Zacusca (Eggplant Pepper Spread)

Eggplant may be a challenging vegetable for many to cook. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor on its own, but it does a great job of soaking up the flavors of other things. Think of eggplant as a flavor sponge. This is one of the reasons you’ll see it baked or grilled as a cooking method, because it soaks up all that deep smoky flavor. An eggplant is mostly water, so it doesn’t have much caloric value. While it’s not very nutritionally dense as far as vitamins and minerals, it does have a decent amount of fiber and is rich in phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. These are particularly dense in the skin of the eggplant.

Traditionally, zacusca recipes remove the skin from the eggplant, but if you’re using a food processor, the skins will break down into the spread. Just give them a rough chop first.  Alternatively, you can stuff your leftover skins like you would a stuffed cabbage. Then if you topped that off with the zacsuca, what a meal that would make! 

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Eight Tips for Breastfeeding Success

While expecting a baby, you think about getting the room prepared, picking names, registering for gifts and maybe taking a childbirth class.  But, after having a baby, many parents wish they would have learned more about breastfeeding and how to be successful.

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, here are eight tips I wish someone had told me about breastfeeding when I was young (and not a lactation consultant!):

Take a breastfeeding class before delivery.
Carroll Hospital offers a virtual class once a month. Breastfeeding is natural, but there is a learning curve for all new mothers and their infants.

It’s all about the latch!
Breastfeeding should not hurt if the infant latches properly with a wide-open mouth.   Have the lactation consultant work with you in the hospital during your stay.

Learn different ways to hold the baby as you nurse.
Lying down to nurse can be helpful when you are tired.

Feed throughout the night at first.
This will help bring in an excellent milk supply and assure that your baby will start gaining weight quickly.

Babies are fussy, irritable and eat a lot the second day and night.
Feeding frequently is called cluster feeding. It is normal newborn behavior.  The baby needs to cluster feed to bring in your milk supply. It is exhausting, but it will not last too long.

Use it or lose it.
The best way to make more milk is to feed the baby. An “empty” breast makes more milk.

Don’t wait too long to introduce a bottle.
By 3 to 4 weeks of age introduce a bottle of your pumped breastmilk to your baby and learn how to pace bottle feed (which gives your baby more control of the feeding pace).

Attend a breastfeeding support group.
Mother-to-mother support is so helpful to continuing your journey and help you meet your goals! Carroll Hospital’s breastfeeding support group meets weekly.

Angela Baublitz, RN, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant in Carroll Hospital’s Family Birthplace.


No Sugar Added Watermelon Ice Pops

We all love an icy-sweet treat in the end-of-summer heat, but balancing our sugar intake with healthy foods can be a challenge. Here is your answer: fruits! There’s been a rumor going around that we need to limit our fruit intake because of the all the sugar found in fruit. This is not true.

Although fruits have naturally occurring sugars, they also contain a ton of other things that are beneficial to our health, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidant phytochemicals.  Added sugar is the real culprit we want to watch out for, as it comes with the same energy punch, but lacks all the other nutritional benefits that fruit has—and it’s more likely to cause a spike in blood sugar.

Added sugars are also sneaky; they aren’t just in sweets. You can find them in savory things like salad dressing, soups, pasta sauces, breads and crackers. So always check your food label. The daily limit for added sugar is a about 6 teaspoons (24g) for women and 9 teaspoons (36g) for men, while children 2 years of age and older should stay below 6 teaspoons of added sugar, and children under two should avoid it as much as possible (excluding infant formula.) 

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Crunchy Parmesan Kale Salad

It’s easy to get stuck in the same old salad routine. It’s time to add some pizzaz to your greens with this crunchy, cheesy kale salad recipe. Kale can be difficult for some people to introduce into their diet. It’s high fiber, which is great for your health, but it’s difficult to chew; it also has a strong, bitter taste. This recipe calls for a technique called massaging. It’s exactly how it sounds. With clean hands, squeeze and squish the kale with your dressing. This does two things. One is that manually squeezing physically helps to break the fiber in the leaves, making the kale more tender. The acidity of the dressing will also help with this. The crushing also impacts the flavor, making the kale less bitter while maintaining its nutrition. You can use this technique on all sorts of bitter greens in your salad. Try this technique with arugula, mustard greens, chard or collards.

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Refreshing Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce 

It is HOT out, and all the hefty meats and sides that come with barbecue season can leave us feeling sluggish and tired. This recipe is a great break from that feeling. It’s light and refreshing, giving you the energy to move through the heat of summer.

Spring rolls are a great way to get in a ton of nutrition-dense veggies and include some antioxidant rich herbs like mint, cilantro or basil as well. This dish also packs in the plant-based protein and heart-healthy fats between the tofu and the peanut sauce—plus it’s so easy and fun to make!

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