Eat Local!

September 5, 2014

Utah GrownSeptember 6 – 13 is Utah Eat Local Week. Eating local has many benefits from supporting local businesses, to environmental benefits, to promoting diversity in our food supply. Recently, I read an article titled “The New Nordic Diet” published on the Berkeley Wellness web site that spoke of creating a healthy diet based on locally available foods. For the Nordic countries this included foods that were abundant in their area from root vegetables and ligonberries to rye and salmon. This illustrates that following a healthy diet and eating locally are not mutually exclusive.

At Harmons we have almost 1,200 local items in all areas of the store from produce’s current selection of watermelon, squash, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, nectarines and apples to the meat department’s locally raised turkey, lamb and grass-fed beef.  In the grocery section, we have many items – just look for our blue “local” tag!

What do you feel are the must-have local foods for a healthy diet?

Great Health Tip of the Day: National Mushroom Month

September 3, 2014

mushroom soup.Have you heard the phrase “if it’s white don’t bite”? When it comes to mushrooms I would ignore this otherwise fairly sound advice. Low in calories (white “button” mushrooms contain only 15 calories per cup of slices), and containing B vitamins, selenium, and potassium, mushrooms are a nutrition powerhouse. Beyond the common button mushroom, there are many other varieties including Portobello, porcini, oyster, shiitake, enoki and maitake.

Mushrooms add a “meaty” texture and savory flavor to foods. Try adding them to stir-fry dishes, soups, stews, rice dishes or try grilling a Portobello mushroom to make a vegetarian “burger” (delicious topped with Harmons guacamole, a roasted poblano or Anaheim chile and a slice of pepper jack cheese).


August 30, 2014

peachesHello! My name is Sarah and I’m the newest addition to the Harmon’s Dietitian team! I’ll be spending most of my time at The District store in South Jordan. I just moved to Utah from Indiana and I love so many things about Utah; the mountains, the sunny days and especially the produce! Summertime in Utah means stone fruits; like peaches, plums, apricots and cherries! Peaches are one of my favorite fruits and peak season in Utah lasts from early August through the end of September.

I love to eat peaches as a snack, but they can also be great in salads, salsas, meat dishes and of course, dessert! Below you will find one of my favorite quick and easy summer peach recipes:

Grilled Peach Dessert
  1. 4 ripe peaches, halved
  2. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  3. 1 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
  4. ½ cup pistachios, shelled, roughly chopped
  5. ¼ cup Honey
  6. Fresh chopped mint for garnish (optional)
  1. Cut peaches in half and brush with olive oil. Place peaches on grill cut side down, until grill marks appear. Remove peaches from grill and top with yogurt, honey and pistachios. Serve immediately and enjoy! Blog
Grilled peaches are also delicious atop a simple spinach salad, or chicken. Take advantage of peach season while it lasts!

Great Health Tip of the Day: More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 29, 2014

TabboulehToday is the day to celebrate herbs! If mint, basil, or parsley has taken over your garden, find a fun new recipe and give it a try. Not only do herbs (fresh or dried) add a flavor punch to your meal, they also contain healthy antioxidants and replace the need for much added salt to season your food.

Tabbouleh salad is a traditional Mediterranean salad chock-full of herbs. Try the recipe below for an easy way to eat fresh herbs.

Tabbouleh Salad
  1. 1⁄4 cup bulgar, rinsed well
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 1 large tomato, finely diced
  4. 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and finely diced 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  5. 1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely diced
  6. 1/4 cup mint, finely diced
  7. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Soak bulgar in the refrigerator until soft (about 2 hours). Zest and juice the lemon. Whisk lemon juice and zest with olive oil, cumin and salt. Mix into bulgar. Gently add in herbs and vegetables. If made ahead, only add half of the dressing to the salad and add the remaining just before serving. Blog

Healthy Fun Lunchbox

August 26, 2014

Think outside the (lunch) box: Tips for packing nutritious lunches your kids will LOVE!

While many parents prefer packing their child’s lunches, they are often surprised to hear that studies show the majority of meals brought from home actually fall short on nutrition. In fact, a recent study conducted by Tufts University demonstrated that over 60% of lunches brought from home wouldn’t meet even 3 out of 5 nutritional standards for the National School Lunch program. Most home packed lunches exceeded maximums for sugar, salt and fat content, and provided too little protein, fruits, and vegetables. In short, the home packed lunches left much to be desired nutritionally. But don’t worry, packing your child’s lunchbox with healthy fare doesn’t mean it’s destined for the garbage can! There are plenty of nourishing foods that will fuel your child for fun at recess (and keep them from falling asleep on their desk during History class) that they will actually want to eat. Here are some easy ways to make sure your child’s lunches receive straight “A”s for both fun and nutrition.

Healthy Kids Lunch BoxMake sure your sandwiches are healthy

Sandwiches are the most common brown-bag star, and for good reason: they’re quick to make, generally inexpensive, and easy to transport. However, not all sandwiches deserve a gold star for nutrition. Using white bread? Swap it for a Dietitian’s Choice whole grain bread, or give our bakery’s 7 grain artisan bread a try. Are your kids PB and J lovers? Make sure to use a peanut butter without hydrogenated oil or lots of added sugar (look for Dietitians Choice varieties), and use a lower sugar jam. We have been loving local Butcher’s Bunches jams around my house (available on our Cheese Islands), as well as Smucker’s Lower Sugar Fruit Preserves. Is your child more of a meat and cheese lover? Use the opportunity to add some veggies on the sandwich, and be sure to use lower sodium, nitrite/nitrate free lunch meat, such as Boar’s Head Ovengold Turkey or Cap Off London Broil Roast Beef.

  • Extra credit: Provide the bread and toppings, and allow your kiddo to put the sandwich together themselves. It saves you time, and your child will appreciate getting to choose what goes on his/her sandwich

Forget the snack foods (but remember the fun!)

Pudding cups. Cookies. Chips. Fruit snacks. These foods, while OK in moderation, provide lots of calories without a lot of nutrients, and shouldn’t be lunchbox staples. Instead of pudding cups, try lower sugar yogurts, and replace cookies with whole grain crackers. (Annie’s Naturals makes some yummy, kid friendly crackers that are mostly whole grain.) Skip the chips and use flavored popcorn for a fun whole grain treat. And though fruit snacks have “fruit” in the name, they are not a replacement for real, whole fruits. Swap fruit gummies for fruit leather or dried fruit for a sweet snack.

  • Note: Lunches served at school generally don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to sugar and calorie content, so they don’t often provide dessert foods with meals.

Use leftovers

We use this idea all the time for adults, but how about for kids? If you’re making nutritious dinners, they can absolutely be packed in a reusable container with an ice pack and enjoyed for lunch.

Provide healthy dips for vegetables or fruit

Kids LOVE dips, so use this to your advantage to help encourage them to eat their fruits and vegetables. I often recommend making your own quick batch of healthier ranch dressing (a common kid favorite!) by mixing a packet of dried ranch dressing mix (in the salad dressing aisle) with a 16oz container of nonfat or low fat plain Greek yogurt. Our produce departments are also making some wonderful fresh hummus that make an excellent veggie dip with an extra punch of protein and fiber.

For fruit, try putting a vanilla flavored yogurt into their lunch as a dip, or mix the yogurt with some nut butter for a fun flavored fruit dip that is low in added sugar, and higher in protein and bone building calcium.

Rethink your drink: provide water or milk, NOT soda or fruit drinks

Many lunches brought from home were low in protein, and too high in sugar. Sugar sweetened beverages like soda, fruit drinks, or energy drinks don’t provide many nutrients, and shouldn’t be a lunchbox staple. By giving your child milk, you help them meet their protein requirements, as well as provide an essential source of calcium and vitamin D. Low fat flavored milk is OK, too. You can find the perfect lunch-sized milks in our healthy checkout cooler! Just be sure that you are also putting an ice-pack in your child’s insulated lunch box to keep milk at a safe temperature until lunchtime. Water is also a good choice for hydration, and doesn’t provide any sugar or calories.

Don’t forget the protein!

Though most Americans don’t have a problem meeting their daily protein needs, many home-packed lunches are low in protein, making the lunches less likely to hold your child over until snack or dinner time. A few easy, kid friendly protein options:

  • Low fat dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt)
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Cooked lean meats or fish
  • Low sodium deli meats
  • Nuts and seeds or nut butters
  • Beans
  • Soy products like tofu, edamame or soy nuts

What are your favorite healthy lunch box staples?

Want more information on how to make a healthy and delicious lunch? Join our Harmons dietitians in September for our Healthy Brown Bag Lunch workshops! Check out our schedule HERE to find the date and location most convenient for you.



August 18, 2014

chilesI use a lot of chiles when cooking at home (people that I swap recipes with don’t ask me if a recipe is spicy, but rather “how spicy is this?”). So you can imagine that I’m excited about the start of Harmons annual chile roasting weekends. Chiles in addition to being delicious do have health benefits. Spicy chiles contain a powerful antioxidant called capsaicin and like most fruit contain a good helping of vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. Additionally I find that foods with a little “heat” don’t need as much salt to flavor them, which can be helpful for reducing sodium in the diet.

Tips for including chiles:

If you are not used to spicy foods start with milder peppers such as Anaheim chiles and discard the seeds and membranes in the chiles. You can also add some dairy such as milk or plain yogurt to a dish to help reduce the heat (I have gulped many glasses of milk over the years after making a dish too spicy).

When working with spicy chiles wear gloves to avoid feeling a burning sensation. Avoid touching any sensitive part of your body when working with chiles (I have “burned” my eyes more than once over the years). If you don’t wear gloves, rub oil (any cooking oil) onto your hands and then wash with a degreasing type of dish or hand soap.

Some of my favorite ways to use chile peppers include:

  • Top a turkey burger or grilled Portobello mushroom with a roasted Anaheim or poblano pepper and guacamole (this combination also appears on my favorite turkey sandwich)
  • Stuff a poblano pepper (here is a quick recipe from Cooking Light (use a lower sodium refried bean such as Amy’s light in sodium or Field Day Organic vegetarian black bean refried beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe):
  • Make a pot of white chicken chili
  • Chop with tomatoes, onions and spices for a great fresh salsa
  • Make homemade green enchilada sauce (this is great in rice as well as for making chicken enchiladas)
  • Add to a tuna salad (my favorite is Southwest Tuna Salad – see the recipe below)

What is your favorite way to use chile peppers?

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Great Health Tip of the Day: Hiking Safety

August 14, 2014

Hiking is a great form of exercise and Utah has many beautiful hiking trails. Whether you are out for a short day
hike or a backpacking trip lasting several days make your hiking trips enjoyable and safe by following some simple
tips:hiking safety

  •  Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  •  Stay on the trail
  •  Ask for help if it becomes necessary
  •  Hydrate and fuel up as needed
  •  Always carry the recommended essentials:
    1. water
    2. extra food
    3. extra clothing/insulation
    4. rain and wind protection
    5. sun protection: sun glasses, sun screen, lip balm, sun hat
    6. compass and maps or GPS and knowledge of their use
    7. flashlight and spare batteries
    8. first aid kit and insect repellent
    9. emergency kit: whistle, matches or small lighter, candle or fire starter tabs, lightweight reflective emergency bag or space blanket
    10. pocket knife


Wasatch Mountain Club – The Ten Essentials and National Park Service – Hiking Safety

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini!

August 8, 2014


It has come. The time of year in which zucchini (and of course, zucchini bread) is abundant. It’s inexpensive, taking over gardens, and inspiring the rationalization of eating of too much zucchini chocolate cake: “but it has vegetables in it, right….?” If you’re especially lucky (unlucky?), you may have already found an abandoned zucchini on your front porch.

This year, let’s embrace the abundance! Try some new recipes. Zucchini after all is very nutritious and versatile. One cup chopped provides a mere 20 calories, some fiber, and a generous dose of vitamin C.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini.

  • Add it to lasagna. Be sure to roast or sauté them first so your beautiful lasagna doesn’t turn to mush.
  • Add it to pasta sauce (be sure to sauté it beforehand or simmer it in the sauce until tender).
  • Throw it on pizza (even takeout pizza, if the zucchini is already roasted).
  • Substitute bread for roasted zucchini “coins” as the base for caprese appetizers.
  • Shred into pancake batter for extra moisture.
  • Slice it thin and add to a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Zucchini is great in almost any light, summery soup.
  • Cut it into sticks and eat it raw dipped in hummus.
  • Throw long, thin strips on the grill during your next barbeque for a smoky flavor.
  • Add it to a traditional corn and black bean dip salad (chop it up finely and enjoy it raw).
  • And then of course when I’m lazy, I simply sauté it in bulk with some garlic and olive oil and eat it as a side dish for a couple days.
  • Peel it into ribbons and marinate it for a cold salad (see below for the recipe I’ve been using).

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Some additional ideas:

What are you favorite ways to enjoy zucchini? We’d love to hear!


Great Health Tip of the Day: National Sandwich Month

August 7, 2014

What a great month to celebrate sandwiches! They are quick to prepare, don’t require turning on the stove, and can be a complete meal. Here are some tips to creating a healthy sandwich masterpiece.

  • Use whole grain bread
    • Look for “100% Whole Grain” on the package or look for “whole” in the ingredient list
    • The fiber of whole grains will keep you satisfied
  • Include veggies
    • Load em’ up for a light, refreshing sandwich loaded with nutrients and flavor
    • Keep them raw for a crunchy, cooling treat
  • Choose a lean protein
    • Hummus, grilled tofu, fresh mozzarella, leftover chicken breast, egg, and tuna are great choices
    • When choosing a deli meat, look for nitrate/nitrite free options with less than 350 mg of sodium
  • Choose condiments carefully
    • Choose low-fat or healthy-fat options
    • To bump up the creaminess and heart-healthy fats, replace mayo with mashed avocado
    • Use a small amount of pesto for a burst of flavor and healthy fats
  • Think outside the box
    • Try thinly sliced fruit with goat cheese
    • Use a whole-grain wrap (or even leftover whole grain pancakes) instead of bread
    • Add leftover veggies like roasted beets or zucchini
    • Stuff a pita with leftover salad for a fresh look


Great Health Tip of the Day: I Scream, You Scream… Tips for Choosing a Healthier Frozen Treat!

August 5, 2014

Cold Organic Frozen Strawberry Fruit Popsicle‘Tis the season for longer days, outdoor barbeques, and blazing temperatures. When the mercury rises, many of us want to reach for a decadent, cold treat to cool off. However, the calories from these frozen treats can really add up if you aren’t careful! Read on for tips on choosing a healthier frozen indulgence, and some of our top picks in the freezer aisle.

Popsicles- Nothing says summer quite like a cold Popsicle. But their empty calories and high sugar content leave much to be desired in the nutrition department. If you eat them regularly, consider switching to sugar free popsicles for a 25 calorie savings per pop. Or, even better, grab some of your favorite frozen fruit and eat that instead! Frozen grapes and pineapple are great snacks that taste decadent, but are actually healthy.

Ice Cream – While delicious, some ice cream can pack in over 300 calories in a 1⁄2 cup serving! (I’m looking at you, Ben and Jerry’s.) Try to stick to varieties with around 100 calories per 1⁄2 cup serving. Also, be sure that you’re sticking to the 1⁄2 cup portion size – it is very easy to overestimate. (I recommend using a measuring cup at least once to get a feel for what 1⁄2 cup really looks like) Top with sliced fruit like strawberries or peaches for a healthier summer treat. Top Picks: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Varieties, TruMoo Lowfat Ice Cream.