Farmers Market: Yes Please!

I have been struggling a little with adding a nutrition post to my blog.  Then it hit me…Farmer’s Market!!  There is one near my Saturday morning workout class so I thought, perfect!  The weather is beautiful and I need some fresh produce.  Something to look forward to after a tough workout.

location

My local Farmer’s Market has a lovely location right on a lake.  There is a nice breeze and lots of trees so even if it’s a hot day, it is comfortable walk around the market.  This particular Farmer’s Market has fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, dog treats, fish, coffee, pasta, jellies as well as a few craft tables.  There was also live music.

goodies

When I go to a Farmer’s Market, it is usually to buy items that are healthiest for me.  However, there are so many yummy baked goods that it is hard to resist.  I bought some homemade bread, which I felt was the least unhealthy of all the baked goods that were offered.  If I was told that I could only have one type of food for the rest of my life, I would probably choose bread.  So delish!!!

fresh produce

I truly did stop at the fresh produce table first.  I just love all the bright colors and selection that is offered.  My son loves strawberries so I got him a pint of those.  I also got red lead lettuce and the biggest zucchinis I have ever seen.  I will be using those for zoodles later today.  This particular farm also offered beets, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, many types of squash, basil plants and some other greens.  They had samples of their raspberries and they were so good.

The prices at Farmer’s Markets aren’t always the cheapest, but they are reasonable for what you are getting.  There is no middle man when picking out your produce.  The produce is picked, put on a truck and then you buy it…pretty simple process.  I just love the colors and outdoor atmosphere of shopping at a Farmer’s Market.  It makes me want to bring a bottle of dressing and make a salad right there.

Local Harvest is a great tool to find the Farmer’s Market nearest you.  Just enter your location and it will tell you where and when you can visit your closest Farmer’s Market.  Give that a resource a try…you may be pleasantly surprised by how many markets you find in your area.  Happy, Healthy Shopping!!

Guest Post: Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

I have a guest poster this week:  Sheli from Nutritionista Abroad.  Sheli is a wife, a dog mom, a dietitian, a cook, an occasional baker, a health and fitness enthusiast, a wannabe yogi, and a new expat. She blogs about nutrition travel and is passionate about helping everyone discover how amazing it feels to nourish our bodies.

Why choose a plant-based diet?

There are many different reasons people chose to adopt a plant based lifestyle but whatever the reason, the health benefits of making this change are undeniable.  One reason many yogis choose this lifestyle is because they honor the Ahimsa Principle, one of the eight limbs of yoga. This principle is the practice of nonviolence and encourages you to do no harm. This applies to all beings of the earth, including animals.

Middle Eastern Bean Salad

There are many great documentaries available that dive into each of the reasons why someone might chose to live a plant-based lifestyle – health, environmental, and ethical. I’ll stick strictly to the health benefits. But first, I’d like to address one big issue many people cite as a reason not to follow a plant-based diet, and that is protein.

Where do you get your protein?

Many people believe that you must eat meat and animal products to meet your protein needs. This is a complete myth. In fact, an excess of protein in your diet can lead to healthy problems, such as kidney disease. Digesting meat is also very difficult on your gastrointestinal system. There are many high protein vegetarian, and even vegan foods. Many vegetarians choose to include yogurt, eggs, milk, and cheese in their diets, all of which are also good sources of protein.

Vegans have lots of great options too. Lentils, all types of beans, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, chia seeds, hemp or soy milk, edamame, spinach, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, and seitan are all excellent sources.

To calculate your protein needs, simply multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8. For example, a 60 kg person would need 48 grams of protein per day. This requirement can easily be exceeded by including:

  • 1 cup oatmeal + 2 Tbsp peanut butter = 14 grams
  • 1 cup lentils = 18 grams
  • 1 cup quinoa + ½ cup black beans = 28 grams
    • Total protein intake = 60 grams

There are many food combinations that will allow you to reach your protein needs, the above is just one example. There are also an endless number of ways to flavor lentils and quinoa. Pinterest is a great resource for recipes but a simple Google search will provide many options as well.

Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes

Studies have shown that people who adopt a plant-based diet can lose more weight than those who eat a diet including meat. One study showed that weight loss occurred with the adoption of the plant-based diet alone. This means that the participants made no changes to their exercise routine and they did not count any calories or have any diet restrictions other than animal products.  A plant-based diet can also decrease your risk of developing diabetes and even reverse the disease. Plant based diets are very high in fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar. Fiber helps to keep you full, which means the more fiber you eat, the less calories you will consume. This lower calorie diet will lead to weight loss, which will also decrease your risk of developing diabetes, and help your body regulate blood sugar.

Heart Health and Lower Blood Pressure

Cholesterol is made in the liver, therefore only foods from an animal have cholesterol. We do not need any dietary cholesterol – our own bodies can easily make all that we need. Vegetarian diets are very low in cholesterol and vegan diets are free of cholesterol. Plant-based diets are also very low in saturated fat and salt. Studies have shown that replacing animal protein with plant protein lowers blood cholesterol, even if the amount and type of fat ingested is the same. Studies have also shown that by eliminating meat from the diet alone participants could lower their blood pressure. When meat was reintroduced to their diet, blood pressure quickly rose back to pre-study levels. By increasing the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit in the diet, this generally leads to a reduction of processed foods. This lowers the daily sodium intake, which also has a positive effect on blood pressure.

Lower Cancer Risk

Plant-based diets are full of antioxidants from the recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. Colon cancer is also linked to high dietary intake of meat. Breast and prostate cancers also occur less often in those who follow a plant based diet. Research is ongoing to examine further effects of adhering to a plant-based diet on other types of cancer.

Where to Begin

If you’re not sure where to start, it can be helpful to begin by adopting a ‘flexitarian’ diet initially and work your way up to excluding more animal products as you feel comfortable. This will help prevent any feelings of being deprived of foods and help you make this a long-term lifestyle change.

You could begin by choosing a meal each day that will not contain any meat. Perhaps for the first week you’ll choose a plant-based breakfast each day. The next week, you can build on that and make both breakfast and lunch plant-based meals, and continue until you have eliminated the desired level of meat and animal products that you wish to reach.

Changing your diet can seem like a daunting task, especially in social situations. But, in most cases, it’s much easier than you might think. Most menus have vegetarian options. If you don’t see any on the menu, just ask your server. The number of vegetarians is rising rapidly so chances are you won’t be the only one wanting more plant-based options.

There’s no better time to start than now. Choose something you can start with today and build on that. You’ll begin experiencing all the benefits of a plant-based diet and you’ll never go back!

Here are some recipes from Sheli’s website…give them a look…they sound so delicious!!!

High Protein Pumpkin Granola

Lemon Almond Bread

Healthy Dessert: A Love Story

Let’s cut to the chase…have you tried Halo Top ice cream?  If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  I had heard about this delectable, healthy dessert, but had never tried it.  I bought a pint last weekend and I am OBSESSED.

What makes Halo Top healthy???  See below direct from the Halo Top website.

HOW WE SWEETEN THE DEAL

so where’s the sugar?

In short, we use organic stevia. Stevia is a plant native to Paraguay that’s been used to sweeten foods and beverages for more than 200 years. And, because it’s so tasty, we use it as a sugar replacement. We also use Erythritol, which though it has a rather scientific-sounding name, is actually another all-natural sweetener found in fruits like pears and grapes. Though it’s technically a sugar alcohol, it’s unlike the others because erythritol doesn’t affect blood glucose or cause bloating.

This product is also a great source of protein…24 grams per pint for all flavors.  These are the nutrition facts from the mint chocolate chip flavor.

Flavors include vanilla bean, chocolate, lemon cake, mint chip, pistachio – all 240 calories per pint; strawberry, chocolate mocha chip, birthday cake, sea salt caramel, oatmeal cookie, chocolate almond crunch, black cherry – all 280 calories per pint; peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, s’mores – all 320 calories per pint; chocolate chip cookie dough, red velvet – both 360 calories per pint.

I have tried mint chip, birthday cake, and oatmeal cookie…LOVE them all.  The name of each flavor perfectly describes the taste and cannot wait to try the others.  I was also excited to try cookies and cream, but was disappointed.  It tasted NOTHING like cookies and cream:(

I am receiving no compensation or products for this post.  I reached out to the company and they said that there are occasional coupons if you sign up for their newsletter on their website.  You can all find giveaways on their Facebook page.

Healthy Dessert: A Love Stor Click To Tweet

The ONLY drawback that I found was that when I ate a whole pint of mint chip at one sitting (which is less calories than 1 cup of some full fat ice creams), I had some stomach distress.  I can be sensitive to milk protein so getting ALL that protein at once didn’t work for my digestion.  I then ate 1/2 of the container the next time I bought it and I was fine.  Just wanted everyone to know about that in case you too have milk protein sensitivity.

 

Protein…Get Your Protein Here!

I am in a constant struggle to get more protein each day.  I am a carb-a-holic so when I want a snack, I usually reach for or have a craving for something loaded with carbs and not protein.  Not the best choice.  I know that you should have a balance of protein, fat and carbs in whatever you eat so I decided to do a little research on protein bars.  I have been eating them for years.  I have searched high and low for a lower carb option of protein bars, but I haven’t found a low carb bar that tastes good to me.  Most of the bars in this taste test have quite a few carbs, but they are high in protein.  It’s a trade off.

MET-RX BIG 100 Colossal Brownie

MET-RX Colossal Brownie Nutrition Facts

These are my absolute favorite hands down.  They taste like a decadent, yummy brownie.  One bar is 390 calories…yikes…but I usually break it in half for a snack.  They are filling and have 20g of protein in half a bar.  The sugars are 18g, but they are equivalent to most protein bars I have tried.  Colossal Brownies are 3.52 oz.   I don’t think I’ve ever ate a whole one at once, but I assume they could be part of a meal replacement plan.

Balance Bars

Balance Bar Nutrition Facts2

These are a strong runner-up in my review.  I actually eat these more often than the Colossal Brownies because they are available in more mainstream stores.  Balance Bars have all sorts of flavor choices:  caramel nut blast, cookie dough, PB chocolate, chocolate mint and the list goes on.  I currently eat the peanut butter flavor and I love it.  These bars have 200 calories and 15g of protein.  They have 17g of sugar, which is on the high side too.  I have tried a lot of the flavors that they offer and have liked most of them.  Balance Bars are 1.76 oz.

Pure Protein

Pure Protein bar Nutrition Facts3

These bars are definitely my least favorite here.  They have a very protein powdery taste to them if you know what I mean.  I find that most protein powders, no matter the flavor, have a distinct odor and taste to them.  This bar also has that taste.  The sugars are extremely low…1g…but the taste, I feel, suffers because of that.  The protein is 19g and the calories are 190.  If the proteiny taste doesn’t bother you, these may be the bars for you.  I had the dark chocolate coconut for the taste test and didn’t really like it.  I have the double chocolate before and liked those a little better.  Pure Protein bars are 1.76 oz.

Protein...Get Your Protein Here! A review of protein bars Click To Tweet

Gatorade Whey Protein Bars

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar Nutrition Facts
Sorry it's sideways

My son eats these and they are his favorite.  He says they taste just like a candy bar…so who wouldn’t love them, right?  They are 2.8 oz with 360 calories…20g of protein and 29g of sugars.  Those sugars and calories are REALLY high, I know.  I would say that this is more of a meal replacement bar OR for someone who is working out at a very high intensity many times a week.  Like I said, he LOVES them.  I had him try the Pure Protein chocolate flavor and he didn’t like those. (Sorry that the nutrition facts are sideways.  When I saved the graphic, it was left to right:(

**I wasn’t given products by any company.  I just wanted to share my nutritional experience with others.  The links that I included above connect to the cheapest prices I have seen for each type of bar.**

Have you found a low sugar, high protein bar that you love?  Please tell me about it:)


5 Healthy Muffin Recipes to Energize your Mornings

I LOVE muffins…there I said it.  Of course, one muffin can be more calories than some meals and contain a  lot of sugar.  For that reason, I make my own.  I make them and then freeze them and take one out each morning to have with my breakfast.  I have included 5 of my favorite muffin recipes that I have collected across numerous blogs.  I am NOT a cook and really don’t know how to write a recipe on my own so I have included yummy recipes that others have perfected:)

*Flourless Oatmeal Banana Muffins from A Hungry Soul

These are my favorite…I have one EVERY morning.

*Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes from Chocolate Covered Katie

A nutritionist told me about the Chocolate Covered Katie website.  She makes everything into a healthier version of itself and these “cupcakes” are included in that healthier version category…and who doesn’t want a cupcake for breakfast:)

*Zucchini Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins from Running With Spoons

I LOVE zucchini based breads and muffins.  I also love that there is a minimal amount of flour in this recipe.  Add some dark chocolate chips for a little more sweetness.

*Healthy Carrot Muffins from Cookie and Kate

When you can get a fruit, a veggie AND yogurt all in one muffin, I am all for it.

*Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from Running With Spoons

Chocolate in anything…need I say more…AND it’s healthy:)

What is your go-to breakfast staple?

Angie The Freckled Rose

Nutrition #5 – Foods to Help Beat Arthritis

Let’s just get this out of the way first…arthritis is NOT an old person’s disease.  I have had it for over 15+ years and was first diagnosed in my 30s.  When I was about 3 years old, I was diagnosed with a hip disorder.  I had to have physical therapy and I couldn’t walk for quite a while.  I did end up having full use of my hip and led a normal childhood playing soccer and other sports.  When I got into my late 20s and early 30s I noticed that I always seemed to have a groin issue and it got even worse when I was pregnant with my son because of the added weight.  When I finally went to the orthopedist and had an MRI, they diagnosed it as arthritis and he said that it was definitely initiated by the hip disorder that I had in childhood.
hip-illustration
I have had a lot of pain with this arthritis.  As I said, the pain is more towards the middle of my thigh than the outer hip and that is actually where true hip pain is located because it is where the socket of your hip meets your leg.  I didn’t want to take pain relievers multiple times a day because that is not healthy.  I have taken glucosamine, but it never really helped.  I decided to research what nutrients help with the inflammation of arthritis because I want to attack this nemesis in the healthiest way possible.  These are some of the yummy foods I found that help to relieve inflammation in the body AND they are all good for you:)

1 – Ginger – I have chosen to utilize ginger in tea form because there are so many great ginger teas out there.  Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, along with many other health benefits.

2 – Green Tea – Green tea works to stop the production of inflammatory chemicals that can break down cartilage.

3 – Fruits and Vegetables high in Beta Carotene – Cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and spinach are all high in beta carotene which is a powerful antioxidant…not to mention they are all delicious and have other health benefits.

4 – Fruits and Vegetable high in Beta Cryptoxanthin – Winter squash, pumpkin, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots are all high in beta cryptoxanthin, which can reduce the risk of inflammatory arthritis with just ONE serving a day:)

5 – Salmon – Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which suppresses the production of enzymes that break down cartilage.

6 – Fruits and Vegetables high in Vitamin C – Bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, kidney beans and kiwi are all high in vitamin C which helps create healthy collagen, a major piece of cartilage.

7 – Fruits and Vegetables high in Anthocyanins  – Cherries, berries, eggplant, red grapes and plums contain anthocyanins  which are a type of antioxidant that suppresses the production of some inflammatory chemicals in the body.

As you can see, many of the foods I listed are foods you may be eating already or may be foods you love, but don’t always buy.  Not to mention, they ALL have multiple health perks aside from helping with arthritis pain.  I was inspired by Shawn Stevenson of the Model Health Show podcast.  I am reading a pre-release of his book  Sleep Smarter as part of his book launch team. In his preface, Shawn talked about having health problems when he was in college and he was basically told by doctors, he would always have the problems and he’d have to  deal with pain and a lower quality of life.  He researched foods and nutrients that would heal him and it WORKED.  I am now on my own journey to heal myself.   Quote-Six

What are your go-to foods and nutrients that help heal your body and soul?