Enjoying low-fat dairy for strong bones and more

Display of milk, cheese, and yogurtAs you might already know, dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are high in calcium and important for building strong bones in children and keeping them strong in adults. Almost all milk and many yogurts have vitamin D added, which helps your body absorb calcium from your food. Dairy products contain many other nutrients such as potassium, which helps lower high blood pressure. What you might not know is that consuming low fat dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Low-fat dairy provides all the same nutrients with fewer calories and less of the unhealthy saturated fats than full-fat dairy products do. Take a step toward better health by choosing low-fat dairy!

Buying dried fruit

Close-up of various dried fruitDried fruit is a great way to enjoy the nutrition and taste of fruit. Dried fruit is fresh fruit with the water removed. This makes them a concentrated source of nutrients, fiber, and flavor. It also makes the price per pound of the dried fruit higher because with the water removed, you are getting more fruit for the same weight. Some dried fruits are sweetened, like cranberries, while others are deep-fried, like banana chips. Sweetening and deep-frying both add calories without adding other nutrients, so look for dried fruit that hasn’t been sweetened or fried. Dried fruit makes a naturally sweet and tasty on-the-go snack, especially with nuts and seeds added. It’s also good in oatmeal, baked goods like muffins, and cold cereal. Enjoy the taste of fruit all year with dried fruit!

Saving with soup

Chicken soup being ladled from a potSoup is an easy, low-cost, and nutritious way to warm up during the winter months. Save time by cooking a big batch and freezing some for a quick meal later on. To make soup, start by sautéing flavorful vegetables, like onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, in a pot, then add your seasonings. Start with black pepper, a dried bay leaf, and any herbs or spices you like. Stir in water or stock, then add your main ingredients in the order of cooking time, starting with the longest. For example, start with dried beans and end with spinach. Add leftovers last since they are already cooked. You can use any combination of vegetables, beans, grains, pasta, and meat. Try cooking soup for a low-cost meal that’s sure to warm you up this winter!

Enjoying pineapples in season

Man trimming pineappleWhile there isn’t much “in season” right now in Massachusetts, it’s pineapple season in the Caribbean! Pineapples are juicy, sweet, a little tart, and loaded with vitamin C. Pineapples will likely be on sale at your grocery store during January and the next few months. Choose golden-colored pineapples that smell sweet, and avoid soft pineapples. To prepare a pineapple, start by cutting off the top and bottom. Next, stand up the pineapple and cut down the sides to remove the skin. Then cut it into quarters the long way; you should have four long pieces. Finally, cut out the hard center and chop or slice the remaining fruit. Enjoy pineapple as a snack, with yogurt, on ice cream, and in fruit salads, Cole slaw, and smoothies!