Shop Fresh, Shop Local!

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA

On the East Coast, we are fortunate to have a variety of locally grown produce options available to us.  From peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes, to green peppers and eggplant! There’s no shortage of good for you fruits and veggies here!

  • Local produce is a nutrition powerhouse, since it has a shorter distance to travel from farm to store, it is less likely that the nutritive value will have decreased.
  • Food that has a longer distance to travel will lose more nutrients along the way.
  • Local produce is full of flavor, it’s picked at its peak of ripeness and can often make it to shelf within 24 hours – now that’s fresh!


Why Purchase Locally Grown?

It’s seasonal which translates to freshness: Although you can find many fruits and vegetables such as strawberries for instance year-round, they are not at their “in-season” best in January. However, when they are at their seasonal peak, they are full of flavor and color which means they’ll taste their best!

Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.*

*Source: University of Vermont. Cultivating Healthy Communities extension.


My Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parm 300x200 1

Prep: 10 minutes

Inactive time: 1 hours (optional)*

Bake: 35 minutes

Makes: 4 Servings



  • 1 Large Eggplant (~1.25 lbs)
  • 10 oz. part-skim Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 5 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ¾ cup prepared marinara sauce
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley



  1. Slice Eggplant into ¼ inch slices.
  2. OPTIONAL STEP: Line a large dish with paper towels and layer eggplant, covering with paper towels on top and bottom. This will help absorb excess water. Refrigerate one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Line with eggplant in single layer. Spray top with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, flip eggplant and bake 10 minutes more.
  5. In a medium size bowl, combine Ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper and Italian season; mix well.
  6. Spread ¼ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish followed by ½ of the chopped parsley. Assemble by layering Eggplant, ricotta mixture, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Continue until all layers are complete.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.


Nutrition Information: 321 Calories; 20g carbohydrate; 19g protein; 933mg Sodium; 5.5g Fiber

Recipe By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN