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“Celebrate National Nutrition Month with America’s Most Popular Flavor”

Did you know that vanilla adds flavor to diets without calories and fat?

March is National Nutrition Month and dieticians across the country are encouraging healthy eating habits. While avoiding sweets and focusing on fruits and vegetables sounds like a simple task, it can be difficult to break bad eating habits.

“It’s vital for diets to include nutrition dense foods that are jammed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. That generally means avoiding foods that are high in sugar and fat, but doesn’t mean you have to give up your indulgences altogether. Alternatives to enhance flavor exist such as cinnamon or vanilla,” said Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D., L.D.N. and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods.

Vanilla is most commonly known as a flavoring in pastries, confections, and other desserts, but most people don’t realize that it can also act as a flavor enhancer, or potentiator. It increases our ability to taste other flavors by intensifying those flavors. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, one of the finest pure vanilla and flavor extract producers in the world, offers a full line of vanilla products from Pure Vanilla Beans to Pure Vanilla Powder that can add flavor to dishes without the calories and fat.

In her book, Retelny suggests several healthy healing foods that can be enjoyed in honor of National Nutrition Month.

Here are her recommendations for making healthy foods a little tastier with vanilla.

– Citrus Fruits:

Citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Sprinkle a bit of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder on an orange or grapefruit to cover the fruits’ acidic bite, giving a creamier taste.

– Tomatoes:

Tomatoes are lauded for their high lycopene levels. Lycopene is a carotenoid with powerful healing properties. Mexican Pure Vanilla cuts the acidity in tomato based dishes.

– Fish:

Fish is a go-to source for omega-3 fats. Fish is also low in saturated fat and a great source of protein. When making fish on the grill, apply Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste with a brush. The paste caramelizes slightly forming a thin shell that seals in the moisture.

– Cucumbers:

Cucumbers are a good source of potassium and have a high amount of vitamin K. The peel also provides dietary fiber. Tahitian vanilla, which works best in cold, no-heat applications, pairs nicely with cucumbers and in cucumber salads.

– Yogurt:

Yogurt is high in calcium and contains other nutrients such as vitamin D, protein and probiotics. A splash of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract helps increase the richness and creaminess.

Sweet homemade granola bars and savory salsa infused with vanilla can be just a few substitutes for cookies and potato chips. The healthy springtime salad recipe below from Nielsen-Massey can help keep diets on track while including a splash of sweetness.

Spa Salad with Almond Vinaigrette Recipe

10 ounces baby spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
~ Almond vinaigrette (below)
~ Additional strawberries and almonds for garnish

Toss the spinach, onion, strawberries and almonds gently in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Garnish with additional strawberries and almonds.

Serves 2

Almond Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup natural rice vinegar

Whisk the Dijon mustard, syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the canola oil in a fine stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. This will emulsify your salad dressing and it will not separate. Add the vinegar slowly, whisking constantly.

Note: Emulsified liquids are generally unmixable and whisking them together gradually will force them to combine.

Makes 3/4 cup

Today’s post is brought to us by Victoria Retelny! Thanks Victoria :)

About Victoria Shanta Retelny
Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D., L.D.N. is an author, media spokesperson, culinary instructor, nutrition therapist, and owner of a full-service nutrition communications consulting practice. Retelny has written nutrition-based articles for a variety of publications, such as Women’s Health, EatingWell, SELF, Chicago Tribune, IDEA Fitness Journal and The Journal of the American Dietetic Association. She is the author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods and believes that this book will give readers the ability to restore their body to a new level of health. Victoria is a graduate of Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications, as well as Loyola University’s Dietetics Program. She combines both of her passions – communications and nutrition, into her daily work. She has also worked as a healthy chef instructor for the Calphalon Culinary Center where she mastered the art of creating healthy meals by combining delicious flavors, colors and textures on the plate. Victoria is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and served as Chair of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs, a Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. She lives to eat well with her husband, two lively preschoolers and their precocious pug in Chicago. Visit her website at www.livingwellcommunications.com

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