Nutrition

National Nutrition Month 2016

By Melissa Rowe, Dietetic Intern

It’s March and spring time is in the air but that’s not the only exciting thing about this month. March is National Nutrition Month®! Every year since 1973, we have celebrated National Nutrition Month® as a way to promote the nutrition profession, educate individuals on the importance of making informed nutrition choices, and help develop healthy diet and exercise habits.

The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to “encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.” While it is important to “focus on the numbers” when managing diabetes, it is also important that you remember to enjoy the food you are eating. Eating should not be considered a task but rather a pleasant activity.

We often forget how important the food we put into our bodies is because we are busy, but how and why we eat is just as important as the food itself. Developing a practice of mindful eating will help you slow down and notice the flavors and textures of your meals. Exploring how, when, where and why you eat can affect blood sugars as well.

I challenge you to commit in March to start making small changes in your diet. Small changes are far more achievable and realistic than drastic changes. These changes don’t have to be something you do every day, but working a few into your day a couple times will help you start to form a habit of choosing healthier options. For people with diabetes, these changes will help with blood sugar and weight control. Start small to make long term changes!

A few ideas to get you started:

Healthy Swaps

 

Post content reviewed by the MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services
Nutrition

Umami

By Madeline Quinn, Dietetic Intern

5 Basic TastesHave you ever heard of the buzzword, umami, but aren’t quite sure what it exactly means? Most people generally do not recognize the umami flavor while eating due to its subtle and mild taste. Umami, discover in 1908 by Japanese Dr. Kikuknea Ikeada, is a Japanese word meaning “pleasant savory taste.” Presently, it is the fifth taste among the original tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

As a result of receptors for the amino acid called glutamate, we are able to taste umami. Glutamate occurs naturally in fish, meat, vegetables, and dairy products. It’s also available as its salt form in MSG. Cooking and fermentation helps release this amino acid to experience the umami flavor. Similar to glutamate, the umami flavor is conveyed by certain compounds found in meats and vegetables. When combined in a dish, such as a mouthwatering cheeseburger with ketchup, umami complexes heighten the flavor.

Umami has Umami Foodsdistinct taste receptors found all over the tongue – now that’s impressive! A remarkable amount of foods are rich in umami, including: tuna, cod, seaweed, shellfish, tomatoes, truffles, soybeans, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, green tea, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, meats, poultry and even breast milk. Thus, umami is an extraordinarily diverse taste category, and impacts a vast majority of one’s daily food intake. Next time you cook up some shiitake mushrooms or have the urge to lather your sushi with soy sauce, remember, your meal would not be the same without the savory umami flavor.

Post Content Reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services
Announcements

Cooking with Flavor Recap

The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”  Anna Nakayama, a dietetic intern with the MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services, joined us for a chat about healthy ways to add flavor to meals without extra fat and calories.

Click below for highlights:

Nutrition

Spice up the Flavor

UpdatedHerbsandSpicesCutting back on salt doesn’t mean your meal has to be bland.  Experimenting with herbs and spices is an easy way to add flavor to your dish without extra fat or calories.  We sometimes use herb and spice to mean the same thing, but spices can be made from roots, seeds, bark or fruit of a plant while herbs are usually just leaves.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Basil – A common ingredient in tomato-based dishes like pasta sauces, this herb with its large green leaves and slightly sweet flavor can also be used to season vegetables or as a base for homemade pesto.
  • Cayenne Pepper – Use this spice made from dried chili peppers to add heat to your dish.  Note:  this spice can be very hot, so use only a little bit at a time (especially if you don’t eat spicy food often).
  • Cloves – A pungent spice used in both sweet and savory dishes.  Ground cloves are often paired with cinnamon and nutmeg in baking, while whole cloves can add flavor to roasting meats like ham or lamb (insert right into the meat and remove before serving).
  • Black Pepper – Salt’s tabletop companion, this versatile spice adds a little warmth to just about any dish.  Use it to season meat or poultry before cooking, add it to soups and stews, or sprinkle a little on your meal at the table.
  • Rosemary – The leaves of this herb look a lot like pine needles when dried.  Its strong, earthy flavor pairs well with grilled meats and roasted vegetables.

Many supermarkets these days sell fresh herbs in the produce section, and you can even grow your own on a windowsill.  If you use dried herbs, store them in a tightly sealed container away from heat and light.

What’s your favorite cooking seasoning?

(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition)
recipes

Pumpkin Soup

It just wouldn’t be fall without pumpkins and (pumpkin-flavored) dishes.  Make a satisfying meal that is light on calories, but heavy on flavor with this recipe from the MGH Be Fit program.

Ingredients:

1½ tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
3 cups (~25 oz) pumpkin puree
1 clove, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup 2% Greek Yogurt (Try FAGE) ®
Pinch of nutmeg (ground or freshly grated)

Instructions:

Sauté onions in saucepan until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring for approximately 2 minutes or until it thickens. Add remaining ingredients, except for yogurt. Bring soup to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Ladle soup into bowls and top with 1 tbsp yogurt per bowl and a dusting of nutmeg.

Yield: 4-2/3 cup servings

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING:
CALORIES: 193 • PROTEIN: 9g • SODIUM: 294mg • CARBOHYDRATE: 25g • FIBER: 6.5g •      FAT: 7g • Sat Fat: 1.5g

(Recipe adapted from Volumetrics, by Barbara Rolls)