Smart Nutrition

Good nutrition. Smart nutrition. It’s a topic that comes up a lot and it’s a topic I’ve fielded not only for myself, but talking with others who desire to live a healthier lifestyle in regards to foods.

 

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Colorful foods are always healthy choices

 

Add to that, for most of us, we have busy lives and schedules and food sometimes is well, an afterthought.

There could be a tendency to grab just whatever is convenient or at hand because we’re tired or worse yet, our hunger is on full blown overdrive.

I am notorious some days for being hungry, yet feeling to lazy to make myself something. This is especially dangerous when it’s been a day I’ve trained hard and my body is wanting some good quality nutrition for all it’s work that morning.

Someone, please admit, there are days you feel like that too. Hungry yet the idea of making food or even putting something together seems like to much trouble so you just skate by.

Not ideal, I know.  There are some days I admittedly feel that way.

I’m smart enough to know my body needs proper fuel not just post workout, but also for a busy day of activities.

Yours does too.

Smart nutrition where does it start?

I’ve had friends jokingly ask if I’d follow them around and slap wrong foods out of their hands or  tell them they’ve had enough at the dinner table.

It always makes me laugh. Maybe, we all want someone like that. This tough love accountability person who snatches a donut from us or reminds us we don’t really need that big Mexican platter for lunch.  This person would simply follow us around like some muscular side kick directing our food choices.

I hate to break the news but smart nutrition, well, that starts with you.

It has to start with you because really, ultimately you are the only one making the choices.

Maybe you want to blame the co-worker for stocking piling donuts in the break room or use the reason you’re to tired to not make healthy foods so you stop at the fast food drive thru.

For example….

I’ve been helping my son at his shop this week. I ran out to do some errands for him and drove through a local fast food place for lunch to take back with me.

No. Not burgers and fries.

Although, I will admit, fries are at the top of my most favorite non- necessary food items.

However, they happen to make some amazing salads and that’s what I was after.  I love salads, not as a “diet” food but as a “healthy, nutritious good for my body” food.

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Now tell me how tasty this looks…..protein, fruit, and leafy greens

 

Eating it leaves me feeling satisifed, yet also energetic and not sluggish like I’d feel from a meal heavy in more simple carbs.  I’ve eaten like this long enough that it’s a no brainer for me to go for healthier choices.

Although… why… why can’t salads smell as good on the wind as the smell of greasy foods??? hahaha

We encounter choices each day in how we eat. There can be an endless list to reasons why we don’t make smarter, healthier choices in our nutrition each day.

But when it comes down to what we put in our mouths, no one is standing there shoveling it in but us.

We are responsible for our own nutrition, good or bad.

Well where do I start?

No one understands better than I do that you just don’t magically develop good nutritional habits over night.

You just don’t.

You don’t undo or change a life time or years of eating certain ways without some determination and discipline to see it through. If you’re reading this I may assume you are wanting to eat nutritionally smarter.

Getting started requires a bit of a mental shift in your thinking. The foods or snacks you reach for. Your beverage choices. How much you eat. When you eat. It all takes some time and planning.

Oh yeah… planning helps. Some tips and tricks…

we live busy lives.  Planning somewhat is crucial to success in developing smart nutrition habits.

Sitting down and thinking about meals and snacks and ingredients needed when you aren’t hungry is the best place to start. Once you’ve developed a plan and utilized it for awhile you won’t have to think so much about what you’re doing.

Consider your lifestyle. Do you work? Do you need healthy easy meals that won’t take much time to prepare or could be prepped in advance? Crock pots and one pan dinners are at the top of my healthy recipe ideas. If you need creative ideas, Pinterest is loaded with them.

You would need to consider your work meals. Maybe you don’t take a lunch but really, it’s the best way to ensure you are eating foods that you’ve chosen and aren’t going to be subject to grabbing whatever is easy in the work cafeteria.

Food prep. Ok I’m not really into that. I know what I like and what works for me so I don’t make containers of food to keep in ‘fridge.  I’m also at home so it’s easy enough for me to make my meals based on what I want.

However, making and prepping things like fruits and veggies in advance will make it easier to grab it for lunch or to make up a easy salad if you don’t have to chop a lot of stuff, I sometimes will buy already cut and prepped veggies because I appreciate the convenience of it ( like broccoli )

Hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, or sliced lean meats will make lunch prep quick and easy.

Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. ( fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc) the more colorful, the better.

Cheetos don’t count by the way 😉

Learning to swap out high calorie or less nutritious foods is another way to being smart in making a healthy change. For example, swapping chips for crunchy veggies with ranch dip made with Greek yogurt is a way to not only cut calories, you get a little protein in with the yogurt. Greek yogurt is very high in protein and all I eat now days. I buy the non-fat plain and add my own fruit, nuts etc. or use it as a base for dips and cooking that requires sour cream.

Don’t forget your drinks. Sugary drinks contribute to your daily calories and are not a part of a smart nutrition plan.

In conclusion….

becoming smarter in nutritional choices takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you make choices you think you’ve “failed” in.

Really, an awareness shows you that you are trying and are aware of choices so that’s a good thing!

Take each day at a time, try to make wise choices in that day, celebrate your victories and learn from your mistakes.

Each day makes you smarter in your nutrition habits and leads to a healthier body and lifestyle.

Tell me… what tips or ideas work for you in regards to smart nutrition ?

 

 

 

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Spotlight On Eggs

In todays food spotlight we’re gonna talk about eggs boys and girls.

The incredible, edible egg.

I know… it’s not a fruit or veggie but they are such a wonderful, complete food source I though we’d take a look at these little gems the chickens offer up to us.

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Jumbo eggs are where it’s at 😉

 

They are frequent visitors to my breakfast. The solid punch of protein not only keeps me feeling satisfied, it also keeps my blood sugar levels even and keeps me from having that crash I sometimes can get with more carb type breakfasts like pancakes or cereals. Eating eggs with a healthy dose of veggies also keeps me full and energetic for hours without thinking about food or getting hungry.

Eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high quality protein. More than half the protein of an egg is found in the egg white along with vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat and cholesterol than the yolk. The whites are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

One large hard boiled egg contains 78 calories, 6.3 grams of protein, 5.3 grams of fat and 0.6 grams of carbs. It also contains high levels of cholesterol, and other vitamins and minerals like selenium, riboflavin, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, and folate.

But aren’t eggs bad for you?

there has been talk in the past that eggs caused cholesterol problems, that they are high in cholesterol and therefore would cause individuals to have raised levels.

But did you know…. eggs consistently raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol?  The cholesterol in eggs actually helps regulate the two cholesterols found in our bodies.

Eggs offer a crazy amount of health benefits

  • Strong muscles: The protein within eggs helps keep muscles working well while slowing the rate at which they are lost.
  • Brain health: Eggs contain vitamins and minerals that are needed for the regular functioning of cells, including the brain, nervous system, memory, and metabolism.
  • Good energy production: Eggs contain all the daily vitamins and minerals that are needed to produce energy in all the cells of the body.
  • A healthy immune system: Vitamin A, vitamin B-12, and seliniumare key to keeping the immune system healthy.
  • Lower risk of heart disease: Choline plays an important part in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine, which is associated with the development of heart disease.
  • Healthful pregnancy: Some nutrients within eggs help to prevent congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida.
  • Eyesight: Lutein and zeaxanthin help to prevent macular degeneration the leading cause of age-related blindness. Other vitamins also promote good vision.
  • Weight loss and maintenance: The high quality of protein within eggs might help keep people energized and feeling fuller for longer. Feeling full prevents snacking, which reduces overall calorie intake.
  • Skin benefits: Some vitamins and minerals within eggs help promote healthy skin and prevent the breakdown of body tissues. A strong immune system also contributes to a healthy look overall.

That’s a pretty long list of reasons to add eggs into your daily nutrition plan!

Eat the whole egg!

Seriously, eat all of the egg. The yolk contains tons of minerals and vitamins that are good for you.

egg-benefits

 

Egg yolks contain more vitamins, and larger quantities of those vitamins than egg whites.  Egg yolks are actually one of a handful of foods in which Vitamin D is naturally found.

Other good stuff in the yolks…

A typical egg contains around 1.3 grams of phospholipids, and most of that is in the yolk. Egg phospholipids have benefits for…

  • Cardiovascular health. Egg phospholipids may affect cholesterol and inflammation levels in beneficial ways.
  • Metabolic health. One study found that phospholipids from egg yolks helped decrease blood pressure and improve vascular function.
  • Memory and cognitive function. Phospholipids may protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, although it’s always worth mentioning that rat studies are not human studies and this is still pretty preliminary.

Ok besides all that healthy stuff, they just taste good! Right?

Of course, we’d all agree they are pretty tasty in cakes and cookies haha Fried, scrambled, poached, sunny side up, in a scramble mix  however you cook them they are good.  But there are so many ways they can be prepared that makes this perfect complete protein a tasty meal or snack.

How about a few tasty egg recipes?

 

So that’s a quick review on the humble egg, the complete protein food.  Eggs should be a part of your healthy daily nutrition plan and eating them only has positive health benefits for you.

Tell me, how do you like to eat them? Do you have any favorite recipes?

Spotlight On Bellpeppers

 

As I pondered what new, tasty and fun food to bring to this weeks “spotlight” post I couldn’t help but laugh a little at my choice. This weeks spotlight being on the bell pepper family.

You see, growing up, and even well into adulthood, peppers were not on my favored list. I found them to be a bit bitter and not very tasty. I could tolerate them on  a supreme pizza buried under tomato sauce and cheese and that’s about where our relationship ended.

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This looks like an ad for summertime…. seriously though, just eat your peppers 😉

 

 

Growing up my mom would whip up stuffed peppers for dinner occasionally. Those nights were the least of my favorite meals to put it mildly. It was up there with liver and onions as far as tastiness to me. And yeah, she made that too. I’m just gagging at the memory of it…bleh…

Anyway, I grew up a little more and realized there were other colors of peppers out there and weirdly, they didn’t taste as bland, bitter, not tasty, whatever adjective to use here.

Oh no. In fact, they were quite tasty. And the red became my most favorite as I found myself nibbling on them when making salads or just grabbing them for a snack.

There’s a reason for the taste difference

Do you know the bell pepper, all of it’s colors, is actually just one pepper?

Yeah, that little factoid blew me away too.

The green pepper is the least mature and is picked first. Because it isn’t ripe it has more bitter taste, is less sweet and has fewer nutrients. The green pepper is most purchased of all the colors and it’s also the cheapest. Cheapest ’cause Mr. Farmer has to spend the least time tending it.

As the pepper continues to mature on the vine, it turns to yellow and orange in the ripening process.  The yellow is quite similar to the orange one. They aren’t as bitter as green but aren’t as sweet as the red.  The yellow and orange are “in between” peppers. Which you choose to use in dishes is largely a personal preference.  The orange does have thick flesh and is sweeter than the green pepper.

Finally, the red pepper. It is the sweetest of all peppers because it has stayed on the vine the longest and is fully matured.  It’s also why colored peppers are more expensive. They require more care and attention from the farmer before harvest.

The red pepper also packs an impressive amount of vitamins and nutrients the other peppers don’t.  Red peppers contain a whopping amount of beta-cartone over the other peppers, 11 times more! They also contain two times more Vitamin C and 10 times more Vitamin A than the green pepper.

Red peppers also have a shorter shelf life. So with all these factors in mind, you can see why they are also the more costly.

Oh…but they are so worth it.

I was in the store one day buying some red ones. They were huge and a deep vibrant shade of red.

They screamed good health. They screamed “take me home and eat me!” haha

I guess I was kinda petting them and admiring their beauty when hubby said…

“you know you’re talking to peppers”

Uh… yeah… I knew that. They were just so pretty. And cheap.

And I’m weird.

It was one of those days and they were well under the 1.00 per pepper price so I was loading up on them.

The 411 on bell peppers

The cool thing about almost all veggies? You can eat so much for virtually no calories.

One medium pepper is only 24 calories! Not to mention it’s loaded with tons of Vitamin C, B 6 and Vitamin A.

You know, all that stuff that’s good for you and makes you look healthy .

All peppers are high sources of potassium. This mineral helps keep your fluids and minerals balanced in your body, enhancing muscle function, and regulating blood pressure.

The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.

The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.

Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.

Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein, protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

Now let’s eat!

Now I personally still don’t think of stuffed bell peppers as one of my most favorite dinner options, although hubby loves them. So it was a bit of a surprise when my daughter in law recently requested them for her birthday dinner.

They are simple to make and certainly looked beautiful…. I’ll add the recipe at the end.

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Ready to be stuffed with tasty goodness

Ok, in all fairness, these were good. And the fam wolfed them down. I’ll let you try and see if you like them.

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Look at these healthy delicious morsels 🙂

Oh, and besides the big peppers, do you know you can buy bags of little red, yellow and orange peppers? They are so cute… I chop them into salads or use them in my breakfast of sautéed veggies… or just eat them as is.

I did come across a recipe for stuffed cheese ones the other day. I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll share here at the end as well.

Of course, peppers are delicious roasted, grilled, sautéed or used in salads or other dishes, There really are endless, healthy and tasty options for them.

I’m eager to try this recipe with these baby peppers….

In conclusion….

the green pepper is unripened and is less sweet and has the least nutrients of all colors. It is also the cheapest and most purchased of all peppers.

The orange/ yellow pepper is more mid-range, having a sweeter flavor and more nutrients.

The red pepper is the sweetest as it stays on vine till fully ripened. It also packs the most nutritional punch of all peppers. It is more costly due to longer vine time ( but oh so worth it!)

Oh and a fun fact….Bell peppers are related to tomato, potato, tobacco, eggplant, and petunia.

Tobacco???

 

Ok you’re turn, tell me. Do you like peppers? If so how do you prefer them?

 

 

The Equality Of The Calorie

Calories. You can’t see a label on a food package, or now days be in a restaurant, without noticing the calorie count. If you are someone who “diets” then you might be controlled by counting calories in your day and monitoring them in the foods you eat or you may go through your day oblivious to them.

You may be waking up right now trying to get your first cup of coffee in and wondering why on earth we’re talking about calories already and “Oh my word… is she really holding a powdered donut in her hand with a box of spinach??”  as you note the picture I’m using for todays post.

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Yes. That’s a powdered donut. Yes, I find them kinda tasty… occasionally.

 

Yeah, you aren’t seeing things and yes we are considering calories in todays post.

But first.. what IS a calorie?

You ever realize there are things you “know” about, but don’t necessarily “think” about?  Like, calories have been a part of our lives forever, but do you really sit around pondering them? Other than understanding to many of them make you fat and to few make you skinny?

Simplified, a calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition, calories refer to the energy people get from the food and drink they consume and the energy they use through physical activities.

Calories are essential for human health. The key for all of us is consuming the right amount for our health and daily activities.

There are “standard” guidelines put out suggesting what men and women need as an average each day. I  don’t entirely agree with that since I think caloric intake is really determined person to person based on many different factors including sex, age, size and activity level.

I may be a woman, but based on my physical training, there are probably many days I require more calories than a lot of men. I also know there are days I need less calories based on my daily activities. For me, not every day will have the exact same calorie need. Understanding your body, knowing what you do, and all other factors will play into what you need each day.

 

calorie

Other calorie facts….

People in the U.S. consume more than 11% of their daily calories from fast food.  😦

Foods high in energy and low in nutritional value provide empty calories. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, anti-oxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.

That being said… you shouldn’t be eating many of these foods on the daily…

Meaning, not all calories are created equal

Now back to that powdered donut….

I’m not ignorant of calories, I have a good rough estimate of what my body needs to operate on. I also understand that my caloric needs vary as to if I’m laying around for the day or if I’ve put in a lot of miles that morning on foot or bike, or both. I know that on given days my needs can look different. It’s been a road of learning on that issue.

I do not obsess over calories. I know and understand their place in my life but I don’t monitor and count them

No. Just no.

But one morning I had this revelation. I was stumbling around the kitchen and I wanted one of those donuts.

I like them, ok?  Don’t judge me.

There’s just something about their sweet powdery goodness that gets to me.  And I’ll tell you, not all are created equal either. I bought a different brand one time, took one bite of one, and didn’t touch them after that. Yuck.

But as I was drooling all over one eating it, I happened to actually glance at the calorie content on bag.

I mean, who really looks at that when they are stuffing donuts in their face?

Oh no, ignorance is bliss in that regard. Am I right my donut loving friends??

Well I couldn’t help but notice how it informed me that 4 of them would cost me….250 calories.

I did a double take. I thought my beady little eyes weren’t open fully yet and were misreading ’cause I’m old and that print isn’t what it used to be, ya know?

Nope, it was there big and bold. 250cal for 4 measly little delicious donuts.

I should mention, I never actually eat 4. Usually 2 is enough to satisfy that urge and I put them away. But it got me to thinking of foods I could have that delivered up a lot more volume and bang for my caloric buck.

I mean really, if you only get a certain number in a day, don’t you want them to have as much packed into them as possible?

Not all calories are created equal

notallcaloriesarecreatedequal

As mentioned above, empty calorie foods don’t contain the healthy nutrients your body needs. They are often high in fats ( not the good kinds) and sugars. Therefore, foods we eat each day should be nutrient dense and contain the calories we need for good health and sustaining our daily activities.

If I chose 4 small donuts at 250 calories, (130 of those coming from fat) that certainly isn’t going fill me up and will most likely cause my blood sugar to spike then I’ll come off the sugar rush.

Now consider my carton of spinach. A serving size is considered 3 cups. It contains 20 calories.

20 calories… for 3 cups.

I could honestly consume the whole carton for less than 100 calories.

Now you’re sitting there thinking… “spinach vs. donuts??” no contest… I’d take the donuts.

I can tell you this, when I use a lot of spinach with other veggies, whipped up with some eggs for breakfast not only is my appetite satisfied, I’m not hungry for a long time. I can consume plenty of food because ( not all calories are equal remember?) meaning all those veggies and protein fill me up and keep me satisfied for hours without any of that sluggish feeling you may get eating things like donuts or pancakes or cereals and for only a small fraction of the calories.

Not to mention all those veggies, fruits and protein deliver lots of good things to feed my body in a healthy way that gives me plenty of energy and keeps me decently lean.

It’s a win/win thing.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d like to eat a decent amount of food that fills me up, but isn’t calorie laden either.

So it’s a matter of choices….

Whether you’re out to lose some weight, or just maintain a healthy place where you are now it all comes down to the caloric choices we make each day.

You can eat a whole lot of nutrient dense foods that offer tons of good health benefits for your body, that really fill you up and will contribute to weight loss or you can choose foods that are higher calorie, less nutrients and will not help you lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle.

A few things to consider;

pay attention to those labels. Note the serving sizes and calories for serving. People as a rule greatly over estimate a correct serving size.

Consider things you can swap out for a lower and healthy calorie count.

Find foods you can eat and enjoy that give you the most bang for your calorie buck.

Have a good working idea of how many calories you personally need each day to maintain or to lose weight then choose your foods wisely to support your goals and daily activities.

And hey, remember, it’s ok to have that donut now and then. 😉

How aware of you are calories Do you think about them? Do you count them?

Spotlight On Avocados

Todays healthy food spotlight is on the not so beautiful to look at avocado. But hey, don’t judge a book by it’s cover ( uh, you shouldn’t be judging anyway 😉 ) because lurking underneath it’s dark blackish rough exterior is a whole lotta creamy, delicious goodness going on inside.

A long time ago, I used to think they were one of those forbidden type foods I should only eat in a sparse and occasional way.  Then I started getting healthy and got into running and what not… the rest is history… but anyway… somewhere in there…. I got invited to be in a fitness challenge ( and got grief from some people cause I guess I was considered a bit to…uh…fit.. to be in the challenge) it was a 90 day thing that involved Crossfit and the last 30 days we had to commit to doing the whole Paleo gig. I figured I could do anything for 30 days and informed them, I would be going back to my Greek yogurt when it was over. (cause they totally eliminate the dairy food group)

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Guacamole anyone?

 

I’m such a rebel.

It should be noted as well I was training for my second half marathon at the time. It should also be noted there were times I thought I’d die of hunger or fear I didn’t have enough energy to drag my carcass back after a run.  THIS is when I learned about the lovely benefits of the avocado. They encouraged you to eat them as heartily as they encouraged bacon. It should be mentioned, I tried to limit the bacon stuff.

So I pretty much learned to eat avocado like, all the time in that 30 day challenge.  And I learned it’s really, really good for you.

If you wanna read about my (brief) time doing Paleo, find my post here  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/06/08/my-experience-with-the-paleo-movement/

First things first

Do you know an avocado is actually a fruit?  Yes, really. I wouldn’t mess with you and lead you astray. The avocado is a nutrient dense fruit, not a vegetable.  And did you know the avocado is actually a berry! Botanically they are a large berry containing a single large seed.   Learn to think of them as a fruit.

For those of us in the south who enjoy them all smooshed up with spices in the form of a dip called guacamole and a side of crispy corn chips, we might have to stretch our minds more to consider them as food source for sweet things used in smoothies or desserts.

Avocado also goes by an alias…..  alligator pear……. so there’s that.

Nutrition 101

Of course you’re gonna want to know all the healthy benefits of the avocado.  Avocados are nutrient dense! They are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium . They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.

One fifth of an avocado contains 64 calories, almost 6 grams of fat, 3.4 carbs, less than a gram of sugar, and almost 3 grams of fiber. Although most calories come from fat, don’t shy away from that! The fats in avocados are the good healthy kind that keep you full and satiated. When you consume fat, your brain receives a signal to turn off your appetite. Eating fat slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which helps to keep sugar levels in the blood stable.

avocado

Fat is essential for every single cell in the body. Eating healthy fats supports skin health, enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and may even help boost the immune system.

Avocado also promotes a healthy heart by helping to lower cholesterol, it’s good for vision, and it can also support bone health as it’s high in Vitamin K with a half an avocado offering 25% of the daily recommendation. This nutrient is often overlooked but is essential to bone health.

It has also been shown to protect against some types of cancers and protect against miscarriages as folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy.

With it’s high fiber content it can also aid in digestion and prevent constipation.

They offer an energy boost.

Adding an avocado to your lunchtime meal may help you avoid the 3pm slump! Of all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), fat is the most concentrated source of energy for our bodies.

Healthy fats provide a slow, steady stream of energy so you can power right through the workday. In addition, when they’re eaten along with a carbohydrate, they slow the digestion of the carbs, meaning you won’t suffer the energy-zapping sugar crash that typically follows simple carbs like white bread.

Of course all those wonderful nutrients are great for making your skin and hair look healthy and the anti oxidants as you know, are the best anti aging tool you can utilize.

Ok got it? The avocado, like all the other fruits and veggies we’ve talked about is awesome for your health.

Can we eat now?

There isn’t much to prepping an avocado. Just slice its firm skin, cut in half and like magic, it’s wonderful green creamy goodness awaits.

A avocado is ripe when you can gently press into the skin. If it’s hard it will need to sit for a few days to ripen. Soft ones are great for dips while firmer ones are good for sandwiches or salads.

I love avocado on toast for a healthy quick breakfast. I’ve also used it as a substitute for mayo in my chicken or tuna salad.

Avocado is almost always present on my breakfast plate. It is rich and satisfying alongside my eggs and other veggies.

How about a couple tasty recipes to experiment on?

 

 

Oh… and something amusing I found in my search… a comment that said “how do I eat avocados if I don’t like them”

Uh… just don’t eat them. Haha 😛

If you want to learn more about foods that are good for you, be sure to check out all my other “spotlight” posts.

Now tell me, do you like this tasty fruit?  If so, how do you eat it?

Spotlight On Strawberries

I spotted them the other day, the first batch that looked full, big, and naturally deep red as if ripened on the vine.

Strawberries.

So it’s a bit appropriate as we slowly creep into spring, to make todays spotlight shine on them.

I’m pretty sure there isn’t a person on the planet that can’t be convinced to eat these sweet tasty little morsels. If you’re one of those sugar smothering strawberry eaters, stop that. They have an amazing natural sweetness all their own and rarely, I stress that word, need added sugar.

Well, unless you’re making homemade ice cream with them, then well, ok. And yeah, I have a tried and true amazing, and I mean amazing recipe that I’ve used for years.

Be good and I’ll share it at the end with you.

What’s the sweet scoop on them

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Can anyone really resist the sweet goodness of fresh, ripe strawberries?

 

How about one medium one has only like, 4 calories? I find that to be a rather delicious fact.

Today there are over 600 varieties of strawberries. …strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside. Strawberry plants are runners, and are not produced by seeds. They have an average of 200 seeds per fruit and are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family

The sweet berries rank among the top 10 of fruits and veggies for a high antioxidant content.

Gosh. There’s that word again. What is an antioxidant and what does it do? Simplified, the human body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. However, in most cases, free radicals far outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants. In order to maintain the balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing the free radicals from the bloodstream.  And those damaging agents cause things like… aging and other age related damages.  The antioxidants protect our cells and promote health and wellness in the body.

You seriously want to up your antioxidant food intake. But good news, so many fruits and veggies have them you don’t have to look far to get them in. You just need to eat them…..

Ok.. science lesson over… that might be a post unto itself….

They are rich in Vitamin C (providing twice as much as the average fruit) just one serving, about 8 berries, yields more Vitamin C than an orange. Potassium and magnesium are also big hitters in these berries.

Are there health benefits?

Yes, once again there are benefits to making this fruit a part of your nutrition plan.

The vitamins and antioxidants found in strawberries can promote eye health, boost our immunity, treat arthritis and gout, help prevent some cancers, boost brain function and memory, reduce hypertension, improves heart function, and help promote weight loss by stimulating metabolism and reducing appetite. Strawberries can also help reduce inflammation and prevent birth defects as they are high in folic acid, a necessary nutrient during pregnancy.

Strawberries are also not only good for your health, but good for your skin too, in both consumption and topical application.

Strawberries can be used as a made into a cleanser, they can help reduce eye puffiness, and help with oily skin and acne. ( please note, I’ve not tried this personally.)

Well, when can we eat them?

Yeah, ok. Time for the good stuff.  Sometimes, I like to do things like this with strawberries….

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This is one of my most requested birthday cakes

of course a cake isn’t complete without ice cream, right? Actually this strawberry ice cream has been a 4th of July family favorite for a long time…

Strawberry Ice Cream:

2 3/4 c fresh strawberries

2 c granulated sugar

2 3/4 c heavy cream lightly whipped

Press strawberries through a sieve or puree in an electric blender.  Add sugar and lightly whipped cream to strawberry pulp.

Churn freeze according to manufactures directions.

Enjoy 🙂

And then a little healthier option for you too…..

In summary strawberries are a wonderful low calorie, healthy, sweet and tasty fruit that offers numerous health benefits to us when we make them a part of a healthy eating plan.

Tell me, do you have preferred ways you enjoy eating strawberries?

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On Peas

Hello beautiful people. Today’s foodie spotlight is on peas. Yeah, peas. Stick with me here ok?

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Eat your peas… they’re good for you

 

 

I haven’t led you astray yet have I ? Don’t answer that…

I recently had a new revelation on the lowly little pea. Over the weekend I had thrown down the usual big meal for the fam. I had made mashed potatoes, a slow roasted brisket and also an amazing carrot recipe that everyone went nuts over. You can find it in my spotlight on carrots post ( hint it’s the one wrapped in bacon)

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/02/spotlight-on-carrots/

In a crazy way I thought peas would go good with all of it. What was I thinking??

Me, trying to pass them to people around table, “here, have some peas”

The response ranged from “ewww gross no!” to looks of horror as if I were attempting to poison them at the table.

Where did I go wrong? How did I fail as a mother? Heck, as the main provider of cooked food, how is it I couldn’t convince them that peas are indeed, tasty little morsels?

What is the pea, exactly?

The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Pea pods are botanically fruit, since they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower.

peas

How’s that for an interesting fact you probably didn’t know?

 Green peas are a very good source of vitamin K, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin C, phosphorus and folate. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, vitamin B2, molybdenum, zinc, protein, magnesium, iron, potassium and choline.

A one cup serving of peas contains 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Peas are also really high in Vitamins A and C

Peas have many good things in them but it’s also important to remember they are a part of the “starchy” vegetable group ( corn, potatoes, peas, beans) meaning they contain three times the amount of carbs as their non-starchy counterparts.

If you can’t have fresh green peas, the frozen variety retains their color, texture, and flavor better than canned, and it’s great to know that the above characteristics aren’t affected when they’re frozen for one to three months. But neither frozen nor canned peas have an unlimited shelf life. Research on the matter has shown that the nutrient content of frozen peas begins to diminish during storage, so they should be eaten within six to 12 months.

Only about 5% of the peas grown are sold fresh. The rest are frozen or canned.

Canned or frozen peas are also high in sodium due to processing methods, to eliminate a lot of that, wash them first.

When buying frozen the petite types are often more flavorful.

Are there any health benefits to eating peas?

Yes! they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits ( hello anti-aging food) they could help support blood sugar regulation, they promote a healthy heart,  and could protect against stomach cancer.  They also contain 45 percent of the Daily Value in vitamin K for blood coagulation, and nearly a quarter of what’s needed daily in thiamin, vitamin A, and folate.

How about some fun pea trivia?

Green peas are the immature seed of dried peas often called field peas.

Dried peas which have been eaten for over 5000 year and were a stable during the Middle Ages. Field peas were easy to grow and saved many from starving.

Fresh green peas did not become popular till the 16 century.

Peas  have such high quality protein that many commercial protein powders are starting to use it. This avoids the possible side effects of soy, or dairy products.

Canada is the largest producer of peas in the world!

Peas aren’t  just for eating…

ok well, yeah, they are but do you know a frozen bag of peas makes an amazing ice pack? the peas are moldable around areas on your body to direct cold treatments. I’ve often used bags of peas as ice packs.

Have you ever used peas as ice packs ?

Time to eat…

Here’s a few fun recipes to try out if you wanna experiment with peas….

 

 

In summary although peas are often treated like a cheap side “green” veggie in restaurants  to add color to a plate, they are a tasty, healthy and nutritious “fruit” that offers many health benefits to us.

Do you enjoy them? If so do you have ways that you like eating them?