Category: Nutrition

Turmeric’s Health Benefits

To this day, if I’m feeling a little under the weather, my parents will prescribe a healthy dose of turmeric. Sore throat? Teaspoon of turmeric in warm milk. Acne acting up? Make a turmeric paste. Feeling weary? Add some more turmeric in your veggies when you cook.

Turmeric is a naturally bitter spice, but my ma and pa are right–it’s somewhat of a super food! It’s an anti-oxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s also been known to have anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties.

Curcumin, the phytochemical that gives turmeric it’s trademark yellow color, makes up about 2-5% of turmeric, but is responsible for most of its recognized therapeutic effects. It was first extracted from turmeric in the early 1800s and since then has been used extensively in Asian cooking, religious ceremonies, and for medicinal purposes. It works by regulating transcription factors (proteins that are important in converting DNA to RNA, which then codes for genes). It is also thought to bind to cellular proteins, and to be able to help stop the growth of tumor cells.

But wait, there’s more! With that strong yellow color, it makes a very effective natural food coloring, and can function as a preservative of sorts. All in all, not a bad spice to throw in the mix every now and again.

I think I may just roll my eyes a little less the next time my mom tells me drink a warm cup of haldi (Hindi for turmeric) milk before bed.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini

By EatingWell Test Kitchen (

Total time: 1 hr 10 mins



1 2 1/2- to 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch broccolini, chopped (or just regular fresh or frozen broccoli)

4 cloves garlic, minced (amount is optional depending on how much you like garlic)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons water

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper



  1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450 °F.
  2. Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400 °F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccolini, garlic and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells in a broiler-safe baking pan or on a baking sheet. Stir 3/4 cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  5. Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.


Original recipe can be found at


Quinoa Breakfast Pots

By: Wendy Polisi
Servings: 4

4 cups almond milk
1 cup mixed quinoa (equal parts of white, red, and black varieties)
10 oz fresh strawberries, sliced (16-20 strawberries)
2 tbsp pistachios, slivered
honey to sweeten (I use approximately 2 tbsp.)

1. In a small saucepan, warm the almond milk on low heat. After 2 minutes, add the quinoa and stir gently so the quinoa doesn’t clump together.
2. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.
3. Remove from heat, and divide among bowls or jars for an easy breakfast to-go!
4. Top with the strawberries and pistachios, and drizzle the honey on top.

Original recipe can be found at

Tracking Food Recalls

By: Courtney Luecking, MPH, MS, RD Doctoral Candidate: Nutrition

Back around Labor Day, I blogged about ways to prevent foodborne illness. Another way to keep your loved ones safe is to pay attention to food recalls. According to, food recalls and alerts are made when “there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill”. This could be the result of a bacteria or virus being present in a food, a potential allergen, or the mislabeling or misbranding of food.

In preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday, two headlines jumped out to me – “Heinz Recalls Hundreds of Cases of Gravy Just Ahead of Thanksgiving” and “Sabra recalls hummus amid listeria contamination fears”. These were particularly concerning because I knew foods like this were on the menu. What if I had missed those news stories?

Here are some tips to proactively get information about potentially contaminated food products and what to do if you have one of these products in your home.

Checking for Product Recalls

  • Visit the website to see information about recent recalls
  • For packaged products, compare your labels to the recalled product for: brand name, sell by date, and the package code
  • For fresh produce concerns, call your grocery store and ask to speak with a manager

Staying Aware of Food Recalls

What to Do When You Have a Recalled Product

  • Do not eat the food product
  • Check the FDA or USDA website for instructions on what to do
  • Check with your grocery store to see if they are issuing refunds or replacement products
  • Clean your kitchen to ensure the contaminated food hasn’t affected other parts of your kitchen

Resources: – Recalls & Alerts.

How to Check Food Recalls.

What’s For Dinner?

By Shauna Ayres MPH candidate 2017

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. is innovating the first home appliance for growing edible cell cultures. The CellPod prototype looks like a cylindrical lamp that is designed to be kept in the kitchen. Researchers are excited because it has the potential to grow only the healthy, nutritional parts of plants rather than the entire plant. In fact, the cells are genetically identical to the real plant and can produce the exact same antioxidants and vitamins. Cells could even be engineered to have increased or added nutritional value to meet every person’s specific dietary needs or deficiencies. For example, a diabetic could grow cells with a lower glycemic index which would assist in managing insulin levels or pregnant women could harvest cells with vitamins that improve fetal development and health. Theoretically, every culture from a CellPod could be tailored for the exact needs of each consumer.

Currently, the CellPod can harvest plant cells in about a week. However, the taste is mild and needs development. So far VTT has successfully grown Arctic bramble cells, cloudberry cells, and stone bramble cells.

This concept sounds great. We can now grow only the food we need. This will reduce food waste, improve human health, decrease supply chain pollution and cost, restore agriculture land to its natural state, and solve famine. Right? Well, like most things, it’s much more complicated. The largest hurdle for VTT will be convincing people that eating bland cells out of a petri dish is exciting and the newest culinary trend. Food is culture and giving up traditions of cooking, feasting, and celebrating in families, communities, and other social contexts is unlikely. Additionally, there is already enough fear around GMO products that still look like the original food source. I can’t imagine the outcry that will occur when people are spooning the GMO cells into their own mouths or their children’s mouths.

Plus, the global food industry is enormous! McDonald’s has over 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, Starbucks has over 24,000 coffee shops in over 70 countries, and Coca-Cola recorded $43.5 billion in revenue between April 2015-April 2016. These food giants have the power of a thick pocket book to influence policy makers to ban or over-regulate CellPod technologies as well as to influence consumers through clever advertising that convinces them they want and need a brand. If CellPod is the kitchen gadget of the future, VTT will need to partner with large food giants to develop a market base and establish a strong brand relationship with consumers. I’m unsure any company would be gutsy enough to take that risk. So don’t clear off a space in your kitchen for the CellPod just yet. But if this sounds great and you just can’t wait, try taking a baby step and eat your meals off petri dishes.



White Bean Turkey Chili

By: MyFitnessPal

Total time: 1 hr 15 min

Servings: 8 (1 cup)



1 tablespoon canola oil

2 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (certified gluten-free if necessary)

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

3 cups chopped cooked turkey

1/2 cup diced seeded plum tomato (about 1)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 lime wedges (optional)



  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Add chili powder, garlic, and cumin; sauté for 2 minutes. Add oregano and beans; cook for 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.
  2. Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan. Add turkey, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add diced tomato, chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.


Original recipe can be found at

Butternut Squash and Apple Bake

By: Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD (

Total time: 1 hour



3 Tbsp butter or coconut oil

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (5-6 cups)

2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2-3 cups)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup chopped pecans



  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt butter or coconut oil in microwave (should take about 30 seconds or so).
  3. Place squash cubes in 13×9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
  4. Stir cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice into melted butter/coconut oil. Add to the cubed squash; toss to coat.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. In large bowl, mix cubed apples and maple syrup.
  7. Remove squash from the oven. Pour the apple mixture over the squash. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  8. Sprinkle chopped pecans into a dry (un-greased) skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow pecans to brown slightly and become fragrant. Take off heat when fully toasted/browned.
  9. Remove squash and apple mixture from oven. Stir before serving and sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve warm.


Original recipe can be found at

Waste Not Want Not

By: Courtney Luecking MPH, MS, RD Doctoral candidate: Nutrition

Have you ever thought about how much food you throw away each day? Each week?

In general, America wastes about 40% of the food that is produced each year (Gunders, 2012). That amount of food weighs as much as 123 Empire State Buildings and has economic, environmental, and social costs. The image from the Food and Agriculture Organization details specific examples of those costs.


What exactly is food waste?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, food is considered wasted when edible portions go unconsumed. This happens at all points along the food supply chain – think farms, manufacturing facilities, transportation, businesses, restaurants, and our own homes. If we could reduce food waste along the food supply chain by just a quarter, this would provide more than 25 million people nutritious, edible food (Gunders, 2012).

How can we reduce food waste?

Check out and support the @UglyFruitAndVeg Campaign.

Choose one or a few of the tips from the USDA’s infographic.


Every little bit we don’t waste can have a big impact on our wallets, the wellbeing of our community members, and the health of our environment!


Grace Communications Foundation. Food Waste.

Gunders, D. (2012). Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40 of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill. National Resources Defense Council.

Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign.—veg.html

USDA. Let’s Talk Trash.

5 Ingredient Coconut Curry

By: Lindsay @pinchofyum

Total time:  15 mins

Servings: 3-4



1 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2 small heads broccoli (and/or other veggies of choice)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

½ tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

optional: minced garlic or onion



  1. Saute broccoli (and onion/garlic if you’re using it) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools.

Original recipe can be found at


Tuna Melt

By: EatingWell Test Kitchen (

Servings: 4

Total time: 15 minutes



2 5-ounce cans chunk light tuna (see Tip), drained

1 medium shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash of hot sauce

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

4 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted



  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine tuna, shallot, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt, hot sauce and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread 1/4 cup of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast; top with tomato slices and 2 tablespoons cheese. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Original recipe can be found at