What’s IN & What’s OUT (of season)

So, clearly it’s full on summer at this point. Everybody (hopefully) has been having bbq’s, enjoying the beach, and picking farm fresh berries…. or have you not been taking advantage of all the delicious, fresh foods that are currently ripening up perfectly this “in” season? 

Do you even know which fruits and vegetables are in season right now?

Do you know even what it means for a product to be “in season” or not?

For you to take full advantage of this delicious, ripe season, you need to know what I’m talking about here!

A food that is “in season” means that product is being harvested naturally and can be bought fresh in markets. A product can be bought out of season, but that would mean it’s not being bought within its natural harvest season.

Does that matter? Yes, on several levels!

First and foremost, eating what’s in season is more cost effective for you. Naturally harvested products tend to cost less than products harvested out of their natural seasons due to artificial growing methods or shipping costs.

Additionally, taste matters! A product bought in season tastes fresher than one bought out of season. An out of season product is either grown at a hothouse, which is a mostly glass building specifically used for growing out of season foods, or shipped from somewhere around the world. Both of these methods can affect the taste since Mother Nature didn’t get a chance to properly nurture the food, and the food must be frozen ASAP to prevent rotting.

Finally, by eating what foods are in season, you are provided with tastier variety all year long! Most people don’t even realize that the fall and winter seasons yield natural crops, just as the spring and summer yield a nice variety. 

Some examples of foods that are IN season at different times throughout the year include:

Fall – cranberries, squash, apples, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms, celery, cauliflower.
Winter – citrus, kale, radishes, turnips, leeks, celery, cauliflower, kiwis.
Spring – grapefruit, green onions, kiwis, lemons, onions, scallions, strawberries.
Summer – chickpeas, corn, gooseberries, green beans, pea greens, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, most berries.

So go ahead! Eat some berries this week! Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are bound to be bright, juicy, ripe, and delicious because they’re all IN season right now!

I’ll be sure to post some DELICIOUS berry recipes for you to enjoy, so check back later this month 🙂

Tips & Strategies for Healthy Eating & Weight Loss

While I could go on and on for dozens of pages about the science behind healthy eating, accountability, calorie intake etc. etc. etc… here is, instead, a short summary of all the ways you can strategize to be healthier starting today!

1. Prepare for your day!
If you know you will be traveling or won’t have time to cook a proper meal, cook ahead of time or on the weekends. Pack smart snacks in your bag or car so that you can grab them and go. This way, you never get “too hungry” and approach the fat storing stages. Use your support system to help with meals as well when they can.

2. Keep a food journal! Every day, write down exactly what (foods + calorie totals!) and when you eat. This will help you tangibly see how much/little you have consumed in a day. You’ll be able to see what times are hardest for you (during the week at lunch, or maybe you snack too much on the weekends). You’ll spot patterns and then be able to address any changes you need to make. It will keep you accountable!

3. Hydrate! By ensuring you are drinking enough water, you will be less likely to overeat at meal times. Remember, most of the time when you think you are hungry, you are really just thirsty.

4. Eat slowly. Really take your time with your meals. When you multitask while eating, it is so much easier to overeat! You aren’t focused on what or how much you are consuming, so it takes you longer to realize when you are full. Focus on your meal – put your fork down between bites, talk to your spouse/family while eating to prolong the meal. This gives your brain time to catch up to your stomach and say “Yup, I’m full! No need for seconds!” IMG_4496

5. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where the most natural, healthy foods are! Avoid the middle aisles as much as possible.  This is where the processed junk is kept.

6. Moderation. Don’t totally cut something out of your diet cold turkey – that’s setting yourself up for failure. Try cutting out your comfort foods slowly and replacing them with a healthier alternative that still gets you the sweetness/saltiness you are craving. (Craving sweets? Try a yogurt or chocolate nut trail mix instead of ice cream. Craving salt? Try peanuts or wheat thins instead of potato chips.)

7. Goodbye alcohol! Alcohol, while only a beverage, still packs a lot of empty calories! You’re drinking hundreds of calories without even getting the satisfaction of being “full” from a meal. Additionally, it dehydrates you and disrupts other processes your body tries to maintain to help you build muscle and lose weight. So before you drink, ask yourself if it is really worth it, and how you’ll make up for it.

8. Brush your teeth. After you eat, brush and floss. Then you’ll really ask yourself if you NEED that dessert right before bed, or if you’re just snacking because you’re bored.

9. Support. Make sure you surround yourself with people who will respect your goals. This is hard! It’s a lifestyle change. Tell the people you live or work with of your goals and get them to help and encourage you, rather than tempt you.

10. Knowledge is Power. If you don’t know if you should be eating something, or have run out of healthy snack ideas, ASK! Use the internet, ask your friends, ask your trainer, etc. for new recipes, or advice, or about technical questions regarding calories, fat in foods, etc. The more you know, the better you’ll do.

Good luck!

Healthy or Harmful: Smoothies and Juices

Smoothies and juices are hot trends in today’s culture. There are tons of smoothie booths and cafes serving all sorts of flavors. A lot of gyms even offer guests a complimentary smoothie on the way out after a workout. But are they really that good for you? The answer may surprise you.

Picture this: You just left gym. You spent 45 minutes lifting weights and doing core work, followed by a great bout of cardio intervals on the treadmill. You’re pretty sweaty. You’ve finished your bottle of water. You head out the door and walk down the street to local a cafe. Oh look, they’ll add protein powder to any smoothie drink you want! Sounds great right? Why not finish off your healthy workout with a healthy beverage?

Wrong!

Smoothies and juices aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when it comes to nutritional value. First of all, most cafes and restaurants don’t make their smoothies fresh. Typically, they use flavored powder or syrups to make their “smoothies”, so fruit literally is not an ingredient. Why would you pay $4.50 for a fruit smoothie that doesn’t even contain fruit? Silly.

Secondly, even smoothies and juices that are made with natural fruits lack most – if not all – of their fiber. Natural fruits, when eaten with their skin, contain fiber. When skinned or blended in a smoothie or juice, this natural skin disappears and the fiber goes with it. Why is fiber so important? Fiber helps your body regulate any sugar you ingest.

Fruit naturally has high sugar content. So when you eat a lot of fruit, your blood sugar tends to spike. However, when fruit is eaten whole and with the skin, as nature intended, your blood sugar is able to remain in a relatively normal range because the fiber acts as a buffer and works to help your organs and muscles quickly process the sugar.

Fiber is also a necessary part of any balanced diet and helps aid with digestion and excretion processes in your body, so if you’re constantly opting for juices and smoothies as your fruit servings for the day, you probably aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet. Unfortunately, lack of fiber in your diet can lead to unpleasant complications when it comes to digesting and passing food waste comfortably.

Lastly, as mentioned above, when you drink smoothies or juices, you aren’t consuming any fiber. Your system gets shocked, as if you just ate a candy bar. You’re trying to be healthy by having a smoothie, but in reality, your body reacts like you’ve just eaten junk. You experience a mad sugar rush. What comes up must come down, right? So after this spike, comes the crash. You’ll be left feeling sluggish and tired once all that sugar leaves your blood stream.

We all know too much sugar is not good for your health. But most people don’t consider the fact that smoothies and juices are loaded with sugar. Generally, double – even triple – the amount of sugar we should be ingesting daily can be found in just one smoothie.

So, to recap:

  • Most smoothies and juices don’t even contain real fruit.
  • Even when they do contain real fruit, they have no fiber, which means you ingest a ton of excess sugar.
  • Too much sugar is bad for your health!

Bottom line: Stick to whole fruits and grab some good old water instead.