Nutritionally, one cup of lobster meat provides 129 calories — primarily from protein; as much protein as 4 ounces of meat.

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“Welcome leaf peepers,” announced the sign in front of a New Hampshire restaurant we visited. That’s what the locals call those of us who travel to New England to see the amazing array of fall colors this time of year.

“We just call you peepers for short,” my cousin informed me. His brother-in-law further explained how to understand New Englanders’ pronunciation of certain words.

“If a word ends in an ‘a’ they pronounce it with an ‘er,’ ” he said. “And if it ends with an ‘er’ they say ‘ah.’ So … ‘Sheila from Dover’ becomes “Sheiler from Dovah.’ ” We all laughed.

We’d spent the day seeing the sights and sampling the seafood from this region, including whole belly clams (delicious, but don’t tell me what they are) and clam “chowdah.” Then my New England hosts decided it was time for me to learn how to eat “lobstah” beyond my previous experience of simply scooping it out of a tail.

So I donned my plastic bib and followed Bridget’s instructions. She insisted I find every last bit of meat from this soft-shell specimen on my plate.

Besides being a bit of a challenge to eat, Maine lobster has a history. According to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, lobsters were so plentiful in colonial days that they were considered poverty food. In fact, indentured servants who agreed to work seven years to pay for their passage to America became so tired of eating lobster that they finally put in their contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

Nutritionally, one cup of lobster meat provides 129 calories — primarily from protein; as much protein as 4 ounces of meat. Lobster is also a good source of zinc — a mineral that helps the body process protein, fight infections and heal wounds.

Like other shellfish, lobster meat is extremely low in fat (only about 1 gram per cup of meat). Lobster does contain cholesterol, however; one cup of lobster has more cholesterol than an egg yolk. Remember though, recent findings tell us that cholesterol in our diet is not the main culprit of excess cholesterol that can clog our blood. That distinction goes to saturated fat which is very very low (less than a half gram) in lobster.

We completed our leaf-peeping journey through New England and into Canada. And I was reminded how different locales offer their own unique foods to enjoy. And yes, these regional favorites can fit into a healthful eating style.

Check out My Plate, My State at to find facts and recipes for foods and flavors from your area of the country. And enjoy the fall colors!