Mary’s Memo – February 17th


Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh and superior in vitamin and mineral content to fresh stored in the refrigerator for a few days. That’s the conclusion of University of Georgia researchers who compared nutrients in supermarket- purchased frozen and fresh blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, corn, spinach, cauliflower and green peas. The fresh produce was also tested after being stored in the refrigerator for five days, after which it showed losses of vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
Source: Tufts Health& Nutrition Letter, February 2014.


Although Easy Fiesta Beans is a side dish, I served it as an appetizer at the Bryan Chief before Super Bowl Sunday. The salsa that I used in the recipe was Gourmet Style Salsa available in the produce department. In addition, I cut additional calories by using reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese instead of regular.


• 1 (16-oz) can Old El Paso brand fat-free refried beans
• 1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup Gourmet Style Salsa (medium)
• 2/3 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
• 4 green scallions, sliced

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Combine refried beans, salsa and 1/3 cup of cheese in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture is hot and cheese is melted, about 6 to 8 minutes. Spray a 2-quart oblong baking dish with non-stick coating. Spoon bean mixture into dish and sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup cheese and scallions. Broil until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Source: Adapted from Eating Well Magazine recipe.


If you are struggling to eat better and maintain a healthy weight, your kitchen may be sabotaging your efforts. Researchers have studied the “food environment” for years, looking at such factors as how advertising, packaging and distraction make people eat more. More recently they’ve turned their attention to the impact of architectural design on eating behavior and how kitchens and other rooms can be laid out to be conducive to healthy eating. In particular, researchers are looking at where they store food, what they look at when they eat and other variables to determine what encourages healthy eating and what discourages it. If occupants have to get up and walk through a doorway or up steps to get their food, might they eat less? If there’s a window in the kitchen overlooking a garden, will they eat more produce? Other variables in rooms, such as the lighting, air circulation, sounds and colors can also affect what people eat. The field of designing “healthy” kitchens and even entire buildings is still in its infancy. Meantime, here are a few simple kitchen changes you can make, gleaned from preliminary research.

Keep unhealthy foods out of sight and healthy ones within easy reach. Studies have shown that the more visible and accessible a food is, the higher the consumption for better or worse. More spacious and pleasant kitchens have been linked to better food purchases and increased desire to cook (so you don’t have to rely on convenient microwave meals). You can’t change the size of your space easily but you can try rearranging appliances and utensils in ways that make the space more efficient, which makes it easier to cook and thus motivate you to prepare meals with more whole foods. To avoid overeating, don’t make the kitchen your hangout. Your kitchen chairs should be comfortable enough to sit on for the duration of a meal, but not so comfortable that you want to lounge in them all evening.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2014.

In spite of the fact that my daughter Mary Ann says gelatin salads are a “my generation thing,” I like them and there’s usually one like this week’s recipe in my refrigerator.


• 4 envelopes Knox Gelatin
• 1/2 cup cold water
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups Light Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
• 1 bunch scallions, sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dill weed
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
• 1 European cucumber, peeled and chopped

Soften gelatin in cold water. Add boiling water and mix until gelatin is dissolved and clear. Add mayonnaise, scallions, lemon juice, dill weed, salt and red pepper sauce; whisk together until well blended. Add chopped cucumber and spoon mixture into 2 quart oblong dish. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

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