Monday, October 28, 2013

Back from Houston! (and some perks of minimally processed foods)

My brain is still buzzing from last week’s Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston, Texas. Its experiences like the one I had last week in Houston that only emphasize how much I love job. It’s truly humbling and inspiring to be working a field with so many hard working, motivated individuals who share a love of something great – food!

I particularly had a great time partnering up with the Tomato Products Wellness Council – an organization dedicated towards sharing the health benefits and wonderful culinary uses of tomato products. In the world of foodies and nutrition experts, talking about the health benefits of tomato products is an easy task.

Photo courtesy of Czarnoglowa of Wiki Commons
Tomatoes are one of those really amazing foods that when cooked, they offer even more nutrient bang for your buck as tomatoes' potent antioxidant – lycopene – becomes more available to the body after being exposed to heat. And since lycopene has been shown to offer cardiovascular protection, cancer fighting ability, and anti-inflammatory properties – adding tomato sauce, canned tomatoes and salsa to your favorite recipes such as chili, lasagna, and soup is a very good idea.  
Did I mention that we raffled off this adorable tomato red Coach purse at the booth?

But the perks of some minimally processed foods doesn’t stop there.

·         Another canned veggie, canned beans – especially pinto, black, and garbanzo –can always been found in my pantry. They are a nutrient-rich source of both fiber and protein and make great additions to salads, side dishes, soups and dips. Beans are a food you can feel really good about including into your daily diet since eating them on a regular basis has been linked to a number of health benefits including lower risk for heart disease, lower body weight, and protection against some types of cancer.

Photo courtesy of Paul Goyette from Wiki Commons

Frozen foods definitely have their healthy place, too.

Since our favorite fruits and veggies are not in-season or available fresh year-round, keeping frozen versions in the freezer is a wonderful alternative. Frozen fruits and veggies are often picked and packaged at their peak-season, thus offering produce that is both nutrient-rich and full of flavor.

·         Frozen berries and other frozen fruit make getting in your 2-3 fruit servings each and every day easier and more affordable -- and if you keep fruit in the freezer, you’ll always have a healthy snack available, without the waste of spoiled fruit. I love adding frozen berries to my morning bowl of oatmeal, serving over non-fat plain Greek yogurt for an afternoon snack, or blending with soy milk into a fruit smoothie for an instant breakfast.


Photo courtesy of of Wiki Commons

·         Frozen veggies have found their perfect little spot in my freezer. During times when I need a nutritious meal ASAP, I often turn to frozen veggies to whip up a quick veggie stir-fry or to use in my homemade soups. Lisa and I developed this recipe for Veggie Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce for our very first cooking class together – it’s a spin on recipe I ate weekly in college. I love this recipe because it’s fast to make, easy to prepare, affordable, and also packed with nutrition.


I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia where I’ll have another opportunity to meet and spend more time with the industry’s professionals and students who inspire and motivate me every day.

Plus, I’m really looking forward to some Southern cooking!

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