Welcome to the Season of Colorful Eats! By Dianne Killebrew, MEd, RD, LDN

Springtime at the local farmers' markets-the colorful variety of fruits and vegetables creates a feast for the eyes and a love affair with your heart. Over the past 30 years or so, researchers have developed a solid base of science to back up what generations of mothers preached-eat your fruits and vegetables. Early on, fruits and vegetables were acclaimed as cancer-fighting foods. There is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables not only lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, but also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight.

Across the nation, March is recognized annually as National Nutrition Month by the American Dietetic Association. This nutrition education and information campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme, Eat Right with Color, gives us the nudge to choose more vegetables and fruits-green, yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red.

What does choose more mean? According to the Center for Disease Control's Risk Factor Surveillance System, the average American gets a total of three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That's not enough!

The United States Department of Agriculture's latest dietary guidelines recommend at least four servings of fruit (2 cups) and five servings of vegetables (2 ½ cups) per day for a baseline intake of 2,000 calories. Check out the online calculator to determine your recommended servings at this link: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/benefits/index.html#. Click on the question How many fruits and vegetables do you need? and fill in your age, gender, and activity level.

Getting more fruits and vegetables is easier than you think. What many don't realize is how many servings they are already getting, and how many more they can fit into their daily routines quiet easily. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and juiced fruits and vegetables all count toward your daily servings. Use these general guidelines for ONE serving size:

½ cup of fruit                  1 medium piece of fruit ¼ cup of dried fruit
¾ cup of vegetable juice        1 cup of leafy vegetables       ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables

Locally grown fruits and vegetables just taste better! Full of flavor and packed with vitamins, you'll find some of these farm fresh selections available at spring markets: arugula, lettuce, beets, basil, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, carrots, kale, fennel, radishes, berries, and squash. Enjoy this collection of recipes for your Healthy Table, provided by Whole Foods Chef Merijoy Lantz Rucker and Crystal Van Meter and Stacy Rahat from The Dietetic Internship Program at Vanderbilt.

Salad Spears

4 hearts of romaine leaves ½ cup hummus ½ cup raw beets (shredded) ½ cup carrots (shredded) ½ cup radishes (shredded) ½ cup romaine (shredded) ½ teaspoon pepper
Place hearts of romaine leaves on serving plate. Spread 2 tablespoons of hummus on the bottom of each spear. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients. Mix well. Spoon mixture into spears. Serve chilled. Nutrition Information per serving: Yields: 4 servings Serving Size: 1 salad spear Calories: 75 Fat: 3 grams Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 2 grams Sodium: 107 milligrams Dietary Fiber: 3 grams

Nutrition Fast Fact
Beets: This vegetable contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Beets are full of antioxidants which protect cells in our body.

A Springy Delight
3 cups spring lettuce mix
½ cup strawberries (sliced)
4 ounces skinless chicken breast (grilled or broiled) ½ ounce sunflower seeds
1 ounce reduced fat feta cheese
2 tablespoons light raspberry vinaigrette

Prepare chicken breast as desired. Combine remaining ingredients in serving bowl. Mix well. Top with grilled or broiled chicken.

Nutrition Information per serving: 
Yields 1 serving
Serving Size: 1
Calories: 332
Total Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 14 grams
Protein: 39 grams
Sodium: 1090 milligrams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams

Nutrition Fast Fact: Incorporating a variety of dark leafy greens in your daily diet packs a big nutrient-rich punch to your meals. Greens are low in calories, high in fiber, and chunked full of vitamins and minerals. Enjoy!

Orzo with Kale & Chickpeas

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 clove garlic (diced) 1 bundle kale 1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed) ½ lemon, squeezed Parmesan cheese to taste pinch of salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Follow directions on box to cook orzo. When done, drain orzo pasta and set aside. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Chop garlic and kale, add to skillet. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove cover, add chickpeas and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until kale is tender and chickpeas are warmed. Stir kale mixture in with orzo. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan. Nutrition Information per serving: Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1 ½ cup Calories: 456 Total Fat: 14 grams Carbohydrate: 68 grams Protein: 18 grams Sodium: 500 milligrams Dietary Fiber: 10 grams

Nutrition Fast Fact : Kale is a dark leafy vegetable that is dubbed a superfood. With a reputation like that, it must have healing powers, right? It does have healing powers, but not in the way you think. Kale is high in cancer fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. It's also rich with vitamins and minerals.

Berry Frozen Yogurt

2 cups fresh berries ½ cup fat free vanilla yogurt 2 tablespoons sugar 8 large ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until pureed. Enjoy right away or freeze for later. Nutrition Information per serving: Yields: 4 servings Serving size: 2/3 cup Calories: 110 Total Fat: .9 grams Carbohydrates: 26 grams Protein: 2.5 grams Sodium: 12 milligrams Dietary Fiber: 8 grams

Nutrition Fast Fact : Berries are high in antioxidants and a good source of vitamins B and C, folate, niacin, magnesium, and copper. Dianne Killebrew is a " locally grown" registered dietitian. She has extensive experience in directing and managing food and nutrition systems in community hospitals and multi-unit hospital networks. Currently, she is on the faculty of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Dietetic Internship program and trains future dietitians to become experts and leaders in the areas of food systems management and innovative nutrition education programming. She is an educational consultant for PBS's Professor Fizzy's Lunch Lab, an Emmy-nominated interactive Web series emphasizing the importance of nutrition and physical activity.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Yields: 4 servings
Serving size: 2/3 cup
Calories: 110
Total Fat: .9 grams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Protein: 2.5 grams
Sodium: 12 milligrams
Dietary Fiber: 8 grams

Nutrition Savvy Fast Fact : Raspberries have a red pigment color and are high in antioxidants. This berry is a good source of vitamins B and C, folate, niacin, magnesium and copper. Raspberries make a great healthy snack, a topping for salads or your favorite cereal!