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Happy National Nutrition Month!

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Happy National Nutrition Month! 

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, this month is very special. March is a time to celebrate what I love most, helping others achieve their healthiest and happiest selves. For the first week, the focus is variety. Including a variety of all of the food groups is important for a healthy lifestyle in many ways. 

A balanced diet, with a variety of different foods will promote health by: 

  • including several different nutrients
  • promoting a healthy gut
  • reducing risk for disease
  • increased satisfaction by including different flavors and textures. 

With flexibility, often comes variety. Usually, flexibility is deemed a positive characteristic, but is sometimes considered bad or harmful when tied to one's diet. Several fad diets encourage strict, rigid rules to follow in order to be successful. I have spoken with several clients that once believed the only way to be healthy is to follow strict rules and to eliminate their favorite foods. However, rigidity is not sustainable and is not conducive for a healthy relationship with food. My main goal with clients is to maintain the joy in eating because food is delicious and can also be social. Who wants to miss out on the chocolate birthday cake at your friend's party or your mom's tasty pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Not me! When food groups are eliminated, usually cravings are increased and there is greater chance to overindulge when the opportunity presents itself. Also, there is a large amount of bacteria that reside in our gut that break down nutrients for us. When certain foods or food groups are eliminated, the bacteria that break down these foods are not fed and are not able to do their job efficiently. 

One of the ways I like to add variety is by preparing 1-2 meals per week that include vegetarian proteins (beans, lentils, chickpeas, yogurt, edamame, etc). Below, I have attached one of my favorite Vegetarian recipes. Enjoy!

Lentil Shepherd's Pie


Ingredients:
2 medium carrots
28 fluid ounces chicken or vegetable broth
Fresh thyme
1 cup frozen peas
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1/2 lbs. white mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
4 medium yellow potatoes
Black Pepper
Butter, unsalted
Salt

Instructions:
1. Wash and dry produce 


2. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Transfer to a small saucepan.


3. Cover potatoes with hot water. Bring to a boil over high heat.


4. Peel and small dice carrots. Transfer to medium sized bowl.

5. Small dice onion and add to carrots.

6. Heat saute pan over medium heat.

7. Peel and mince garlic. Add to carrots and onion.

8. Once the pan is hot, add butter and coat the bottom of the pan.

9. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

10. Once potatoes are boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes until soft; about 15-20 minutes.

11. Small dice mushrooms. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.

12. Rinse lentils.

13. Add lentils and broth to the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until lentils are tender; about 15-20 minutes.

14. Add thyme to mixture.

15. Stir in frozen peas.

16. Add butter, broth, salt, and pepper to potatoes and mash with potato masher until smooth.

17. To serve, divide lentil mixture between bowls and top with mashed potatoes.

18. Enjoy!

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