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producebowlby R.J. Delagarza, B.S., CPT

There’s a stigma that goes along with healthy eating and exercising in that you can’t eat what you like and that’s essentially not true. People think that in order to get the muscular or toned look they desire they should cut out all carbohydrates and fats, making fitness and health professionals cringe. So what are most personal trainers and health professionals eating? Here’s a list of six foods that are in my fridge and pantry and might be in yours as well!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid, or sometimes called MUFA’s, that are considered the “good fats” needed in the diet compared to saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Over the past 50 years research has shown that adding olive oil to your diet will help reduce the chances of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Not only does using olive oil make everything you eat taste better, you don’t have to feel as guilty either!

Quinoa

The super-grain that is often mispronounced (“keen-wah”), has the most benefits out of all the grains. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as other grains which is essential in reducing high blood pressure and diabetes factors. It is one of the only foods out there that is considered a “complete protein” meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids that are only found in food and cannot be made it the body. Quinoa also packs a punch with a whopping 24g of protein in a one cup uncooked portion. The overall benefits makes quinoa a better complex carb option compared to brown rice or other starches.

Almond Milk

Whether you’re a vegan, lactose-intolerant, or not particularly fond of the taste of regular milk you have found your answer! Almond milk only contains about 60 calories, which is about half of 2% milk, making it an ideal substitute for weight management. It also can keep your heart healthy; made from almonds, this milk has no cholesterol or saturated fat but contains a hefty dose of healthy fats (the same found in fish). Lastly, it tastes great!

Greek Yogurt

Almost all types of yogurt provide excellent sources of calcium, potassium, and vitamins, but what make Greek yogurt stand superior to them all? Greek yogurt is protein packed and has about twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt has. To put it into perspective, there is about the same amount of protein in an 8oz cup of Greek yogurt then there is a 2 serving can of tuna! Protein not only aids in muscle growth and recovery, but it can keep you feeling fuller longer!

Black Beans

Another type of “complete protein”, black beans are great alternatives for those who can get sufficient amounts of proteins from meats. Black beans are very high in fiber, folate, vitamins, and minerals making it an ideal choice for vegetarians. Black beans have an abundant amount of soluble fiber, which research has shown is helpful in lowering blood cholesterol, as well as lowering the chances of coronary artery and cardiovascular disease.

Avocados

Most notably known for it being a key ingredient in guacamole, the avocado has its share of benefits. For starters, avocados have one of the lowest sugar contents of any fruit with about double the amount of protein. Not to mention they are packed with huge amounts of potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Avocados do contain fat, and plenty of it, just not the fat you are thinking of. Most of the fat comes in the form or monounsaturated fat or “good fats” we talked about earlier. Diets that are rich in these monounsaturated fats can significantly change your blood lipids and can help lower your cholesterol while keeping your heart strong!

 

produceby Angela Aladjem RD, LD

During the month of April, we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, which usually helps to raise some awareness on green living. One of the hot topics concerning the environment is whether or not organic produce is better not only for our bodies, but also for the environment. Lately, media attention has warned consumers to be more careful about what they are putting in their body. Between packaged and convenience products, our meat and dairy supply, and our produce, our bodies can be inundated with pesticides, preservatives, and antibiotics. Labeling efforts are out there to clue us in as to what we are consuming, but fresh produce is something that doesn’t always have a label.

The “dirty dozen,” are the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be covered in chemicals; sometimes as much as 47-67 different ones! The list includes the following:

Dirty Dozen

Blueberries                                         Lettuce
Strawberries                                       Grapes
Peaches                                             Potatoes
Celery                                                Spinach and other greens
Apples                                               Kale
Nectarines                                          Bell Peppers

The group also came up with “The Clean Fifteen,” which would be the items which were found to bear little to no chemical residue. These items you can purchase conventional with little worry. These items include:

Clean Fifteen

Onions                                               Grapefruit
Avocados                                           Watermelon
Sweet Corn                                         Canteloupe
Pineapple                                           Cabbage
Mango                                                Eggplant
Sweet Peas                                        Kiwi
Asparagus                                          Sweet Onions
Sweet Potatoes

One of the complaints about organics is the cost. There are a few ways to try and save money on fresh produce: try a local farmer’s market or food coop. There are a number of different delivery options coming available now. It can be fun to start a small garden of a few items in your backyard or on your patio.

If you do purchase conventional, make sure you wash the produce well. You can purchase special washes at the grocery store or you can make your own. It is quite simple: mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Simply spray produce, let sit for 5-10 minutes, and rinse. This can really help decrease the exposure to pesticides and chemicals.


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