CA Sweet Cherry Season is on its way!

Have you every noticed that some fruits never seem to disappear from the produce section of your grocery store?  You can always find apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, etc., however that cannot be said for cherries. Cherries are only available for a limited time during the year. So if you want to enjoy them to the fullest, it’s important to know when they are in season.

chboard

The initial harvest begins in southern California; usually around mid to late April. The earliest cherry variety is the Brooks cherry, which is a cross between a Rainier and a Bing.  From there, the harvest moves north through the state, and by early June, the harvest comes to an end in California. While the California season for sweet cherries is coming to a close, the cherries in Washington State are becoming ripe & ready for harvest.  Washington cherries typically peak in early July & there are several different varieties of cherries grown there. They can be broken into dark/sweet cherries and Rainier cherries. The variations are usually in color, firmness, and sugar-to-acid ratio.

Now, you might be wondering, how long does it take from harvest to when the cherries actually hit the supermarkets?  Since they are highly perishable, King Fresh Produce cherries are carefully transported from farm to truck and are hydrocooled within mere hours of picking.  Cherries need this cold chain process to keep them as fresh as possible.  The cherries are then either packed immediately, or kept in cold storage for packing in the next 24 hours.  From there, it generally takes 1-2 days for nearby locations and 2-3 days for the east coast to receive CA cherries for retail, in your favorite grocery store.

 

 

 

 

Even though the overall cherry harvest lasts roughly 4 months, there are peaks in the season. The California cherries peak at the end of May/beginning of June, and prices tend to be higher for them…but they are more than worth it!  Get ready…because sweet CA cherries are on their way!

Springtime 7 Day Clean-Eating Challenge & Healthy Grocery List

Spring is officially here.  Are you ready to jump-start your health? I challenge YOU to eat clean for 7 days straight, for every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even your snacks! …and I have the tools to help you!

Eating clean can sometimes be a chore, as it is confusing! When you are only used to the endless, processed foods at the supermarket, sometimes you must question, so what is “clean” anyway?

First of all, clean eating is not a diet-it’s a lifestyle. You are either in it to change your ways or you probably shouldn’t do it at all (shhhhh…you didn’t hear that from me!). I believe everyone has their own personal idea of what’s considered “clean eating,” especially since there is NO clear definition of what “clean” is. However, I would have to imagine that everyone would agree to some extent that the general definition would be: the elimination of processed, extra additives, chemicals, and refined foods in one’s daily diet. Instead, you are choosing to eat foods in their simplest or “whole” state.

Some benefits to eating a clean diet are:

  • Fat loss
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Decreased health problems
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mental well-being
  • Improved skin
  • The list goes on & on!

The easiest way to start eating clean is to prepare your own meals at home. Yes, this means you have to start learning how to cook! This way, you know exactly what ingredients you are eating and the amount of calories you are consuming.

Confused about what to buy or what to eat? Included is a specific meal plan with specific foods for each day & meal. However, you may use the plan as a guide to making your own dishes-since this plan is not a “one size fits all.” Not everyone likes chicken. Not everyone eats meat. Not everyone likes fish, etc, etc, etc.  Here goes…have fun and do your best to give it a go for 7 solid days! 🙂

The Grocery list

Here is a huge grocery list of clean eating foods. You do not (I repeat 🙂 ) do not, have to go out and buy every single item on this list. This is solely just to give you an idea of what is considered clean and for you to use as a guide for the future when you are grocery shopping.

Veggies:

  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Okra
  • Broccoli
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Rhubarb
  • Onions
  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Avocado
  • Eggplant
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichoke
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Beet Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnip Greens
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Leek
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Celery

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Clementines
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Kiwifruit
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Nectarines
  • Tangerines
  • Honeydew
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Pear
  • Cherry
  • Mango
  • Guava
  • Tomato

Protein:

  • Turkey or Pork tenderloin
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna
  • Lean Steak
  • Skinless Chicken breasts
  • Turkey bacon
  • Extra Lean Ground turkey
  • Tofu
  • Hummus
  • Grouper
  • Egg whites
  • Turkey
  • Pork Chops
  • Scallops
  • Shellfish

Flours

  • Wheat flour
  • Oat flour
  • Almond flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Rice flour
  • Quinoa flour

Nuts/Seeds:

  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Peanut Butter (Natural)
  • Almond Butter (Natural)
  • Flax seed
  • Chia seed
  • Macadamia Nut
  • Hemp seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Pine Nuts

Grains/legumes:

  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, green peas, pinto beans, mung beans
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Whole Wheat English muffins

Dairy:

  • Unsweetened Almond milk
  • Unsweetened Rice Milk
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • String Cheese
  • Goat Cheese
  • Low fat cheddar cheese

Condiments/Oils/Dressings/Extras:

  • Raw maple syrup
  • Raw Honey
  • Stevia
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Sunflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil

Drinks:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Protein shake

AVOID:

  • No refined sugar
  • No white sugar
  • No white pasta
  • No soda or juice
  • No fast food
  • No alcohol
  • No cookies, donuts, or pastries
  • No chips

The Plan

Day One

7am Breakfast:

  • 2 slices of turkey bacon with ½ cup oatmeal with cinnamon and stevia

10am Snack:

  • Fruit smoothie (1/2 banana, 4 strawberries, 1 cup almond milk, ice)

12pm Lunch:

  • Grilled chicken salad with 2 tbsp light balsamic vinaigrette, topped with unlimited veggies

3pm Snack:

  • 1 apple with 2 tbsp of peanut or almond butter

5pm Dinner:

  • Muffin Tin Tacos (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • Protein shake

Day Two

7am Breakfast:

  • ½ grapefruit with 1 cup Greek Yogurt and one piece of toast

10am Snack:

  • Handful of almonds with 1 banana

12pm Lunch:

  • 6oz sirloin with brown rice and asparagus

3pm Snack:

  • 1.5 cups Natural air-popped popcorn

5pm Dinner:

  • Black Bean Burgers (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  •  2 tbsp Cottage cheese with handful of strawberries

 Day Three

7am Breakfast:

  • Blueberry protein muffins (see recipe)

10am Snack:

  • 2 almond butter bars

12pm Lunch:

  • 1 salmon filet with brown rice and half an avocado

3pm Snack:

  • Strawberries with 2 tbsp cottage cheese

5pm Dinner:

  • Lean Pot Roast with brown rice and veggies (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • Protein shake

Day Four

7am Breakfast:

  • 2 slices of turkey bacon with ½ cup oatmeal with cinnamon and stevia

10am Snack:

  • 3 boiled eggs with handful of almonds

12pm Lunch:

  • Grilled chicken salad with 2 tbsp light balsamic vinaigrette, topped with unlimited veggies

3pm Snack:

  • 5 whole grain crackers with 2 oz low fat cheddar cheese

5pm Dinner:

  • Grilled Spicy Shrimp Tacos (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • 2 tbsp Cottage cheese with handful of strawberries

Day Five

7am Breakfast:

  • 2 Ham & Egg Cups (see recipe) with one piece of toast

10am Snack:

  • 3 boiled eggs with handful of almonds

12pm Lunch:

  • 1 filet of tilapia with brown rice and half an avocado

3pm Snack:

  • 2 tbsp Hummus with baby carrots

5pm Dinner:

  • Zesty Turkey Meatballs with brown rice & veggies (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • Protein shake

 Day Six

7am Breakfast:

  • ½ Grapefruit with 3 boiled eggs

10am Snack:

  • 2 almond butter bars

12pm Lunch:

  • 1 grilled chicken breast with 1 sweet potato and 1 cup of broccoli

3pm Snack:

  • 2 boiled eggs and a handful of almonds

5pm Dinner:

  • Easy Crock pot Turkey Chili (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • 1 piece string cheese & handful of almonds

Day Seven 

7am Breakfast:

  • 2 slices of turkey bacon with ½ cup oatmeal with cinnamon and stevia

10am Snack:

  •  3 boiled eggs with handful of almonds

12pm Lunch:

  • 1 Salmon Filet with Brown Rice & Half an Avocado

3pm Snack:

  • 1 apple with 2 tbsp of peanut or almond butter

5pm Dinner:

  • Lean Meatloaf (see recipe)

8pm Snack:

  • 2 tbsp Cottage cheese with handful of strawberries

Recipes

Blueberry Protein Muffins

Ingredients
• 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
• 1 cup blueberries
• 3 cups of rolled oats
• 2 table spoons of melted coconut oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In large bowl mix together the applesauce, vanilla, and protein powder.
3. Once all mixed fold in the blueberries, rolled oats, & melted coconut oil.
4. Place mixture in muffin tin and bake for 30-35min or until golden brown.
5. Let cool and serve!

Almond Butter Bars

Ingredients
• 3/4 cup raw honey
• 1 cup raw almond butter
• 3 cups old fashioned oats

Directions
• Heat the almond butter & honey in a saucepan on low heat until melted. Stir & remove from heat.
• Pour mixture over oats in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly.
• Pour & press batter into a 9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
• Remove & let cool.

Ham & Egg Cups

Ingredient

• 6 whole eggs
• 6 slices thick ham
• Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Grease muffin tin.
2. Place one piece of ham in each tin.
3. Crack one egg into each ham slice.
4. Sprinkle salt/pepper to taste.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until eggs are cooked to your liking. (I like mine all the way baked so it usually takes 15 minutes)

Muffin Tin Tacos

Ingredients
• 1 package wonton wrappers
• 1 lb. ground beef
• 3 tbsp chili powder
• 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp onion powder
• 1/2 tbsp paprika
• 2 tbsp cumin
• shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes-for topping (optional)

Directions
1. In a skillet heated over Medium, brown ground beef. Drain.
2. Add in seasonings and mix well. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
4. Place two wonton wrappers in each tin cup of the muffin pan. (It is okay for the corners to point upward)
5. Spoon ground beef mixture into each cup.
6. Bake for 15 minutes until corners of the wonton wrappers are golden brown. Remove from oven.
7. Top with your favorite toppings.

Skinny Zesty Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients
• 1 lb lean ground turkey
• 1 egg
• 2/3 cup oats
• 1 packet Italian dressing mix
• salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine all the ingredients together; stir well in a bowl.
3. Form around 20 balls out of the mixture. Put them on a broiler pan.
4. Bake around 15 minutes or until a cut meatball shows no pink inside.

Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients
• 1 (15oz) can black beans
• 1 ranch seasoning packet
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 2 jalapenos, diced
• 1/2 cup oats
• 2 tbsp chili powder
• 2 tbsp paprika seasoning
• 1 tbsp garlic powder
• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• 3 tbsp sriracha sauce
• 3 tbsp water
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

Directions
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
• Mash black beans in a bowl; add onion, garlic, jalapenos, & bell pepper. Mix. Set aside.
• Whisk water, sriracha sauce, ranch packet, chili powder, cumin, paprika, & garlic powder together in a separate small bowl.
• Mix oats & egg into the black bean mixture. Combine with the seasoning mixture.
• Spoon ‘burger-sized’ mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, about a 3/4-inch thickness per mound. Shape into burgers.
• Bake in the preheated oven until cooked in the center and crisp in the outside, about 10 minutes on each side.
• Enjoy bunless or you can use lettuce leaves for a Paleo “bun.”

Grilled Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Ingredients
• 1 lb. peeled & de-veined shrimp
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 lime juiced
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 6 wheat tortillas (8 inch)
• 1 head lettuce; chopped
• Misc toppings of your choice (cheddar cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, etc)
• salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Combine olive oil, lime juice, peel, cayenne, and cumin in small bowl. Thread shrimp onto skewers; season with salt and pepper.
2. Brush shrimp with lime mixture.
3. Grill until shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, brushing occasionally with lime mixture.
4. Roughly chop shrimp.
5. Top each tortilla with shrimp, lettuce and any other toppings you would like.

Easy Crock pot Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans
  • 1 cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions

1. Soak the beans in a large pot overnight. Drain and place into the crock pot.
2. Brown ground turkey in a skillet. Drain and place into the crock pot.
3. Dump the rest of the ingredients in and stir.
4. Cook on HI for 4 hours, stirring every hour.
5. Salt/pepper to taste.

Lean Meatloaf

Ingredients

• 2 lbs. 98% lean ground beef
• 1 cup oats
• 2 eggs
• ½ small onion, diced
• ½ green bell pepper, diced
• 2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 tsp. garlic powder
• Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, eggs, and oats with an electric mixer or your hands (I love doing everything by hand!).
2. Next, add in the veggies, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Mix well.
3. Form into a loaf using your hands and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.
4. Wrap in tinfoil & freeze.
5. Bake at 350 degrees when ready to cook.

Royal Rainbow-Carrot Ribbon Salad

Want to spice up your winter?  Well, I did, too…and I couldn’t resist these beautiful rainbow carrots with their vibrant, exciting colors that I came across recently at the PMA’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo in Anaheim, CA.   This absolutely gorgeous feast for the eyes and the tummy was inspired by their unique look!  The colors are amazing–deep purple, yellow, red, white, peach and of course orange. I decided to make a salad by shaving the carrots into ribbons using my vegetable peeler so I could showcase all the gorgeous colors inside. Surprisingly their flavor isn’t all that much different…some of the carrots might taste slightly sweeter than the others but you sure can’t beat the visual!  Enjoy!!
 inside-peel  carrot-salad
Rainbow Carrot Ribbon Salad
Ingredients
  • rainbow carrot ribbons
  • baby arugula (substitute kale if you like)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano ribbons
  • slivered red onion
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh basil
  • toasted pine nuts, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • light vinaigrette of your choice or see recipe below

Instructions

  1. Use a large bowl to toss and coat every thing completely then place your salad on a platter.
  2. VINAIGRETTE RECIPE:  3 parts good olive oil to 1 part wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic, 1 smashed garlic clove, a dollop of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ground pepper to taste. Whisk everything together.

    rainbowcarrotsalad

    Here’s to your health…and your senses!!

EAT HEALTHY–Seven Steps To A Healthier, Happier YOU!

Eat-Healthy

It’s a new year, and we’re sharing seven simple ways you can maximize your health and happiness in 2015!

1-Start The Day Right  Kick-start and energize your day by eating a breakfast that has at least 4 grams of protein. Also eat at least 4 grams of fiber, which will help you maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Oatmeal with fruit is a good choice, and surprisingly, even some grab-and-go breakfast bars and other prepared foods offer good numbers.

2-Snack Sensibly  Snacking between meals has its benefits, sure…but only if you snack smart.  Be mindful of how much you are eating.  Keep healthy snacks on hand so you aren’t lured into a poor substitute.  Nuts and dried fruits are great choices.

3-Ditch Empty Calories  Sugary drinks are loaded with empty calories.  Limit your liquid calories by swapping sodas and sports/energy drinks for fruit and vegetable juices…or better yet–water!

4-Fresh Picked Diet  Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.  These fantastic foods will help you feel full while providing loads of vitamins and nutrients.

5-Sugar Is NOT The Enemy  Put a limit on how much sugar you consume, but don’t cut out the sweets entirely.  Try satisfying your craving for sweets with fresh fruit.  Grapes are great!

6-Add Activity  Good health is much more than just the meals or snacks you eat.  A healthy body also requires activity.  You were made to move.  A brisk walk is just the ticket; take the stairs instead of the elevator and choose a parking spot further away from your destination, if you’re not interested in a full workout.  Every little bit of movement helps!

7-Shop The Perimeter  Did you know changing your shopping habits is an easy way to improve your diet?  Instead of spending so much time in the middle of the grocery store (where most processed foods line the shelves!) shop around the store’s perimeter.  This is where you’ll find the fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and other items that are processed very little…or not at all.

Here’s to your health in 2015!  *Happy New Year!*

Dec. 15th — One Sweet Day!

Monday, December 15 — National Cupcake Day! Holiday Cupcakes

Cupcakes have been an American culinary icon since the 19th century. Prior to cupcakes, ingredients used in baking were primarily weighed rather than measured. These delightful treats shifted the art of baking from weighing to measuring ingredients.

For many years, cupcakes were known as one-two-three-four cakes because of their recipe: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs, plus one cup of milk and one spoon full of baking soda. This formula is still the traditional cupcake recipe that many people use today.

Fun fact: the world’s largest cupcake was displayed in July of 2009 at the Covent Garden Real Food Market in London. This cupcake was about 4 feet in diameter and weighed over 330 pounds! It also contained 200 eggs and took over 50 hours to make.

Enjoy a cupcake today! …and Happy Holidays!!

Holiday Cupcakes

Skip the Line and Save Some Holiday Bucks: Make These Coffeeshop Drinks in the comfort of YOUR Home!

11 Ahh-mazing holiday coffeehouse drinks to make at home. Your holiday budget will thank you!

Are you a gingerbread latte addict? How much have you spent on pumpkin spice lattes? Save yourself some major moolah this season and make your own coffeeshop drinks!

We get it. The call of the coffee siren is strong. Not only does she flaunt her red coffee cups around town, but oh, the smells! Freshly ground coffee, warm cinnamon, gingerbread and pumpkin spice, okay, you get the point…

Gingerbread Latte

Gingerbread Latte

It’s spicy, and we like it. If you want that quintessential drink that smells like Christmas, then this is your latte.

Eggnog Latte

Eggnog Latte

If you’re looking for a warm hug on a cold day, then wrap your mitts around this.

Abbey’s White Chocolate Latte

Abbey's White Chocolate Latte

It’s rich, creamy, and frothy with the perfect balance of white chocolate and coffee. Brew a cup of strong black coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine.

Flavored Latte

Flavored Latte

If you’re seeking the perfect latte with the best milk-to-espresso-to-syrup ratio, then stop here. Just add your favorite flavor or holiday syrup to create your best concoction yet.

Got Coffee?

If you don’t have an espresso machine (and now’s the time to put one on your wish list for Santa!), here are some drinks you can make at home using freshly brewed coffee.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Create this bevy at home and you won’t have to go broke. Save a few more bucks by making the Pumpkin Pie Spice mixture yourself, too.

Brown Sugar-Caramel Latte

Brown Sugar-Caramel Latte

Sometimes coffee is a dessert in itself! Dust with cinnamon or cocoa powder, put your slippers up, and acknowledge you didn’t have to leave the house. You’re welcome.

And if you’re going to do it, go all the way. Fresh homemade whipped cream is the perfect topping for these coffee and cocoa recipes. And go ahead and add a few extra dollops, we won’t charge you extra.

Cafe Latte

Cafe Latte

It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Heat milk in a saucepan, whisk to create foam, and combine it with your favorite roasted coffee. Spoon foam over the top, if you’re feeling fancy. We won’t judge.

No Coffee Required Selections:

Hot Chai Latte

Hot Chai Latte

Cozy up with a velvety chai tea latte. Crank up the caffeine by using more black tea leaves, or add a few sprinkles of cardamom to make it spicier. Bonus: This is going to make your house smell amazing!

Candy Cane Cocoa

Candy Cane Cocoa

What else were you going to do with all those candy canes?

Hot Apple Cider

Hot Apple Cider

Nothing beats a mug of hot cider on a cold winter day. If you’re making the recipe for a crowd, remove the cider from the heat, discard the spice bundle, and transfer the cider to a slow cooker.

Lion House Wassail

Lion House Wassail

Move over mulled cider, hello wassail. It’s “steeped” in tradition, and is wonderfully spicy and comforting. Keep it warm all day in the slow cooker, just remove the cloves so it doesn’t get bitter.

Here’s to Holiday Cheer!  Drink UP!!

 

*selections courtesy of AllRecipies.com

10 Foods You’re Eating Wrong …who knew?! Read on for your health!

10 Foods You’re Eating Wrong  By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

Not all food is created equal if prepared the wrong way. See which mistakes you could be making with some of your favorites.

broc
Steaming was the only cooking method that completely preserved, and even increased, the cancer fighting components of broccoli.

Imagine the following scenario. You’re engaged in conversation at a dinner party with friends that you feel comfortable enough to discuss “hot button” topics with. Politics, religion, and parenting techniques probably come up and most likely, the views vary by person. When I attend dinner parties, however, the issue of food is often the hot topic of the night, and even hotter, the opinions surrounding the right and wrong way to eat. It’s not enough these days that we are eating more kale (thank you trendy farmers markets and Hollywood celebrities!), we have to now dissect the right and wrong way to eat it as well. It was discussions like these that motivated me to write this blog. After all, my career surrounds helping people to simply eat better — to get, what I call, the most bang for their nutritional buck. There are many factors that impact the amount of nutrients that you will derive from a food. Things such as cooking and ripening method, food pairing and even your own gut flora may impact how much benefit you get from plant-based foods. Different varieties of foods affect this as well. Not all nuts, apples or as you’ll read in my first example, potatoes are created equal. If you’re interested in knowing how science views the best way to eat, then read on. Spoiler alert: Raw is not always the right way to go!

Potatoes
Think you’re getting the benefits of the potato vegetable when you consume French fries, mashed or baked potatoes from white potatoes? Think again! One study found that it was purple potatoes that gave the best benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk for cancer. Further, a 2014 study found that purple potatoes surpassed their white counterparts when it came to high amounts of polyphenols and decreased effect on overall blood sugar response.

Carrots
As fall gears up, our love of soup increases as well. Next time you’re making a batch of chicken noodle soup, resist the urge to cut up your carrots. One study found that cutting carrots increased surface size and allowed more nutrients to leach out. That means after washing and peeling, your carrots should hit the water in their whole form. Keep cooking (vs. raw) though. One study found that cooking carrots increased the bioavailability of carotenoids.

Tea
If you want high nutrient absorption with your high tea, then forget about doing as the Brits do it! Several studies have shown that adding milk to your tea may actually take away some of the cardiovascular benefits that tea provide. Going with green tea? Add a little juice instead to sweeten. The vitamin C in juice may help to increase the bioavailability of green tea’s nutrients.

Garlic
Don’t rush your garlic, CRUSH your garlic! Research indicates that crushing your garlic and allowing to sit for at least ten minutes released an enzyme called allicin that has been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by making platelets less sticky or more likely to flow freely through the cardiovascular system.

Salad dressing
Fat free dressing may seem like a good idea in theory, but when you look at what you give up; it’s no match for the full fat counterpart. Several studies have shown the benefits that fat has when dressing your greens, from keeping you fuller and more satisfied after consumption to getting more nutrient absolution from your salad (specifically from lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin).

Apples & Pears
Let your fruit ripen up a bit! One study found that the ripening process allowed the breakdown of chlorophyll in ripening apples and pears which, in turn, produced more “highly active” antioxidants in the fruit.

Broccoli
Broccoli is, without doubt one of the best foods you can feed your body! Broccoli is part of the brassica family of foods, a family that has shown to be quite effective in terms of prevention of certain cancers from breast cancer to skin cancer , but how you prepare your broccoli makes all the difference in the world. A 2008 study found that steaming was the only cooking method that completely preserved, and even increased, the cancer fighting components of broccoli. Boiling and frying were found to be the worst cooking methods. Still don’t want to ditch the boiled broccoli? Pairing with a spicy food may help! A 2012 study found that adding spicy foods to broccoli increased its cancer fighting power and the spicier the better according to the study authors!

Mustard
Mustard in any form is a fabulous condiment to add to sauces, salads and sandwiches, but if you’re interested in decreasing overall inflammation as well as reducing your risk for certain cancers then you better keep your mustard choices simple. That’s right! It’s the cheap yellow mustard options that have the best benefits. Why? Because they contain a compound called curcumin (that’s the active ingredient in turmeric) that not only gives cheap yellow mustard its yellow color, but all of its potential health benefits as well!

While the factors discussed in this piece have an impact on the best ways to consume your foods, the truth is, simply adding these foods to your diet is a huge step in the right direction. Once you have mastered a liking for these healthier food options, the next logical step is to prepare in the best way for maximum nutrient density!  Eat more fruits & veggies for best results!!

10 Perfectly Creepy & Delicious Halloween Treats

Thinking of hosting a Halloween Party this year but need creative ideas for food and drinks? Look no further–here are 10 perfectly creepy, yet delicious, Halloween treats and DIY instructions (follow the links!) to complement a perfectly creepy Halloween bash.

1. Candy Corn Cupcake

candy corn cupcake halloween treats

Eat your way through fun different colors here!

2. Monster Doughnut

monster doughnut halloween treats

Check out this monstrous recipe here!

3. Dracula’s Dentures

dracula dentures cookie halloween treats

Grin and bear it here!

4. Dirt Pudding

Dirt pudding halloween treats

Eat dirt here!

5. Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats

mini pumpkin rice krispy halloween treats

Snap, Krackle and Pop sacrificed themselves for your halloween pumpkin here!

6. Spellbound Spooky Halloween Cocktail

special halloween cocktailsCheck out the spell’s instructions here (plus even more spooky cocktails!)

7. Bloody Syringe Jello-Shots

jello shots in syringe halloween treats

Take your medicine here.

8. Horrifying Banana Ghosts & Clementine Pumpkins

banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins halloween treats

Check out the cringe-worthy recipe here (brace yourself for some gory details)

9. Edible Halloween Band-Aids

bandaids halloween treats
Get yourself fixed up here.

10. Broken Glass Cupcakes

broken glass cupcake halloween treats

You know if you’re making these treats, you’re making Martha Stewart proud ~ #HappyHalloween to all you #goblins & #ghouls! …now go get your scare on!!

September is Hunger Action Month–Take Action

Guest Opinion
By Jim Baldwin

September is Hunger Action Month nationwide and as a Feeding America food bank, Community Food Share is joining food banks across the country in recognizing that hunger and food insecurity in our communities is a year-round challenge.

It is easy to become “hunger-blind” in our community when all around us we see affluence and healthy people. Who would ever think that there is a serious hunger problem here and that thousands of families worry daily about where their next meal will come from? Indeed, poverty, food insecurity, and hunger are invisible in a suburban community like ours. So for us at Community Food Share this is also Hunger Awareness Month. There can be no appreciable action without community awareness first.

But, what does hunger look like in an industrial country such as ours? “To witness hunger in America today is to enter a twilight zone where refrigerators are so frequently bare of all but mustard and ketchup that it provokes no remark, inspires no embarrassment,” as quoted from a recent National Geographic article entitled, “The New Face of Hunger.” And then there is the paradox of hunger and obesity, both of which can and do exist at the same time. Those who live on low incomes, well below what is considered to be an affordable living wage in our area, make continual choices daily between paying the rent, paying for gas to get to a job, and/or paying medical bills and buying food.

The paradox and the dilemma come in when it is clear that fast and low nutritious foods are filling and much less expensive than healthy foods, especially fresh produce. Options are then determined by the limited dollars available. The choices are obvious and inevitable — a hungry child must be fed.

An effective and robust basic needs “safety net partnership” is at work in our community, and has been for many years. It is made up of the many excellent nonprofits that provide food assistance in varying ways: Food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, emergency food box programs, residential treatment homes and multi-service agencies, which address the many challenges of those living in poverty — housing, utilities, and food.

The challenge to end hunger and food insecurity in our midst is a daunting one, and easily classified as just an aspirational goal, never to be accomplished — something somewhere up in the clouds. The “safety net partnership” would heartily disagree. We work together to meet the immediate and emergency needs of those living with food insecurity while using this experience to identify the many root causes of hunger: poverty, lack of an affordable living wage, inadequate education and work skills, unemployment and language barriers, to name few.

The powerful and relentless collaboration of all, including the generous, ongoing support of our community, underscores a commitment to ending hunger that translates into action. The problems are many, challenging, and seemingly impossible to solve, yet a hunger-free community is an achievable goal. As we enter this rich season of harvest we remain aware that not all share in its bounty; but we also remain committed to ensuring that everyone has enough affordable and nutritious food to promote a healthy lifestyle and participate productively in our community.

Jim Baldwin announced he is retiring as CEO of Community Food Share last week, after leading the food bank for 14 years. Thank you for your service, Jim.

National THANK YOU Day 2014

Today’s the day! Every one of us has had many instances and encounters – good and bad – with people who deserve our thanks. Every person has impact on our day to day lives with acts of kindness.

When:
September 15th every year

Why thank people?

We should all remember to be grateful for all the little things in life everyday. In case we are busy and forget, September 15th is the designated day of the year when we remember and thank every one who has made a difference in any way – big or small.

We should also remember to appreciate people who love us and do things to support us and make our lives more comfortable and easier to live. Even though people may get paid to do things for us, it is still a good idea to thank them for their services and help!

It is quite common for people to get caught up in their busy lives and to forget to be grateful for things like our health, our friends and family, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances etc.

So here’s your chance–get out there and use this day to say “Thank You” to all the people who have impacted your life in any way.

We should take a moment and thank loved ones–the people who have been there through it all and who have proven their dedication through unconditional support and love. It is most important to let these people know how much they truly mean to us, and how they have made a positive and significant difference in every part of our struggle.

Thank You Day Quotes
•”If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
•”A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”
•”We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
•”The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
•”The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.”
•”Thank you, I appreciate you, and I wish you well on your journey!”
•”I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”
•”A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.”
•”Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
•”Saying thank you to the person who makes your life miserable is the way of saying thanks to the Lord for the strength in coping up the pain.”
•”Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”