Spotlight on Tomatoes

Summer is rapidly approaching here in Texas. Last weekend we rocked the ridiculous temps over 100, and closer to 110 with the heat index.

It was so sweltering it almost took your breath away.

With the arrival of summer there are some fruits and veggies that seem to just be a part of the season.

Tomatoes top that list.

Is there anything better than a warm, vine ripened tomato sliced with some salt and pepper? I could eat more than my share 😁

So as a nod to delicious summer food I thought the tomato would be a good one for our food spotlight post.

The 411

The tomato is from the nightshade family native to South America.

Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable.

Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

Some nutrition facts

The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbs and fiber.

Here are the nutrients in a small raw tomato:

  • Calories: 18
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

Carbs comprise 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to fewer than 5 grams of carbs for a medium one.

Simple sugars,such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carb content.

Other plant compounds

The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:

  • Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.
  • Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
  • Naringenin. Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to to decrease inflammation protect against various diseases in mice.
  • Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health, as it may protect against sunburns.

So now that we’ve discussed how good they are for you….

How about a few recipes? Tomatoes by themselves are perfect. I also love tossing them in some olive oil and roasting with asparagus.

Cherry tomatoes are also good in my veggie scramble for breakfast.

As mentioned earlier, they also make perfect light dishes when the days get long and warm.

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By the way….I made the rustic Italian cucumber and tomato salad for dinner last night…it is definitely a keeper.

Tell me, do you have any favorite tomato recipes?

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Spotlight on Watermelon

We are approaching that time of year here in south Texas.

The time of year where there are longer days, warm evenings and easier dinners.

One of the foods that make frequent appearances at our summer meals is the sweet and flavorful watermelon.

And not just for dinner but it’s also a cool, sweet, refreshing treat on a hot afternoon.

Let’s take a look at how this delicious treat breaks down…

Watermelon consists mostly of water (91%) and carbs (7.5%). It provides almost no protein or fat and is very low in calories.

The nutrients in 2/3 cup of raw watermelon are:

  • Calories: 30
  • Water: 91%
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Carbs: 7.6 grams
  • Sugar: 6.2 grams
  • Fiber: 0.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

You can eat a whole lot of it for minimal calories!

Watermelon contains 12 grams of carbohydrates per cup.

The carbs are mostly simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Watermelon also provides a small amount of fiber.

The glycemic index (GI) — a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels after meals — of watermelons ranges from 72–80, which is high.

However, each serving of watermelon is relatively low in carbs, so eating it should not have a major effect on blood sugar levels.

Don’t listen to health “experts” who criticize fruits because of sugars in them. These are naturally occurring sugars and not the simple sugars in cokes, candies or other sweet things.

Those…you definitely need to do in moderation.

The benefits of a fruit far outweigh the natural sugars in them that some people try to demonize.

What other good things does watermelon offer?

  • Vitamin C. This antioxidant is essential for skin health and immune function.
  • Potassium. This mineral is important for blood pressure control and heart health.
  • Copper. This mineral is most abundant in plant foods and often lacking in the Western diet.
  • Vitamin B5. Also known as pantothenic acid, this vitamin is found in almost all foods to some extent.
  • Vitamin A. Watermelon contains beta carotene, which your body can turn into Vitamin A.

Watermelon is an exceptionally healthy fruit.

It’s loaded with citrulline and lycopene, two powerful plant compounds linked to lower blood pressure, improved metabolic health, and decreased muscle soreness after exercise.

What’s more, it’s sweet, delicious, and packed with water, making it excellent for maintaining good hydration.

For the vast majority of people, watermelon is a perfect addition to a healthy diet.

Tasty ways to eat it

Really the best way is just a big slice, still in the rind, cold, and juicy running down your hands while you eat it.

Yeah, super messy but it’s also one of those fun easy ways to enjoy it

When I serve it with dinner I do cut it from the rind into neatly sized pieces for more manageable eating 🙂

Check out these ideas for watermelon

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Is watermelon a favorite summer fruit for you? How do you like to eat it?

Saturday Snippets

If there is one thing that often seems to be a stumbling block to people who want to lose weight it’s this….

They think there has to be an “all or nothing” mentality to get it done.

Either they have to exist off of kale and water ( both of which I have nothing against) and live a totally miserable existence constantly checking the scale to see if a pound or two has vanished.

They go back to counting down the days till they can get back to “normal” again because they don’t think there is room in a nutrition plan for having a hamburger or Chocolate cake on occasion.

I feel bad when I see people choosing a complete deprivation plan. Mainly because I know they are setting themselves up for failure.

It’s the same when they choose a specific diet that eliminates food groups or severely restricts foods that make life enjoyable.

We just aren’t wired for complete and total extremes. None of us are.

Who wants to be at a birthday party watching everyone else eat cake or not enjoy a meal out that you splurge a little?

Freedom is being able to do those things and knowing the end of the world won’t happen because you did.

In our daily nutrition we should strive to eat well with a good balance of all food groups. Little daily healthy choices add up for long term success.

Each meal should contain good portions of vegetables and fruits and a good amount of protein ( about 30%)

A healthy lifestyle means getting the appropriate nutrients we need but allowing ourselves a bit of freedom to have that treat.

It means that we can trust ourselves enough with those foods to eat and enjoy it and move on with life. When we blend our favorite things into a healthy eating plan we are less likely to binge because we’ve restricted ourselves

Building an awareness of food in our life will help us learn balance but also will lead to a slow steady weight loss that will be permanent

And …you’ll have your cake and eat it too 😉

Spotlight on Blueberries

Mid-March is upon us and spring is attempting to “spring” here in south Texas. We never got much of a winter, but I think I’m not alone in saying we’re all ready for some sun and blue sky kinda days and leaving the grey foggy ones behind.

Of course with spring arriving it also heralds “berry” season and I can’t wait. I mean, not that I’ve taken a break from eating them, it just means they are crazy cheap and I can indulge even more freely 🙂

I love all kinds of berries. They make appearances in all my breakfast meals and are a healthy, nutrient laden, low cal snack.

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I wrote some other berry posts, find them here……https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/13/spotlight-on-strawberries/  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/01/30/the-super-powers-of-blackberries/

Ok first things first.

I found it amusing getting my healthy facts, that the things that kept coming up first in my searches were for muffins, pancakes, breads, etc like hold on with the recipes Susan, we’ll get there 😉

Like other berries, blueberries pack a powerful nutritional and healthy punch. Blueberries are an Antioxidant Superfood. Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are  also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

Blueberries are among the most nutrient dense  berries. A 1-cup (148-gram) serving of blueberries contains :

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 25% of the RDI
  • Small amounts of various other nutrients

They are also about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables.

The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids.

One group of flavonoids in particular — anthocyanins — is thought to be responsible for much of these berries’ beneficial health effects.

Blueberries have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels in your body.

Blueberries may also lower blood pressure, prevent heart attacks, help maintain brain function and improve memory.

With the high Vitamin C content in blueberries, they are also considered an anti aging food. Anthocyanin in blueberries is responsible for preventing oxidative DNA damage, while the abundance of vitamin C is a big factor in building collagen.

Wanna stay looking younger? Add plenty of berries into your daily diet.

Other ways to incorporate them into your diet…

of course berries are a stand alone kinda thing and you can eat them “as is” but they also make great additions mixed in with yogurt or oatmeal.  Add them to smoothies or other drinks. I sometimes like them in salads.

But I’d say many people enjoy them wrapped up in tasty baked goods as well. And since life also deserves treats, I’ll leave you with a few tasty recipes for our friend, the blueberry 🙂

 

Your turn. Do you like blueberries? Do you have a favorite way to eat them?

Monday Musings

Hello world 🙂  As I’m writing this it’s at the end of the weekend…. a weekend that has been near perfect weather. A weekend that has breathed the promise of fall and changing seasons and all things cozy.

Forget the fact it’s still warm enough for shorts…..

The sun was out and after so many weeks of mostly rain and dark cloudy days, this sunny weekend was a balm for my soul and I know, many others.

This meant some long overdue work outside in the yard and it was wonderful to just be able to work outside in the sun and feel the wind on my skin and hair.

There was some time spent cutting grass…. I don’t mind using a push mower and honestly enjoy the work of pushing it everwhere. We’ve got a lot to cut so it can keep me busy.

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Ready for work… need your grass cut ?

 

The electric company was also out cutting trees back this week and left some oak trees cut laying off the side of the road. Well, actually, it was down the hill…. so it was run down, grab chunks of wood, and back up the hill with it.

Me… I’m thinking… I should go get those, drag them home, and get hubby or my son to get the chain saw and cut them into more manageable pieces that we can use later for our fireplace ( eventually we’ll get one or two cold days :-P)  and I love having a fire on those cold dark nights.

So I apprehended the red flyer wagon laying around my grandkids use occasionally and loaded it up and dragged the wood back home.

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Uh… yeah.. it was a little workout haha

It was overall one of those satisfying, working weekends.

Don’t over look the fact that doing some extra movement outside can be a fun part of keeping fit 🙂

Oh… but then… food.

When I’m not doing athletic things or other activities, I am a wicked baker. So there’s cookies…..

I made two kinds. Hubby had requested oatmeal raisin but then I just wanted something chocolate …so…..

I’ll share recipes below. Find all of my tasty dessert recipes on Pinterest. ( you can also find lots of exercise tips and workouts too 😉 )

https://www.inspiredtaste.net/18596/soft-and-chewy-oatmeal-raisin-cookie-recipe/

https://www.ihearteating.com/chewy-brown-sugar-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/

I’d never made a chocolate cookie recipe where you melted butter first, then stirred everything else in. I loved how fast and simple these were and sooo good too 🙂

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Aren’t they pretty ?

 

In other weekend fun….

One of the things hubby and I enjoy doing is going for breakfast dates at a local place in town. The building is old. It’s not fancy.  During the winter it can be stupid cold in there ’cause their heat is sketchy at best. On any given morning you’re hoping you can score a table because the place is packed and sometimes you are wrestling for the last fork in the utensil holder.

The food is good and the coffee is too.

This past week I couldn’t help but again get distracted people watching and observing.

Couples, families, friends meeting for coffee the place hummed with a low key activity and bright energy.

It’s one of the cool things about living in a kinda smallish town… the local eating place. The place that isn’t fancied up… it’s just down home cozy.

That’s one of the things I love about my home town. These small areas that still feel “homey” in the mix of growth and things changing so much.

Not only can you meet new people but it’s often a place to catch up with friends you may not have seen in awhile.

For a social person like me….well.. it’s a good fit 😉

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A cozy corner you can sit and watch the world go by in….

Oh… and so like… Halloween is this week.

Stay tuned… perhaps in next weeks post I’ll have a pic of my costume. Let’s just say I’m putting my own spin on Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz.

Am I the only one who mooches candy of their kid while you’re out making the rounds to houses gathering candy? Please tell me I’m not 😉

Actually now days I’m mooching it off my grandkids hahaha

Of course once Halloween is over, it seems like things are full speed to Christmas. My kids have already begun to present their gift lists to me.

How early do you start shopping ?

And finally… that approaching duathlon…

Got a solid brick training session in on one of my days last week. Out on the road in the dark early morning, fog still in the air, I really wanted to be inside drinking coffee.

But somehow, there I was, out on the road taking off for my first run. I kept it short. A 2 mile run, followed with a 10 bike ride, then a 2 mile run.

I’ll tell you, it’s always that last leg that I have to intentionally and purposefully dial in on my mental muscle. I guess because at that point I know I’m close to finishing and I have to remind my legs, we aren’t quite done yet.

I have to stay focused and sometimes that’s hard when I know finishing is so close!

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Finished for the morning!

I’m actually anticipating a training week ahead that doesn’t involve wet stuff outside! Although I know race day can offer up anything, I’m hoping for perfect weather like we had last year.

That’s a wrap for this week….

It’s another busy week ahead with lots going on. What will be keeping you busy? Have you tried any new recipes? Had any new adventures?

 

 

 

Spotlight On Oranges

Have we talked about oranges yet in our food spotlight?

I think not.

I’ve spotlighted lots of other tasty foods, ( just look for past Spotlight posts) but realized munching on an orange the other day, I hadn’t brought it to the forefront.

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So let’s dig in!

Is there anything better than a crisp, cold orange? Sweet and tender with so much juice it runs off your chin?

One medium orange has about 80 calories, zero fat, 250 milligrams of potassium, 19 grabs of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals the oranges biggest nutritional claim is packing a whopping 115%  of your daily Vitamin C needs.  They also contain healthy doses of Thiamin, Folate, and Potassium.

Oranges are also a rich source of various anti-oxidants that help our bodies fight diseases.

Because of it’s mineral and vitamin content it may help with heart disease and in the prevention of kidney stones.

Benefits of orange nutrition

  1. High in Antioxidants
  2. Enhances Immunity
  3. Fights Cancer
  4. Rich in Fiber
  5. Improves Heart Health
  6. Boosts Brain Function
  7. Keeps Skin Healthy

Oranges are also very acidic, which may aggravate heartburn and acid reflux symptoms in those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. If you notice that oranges cause negative side effects like a burning feeling in the chest, nausea or belching, consider reducing your intake.

Orange juice and oranges do not have same nutritional benefits

While orange nutrition benefits are pretty impressive, it’s important to remember that the same benefits may not extend to orange juice. This is because oranges contain a good amount of fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Orange juice, on the other hand, provides a concentrated amount of the sugar found in oranges, without any of the beneficial fiber. Commercial varieties, in particular, are pumped full of sugar and additives, minimizing the nutritional value of orange juice. Eating the whole orange is always the best way to go, and keep juice drinking to a minimum for best health benefits.

Some other interesting orange nutrition thoughts…

There are very few calories in a large orange, but they are high in fiber, vitamin C and a host of other micronutrients. Compared to apple nutrition, oranges are lower in calories and fiber but higher in vitamin C, folate, thiamine and potassium. Be sure to add both into your diet to enjoy all of the health-promoting properties.

How about some fun facts?

This is one of my favorite parts of food posts, sharing random, interesting or unknown facts about them.

Here we go….

Orange is actually a type of berry, hesperidia to be exact.

Orange trees are actually evergreen trees.

About 20% of the orange crop is sold as whole fruit. The rest are used for juices, extracts and preserves.

An orange tree can grow to over 30 feet and live 100 years.

A single citrus plant can bear over 60,000 flowers but only 1% will turn into fruit.

Valencia oranges are the most planted variety of orange world wide.

It’s thought that the reason oranges have long been associated with fertility (and therefore, weddings) is because this lush evergreen tree can simultaneously produce flowers, fruit and foliage

Christopher Columbus brought the first orange to America in 1493

Oranges are the largest citrus crop in the world

Orange trees were first grown in China

Oranges and orange blossoms are a symbol of love

And finally, after chocolate and vanilla, orange is the most popular flavor.

Yeah that shocked me too.

For me, growing up as a kid, Santa also left big oranges in the bottom of our stockings. My kids have gotten the same thing growing up and now, my grandkids too.  There have been lots of jokes from them but, they also expect to get them too haha

Ok let’s eat!

I can’t tell you all about the amazing orange without some recipes too, right?

https://cleanfoodcrush.com/orange-chicken-stir-fry

 

 

Ok your turn! How do you like oranges? Do you have any special recipes using them?

 

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Spotlight On Mushrooms

Mushrooms. Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi. They can appear either below ground or above ground where they may be picked by hand.

I know, you already saw the title to this post and have thought about  checking out and not reading past this sentence. Maybe my sass and humor might keep you around for at least the next paragraph or two 😉

Maybe you’re wondering of ALL the foods on the planet why I’d make fungus the subject of my food spotlight post. Why not something tastier and prettier to look at?

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I know… I hear you.. but miss out on telling you cool things about mushrooms you may not even know?

Like get this… do you know their DNA is more closely related to a human level than plant?

Really.

They are more closely related to humans than plants.

Ahhhh… now I’ve got you!

Bet you didn’t know that, right?

So are mushrooms vegetables?

The simple answer is no, it’s not a vegetable although it’s in the vegetable family due to it’s nutritional make up.

Ok so hold on for a little science here…..

mushrooms are fruiting bodies of macroscopic filamentous fungi.  Earlier when mycology ( the study of fungi) arose it was a part of botany.  This happened because fungi were considered to be primitive plants. The biggest difference in a (plant) vegetable and a mushroom is how they get their food. Plants if you remember from middle school science, possess chlorophyll and make their own food via photosynthesis.

How handy is that?

Fungi on the other hand exist on decaying material in nature.

There are also the obvious structural differences, such as a lack of roots, leaves, and seeds.

Fungi basically have their own kingdom on the basis of cellular organization.

So the bottom line?

We share similar DNA’s.. have you ever thought much about how good mushrooms are almost like meat?

I will mention hubby strongly argues this point 😛

I won’t bog us down in anymore science stuff, go look if you don’t believe me.

Have you ever wondered why mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D? And one of the few sources that naturally contain it?

Because like us, they can absorb it from the sunlight.

Their cellular structure allows them to absorb it just like our skin does.

Eat your mushrooms for natural Vitamin D 🙂

I hate mushrooms.

Well, not anymore.  I have to confess I haven’t started eating them till later in life. They started becoming more of a staple in my diet a few years ago, once I got past their ugly factor and bland appearance.

I can’t imagine now not tossing them in my basket with all the other produce.

They  show up in my breakfast veggie blend, salads, stir fry, and oven roasted veggie mixes.

Heck, I even grind them up and toss them in with hamburger for spaghetti or taco meat but don’t tell my family that cause they will say I’m trying to poison them.

Seriously, ground mushrooms are great add in’s to hamburger dishes. I tell you, no one will know. 😉

What’s the nutritional low down

One medium mushroom has 4 calories… 4 measly little calories… which means you can eat a whole lot of them for not much impact.

Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants like selenium and glutathione, or GSH, substances believed to protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease and inflammation.

One cup of mushrooms provides 1-2 grams of protein, have no fat or cholesterol and are very low in sodium.

So let’s eat.

If you haven’t been a mushroom fan, you might have to work through your issues 😉

Mushrooms are wonderful sautéed, especially with onions. They work great in casseroles, roasted veggie dishes and more.

Try these recipes….

https://www.plainchicken.com/2016/05/marinated-grilled-vegetables.html#more

If you haven’t tried them or have reserved opinions on them, why not attempt them mingled in with other foods?

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Do I look like I’ve just harvested these out of the woods?

Don’t be fooled with the pic above, I’m no gardener. Plants come to my house to die 😛 I thought you might just appreciate all my “back yard” behind me 😉 and it made a nice drop for mushrooms….

Oh. And don’t eat those mushrooms in the woods, they can mess with your head.

Your turn… you tell me… did my post make you shudder thinking you’ll never eat fungus? Or do they find their way to your plate? Do you have ways you enjoying eating them?