Posts Tagged ‘produce’

Top 5 Ways to Get Back to the Basics for Better Health

Back to Basics for Better HealthThere’s a lot of hype around health care. For example, there’s been tons of recent chatter around fad dieting and the potential for trendy yo-yo diets to have negative health impacts. Recent news stories have also frightened many about the potential for cell phones to cause cancer. Obesity is at an all time high, with over 34% of Americans now considered to be obese, according to the CDC. Not to take away from any of these issues or the hype around them, but what happened to the basics? What happened to focusing on living healthy, happy lives and taking proactive steps to make this a reality? All too often, it seems, we get caught up in health hype and forget to prioritize healthy living. With that said, below you’ll find some of the easiest ways you can prioritize your health and wellness.

     

  1. Breathe Deeply

  2. Breathing is the only bodily function that we do both on a voluntary and involuntary basis. It is also the key to lots of immediate health benefits. Abdominal, or diaphragmatic breathing can have a tremendous impact on stress levels, and according to the AMSA1, can also help prevent infection of the lung and other tissues and improve the venous return of blood back to the heart.

  3. Nap

  4. As a culture, Americans are becoming more and more sleep deprived. There are countless negative side effects of sleep deprivation, but an easy remedy for most of them– napping! Alertness and physical performance can be improved by napping, and so too can our psychological well being. Remember, no matter how busy you are, sleep is not a luxury, it is a priority.

  5. Drink More Water

  6. We recently did a blog post on hydration and benefits one can realize via sufficient hydration. Weight loss, younger and fresher looking skin, increased mental and physical energy, and disease prevention are just a few of the many benefits of staying hydrated. Learn more on hydration and its benefits and the harms of dehydration.

  7. Think Visually When it Comes to Your Plate

  8. ChooseMyPlate.govAs was mentioned above, it’s easy to get caught up in health hype. One easy way to prioritize health from a nutritional standpoint is to focus on color. In general, the more colors on your plate (not via food coloring), the better. Did you know that white produce, such as garlic, parsnips and brown pairs have respiratory, heart & health benefits? Or how about that red produce, like tomatoes, watermelon, and beets can help lower risk for prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease? For a boost to your health, think in color! Additionally, the dreaded food pyramid, which most of us never used and certainly couldn’t remember, has been updated! Now, you can simply visualize your plate to help you determine how much protein, dairy, produce, and grains you need in your daily diet!

  9. Laugh & Smile…Genuinely

  10. When you were in school, a friend or parent may have advised you to smile while walking into a test to improve your performance. It is true that smiling releases endorphins and can boost your mood, but according to more recent evidence, the smile must be a genuine one. This is good news for you! It means that just by surrounding yourself with people, places, and things that make you happy, your health could be improved. According to recent studies, smiling boosts positive emotions, and “those who experienced high levels of positive emotion were able to recover from a heart attack more quickly.” Furthermore, research conducted in Australia demonstrated that “those who genuinely smiled for a group photo had greater well-being and were healthier, even 30 years later.”2 So smile, it does a body good. And as for laughter? Laughter can improve blood flow, increase infection fighting antibodies, and even burn calories. I don’t know about you, but if happiness can be used to improve my health, I’m by all means going to prioritize smiling and laughing more regularly.

These are just a few of the simple ways we can improve our health. What else? What do you do to decrease stress and improve your emotional and physical well-being? Share your ideas with me in the comments below!

1http://www.amsa.org/healingthehealer/breathing.cfm
2http://mentalhealthnews.org/a-genuine-smile-found-to-improve-health-happiness/84834/

Quinoa – Hard to Say, Easy to Cook!

Quinoa

Quinoa. Ever taken a stab at pronouncing it? Don’t worry; its’ a tough one. It is pronounced KEEN-wa. With or without being able to pronounce it, have you ever tried it?

Quinoa is a nutty brown grain that sounds intimidating, but is packed with nutrition and is as easy to cook as rice. Bring it to your next dinner party and impress your friends with your new, exotic (but oh so easy) ingredient.

Quinoa plants are colorful, flowering plants grown primarily in South America. In areas where it’s grown, people eat the leaves as well as the abundant seeds that we are more familiar with.

It is a great source of folate, manganese, B vitamins and zinc; however, the unique part of quinoa is its protein content. Quinoa includes all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Almost all other complete proteins in our diets are animal products. This makes quinoa a sound protein source for vegetarians and infrequent meat-eaters.

Cooking Quinoa

As previously promised, quinoa is simple to cook. As you make it more, feel free to experiment with adjustments and additions to the recipe. As you will find, quinoa is quite forgiving for even inexperienced cooks.

Basic quinoa recipe:

  1. Rinse Quinoa – If you do not have a colander with small enough holes, lay cheese cloth inside your colander to keep the quinoa seeds from escaping.
  2. Add one part quinoa to two parts liquid to a medium-size pot. (Chicken broth works well as a liquid over water for added flavor.)
  3. Bring to a simmer, and then turn on low. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Turn off the burner and allow to sit for five to 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and serve.

Serve as a simple side item; add to soups; or serve under stews, curries, or thick and chunky sauces. Refrigerate leftovers and add to your salad for lunch the next day.

Eating Right When Your Budget is Tight

Eating right on a budgetPacking your food lineup with nutritious choices doesn’t mean you have to go to the store with a big wallet. With a little strategy, you can eat right even when your budget is tight. In fact, here is a selection of tips to empower you to eat right, while still keeping an eye on your budget.

Shop Sales

  • Choose in-season produce to buy fresh. Out-of-season items tend to be more expensive. Opt for frozen on those.
  • Look for meat sales. Most grocery stores run specials. By watching out for these, you can cut down much of your meat costs.
  • Clip coupons. A $1.50 Sunday paper could save you a lot more than that during your weekly grocery trip. Plan your meals around what is on sale.

Waste Less

  • Freeze. If you think your fruits, vegetables, herbs or meats could go bad before you have time to eat them all, freeze them. Frozen fruits make great smoothies or compotes, and frozen vegetables are great for cooking.

Make Your Own

  • Cook your own sauces and soups rather than buying canned. It can be less expensive and healthier, because you have more control over the ingredients.
  • Shred your own cheese, which is typically less expensive than buying pre-shredded cheese.
  • Wash and cut your own lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., rather than buying the pre-washed and bagged versions.

Buy Store Brands

  • Buy store brands instead of name brands. Check out the ingredients label. They’re usually almost identical.
  • Check the unit price (the price per oz/lb/gm) on the price tag of a certain item and compare across brands and item sizes.

Buy in Bulk

  • Buy in bulk and separate. Get the big bag of rice or pasta and separate.
  • Avoid single serving items, if possible. Buy the bigger item and split into bags or cup-size servings.

Make Things Last

  • Stretch your meats and cheeses. These items are usually the more expensive items in your basket. Think of them more as a garnish or side item than a main dish.

What Should I Know About the Dietary Guidelines?

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

In the world of health care nutrition, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set the standard for what we recommend as far as nutrients and physical activity. In our personal and family lives, the contents of the Dietary Guidelines become a call to action meant to empower and encourage us to continue taking steps in the right direction toward maintaining healthy lifestyles.

What are the Dietary Guidelines?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the government’s evidence-based recommendations to promote health, prevent chronic disease and reduce the growing rates of overweight and obese Americans. An updated document is released every five years, taking into account recent research and health trends. The most recent update was just released this past January.

What do the Dietary Guidelines have to offer me?

With each new release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the writers focus on the latest health disparities within our country and seek to offer tips on how to refocus our nutritional efforts. Physical activity, portion control and fat make frequent appearances as headliners. This year’s update also gave us some new, simple and tangible recommendations to consider.

What are some of the most important takeaways from the Dietary Guidelines?

Balance your calories
  • Enjoy your food, but watch your portions.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to increase
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
Foods to reduce
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals. Choose foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The full document is far more extensive than the recap above. It includes applicable research and updated recommendations. Read the Dietary Guidelines in full.

Think in Color for a Nutritious Diet

Colorful fruits vegetables for healthDo you ever feel overwhelmed by all the foods you feel you should or shouldn’t consume every day? Ever wish for a more intuitive way to recognize nutritious foods? Well, maybe it isn’t so hard after all! Often, just thinking about incorporating a variety of colors into your diet will put you on the right track. In fact, many of our needed vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are found in the actual coloring of a food.

As such, try using the following colors to liven up and enhance your diet:

White

White foods contain powerful antioxidants that have been shown to help respiratory health, heart health and thyroid function.

  • Key Nutrients: Xanthines, Selenium
  • Examples: Garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, bananas, brown pears

Orange/Yellow

These foods contain nutrients important for maintaining healthy vision, immune function and wound healing capabilities.

  • Key Nutrients: Carotenoids (Pre-Vitamin A), Flavanoids, Vitamin C
  • Examples: Carrots, pumpkin, squash, apricots, lemon, mangoes, oranges, peaches

Red

Red fruits and vegetables help lower the risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  • Key Nutrient: Lycopene
  • Examples: Tomatoes, watermelon, beets, cherries, pink grapefruit, red peppers

Green

Green foods contribute ingredients that help digestive health and help keep you feeling full longer. They also contain vitamins that influence the production of new cells and prevent changes to DNA that can lead to cancer.

  • Key Nutrients: Fiber, Folate
  • Examples: Asparagus, leafy greens, avocados, broccoli, artichokes, brussel sprouts, green beans

Blue/Purple

This color group contributes another antioxidant shown to have anti-aging, memory and urinary tract health benefits.

  • Key Nutrient: Anthocyanins
  • Examples: Blackberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple potatoes

So, if you find yourself feeling intimidated by all the vitamins and minerals, don’t. In the end, you don’t need to know the chemical names of all the different nutrients; you just have to know your colors!

Top 5 Reasons to Advance Your Health at Your Local Farmers Market

Produce Local Farmers MarketThere are countless reasons to incorporate fresh produce into your daily diet. From the vitamins and nutrients fruits and vegetables provide to the disease fighting properties they contain,  diets that are well-balanced with fresh produce help keep us healthy. However, when shopping for fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult to determine where to buy produce, what factors to consider, and whether the produce you’re buying is as healthy as it could be.

If you shop at your local franchise grocery store, you may often be confronted with the choice between purchasing organic or non-organic produce. Non-organic farms are where the majority of standard grocery store produce comes from. Non-organic farming techniques often use chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth, chemical herbicides to control weeds, and chemical pesticides to reduce pests. On the contrary, organic farmers use crop rotation practices, all natural fertilizers, and natural techniques, such as bringing in the proper animal life to control pests. One of the best places to find organic produce is at your local farmers market. Below we’ve outlined the top five reasons to shop locally at a farmers market:

  • Freshness, taste and variety– food sold at local farmers markets is extremely fresh, usually picked within a few days before it is sold. Furthermore, produce that is in-season is easy to come by and oftentimes you can find varieties of produce at the farmer’s market that you can’t find elsewhere.
  • Community– local farmers markets attract a wide variety of people from the community. They are a great place to meet new people that share an interest in healthy living. Meeting the farmers who grow your food is also a bonus.
  • Environmental benefits– as we mentioned above, organic farmers value the land they grow on and often take measures to ensure its future prosperity. While not all farmers at the farmers market are organic growers, these local farmers usually own the land they grow on, and hence take an interest in its sustainability.
  • Economic benefits– when you shop at local farmers markets you make investments both in your health and the local economy. Additionally, some of the produce can be cheaper than you’d find in the grocery store because the time and overhead of getting it to the selling point is reduced. The money you spend at farmers markets goes to the farmers themselves, who are able to reinvest in their farms to continue providing fresh produce at a reasonable cost.
  • Educational benefits– if you ever have a question about produce, crops, weather, and which foods are in season, the farmers market is a great place to go. The farmers welcome questions from patrons about how their produce was grown (i.e. did they use organic techniques?), when it was picked, and can even provide cooking tips. Additionally, if you take your family along with you, it gives your kids a great opportunity to learn about produce and healthy eating. They may even want to pick out a few items of their own!

We hope this information gives you a great reason to check out your local farmers market. If you’re interested in locations, we’ve provided a few of them below:

Morningside Market
1393 N. Highland Avenue
Saturdays from 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Peachtree Road Farmers Market
Cathedral of St. Philip
2744 Peachtree Road, NW
Saturdays April 10, 2010 – December 18, 2010
April-August: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
September-December: 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.

Decatur Farmers Market
163 Clairemont Ave.
Wednesdays Year-Round
Summer 4 p.m.-7 p.m. (March-October)
Winter 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (November-February)
Saturdays Year-Round 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

For more organic shopping opportunities, visit the Organic Directory from Georgia Organics.