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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

Savory Baked Apples

This is a dessert that most people love from their childhoods, but for some reason today it gets overlooked as not “special enough.” But special is exactly what it will be called when you make it. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 4 baking apples such as Rome or Jonathan Gold
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup hot water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Core apples to ½ inch of bottom.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients plus ½ teaspoon of the water in a small bowl and mix, then spoon into the cavities until full.
  4. Set apples in an 8" x 8" baking pan, pour remainder of water in pan bottom, seal in foil and bake 30 minutes or until apples are soft.
  5. Serve warm. Optional toppings include a dollop of nonfat frozen yogurt or nonfat sour cream.

Per serving: 93 calories, 0 protein, 24 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 gm mono fat, 2 gm fiber, 5 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Use the remaining mixture by simmering 5-10 minutes and spoon over apples before serving. Make extra apples for breakfast too!

Pork Dijon with Chutney

This is a perfect and heart-friendly meal for company without being too fussy or labor intensive. And, if you prepare plenty, you’ll have leftovers for your family the next day. You’ll be amazed at how much better homemade chutney is—and less expensive! With cancer-fighting sautéed Swiss chard and whipped winter squash, you’ve prepared a flavorful—and memorable—meal. Serves 4.

Fruit chutney (serves 6)

Ingredients

  • Canola oil spray
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Spray saucepan with oil. Sauté onions 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, 6-10 minutes.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving (1 tablespoon): 71 calories, 0 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 gm fiber, 4.9 mg sodium

Pork

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Combine the Dijon mustard, vinegar, water, and tarragon.
  3. Place pork on broiler pan. Spread half of Dijon mixture on top.
  4. Broil 7 minutes. Turn and spread with remaining mixture. Broil 7 more minutes or until done. Slice and serve with fruit chutney, squash, and Swiss chard.

Per serving: 180 calories, 26 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrate, 7 gm fat, 3 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 0 gm fiber, 152 mg sodium

Pear Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 Remember twice-baked potatoes—yummy but oh, so fattening? Here’s a richer and sweeter version that’s much more heart friendly. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants; pears are high in fiber. Next time you’re tempted to serve baked potatoes, think sweet.

Try this with: Honey Grilled Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 large pears, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil, extra-light
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Bake whole sweet potatoes at 425° for 45 minutes, or until done. Cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet sauté pears in olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir well for about a minute until sugar dissolves.
  3. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop out pulp, leaving skin intact. Mash pulp.
  4. Mix mashed potatoes and pears together and stir well. Stuff mixture back into shells.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with chopped nuts if desired.

Per serving: 170 calories, 2 gm protein, 35 gm carbohydrate, 4 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 gm fiber, 12 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Extra-light olive oil has the same number of calories as regular olive oil, but has a very light flavor making it quite useful in sweet dishes. Sweet potatoes are often referred to as yams, but they’re actually two different vegetables. To save time, you can prepare ahead through step 4.

Orange and Spice Roasted Pork Tenderloin

 
This tasty dish (serves 4) is easy enough for a week-night family meal while impressive enough for company. Any vegetable works well on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Combine coriander, ginger, and pepper in small bowl. Trim any translucent “silver skin” from tenderloin. Rub tenderloin with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then coat with spice mixture.
  3. Make glaze by combining marmalade with remaining ingredients.
  4. Heat remaining teaspoon olive oil in oven-proof skillet. Sear pork over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and roast for 6 minutes.
  5. Spread glaze over pork and continue to roast until meat is just done through, about another 6 minutes. Let meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Drizzle some of the remaining glaze over the pork slices.

Per serving: 299 calories, 24 gm protein, 28 gm carbohydrate, 11 gm fat, 2 gm sat fat, 7 gm mono fat, 74 gm cholesterol, 321 gm sodium (175 mg without salt)

THE SEASONED COOK If you’ve never cooked with coriander, you’ll find it a wonderful addition to your spice rack. Although coriander is the seed of the plant whose leaves we know as cilantro, it has a very different flavor.

Nutrition Goldmine: Pork tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork with only 4 grams of fat per 3 ounce portion, and is an excellent source of B vitamins.

Minted Pea Couscous

Peas and mint team for texture and flavor in this super simple, light pasta dish. A perfect complement to pork, beef, chicken or fish, you’ll turn to this recipe often, especially when serving leftover meat. Serves 4.

Try this with: Glazed Raspberry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • ½ cup minced parsley

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan bring broth and olive oil just to a boil.
  2. Stir in couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Fluff couscous lightly with fork. Add peas, mint, and parsley. Serve.

Per serving: 271 calories, 12 gm protein, 46 gm carbohydrate, 5 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 gm fiber, 127 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK To thaw peas, place in colander and rinse with warm water.

Minestrone Soup

On a cold day when you need warming up, there’s nothing better than a homemade minestrone soup (serves 10). We like to make the whole recipe and then have it during the week for lunch or a quick dinner, or deliver it to friends and family as a surprise. The ingredient list may be a little long, but most of these should be staples in your kitchen. If not, put them on your list! Italian bread and romaine salad complete the meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 28- ounce can tomatoes, peeled Italian style
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 potato (½ lb) peeled and chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 6 cups fat free broth, chicken or vegetable, low-sodium
  • 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
  • 2 ounces pasta, (such as broken spaghetti)
  • Optional Garnish: Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil, until onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes,
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except pasta. Stir. Bring to boil & simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add pasta (broken spaghetti is an excellent choice). Cook for 8-10 minutes longer, until pasta is al dente, not mushy. Stir frequently to keep pasta from sticking together.
  4. Serve in bowls & garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 149 calories, 8gm protein, 25 gm carbohydrate, 3 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 2 gm mono, 1 mg cholesterol, 5 gm fiber, 370 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK A variety of seasonal vegetables can be substituted or added such as green beans, summer squash, and mushrooms. Navy beans instead of kidney beans would give the soup a whole new look.

Nutrition Goldmine: Kidney beans are rich in folic acid, iron, fiber, and protein.

Honey Grilled Salmon

We love salmon for its versatility—and its omega-3 contribution to our heart health. Plus with high selenium levels it’s a cancer fighter too. Note the rub relies on garlic powder, which is less likely to burn in the cooking process than fresh garlic. Cumin (the second most popular spice in the world—black pepper is first) has a distinctive and warm taste. Serves 4. 

Try this with: Pear-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 4-ounce salmon filets

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Stir in honey to form a smooth syrup.
  3. Using your fingers, spread syrup gently over the salmon. Place on a foil-covered oven-safe pan that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray. Broil for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness, just until fish flakes easily off the fork.

Per serving: 213 calories, 24 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrate, 10 gm fat, 2 gm sat fat, 5 gm mono fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 61 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, cold water fish such as salmon prevent clotting in blood vessels and may help raise HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids also help keep the heart beating in a healthy rhythm. The new guidelines recommend two to three meals of fatty fish each week.

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