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Brian Higginson, RD, CD

Brian Higginson, RD, CD

Clinical Nutrition Specialist

Brian Higginson has always been interested in food. He grew up eating foods out of an organic garden, got raw milk from the cows up the street, and worked as a cook in a variety of settings. This interest in food eventually led to a Bachelors of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut, followed by the completion of a dietetic internship at Marywood University in Scranton, PA in 2000. Brian has been an RD at Swedish Medical Center for over 7 years. He enjoys teaching community classes and helping individuals to make lifestyle changes that enable them to reach their nutritional goals. His interests include cardiovascular health, diabetes, weight loss, digestive disorders, maternal health, incorporating organic/local foods, and teaching others to make good food a priority in their lives.

Blog Posts by Brian Higginson, RD, CD

Why you should have fiber in your diet

Fiber is a general term for the various plant cells that give plants their structure – it helps trees stand up tall, and is what makes fruits and vegetables crunch when you bite into them. No fiber naturally exists in meats or dairy products; fiber is found only in plants. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, along with other foods such as whole grains, are good sources of fiber.

Benefits and Types of Fiber

High fiber foods help to...

Zingy Roasted Vegetables

When you look in your refrigerator and see an overabundant harvest, then you know it’s the time for roasted vegetables. Use what’s on our list or invent your own. What makes this particular dish so tasty are our secret ingredients–horseradish sauce and cider vinegar. These should be staples in your kitchen because they can add a zing to almost any dish–including this one. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 1 medium turnip
  • 1 medium rutabaga
  • 1 medium yam
  • 2 small red potatoes, quartered
  • ½ large red onion, sliced into 4 wedges
  • 2 large mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, seeded and cut in 8 equal strips
  • 1 small zucchini cut in 1" slices
  • ½ teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each bottled horseradish sauce and cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. First five ingredients, remove skins with vegetable peeler and cut into large bite size pieces (1 inch cubes). Then place with potatoes on large cookie sheet lightly sprayed with canola oil. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven. Turn with spatula. Vegetables should still be firm but beginning to color. Add onions, mushrooms, pepper and zucchini, and sprinkle with herbs and pepper. Roast 15 more minutes or until all are tender.
  4. Combine horseradish sauce and vinegar, and spoon over vegetables.
  5. Toss and serve.

Per serving of vegetables: 192 calories, 5 gm protein, 44 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 gm fiber, 71 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK This dish is very versatile and can be served alone or with many kinds of meat, chicken, or fish. Try low-fat chicken sausage as pictured (3 ounces per serving). Cook according to directions on package. And remember that you can substitute any of your favorite vegetables for the ones here. Just think colorful!

Click here to see more recipes from this collection, or on the 'recipes' tag below.

Wraps To Go with Chutney and Curry

Wraps are a fun and fast way to dine— perfect for today’s busy families. This simple and savory recipe is inspired by East Indian flavors. Serves 4.

Ingredients

Spread

  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder or to taste

Wraps

  • 4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • ¼ pound cooked protein, such as shrimp, sliced turkey, or sliced chicken
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 teaspoons chopped peanuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber

Directions

  1. Mix together the cream cheese, chutney, and curry powder.
  2. Place tortillas on a work surface and spread ¼ of the cream cheese mixture on each.
  3. Divide the wrap fillings equally among the tortillas.
  4. Roll and eat with gusto!

Per serving spread on tortilla with chicken: 131 calories, 12g protein, 24g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 12mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 644mg sodium.

THE SEASONED COOK The suggested amount of meat invites portion control—a little bit goes a long way. Presented buffet style, everyone can build their own wraps.

Wild Mushroom Pasta

If you don’t have a mycologist in the family, rely on your local grocer to explain the varieties of mushrooms. Asian grocery stores are often a source for exotic dried mushrooms, often more affordable price than fresh; simply reconstitute them in water. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces spiral pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring water to boil for pasta. Cook until al dente and strain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Cook until softened and lightly browned. Squeeze the lemon over them.
  3. Add the zucchini and carrots. Cook, stirring until tender crisp, about 2 minutes.
  4. When the pan becomes dry, add the broth. Lower heat and cook 4 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the cooked pasta and parsley until combined. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 482 calories, 20 gm protein, 75 gm carbohydrate, 12 gm fat, 3 gm sat fat, 7 gm mono fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 6 gm fiber, 145 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Use a variety of fresh and dried mushrooms. To reconstitute dried mushrooms, cover with hot tap water and let soak for 10-15 minutes. Feel free to use spiral pasta that has vegetable flavors, too.

Whipped Winter Squash

One ingredient, one wholesomely good—and delicious—food. And it’s a snap to prepare. Best purchased at harvest time, squash can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. Serves 4.

Try this with: Pork Dijon with Chutney and Sauteed Swiss Chard

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds seasonal squash such as Hubbard or Butternut, skin peeled away and remaining squash cut into chunks

Directions

  1. In medium saucepan boil one inch of water.
  2. Place squash in steamer basket above water, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes until tender.
  3. Drain and puree or mash.

Per serving: 102 calories, 2gm protein, 27 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 gm fiber, 9 mg sodium

Waist Not, Want Not Refrigerator Soup

Got leftovers? You have the makings of a great soup. Start with cooked lean meat or low-fat sausage, then add two cups of fresh or cooked veggies on hand. And don’t forget the freezer, where all kinds of treasures await. Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup barley, rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • plus leftovers from the refrigerator or freezer

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a heavy pot on medium high and sauté onion for 4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add carrot and celery and sauté 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 35-40 minutes.
  3. 10 minutes before completion, add leftovers below, heat through and serve.

Per serving (based on basic recipe above): 192 calories, 9g protein, 33g carbohydrate, 4g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g mono fat, 0mg cholesterol, 8g fiber, 99g sodium

THE SEASONED COOK The numerous veggies in the soup base provide not just rich flavor, but antioxidants like beta carotene and lycopene too.

Vegetable Medley

Zucchini and mushrooms are a perfect complement in this easy-to-prepare dish. It’s important not to overcook the zucchini, which easily becomes mushy. Serves 4.

Try this with: Orange and Spice Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Sauté onions and garlic until golden. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mushrooms begin to brown.
  2. Add zucchini, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.

Per serving: 99 calories, 3 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrate, 8 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 5 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 152 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Balsamic vinegar is aged vinegar made from sweet grapes. Although it can be very expensive, it’s not necessary or even wise to use the expensive bottles for cooking. Do look for a bottle that says “Made in Modena.” Modena, Italy, is the home of authentic balsamic vinegar.

Nutrition Goldmine: The mushrooms in this dish are a great source of potassium.

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