This winter, as you host seasonal get-togethers, resist the temptation to feed your loved ones unhealthy foods. Instead, top your table with healthy and delicious finger foods that will give adults and children the nutrients they need — like lutein, one of the latest players on the nutrition scene.
Haven’t heard of lutein? Read on, and then spread the word about this important nutrient as your winter-time guests delight in the lutein-packed recipes that follow.
Lutein, a carotenoid found in foods like leafy greens, zucchini, eggs, kiwi fruit and apples, supports eye health throughout the lifespan. Lutein works in two ways: it protects eyes by absorbing potentially damaging light and protects against oxidative damage. Recent research also suggests that lutein lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein is only available through our diet — it is not made by the body — so give the gift of lutein to your loved ones this winter!
Vegetable Spinach Roll-Ups
Makes 4 wraps; for appetizers, slice into individual bites
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon capers, chopped fine
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 (7-inch) spinach or whole wheat tortilla
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), cut lengthwise into thin strips
2 cups baby spinach, packed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Combine mayonnaise, parsley, capers, lemon zest, salt and pepper in small bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture on each tortilla. Evenly place ½ cup spinach, ¼ cup halved cherry tomatoes and 3 to 4 zucchini strips across one half of the tortilla.
Starting with the half with vegetables, roll each tortilla tightly. Slice into bite-size rolls and secure each with a toothpick before serving.
Grilled Chicken and Veggie Kabobs
Makes 8 kabobs/1 per serving as an appetizer
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow squash (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
8 wooden or metal skewers (10 or 12-inches long)
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes together in bowl or large zip lock bag. Add chicken pieces, zucchini and yellow squash, tossing to spread oil mixture evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Thread each skewer with 4 pieces of zucchini, 3 pieces of chicken and 4 pieces of yellow squash. Grill kabobs over high heat until chicken is cooked through and vegetables and chicken are charred, about 3 minutes per side. Serve warm.
Crustless Spinach Quiche Bites
Makes 24 Quiche Bites/3 per serving as an appetizer
5 large eggs
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1-10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or cooked and drained well
4 oz grated part skim mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese mixture
1/3 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Roasted red pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh parmesan, grated
Optional: Add some holiday color with a bit of roasted red pepper on top of each square
Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat eggs, milk and spices together until frothy. Add spinach and cheese and mix well.
Pour into 8” square cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with oil. Bake 45-50 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160° F.
To serve, cut into squares about 1 ½ inches wide. Garnish with a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese and a piece of roasted red pepper for some holiday color.
Warm wishes to you and yours as you ring in the new year with these healthy, delicious recipes.
Bridget Swinney MS, RD is an award-winning author and well-regarded nutrition expert in the field of prenatal nutrition, child nutrition and family eating matters. A frequent speaker and media guest, she is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition.Bridget has worked as a clinical dietitian, public health nutritionist, WIC Program Director, diabetes educator and weight loss group facilitator. Her book, Eating Expectantly, won the Child Magazine’s Top Ten Parenting Books of the Year, and Baby Bites was awarded a 2008 iparenting.com Media Award. The 4th edition of Eating Expectantly will arrive in May 2012.
As a spokesperson for Similac®, Bridget is working to educate moms and families about the importance of lutein. Emerging science suggests that lutein plays a role in developing the visual system during infancy and is found in key regions of the infant brain associated with memory and learning. Prior to the introduction of solid foods, babies can get lutein from breast milk and infant formula containing lutein (such as Similac).