From The Nutritionist

Ericha Grace, nutrition intern
Guest Author:
Ericha Grace, nutrition intern

Fruits, Veggies, and Family Matters

It’s that time again! The summer has come to a close and September has rolled around once again. The weather is getting cooler in some regions, school is starting back up, and people are adjusting to a new schedule. Make family meals a priority as you adapt to your new, fall routine. September is National Family Meals Month, a nationwide event geared toward emphasizing the importance of family meals and their benefits. It’s also Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month, a campaign dedicated to celebrating the goodness of fruit & veggies and encouraging consumption for better health.1


Why does mealtime matter?

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “Kids and teens who eat meals with their families four or more times a week, earn better test scores and succeed in school”.2 The Journal of Pediatric Child Health, notes frequent family meals increase self-esteem and promote stronger family connections.3 The American Journal of Occupational Therapy recently found that frequent family meals lead to the greater likelihood of positive social and family health outcomes for children with disabilities.4


Why jump on board the veggie & fruit train?

Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture to your plate. Fruits and veggies may help reduce risk for certain diseases and most varieties are low in calories.1 The incorporation of more and more veggies is one of the most influential culinary trends another great reason to jump on board this fall as you make dinner for your family! Here are some ways you can do just that:


Make Vegetables Center Stage!

Most of us have probably heard about the new trend around “zoodles” or “zaghetti” (noodles made from zucchini) but there are even more ways to make vegetables the center of your plate. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat cold turkey, but rather make it the side dish. Giving veggies or fruit the lead role at meal time may help cut calories, provide key nutrients like fiber, and help you feel full.5 Take Friday night pizza, for example. Pile your pizza high with vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, and peppers to save calories and boost your vitamin and mineral intake for the day! Veggify pasta night by loading a classic pasta dish with vegetables and topping with a Prego Farmers’ Market sauce. Don’t forget, canned and frozen veggies can also be a budget-friendly, nutritious option to save on your grocery bill.

 

Extend Meal Time into Dessert – With Fruit

Your family meal time doesn’t have to end once your veggie-filled plates have been cleared. Continue your conversation and fun with the family by enjoying a dessert filled with fruit to top off your intake of vitamins and antioxidants while indulging in the sweetness you desire. Smoothies or dark chocolate dipped bananas are quick and delicious selections. Check out this recipe for Pomegranate Blueberry Granita that provides a full serving of fruit in a frozen, delicious treat! Who said dessert can’t be guilt-free, delicious, and nutritious?

 

Go Global

Want to make a meal that will excite your family and bring them running to the dinner table? Are they just tired of the same old things? Try a new ethnic-inspired meal. Explore some of these creative, nutritious AND delicious Chef-Inspired selections. You don’t need a plane ticket to explore the flavors of faraway lands.

 

 

Get Social

The family dinner table is one of the main places where we experience real life moments, whether it’s memorable conversation or meal mishaps, why not share those moments with others? Share photos of you and your family having dinner, the delicious, veggie-centric meals you have created, and inspire others to do the same. Even exchange your favorite recipes! Tell your friends about National Family Meals Month and Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month and show what you are doing to participate. You can use the tag #RaiseYourMitt or #FamilyMealsMonth to commit to having one more meal at home per week. Your favorite social networking site can be your way of spreading the message to promote healthier lifestyles by increasing fruits and vegetable intake and sharing more meals with your family.

Fall can be a hectic time of year, but take the time to enjoy the company of your family around the dinner table while eating delicious, nutritious meals this month! Combine the celebrations of September (National Family Meals Month AND Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month) to promote a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.

Happy Eating!

Ericha

 

Ericha's Bio

Ericha was a Nutrition Intern in the Global Nutrition & Regulatory Affairs department this past summer, working on multiple projects and learning the ins and outs of nutrition within the food industry. The majority of her work focused on phytonutrients as well as the new label regulations. Ericha is currently a graduate student at West Chester University working toward her Master’s degree in Community Nutrition. This past May, she graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU. As for the future, Ericha hopes to make an impact on various communities in the realm of health and wellness whether it is through local program planning, working in the food industry, or wherever life takes her.

 

References

  1. Fruits & Veggies More Matters. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
  2. The Importance of Family Dinners V. http://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2009 Accessed July 25th, 2016.
  3. Utter J, Denny S, Robinson E, Fleming T, Ameratunga S, Grant S. Family meals and the well-being of adolescents. J Pediatr Child Health. 2013;49(11):906-911. doi:10.1111/jpc.12428.
  4. Degrace BW, Foust RE, Sisson SB, Lora KR. Benefits of family meals for children with special therapeutic and behavioral needs. Am J Occup Ther American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2016;70(3). doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.014969.
  5. Top 10 Reasons to Eat MORe Fruits and Vegetables. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/top-10-reasons-to-eat-more-fruits-and-vegetables. Accessed July 25th, 2016.

Upcoming Events

 

Fruits & Veggies—More Matters®
Month >

In celebration of Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month, be sure to grab a fruit or veggie when you are on the go! Share your commitment to MORE fruits & veggies with the hashtags #GrabNGo or #FVMMMonth.

Vegetable & Fruit Recipes >

Discover delicious recipes that make is easy to enjoy more vegetables and fruits.

National Family Meals MonthTM >

Celebrate mealtime with your loved ones and see how one small change per week can improve your family's health and happiness.

 
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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.