There’s no denying it - pumpkin season is back! These days you can find pumpkin in everything from ice cream to alfredo sauce. But do these pumpkin options offer any benefit to our health?
Pumpkin, a type of winter squash, has an impressive nutrient profile, with benefits ranging from skin and eye health to immune support and heart benefits.
A 1-cup serving of pumpkin contributes several key nutrients:
When evaluating festive fall foods, look for pumpkin as one of the first few ingredients listed on a food label. (Sadly, pumpkin ice cream usually has more cream and sugar than pumpkin.)
Or try this creamy pasta fettuccini as a comforting way to celebrate the health benefits of pumpkin.
Pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. Cronometer. 2021.
Soliman GA. Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1155.
Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021.
Young AJ and Lowe GL. Carotenoids-Antioxidant Properties. Antioxidants. 2018;7(2):28.
By Deanna Nappi, MS, MGH Dietetic Intern
Research has shown that, on average, adults gain 1 to 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and the start of the new year. No need to panic. Here are some tips on how to treat yourself while staying on track:
Díaz-Zavala RG, Castro-Cantú MF, Valencia ME, Álvarez-Hernández G, Haby MM, Esparza-Romero J. Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. J Obes. 2017;2017:2085136.
By Rosanne Walsh, MGH Dietetic Intern
Though there are no major shortages of food in this country, canned and frozen foods may be difficult to find due to consumer stockpiling. Fear not - fresh foods can also be frozen at home. Refer to our chart below to learn how to freeze them.
Plus Here's 4 Tips to Make Your Produce Last Longer:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions. FDA. Accessed March 2020.
Demichele, K. How to Store Fruits and Vegetables. Cook's Illustrated. 2019. Accessed March 2020.
Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart. FDA. 2018. Accessed March 2020.
The Big Thaw - Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2013. Accessed March 2020.
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store by making use of long-lasting ingredients. To create a supportive meal, mix and match simple combinations of starch, produce, protein, and healthy fats (like olive oil and olives).
1. Utilize Tortillas to Make a Variety of Quesadillas and Tacos
PROTEIN OPTIONS: black, pinto, or garbanzo beans, frozen shrimp, or cheese
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen spinach, peppers, or broccoli and jarred salsa
Tip: frozen produce often has just as many - if not more - vitamins than fresh
2. Use Leftover Grains (Like Rice or Quinoa) for a Stir-fry
PROTEIN OPTIONS: tofu or eggs
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen broccoli, peas, or peppers and canned vegetables like baby corn or mushrooms
3. Get Creative with Pasta
PROTEIN OPTIONS: white beans, chickpeas, anchovies, or tuna
PRODUCE OPTIONS: garlic and onions, canned tomatoes (or tomato paste), dried mushrooms and herbs (like basil, oregano, or thyme), jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and frozen broccoli or spinach
Tip: try this pasta with chickpeas recipe, which utilizes only pantry ingredients
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
In the United States, we throw out a lot of food. It is estimated that:
Here are tips to reduce food waste so that your money goes further at the grocery store.
Plan meals ahead and shop with a list. When you only buy what you need, you are less likely to have leftover ingredients at the end of the week.
Utilize your freezer to store leftovers, meats, fruits, and vegetables
Adapt your favorite recipes to use up leftover produce by swapping in similar vegetables:
Buzby JC, Farah-Wells H, Hyman J. The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. United States Department of Agriculture Electronic Journal. 2014.
Conrad Z, Niles MT, Neher DA, Roy ED, Tichenor NE, Jahns L. Relationship between food waste, diet quality, and environmental sustainability. Plos One. 2018;13(4).
Venkat K. The Climate Change and Economic Impacts of Food Waste in the United States. Int J Food System Dynamics. 2011;2(4):231-446.
With the return to cool temperatures, we also usher in a season of squash. Varieties include butternut, spaghetti, delicata, kabocha, and acorn.
These winter vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, which supports a healthy immune system and may help protect against cancer.
They also contain fiber and generally have fewer calories per cup compared to other types of carbohydrates.
Due to their tough exterior, squash can be intimidating to cook. But certain varieties (like spaghetti or acorn squash) are easy to prepare. To roast them:
1. Cut the squash in half using a large sharp knife
2. Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh
3. Brush inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
4. Roast (flesh side down) in a 400° oven for 30 to 45 minutes (or until tender when pierced with a fork)
5. Shred the spaghetti squash with a fork or scoop out the acorn squash flesh using a spoon
Need inspiration? Try this recipe.
Nosowitz, D. The Modern Famer Guide to Winter Squash Varieties. Modern Farmer, 2017. Accessed September 2018.
Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements, Updated 2018. Accessed September 2018.
Winter Squash. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source. Accessed September 2018.
You can encourage healthy habits and still enjoy summer cookouts with family and friends with these tips:
Get Up and Move!
Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular—and for good reason.
They can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes, and lower risk of early death. People who follow plant-based diets also tend to weigh less, despite consuming similar calories compared to meat-eaters.
The type of plant-based diet you follow matters though.
To see health benefits, include a variety of protective foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Looking to increase your plant intake? Here are some ideas to get you started (click on the links below):
For the CARNIVORE: mushroom meatloaf
For the CARB lover: broccoli cauliflower parmesan pasta
For the TOFU-neophyte: peanut tofu
For the ON-THE-FLY meal-planner: 5 plant-powered meals
Ambika, S. et al., Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2017. 70(4): 411.
Derbyshire, E., Flexitarian Diets and Health: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature. Front Nutr, 2016. 3:55.
McEvoy, CT., Temple, N. and JV Woodside, Vegetarian Diets, Low-meat Diets and Health: A Review. Public Health Nutr, 2012. 15(12): 2287-94.
Rizzo, N., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Sabate, J. and G. Fraser, Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian Dietary Patterns. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2013. 113(12): 1610-1619.