March is National Nutrition Month, and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services is marking the occasion by promoting healthy choices.
The effort is being led by SCES Dietician Andrea Svartstrom, who said this year’s theme of “Put Your Best Fork Forward” touches on the importance of healthy food and habits.
“It encourages thinking about ways you can make healthier food and beverage choices by making small shifts and taking the time to think about what will offer you the most nutrients to make every bite count,” she said. “Making small changes over time, whether it be the course of a week, day, a meal, can go a long way in helping develop healthier eating habits, and have big health benefits like helping prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.”
Svartstrom gave a healthy food demonstration for the agency on March 8, with samples prepared in collaboration with SCES Wellness Coordinator Eliza Wiesner and Nutrition staff Deb McClean and Allexandra Machado-Desouza.
“We wanted to pick things that can be a complete meal, prepared ahead of time, can be used for breakfast, snack or a meal, and– most of all– packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and nutrients,” said Svartstrom.
They also distributed the following recipes, so that others could enjoy those foods at home:
Kale, Apple, Walnut and Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup tricolor dry quinoa
- 6 cups slightly packed chopped kale (it will take about 1 1/2 bunches. Remove thick ribs before chopping, 6 oz chopped)
- 2 crisp sweet apples, cored and chopped* (I used gala apples)
- 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- Salt to taste
- Cook quinoa according to directions on package and cool completely. While quinoa is cooling, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a jar or bowl. Add kale to a salad bowl, whisk dressing once more then pour 3/4 of the dressing over kale and toss until kale is evenly coated. Cover bowl and chill 15 minutes (adding the dressing and letting it rest helps soften kale a bit).
- Remove salad from refrigerator, add apples, quinoa, walnuts and cranberries. Pour remaining dressing over salad then toss. Add goat cheese and toss just lightly. Serve or store covered in refrigerator for up to 4 hours.
- *Note that this salad actually does hold up really well for a few hours, but with that said I recommend dipping the apples in a lemon water solution (1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice with 1 cup water in a bowl), let apples rest in the mixture for about 1 minute then remove and drain on paper towels. This helps reduce browning if you aren’t going to be eating the salad right away source: Cooking Classy
Source: Cooking Classy
“A healthier sweet to satisfy that sweet craving, with only three ingredients. “
Ingredients (makes 1 pound dough)
- 1-1/2 cups unsalted walnuts
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups soft dates (preferably Medjool)
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly toast, 7- 10 min, watch closely. Remove closely and let cool.
- In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until they are finely ground. Add cocoa powder and salt. Pulse to combine.
- Pit the dates and add them one at a time. You should end up with a mixture that resembles cake crumbs but, when pressed, will easily stick together. If it doesn’t hold well together add more dates.
- Use the dough to make the following variations, or freeze for up to one month.
Espresso Brownie Bites: 1/3 brownie bite dough (recipe above); ¾ cup of espresso powder
Combine the dough with the espresso powder, using your hands. Shape dough into bite size balls.
Vanilla Coconut Brownie Bites: 1/3 brownie bite dough (recipe above); 1 teaspoon vanilla; 3 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut, toasted
Combine the dough with the vanilla, and half the coconut. Shape into bite size balls, roll them in remaining coconut.
Chia Seed Pudding
“A healthy flavorful start to the morning or to finish the day.”
- 2 cups coconut or almond milk
- ½ cup Chia Seeds
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (or less) maple syrup (or sub any sweetener)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Pinch of salt optional
Topping ideas: sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, blueberries, strawberries, shredded coconut
- Whisk almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl until just blended; add chia seeds, whisk to incorporate, and let the chia seeds soak for 30 minutes.
- Stir the chia seed mixture to redistribute seeds that have settled throughout the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
- Stir Chia seed mixture before serving.
- Spoon chia seed mixture into 4 bowls; add preferred toppings.
Sweet Potato Date Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup tolled oats
- 1 cup chopped dates
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted, plus some for greasing the muffin tins, or a non-stick spray
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup sweet potato puree, squash or pumpkin may be used as well
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¾ cup plant-based milk of your choice
Optional add-ins: Handful of chopped pecans, or zest of one orange
- Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the oats and stir to combine.
- In a food processor pulse bananas, sweet potato puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, milk. Pour these wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine, using as few strokes as possible. Fold in the chopped dates and optional add-ins.
- Drop a few tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup and bake until they are golden and pass the toothpick test, about 30 minutes. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for one month.
Source: Naturally nourished
Watermelon, Feta, Pistachio Salad
“An unexpected but refreshing combination of flavors”
- ½ large watermelon
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, unsalted and roasted
- 4 oz reduced fat feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- Juice of one lime
- Fresh mint chopped
Optional add-in – chopped red onion
- Mixed together lime juice and vinegar.
- Cut watermelon into bite size pieces.
- Toss the watermelon pieces, feta, pistachios and dressing to combine.
- Sprinkle with fresh chopped mint