Eating Right Can Help Kids Succeed in Harlem

veggies in the public domainBy Karen Smith-Hagman

Getting ready to send your kids back to school in Harlem is about more than just new notebooks, pencils and backpacks. You can also plan healthy new recipes in advance to get a jump start on the new school year.  And what better time to do so than during the fall harvest? Farmers’ markets around the city offer all of the fresh produce you’ll need to feed your family well.

Fall is the perfect time to try root vegetables like carrots, their lesser known cousin parsnips, and leeks. Carrots are full of beta-carotene, which can help improve eyesight — important for kids returning to school. Unlike many vegetables, the nutritional value of carrots goes up when you cook them!
Parsnips, which look like carrots but are white in color and sweeter, are a good source of potassium, a mineral that can help stave off leg and foot cramps. Parsnips also contain antioxidants that help fight cancer, fungal infections and inflammation.
Leeks are another root vegetable perfect for the fall. They are related to onions but have a milder taste. They’re crunchy and firm, and the white base and light green parts are edible. Leeks are also a good source of vitamins K and B6, as well as folate, which helps with hair and nail growth. It is important for expectant moms to get enough folate to help promote fetal development.
Pick up carrots, parsnips and leeks at your local farmers’ market, as well as some onions, garlic, a habanero pepper and fresh thyme and parsley, and you can whip up this easy side dish in no time.
Sautéed Vegetable Medley
4 leeks, cleaned well and chopped
2 carrots, grated
2 parsnips, grated
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), finely chopped
½ habanero pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preparation: Heat oil and add pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften. Add leeks and sauté for about five minutes until leeks soften. Add carrots and parsnips and cook for another two to three minutes. Add fresh herbs to taste.
This easy recipe using fresh, local produce can become a staple in your home, providing you and your family with the nutrients you need for a great school year.
Do you make this meal the same way or differently?
Karen Smith-Hagman, RN, MSN is Vice President, Medical Management at EmblemHealth and oversees initiatives that improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers. EmblemHealth is a sponsor of Harvest Home Farmer’s Markets, which provides access to locally grown fruits and vegetables and cooking demonstrations.

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