Twelve Interesting (and Healthy) Foods to Target this Year

Say No to Resolutions — Say Yes to Trying
Healthy New Foods in 2012

What are your resolutions? Or do you even make any? According to Wiki, a study in 2007 by a man named Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol (UK) showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.

This statistic should not surprise anyone – as most of us have been part of the 78% at some point in our lives.

This year, I’m resolving to continue my 2011 adventure with new foods – a resolution I know I can keep. I’m exploring foods I’ve never tried, and preparing foods I thought I didn’t like in new ways.

How did this all start?

As some of you may know, my colleague Ashley Ritchie and I do cooking demos for the Cancer Support Community here in Atlanta.  Ashley – a self-described “foodie” – has broadened my horizons immensely in the six-months that I’ve been working with her.

In my short time with Good Measure Meals, I’ve been amazed to learn how many foods existed that I had never tasted or thought I didn’t like — and I mean REAL, WHOLE foods – not manufactured foods that you buy in a box (although there are many of those I have yet to taste as well).

I have been, and continue to be, genuinely surprised by the foods that I’ve (re-)discovered.  I thought I hated Brussels sprouts, but the truth is that I just hate them boiled, but I LOVE them roasted!  And I found that parsnips have a unique flavor all their own.

Fresh ripe pears are crisp and sweet (I only ever ate canned pears as a child and wrote them off years ago).  And up until last weekend, I thought I didn’t like kale until a friend made it into a salad (wait, to quote her, “massaged” the kale) with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds for New Year’s Eve – yum!

Are you ready to broaden your own food horizons but not sure where to start? As a food explorer myself, here are my suggestions for 12 fruits and vegetables to try (or re-try) in honor of 2012!

1. Kumquats – I first had this tart citrusy fruit at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle a few years ago. They look like mini oval oranges. Be sure to eat the entire fruit – skin and all. Want to try them in a familiar way?  I can’t wait to try this kumquat salsa!

2. Parsnips – I first tasted parsnips this fall in a roasted fall vegetable medley with carrots and winter squash. At the local market, they look like large white carrots. The taste? They have a ‘bite’.  Try them and see for yourself!

3. Kale – If you’ve tried our Good Measure Meals Hearty Chicken Sausage Soup with Kale and White Cannellini Beans, then you have eaten kale! If you want to prepare it in an entirely different way, try making kale chips or using it raw in a salad. To learn more, check out my colleague Diana Dyer’s blog, 365 days of kale.

4. Star fruit – Star fruit (or carambola) is a juicy tropical fruit grown throughout Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, Hawaii and Florida. It’s a good choice during the winter when they’re readily available. Star fruit is low-cal (only 30 calories per fruit) and it makes a great conversation piece when added to a fruit salad. The taste is difficult to describe, but the texture is sort of like a grape.

5. Turnips – The root of turnip greens is on my 2012 ’to do’ list. Not knowing how to prepare them myself, I consulted Ashley, who suggests pan-sautéing them. Check out the Vegan Coach to learn more on prep.

6. Anasazi Beans – Named after the cliff dwellers of the Southwestern US, this bean is believed to be 1500 years old. If you ate this week’s Good Measure Meals dinner last night with Southwestern Chili Lime Tilapia aside Seasoned Anasazi Beans and Sweet Corn, then you’ve had Anasazi beans!

7. Broccolini – I first experience with broccolini was at Alligator Soul in Savannah this fall. Due to my ongoing aversion to broccoli (long story), I asked the waitress if she could sub asparagus for broccolini, assuming it was ‘baby’ broccoli – same flavor, just smaller. Thank God broccolini was my only option that night– it’s fantastic! To me, it tasted much more like asparagus than broccoli. Delish!

8. Arugula – Up until this fall, I had always had arugula as a part of a mixed greens salad – never alone – but I’m now an arugula salad lover. My favorite way to enjoy is simply to toss the greens with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, salt and freshly grated parmesan. Sliced fresh pears make a nice addition as well (thanks Ashley!). On Good Measure Meals right now? Arugula is on the menu!  (Check out the Chickpea and Bulgur Salad with Golden Raisins, Arugula, Pecans, Herbs and Spices –this is one of my favorite GMM menu items!).

9. Rutabagas – Like turnips, this one has been added my list to try in 2012. Rutabagas are root vegetables that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. I think I’ll try mine sautéed with caramelized onions.

10. Persimmon – This fruit resembles a tomato, but tastes quite different. Not sure how to eat? Check out Five Ways to Eat Persimmons.

11. Figs – If you are like me, I wouldn’t know where to start with a fig. I’ve tasted figs in recipes made by other people, but never ate a fresh or dried fig by itself. Did you know figs are on the GMM menu? If you’ve had our Provencal Chicken flavored with Lemon, Herbs, Sundried Tomatoes and Dried Figs, you’ve had figs!

12. Lentils – ohhh…my favorite bean. Lentils require no soaking overnight, making them a quick and easy solution for meals. Use them in stews, soups or add them to rice and vegetable dishes for more fiber and flavor.  If you don’t want to cook them, try our Good Measure Meals lentil stuffing on the fall/winter menu! As a bonus, lentils won’t hurt your wallet either. Check out one of my favorite lentil dishes: Warm Lentil Salad (try substituting turkey or chicken sausage – it’s delish)!

I hope my mom is sitting down when she reads this. The girl who once only ate canned green beans, potatoes and corn now eats her vegetables, and can’t wait to try more!


Contributed by: Bethany Smith, RD, GMM & OH Community Wellness Representative

Bethany, a Registered Dietitian, spent the first part of her career as a diabetes educator. Ultimately, she transitioned to medical oncology, where she spent the past nine years leading a team of dietitians and social workers, and counseling cancer patients on eating well to manage the side effects of cancer therapies during and after treatment. Now, as our Community Wellness Representative, Bethany’s role is to build collaborative partnerships and educate the local medical community on the many benefits of Open Hand and Good Measure Meals™ services.

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