Eating By the Season: Winter

jessica winter salad final

The winter months are cold and dreary for most, but what you eat can brighten your mood and your taste buds. Here are five fruits and vegetables you’ll find in the produce aisle this winter that make some great salad fixings!

Pears:

  • Slice thin and toss with baby greens, toasted nuts, and blue cheese for a sweet and tangy salad
  • Poach pears in red wine for an elegant dessert on the lighter side
  • Roast pears with parsnips and cauliflower and puree into soup

Kale:

  • Make a winter pesto using these hearty and nutritious greens
  • Sauté with olive oil and garlic for a restaurant-quality side to steak or fish
  • Blend kale, apples, and celery for an energizing green smoothie

Pomegranates:

  • The ruby-red seeds provide a juicy, sweet and tart flavor to sauces, salads, dressings, and cocktails.
  • Try them in this Classic Fall Salad 

Parsnips:

  • Puree and use in place of mashed potatoes
  • Add roasted parsnips to a salad with squash or sweet potatoes and a lemon-thyme vinaigrette
  • Make a traditional chicken soup with carrots, parsnips, dill, and parsley

Oranges:

  • Combine with baby spinach, fennel, and avocado
  • Roast chicken with orange and lemon slices
  • Make your own homemade cranberry orange compote, perfect on everything from turkey and salmon to banana bread

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express

The Fresh Express Day Salad Swap helps you recreate the flavors of your favorite higher-calorie foods in lower-calorie salads. Discover the free app with delicious recipes and money saving coupons at www.saladswap.com/

5 Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

healthier season

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday season has officially begun. As the holiday party invitations arrive in the mail, now is the time to get your plan in place for a healthier holiday season. Don’t fret – it is feasible to enjoy all the festivities and still fit into your slinky black dress for New Year’s! Just follow these tips.

Stay active. Extra plans on the calendar may impact your ability to get to the gym after work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time for your daily 30-60 minutes of exercise. You may not sweat as much, but if you make a few changes to your daily routine you’ll still burn some calories:

  • Walk the long way to your office, get off the bus a couple of stops early, or park in the farthest spot from the door at the shopping center.
  • Get in a mini workout during commercial breaks or while you’re watching The Mindy Project (or some other light-hearted show). Think about old-school exercises that don’t require any special equipment like jumping jacks, triceps dips, squats, and core work. You can even do some of these when you’re waiting on line to buy holiday gifts!
  • Work those arm muscles when cooking by using an old fashioned whisk instead of an electrical mixer and grating by hand instead of using a food processor.

Be choosy. When deciding what party to attend, what to put on your plate at the buffet, or whether to have another glass of wine, consider all your options, weigh the pros and cons, and make mindful choices. Remember, the holiday season lasts a few weeks, so no need to indulge in everything all at once.

Get Enough Zs. Research shows a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. This may be due to a decrease in the regions of the brain that evaluate appetite or maybe it’s as simple as you being too exhausted to think about healthy food choices. Whatever the reason, to make the healthiest decisions, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Make a swap. There are plenty of opportunities to treat yourself over the holidays, so every meal doesn’t have to be the most indulgent. When you don’t have celebration to attend, keep your meals on the lighter side. Instead of a burger and fries for lunch, try a Bacon Cheeseburger Salad with some kale chips. Get your gingerbread latte with skim milk and skip the whipped cream. Try a baked apple for dessert in place of apple pie. With all of these changes you’ll save calories and still enjoy the flavors of the season.

Don’t fall down the rabbit hole. If you do slip up and overdo it at one holiday event remember not all is lost. Get back on track later that day or first thing the next morning and remind yourself what a great job you have been doing to be a little healthier this holiday season. Repeating a mantra like “I know I can” may help reinforce your ability from within.

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express

Learn more about the Fresh Express Salad Swap.

Super Salad Ingredient Swaps

Fresh Express Super Salad Ingredients

You head to the salad bar thinking you’re making a healthier lunch choice. After all, fruit and vegetables are what Americans need to eat more of, right?! You start to fill your plastic container with some greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and the next thing you know you’re paying for a two-pound salad composed of roasted vegetables, breaded chicken, Chinese noodles, bacon, croutons, and a creamy dressing. But it’s a salad, so it’s healthy.

Not so fast.

Salad can be a good-for-you and delicious choice – that’s what the Fresh Express Salad Swap is all about. But as with everything else, you have to choose wisely. Before you reach the salad bar for your next lunch break, remember to balance your salad bowl. Like ice cream shops, salad bars offer so many toppings to choose from, but you don’t need all of them on every salad. The base of your salad should be greens and raw vegetables, with one lean protein, maybe a starchy vegetable, and a sprinkling of healthy fat. Here are some ingredients to swap on your next visit to the salad bar.

1.  Swap in leafy greens for iceberg lettuce.  The darker and leafier the greens, the richer they are in fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and iron.  Some of the best greens to fill the base of your salad are kale, baby spinach, mixed greens and arugula.

2.  Swap in raw or blanched vegetables for roasted vegetables. Roasted or sautéed vegetables can carry a lot of oil with them, which means additional fat that you aren’t aware of. Stick with a variety of crisp, colorful vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.

3.  Swap in fresh fruit for dried and canned fruit. Adding fruit to your salad is a great way to get a boost of vitamin C and more fiber, just be careful what you choose. Dried fruits don’t have the same volume as fresh fruits. If you eat one serving of dried fruit, you could end up taking in a lot more calories. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 104 calories, whereas 1 cup of raisins (dried grapes) has 493 calories. If you do choose dried fruits, be sure to reduce the serving size to account for the extra calories. As for canned fruit, watch out for the ones canned in syrup as opposed to water.  Find a comprehensive list of Fresh Express recipes that include fruit HERE.

4.  Swap in grilled, roasted or baked proteins for “crispy” ones. “Crispy” is code for breaded and fried, which means added calories and fat and less protein. Your best protein choices are grilled chicken, baked tofu, roasted turkey, a hard-boiled egg, baked salmon, and albacore tuna. If you’re looking for more vegetarian options, try beans and edamame, which are good vegetarian sources of protein and will keep you satisfied thanks to their fiber.

5.  Swap in avocado, nuts, and cheese for bacon bits, crunchy onions, and croutons. The latter may be tasty, but they’re loaded with sodium and don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. If you want that crunch, add a small sprinkling of nuts or seeds. Other healthy fat options you can add are cheese and avocado – just watch the portions! If you pile them all on, your salad will quickly be out of balance and too high in fat.

6.  Swap in a vinaigrette for creamy dressings. Ranch, blue cheese, creamy Italian, and Caesar are some of the highest calorie and fattiest dressings at the salad bar. Opt for olive-oil based vinaigrettes or better yet, drizzle some olive oil and vinegar of your choice on top. If you can’t resist the creamy varieties, look for low-fat and yogurt-based dressings.  Find a guide to simple homemade dressings HERE.

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express

Learn more about the Fresh Express Salad Swap!