National Nutrition Month: Celebrate A World of Flavors While Shopping Locally
By Liane Vadheim, Registered Dietitian, Holy Rosary Healthcare
You may remember just where you were in March 2020 when COVID-19 began impacting all of our lives. I remember getting a 2 a.m. telephone call while vacationing in southern Spain, telling us we had until midnight the next day to be back in the United States. A quick scramble arranged a fifty-mile ride to the nearest airport, getting us back to Montana just in time to quarantine for two weeks. As a registered dietitian and a foodie, I love traveling and exploring cultures through their foods. While that has been a little more challenging the last two years, I have found other fun and creative ways to share my passion.
March is National Nutrition Month, and at Holy Rosary Healthcare, we are celebrating with the theme of “Celebrate a World of Flavors.” As we are sharing at the hospital, you might not realize that the resources we need to showcase healthy flavors from cultures worldwide are available right here in Miles City. Whether it is from any local grocery store, our locally sourced meat producers, farmer's markets, or our gardens in the summer, the ingredients to find tasty ways to nourish ourselves are right here in our community. Often all it takes is a special ingredient or two to turn our usual fare into a culinary trip around the world.
To help you taste the world, I wanted to share one of my favorite “special” ingredients, smoked paprika, and a recipe so that you can use it at home. For me, it was one of those “change your life” discoveries. A pimenton pepper is slowly smoked over an oak wood fire in southwestern Spain. The smoky, slightly spicy pepper isn’t anything like ordinary paprika. In Spain, it is typically used in their signature dish, paella or the tapas favorite, patatas bravas. But you don’t have to be cooking Spanish style to enjoy it–I think it is essential in my chili, and it works well in any meat dish and any barbeque dish for an extra depth of flavor.
Paella is a perfect example of a nutritious, one-pot meal customized to available ingredients. It has rice and vegetables with protein options. It would be made with mussels, squid, and clams near the seacoast. It could also contain chorizo. Below is a recipe made with locally available ingredients.
1 Medium Onion
6 Garlic Cloves
1 Sweet Red Pepper
2 or 3 Roma Tomatoes (or 15 oz petite diced tomatoes)
¼ cup of olive oil
½ pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 large pinch of saffron or turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 ½ cups short grain rice
¼ cup frozen peas
½ cup artichoke hearts, quartered
Chop onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomatoes and organize your ingredients.
Dry the shrimp and toss in a bowl with ½ t smoked paprika and ¼ t salt.
In a large skillet (unless you have a paella pan), heat 1 T olive oil and saute the shrimp until barely opaque–1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, heat 3 T olive oil on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and peppers for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, 1 t smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the stock, saffron, and 1 ¼ t salt. Sprinkle rice evenly across the broth. Bring to a medium simmer and cook without stirring. When the top of the rice is beginning to show through (about 10 minutes), press the peas and artichokes into the rice. Continue simmering until liquid is absorbed (about 10 more minutes).
Observe the paella and rotate the pan to keep the heat even in the last few minutes. As the paella finishes, you’ll see the steam start to slow down. You won't see any standing water if you peek down in it with a spatula. The sound will change from a simmer to a crackle. This means the typical crust is forming on the bottom. Let it crackle for about 2 minutes but stop if you smell any burning. Arrange the shrimp on top and squeeze it with fresh lemon juice. Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal)
Liane Vadheim is a Registered Dietitian at Holy Rosary Healthcare and part of the Diabetes Prevention Program called Healthy Lifestyles, offered at Holy Rosary in cooperation with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.