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The Eggplant
 

I planted my first vegetable garden this past summer and a dear friend had me plant "eggplant".  My thoughts?  "What will I do with eggplant!"  I was pleasantly surprised and excited because having the eggplant made me open up my cookbook and try new recipes.  Now I have a new item that I will not pass in the grocery store.  Not only is eggplant excellent in such dishes as Eggplant Parmesan,  Vegetable Lasagna, and Ratatouille,  it is also good for you.  One cup cooked eggplant contains 25 calories, 1 gram protein, trace fat, no cholesterol, and 6 grams carbohydrate.  So if you decide to be adventurous and try eggplant here are some tips on how to pick the best eggplant.  Choose one that feels firm and heavy,  the skin should be tight and glow.  Once you get your eggplant home store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.  Good luck!

Kids Corner
 
Children between the ages of two to six years of age must consume a variety of foods everyday to ensure adequate intake of nutrients needed for growth.  Kids need 6 servings from grains, 3 servings from vegetables, 2 servings from fruit, 2-3 servings from dairy, and 2 servings from the meat group (the meat group includes eggs and beans). See table below for suggested serving sizes. 

Grain Group
 
6 servings
1 serving =
 
1 ounce ready to eat cereal
1 slice of bread
1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
1/2 cup cooked cereal
 
Dairy Group
 
2 to 3 servings
1 serving =
 
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
2 ounces of cheese
 
Vegetable group
 
3 servings
 
 
1 serving =
 
1/2 cup of chopped raw or cooked vegetables
1 cup leafy greens
 
Fruit group
 
2 servings
 
1 serving =
 
1 medium piece of fruit
3/4 cup fruit juice
1/2 cup canned fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
 
Meat group
 
2 servings
1 serving =
 
1 ounce cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
1/2 cup cooked dry beans
1 egg
2 Tbsp peanut butter

Fiber
 
Fiber, fiber, fiber!  We must increase our fiber. Sound familiar?  It is recommended that we all (adults that is) must consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber everyday to help normalize our gastrointestinal tract, decrease risk of gastrointestinal disorders,  control aspects of heart disease,  diabetes, and obesity.  A diet high in fiber increases fecal bulk which helps "move things" through the intestinal tract to avoid constipation, flare up of diverticulosis, and also control diarrhea.  Fiber also slows the rate of digestion which aids in control of blood sugars in those with diabetes.  Fiber is also known to decrease the livers ability to make cholesterol which therefore helps keep total cholesterol levels down.  Another known fact about fiber...  helps control total calorie intake by causing a feeling of fullness.
1/2 cup cooked lentils will give you 4 grams of fiber,  1/2 cup of baked beans or kidney beans will give you 6 grams!  One medium sized apple or pear with the skin will provide you with 4 grams.  1 ounce of Raisin Bran cereal contains 5 grams.  So add 2 ounces of Raisin Bran, 1 cup beans, and 2 pieces of fruit to your daily intake and there you have it.  Be aware that if you are not used to a diet high in fiber then you may experience some gastrointestinal upset (Gas).  So take it slow & be sure to consume up to 8 glasses of water (8 ounces each) to avoid constipation.  

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