of the Initiative will continue to be nourished throughout their stay; Open Arms covers the costs of the nutrition component of the rehab program.

But not everyone survives, and it’s in the wake of this disease that lies some of the harshest reality of the day: the orphans left behind.

We spent 30 minutes visiting the orphanage connected to the Mesfin Feyisa Initiative. Opened on the original site of Adama Dawn of Hope, it’s a rented amalgamation of buildings on a plot of land smaller than a Minneapolis city lot. Within its walls lies the future of 18 children; 11 are HIV-positive, and almost certainly unadoptable.

All these orphans go to school, thanks to the generosity of fellow Twin Citians who underwrite the cost of tuition. They are clothed, fed, sheltered and cared for by a group of dedicated caregivers. Those who are HIV-positive have access to antiretroviral treatment, and they are monitored by the clinic at the Mesphin initiative site, which is connected but physically separate.

Mesfin’s vision is to turn the orphanage into a boarding school of sorts, where these orphans not only survive but thrive. A lofty goal, but one that I believe can be accomplished because of the passion and commitment of Mesfin and his team, and because of the generosity of those of us who count ourselves as incredibly fortunate.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letters from Ethiopia: An Overview of Our Work

By Ben Penner, Farm Director

An Open Arms team has traveled to Ethiopia to visit our nutrition partners in Addis Ababa and Adama, Ethiopia. For all of us, it is our first trip to this part of Africa, so there have been plenty of cultural adjustments to make. While important, I will address those in later posts. For now, I would like to focus on just a few of the major issues facing people living with HIV/AIDS in this part of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Need: Food Security

Open Arms’ support for our partners in Ethiopia helps address a crucial food security need for those living with HIV/AIDS. We provide assistance to a rehabilitation center, organized by Mesfin Feyisa, which has served more than 4,000 clients over the last several years. Many of the people served by the center have nowhere else to go. Whether due to stigma in the community because of lack of understanding of the virus or due to lack of community resources to take care of them, the clients who come here are often near death. Once they are able to eat solid meals prepared by the kitchen staff and take their antiretroviral medicine (ARVs) regularly, they are often able to gain strength and become productive members of their community once again.

Often female clients come to the center with their children, many of whom are HIV positive or have AIDS. Sometimes, the women do not survive, thus creating many orphans in the community -- and more than 5 million in Ethiopia. Mesfin and his group have addressed this need by starting an orphanage (an unofficial one, but still an orphanage) where they house 18 children and feed them the same nourishing food that the adult clients get in the center. Some of these kids are able to go to school. The need for care for the children is greater than the resources currently available.

Food Prices

In our meetings with various community and aid groups/partners, including NASTAD, The Iddirs, Dawn of Hope and the Mesfin Fayisa Initiative Rehabilitation Center, it has become clear that one of the great challenges facing the nutrition program is the rising cost of food. For example, the price of teff crop (which is made into injera, the Ethopian staple food) has increased exponentially in the last few years. At one time 100 kilograms of teff could be purchased for 400–500 Birr (approximately $20-$25 at today’s exchange rate). Now that same amount of teff costs approximately 1400 Birr, or over $80. For most organizations operating on slim budgets, this cost can have a direct impact on the number of clients that can be served, the nutritional quality of their meals -- or both.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Letters From Ethiopia: It Always Starts With One

By David Plante, Volunteer

 Every time I visit Africa I can’t help but feel how overwhelming life here seems. Not for me—as a middle class white American the most difficult thing I face is learning how to say “Hello” or “Thank You” in an unfamiliar language, or navigate a menu that at times offers more surprise than my stomach can handle. But for the millions who live in one of the poorest countries in Africa, I’m not sure overwhelming begins to describe existence here.

Africa is enormous and difficult to navigate logistically and culturally. There are politics I don’t understand, traditions that dictate how people relate to one another, and nuances delivered in language I can’t begin to notice much less describe. But it’s the combination of it all punctuated by scenes of unimaginable poverty and unforgiveable cruelty that makes life here at times emotionally unfathomable.

And yet it takes but an hour or two before I am reminded that despite the hardships that exist on this side of the world, despite a feeling of hopelessness that would exist if for no other reason than the enormity of what people here face, there are many stories of hope. And that is one of the things I most look forward to whenever I get the chance to come to Africa.

I see it in the work of NGOs with miniscule budgets and endless determination often started by an individual with an idea and the persistence to bring it to life. I see it in the work done by NASTAD in trying to fill the gaps in service to people living with HIV/AIDS that the government in Africa can’t (or won’t) provide.  And in the widow who took in an orphan one day and then another the next until soon she was operating an orphanage.

I’ve been struggling to capture just how important—and how easy—it is to make a difference. And then I found this sign attached to a wall in the Mesfin Feyisha Initiative, an iteration of sorts of the Dawn of Hope: “ Don’t get lost in numbers. Start humbly. Begin with one or two. If the ocean is less by one drop it is still worth doing.”

It is often paralyzing to think of all that could be done and isn’t. But it isn’t about all that could be done. It’s about what is being done. Whether it’s the birr (about 6 cents) you hand to the child on the street or the money you contribute to buy a food parcel or the orphan whose school tuition you sponsor, what matters is that you decided there was something you could do and you did it. You made the ocean just a little smaller.

I’m excited to see how else we can help make the ocean a little smaller. More to come from Ethiopia.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

National Nutrition Month: Make Half of Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables

By Leah R. Gramlow RD, Open Arms Volunteer

Happy National Nutrition Month! Let's kick off the month with a challenge to eat more fruits and vegetables.

As a rule of thumb, half of your plate at mealtimes should consist entirely of fruits and vegetables. The current recommendation is five servings or more every day. Fruits and vegetables are packed with flavor and have the added benefits of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and little-known chemicals called phytochemicals (pronounced fight-o-chemicals). Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has also been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

The fiber in fruits and vegetables can provide a feeling of fullness after eating a meal. Consuming enough fiber (at least 25 grams per day) can help you lose weight, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and can also prevent a disease of the intestines called diverticulitis. Antioxidants that are found in fruits and vegetables include vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium. Antioxidants can help prevent blood clots, heart attacks and some cancers.

Not only is it important to eat five servings every day, but it is also important to eat different colors of fruits and vegetables. The colors come from naturally occurring compounds called phytochemicals that can reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Examples include sweet potatoes containing beta-carotene and tomatoes containing lycopene. These benefits can only be reaped from whole fruits and vegetables. Supplements cannot provide everything a whole fruit or vegetable can.

To increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, try eating them as snacks throughout the day and make sure every meal contains at least one to two servings. Vegetables can be served as a side dish or added into other foods such as soup, stir fry or pasta dishes. Fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are all great to use depending on the season or your recipe. When buying canned goods be sure to buy vegetables with labels that say ‘low sodium’ and fruits that are not packed in heavy syrup.

Next time you get groceries, fill up half of your cart with fruits and vegetables so you can fill up half of your plate! The two recipes featured this week will help you achieve this first challenge.

Weekly Recipe #55: Root Vegetable Tagine + Fruit Salsa

By Gwen Hill MS, RD, LD

We have two recipes for you this week that draw inspiration from the first challenge of National Nutrition Month. The tagine recipe has a hearty portion of vegetables, and the fruit salsa recipe is a fun way to enjoy fruit for an appetizer or a dessert. Think of all the healthy phytochemicals you can get from these recipes!

Root Vegetable Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Turnips and Spice-Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from Bon Appétit

(Serves 6)

1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp. dried crushed red pepper
¼ tsp. turmeric
2 ½ tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tbsp. tomato paste
1 ¼ cups carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cups water
1 ¼ lbs. red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb. turnips (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into ¾-inch wedges
¾ cup brine-cured green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 ounce; not oil-packed), thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. dried mint
1 10-ounce box plain couscous, cooked according to package instructions

Spice blend and preserved lemon (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store spice blend air-tight at room temperature. Transfer preserved lemon to small bowl; cover and chill.):
1. Toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in small skillet over medium heat until they start to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl. Add red pepper, turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt.
2. Mix lemon slices, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons coarse salt in small skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lemon slices are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Cool. Drain and chop lemon.

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large pot or tagine over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Add toasted spice blend, garlic and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add carrots and celery; stir 2 minutes.
3. Add chopped preserved lemon, 4 cups water, sweet potatoes, turnips, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer with lid ajar until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
4. Stir in parsley, cilantro and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
5. Spoon couscous into large bowl, spreading out to edges and leaving a well in the center. Spoon vegetable tagine into well center.

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
8 oz. raspberries
1 lb. strawberries
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. fruit preserves, any flavor
10 (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Prepare one side of each flour tortilla with butter. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar.
4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

National Nutrition Month: Welcome!

By Gwen Hill MS, RD, LD

Open Arms is celebrating National Nutrition Month! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A.N.D.), formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, encourages everybody to “Get Your Plate in Shape” during the month of March. Each week we will challenge you to incorporate a message from A.N.D.’s campaign to help you improve your eating habits.

The overriding message is simple: Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. USDA’s new MyPlate model shows exactly how a balanced meal should look. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins contain the nutrients you need without excessive calories. The plate does not provide space for high-sugar and high-fat sweets or sugary drinks. Limiting these things is a healthy, easy way to reduce unnecessary calories. These topics will be discussed in-depth throughout the month.

In addition to choosing the right foods, portion sizes make a big impact. Our plates, bowls and other eating tools have increased in size over the past few decades, leading us to fill them more than we would have before. This causes the portion sizes that we eat to be much larger, and in turn, causes the calories we consume to increase. If we do not exercise to use up the excess calories, we will start to gain weight, which increases our risk for undesirable health conditions. Therefore, we encourage you to watch your portion sizes and be active for the recommended 2 ½ hours (or more) each week to prevent this from happening. (If you need motivation to be active, check out "23 and 1/2 hours," an amazing talk by Dr. Mike Evans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo)

Over the next few weeks a team of registered dietitians and dietetic interns will propose a weekly challenge via blog for you to incorporate into your diet. Along with the challenge will be a recipe that you can use to meet the challenge of the week. I encourage all of you to consider the reason the challenge is being proposed and determine if you are already meeting it. If not, what can you do to meet it? What will it do for your body if you change your eating habits to meet the challenge?

This month, I encourage you to think about how to “Get Your Plate in Shape” if it’s in need of a little tune-up! Good luck!