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? 

 

 

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Spotlight on Bananas

Have you ever heard the term “going bananas” as a bit of speech to indicate things are crazy in life?  Lately, I feel like that’s how things are, in a good way, but just trying to accomplish all I want to do in a day. I have to remind myself not ALL things must be done.. this is where lists come in handy… mental or written. Those pesky tasks need to be kept in some sort of organized order or they can make you feel, well, a little bananas 😉

If you haven’t snapped to it yet, bananas are what’s on todays food spotlight.

Random factoid first… did you know this humble fruit, botanically, is actually a berry?

Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

Whatever.

It’s tasty and makes a great pre workout snack in my belly that usually prefers no food before endurance sessions.  Bananas are a great source of carbs, water and sugars to help athletes who are working hard. Eat one before or after for those healthy benefits.

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Nothing like a banana to fuel me pre or post workout 🙂

Oh… and a quick shout out to Constantly Varied Gear for my cool new sports top. Hubby and a lot of my friends often call me a beast in regards to my athletic shenanigans so I couldn’t resist ordering it.

Check them out, Constantly Varied Gear, for cool athletic wear.

Now… those bananas… they make a great snack whenever but lets check out some more facts on them.

Health benefits

Bananas are rich in fiber and potassium. They may also help prevent asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease when incorporated into a healthy diet.

Potassium is an important mineral as it helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body. One medium sized banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.

Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B6 – 0.5 mg
  • Manganese – 0.3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium- 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – 0.1 mg
  • Niacin – 0.8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron 0.3 mg

Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature.

The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.

To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a brown paper bag at room temperature.

My Mom used to say bananas just got more ripe, that they didn’t really “go bad”.  I had to part ways with her on that thought watching gnats carry one off….

Not really… but to me there is a point where there is no way I’m eating that banana…. “ripe” or not.

Actually those super over ripened bananas make freaking awesome banana bread. I have one recipe that uses whole wheat flour… it’s actually the only recipe I use for banana bread ’cause it’s just… that… good.

If I don’t forget, I’ll post it in here for you 🙂

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Nothing like a crusty, well used recipe, is there??

I am super selective in how I like my bananas and I think many people are, not just weirdo me.

They have to be this perfect, just right shade of yellow. No green anywhere (gross) and it can’t be heading into a darker yellow ’cause they seem way to sweet to me then and I just really don’t enjoy them like that.

Don’t bananas have a whole lot of sugar?

Bananas are on the sweeter side compared to other fruits.  One large banana has about 120 calories and 17 grams of sugar compared to I cup of strawberries with 53 calories and 8 grams of sugar. However, in the context of watching sugar in your diet, it should be more of the refined sugars you are concerned about ( those found in soft drinks, table sugar, and other refined added sugars)  not natural occurring sugar as found in fruit. When a nutritionist might say to limit sugars in your diet, they mean added refined sugars. Eating a piece of fruit there’s no “added” sugar.

Plus some of the carbs in bananas come in the form of dietary fiber…. 3.5 grabs per large banana…. about 15% of your daily needs.

Green bananas contain a type of carb called resistant starch . (As bananas ripen, the starch turns into sugars, making the banana sweeter.) Because resistant starch isn’t easily digested, it reduces the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream, helping control blood sugar. Research also suggests that resistant starch helps maintain the balance of healthy gut microbes.

Let’s talk more about eating them….

Do you know bananas make great add in’s to baked goods for a rich moist ( cake, brownies whatever) you can substitute half the amount of oil with mashed bananas. So if you needed a cup of oil, you could do half oil and half bananas. This reduces calories and fat but still gives that full flavor.

One fun and tasty way to eat them as a cool frozen treat is to slice them, dip in dark chocolate and freeze. I can’t tell you how delicious they are. I first stumbled across them in the frozen section at store and then wondered why I was paying for something so simple to make 😛

Bananas are also great tossed in homemade smoothies, giving added texture and creaminess along with the health benefits from the banana.

Topping oatmeal, plain yogurt, or peanut butter and toast with banana slices is an excellent way to add nutrition and sweetness without added sugar.

Of course there’s the standard muffins, pie, custard, breads….  yummy….

How about a couple recipes? I thought this peanut butter banana bar looked awesome

 

In summary bananas are not only a tasty, low calorie snack that can be used in a variety of ways, they are loaded with tons of nutrients and minerals that our bodies love.

And of course, I don’t think you can go wrong with it pre or post workout for an energizing snack 🙂

Your turn now… how do you like bananas? Do you use them to cook with or just eat as is? Do you have any recipes you like using them?

 

 

Nutrition Vs. Exercise For Weight Loss

Hello world! Oh my gosh it’s been a crazy week. If you saw my last post you know I took the plunge and dived into “officially” starting a little baby business. Find my post here on that topic…..  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/25/the-journey-of-opening-a-vintage-business/

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Doors in old buildings are really short! I’m like Alice in Wonderland 😉

Anyway, besides trying to make that all good and lovely, I’ve been trying to work on those old relic furniture pieces that I love bringing back to life to go in my little cozy room at the Vintage store.

In the mix of  all that you know I’m training for a duathlon. It’s official “official” as I actually paid the MONEY today to torture myself… I mean….. participate….. mostly in a field of athletes that are my kids age….

Yeah, I’m out there reppin’ the old people, cheer me on 😉

I’m pushing more on my training, but gosh, the weather is pushing back pretty hard too as in… heat and humidity.

I knocked out 24.5 on the bike Sat and followed it with a 2 mile run.  Sunday I took off on the duathlon course and ran the first and last leg of the race course.

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After my Sunday run…It’s just me in the parking lot so I can make my own sweat angel, right ? 😛

No matter how early I get out there, that sun is already waiting. But here’s what I’ve learned from past training in the heat. Come cooler weather, there are happy payoffs as my body now finds it wayyyyy easier to work, which typically means my speeds increase too.

Let’s see how that all plays out this year.

In other horrifying news…..

My Garmin bit the dust. As in… it’s not working for me anymore. Literally the face plate came off and I guess, weirdly, it likes that securely in place to make sure it all works well. This is my second one in 2 years.

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I’m pretty sure my Garmin isn’t gonna work this way.

Am I just hard on the poor things or do they have a short life?

I got the Garmin Vivoactive HR when it first hit the market. I love that it tracked all of my activities and even some I knew I’d never use….hello…golf?

It also tracked my heart rate which was a feature I really wanted. As my training increased, I watched my resting heart rate drop lower and lower ( remember your heart is a super important muscle that gets worked and strengthened too. A lower resting rate means it has to work less hard)  and in other non-athletic things it was synced to my phone which gave me at a glance info on everything from incoming calls to my socials and a bunch of other nifty things.

I feel crippled without the thing right now. My arm bears obvious signs of our relationship….

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I’ll keep you posted on how this plays out….. meanwhile… no stats to track which bothers me ’cause it’s a constant carrot in front of me working for better times and not to mention, tracking my distance…

( as this post goes live this morning, I spoke with Garmin and they are gonna hook me up with the newest Vivoactive Garmin… yay! I promise a report on the new model )

Onto todays topic….I have one….

it seems lately I’ve caught convos from people who are  riding the ongoing wagon of losing weight and attempting to change the lifestyle they live.  Eating and nutrition now days to me, seem cut and dried. I guess my understanding has grown over the past few years of what good nutrition is and what the  hype and nonsense are that ultimately won’t work.

I remember last year my husband coming home from his yearly check up and discussing his convo with doctor and telling me… “you aren’t going to like what he said” as I gave him a blank look to which he responded… “he said exercise won’t make you lose weight”

My response was… “He’s right”.

It’s a common myth that if you exercise you will easily lose weight and have no worries.

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Don’t misread me here… exercise is great and our bodies are made for movement. We’ve become a lazy, sedentary, “please make it as easy and effortless as possible for us”, world.  All things set aside, we need exercise just for the health of our bodies, not for weight loss.

The first and foremost way to losing weight, keeping it off, and living a healthy lifestyle is to eat a proper amount of calories to support your (personal ) lifestyle. Eat to many calories, you’ll gain. Create a deficit and you’ll slowly lose. Exercise or not.

This is the smart way to go about it.

There are other factors that are invisible calories. Or things we don’t think we get many calories from.

Sugary drinks and alcohol being two big offenders.

When someone mentions they are trying to lose weight but aren’t being successful, but drinking is a part of their lifestyle, I can assess that is a possible link that’s hindering them. Alcohol packs a huge punch of calories and has high levels of sugars and carbs. And let’s not forget all the negatives it has on the body, in general.

And then there are sugary drinks, sodas, juices, fluffy coffee drinks with whipped cream and all that stuff. Do that frequently enough it will hinder your weight loss efforts.

I think these areas people often turn a blind eye to not wanting to see that those beverages contribute to their lack of success.

Your body requires a certain number of calories a day to live and carry out the activities you do.  You must eat and drink within the right perimeter for your needs, and if weight loss is the goal, you must create a small deficit each day to accomplish that goal.

How exercise ties in.

I wrote a post recently called No Exercise Required.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/28/no-exercise-required/

I laughed when someone told my husband they read it thinking I was gonna tell them they didn’t need to exercise.

Exercise is important overall for our health. It is not the magic thing to make us lose weight but it can be a helpful tool as you’ll obviously use more calories in your day which can help contribute to your deficit as mentioned above.

Do enough vigorous exercise all week and you’ll most likely find it easy to not just lose weight but maintain it as well.

Well, I mean, as long as you don’t use your exercise as a reason to justify eating more otherwise, you’re gonna be losing the battle.

Having a good nutrition plan in place alongside strong vigorous exercise (most) days of the week is a good combo to lose weight.

Thankfully, I’ve never fallen into the mindset that I just ran or biked a million miles I can eat all the food. I eat enough to satisfy my appetite and leave it there.

So when I hear someone talking about their weight loss struggles or lack of success in that dept, naturally I inquire as to what purposeful exercise they participate in.

When I get a response of they do “some things” or they walk around the block a couple days a week, this is not the kind of exercise that will be a helpful tool to weight loss goals.

The recommendation here in the U.S. is 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. I think this is a great starting point but if you want to see changes, you need to work on kicking that time up.

And like it or not, cardio exercise is the thing that drives fat loss. Most people don’t like cardio work because this is when they come to the quick realization of how out of shape they are. Cardio is like brisk, quick walking, running, cycling,  rowing, jump rope or any other activity that makes your heart and lungs really work.

So what’s gonna help me lose weight?

Both. However, your diet needs to be what you are most diligent on. Going for a 2 mile walk then thinking you can go grab a donut pretty well negates anything ( caloric) you just did. Yeah, you’ll feel good for getting out and have your head cleared and maybe come up with a creative solution for a problem but you won’t be helping your weight loss goals.

When it comes to exercise, go ahead and be prepared to get a little uncomfortable. It’s ok to feel that way, and you will till your body starts getting stronger and adjusting to the new demands you put on it.

Eating healthy and sensibly ( at least 85% of the time) ’cause you know.. ice cream or cake… or whatever floats your boat… root beer float? there’s life going on too… eat right and make a diligent effort to workout vigorously ( most days) of the week and in a slow and steady way, you will see weight loss.

If after a month you feel you aren’t seeing results, you may want to track everything you eat and drink to see where the weak areas are. Seeing it in black and white works better than mentally dismissing something as “not that big of a deal.”

Remember most of all, the biggest key to success is to keep moving forward and not giving up.

Tell me what things you’ve found that work best for you? Have you found the right balance of diet and exercise to met your goals?

Spotlight On Almonds

Hello world! Wow what a busy week it’s been! So many exciting things going on, some I’ll share in my upcoming Monday Musings post, so you’ll wanna check back for that 🙂 I will say, some days, I wish I had just a little more time. I’m sure everyone feels like that at some point, so I’ve learned to really try and be focused on things that require “immediate” attention from those I think that do but could actually wait.  It helps take some things out of my mind for awhile. Often I tend to be juggling multiple projects at once, that works for some things but not for others. I also love lists so I’ve found if I get it on a list it’s also a way to take it off my mind while still keeping it in a place where I won’t forget it haha

I thought we’d go a little nuts on todays food spotlight. Nuts offer a huge amount of health and nutrition benefits. We’re gonna just take a look at one of them today, one which happens to be my favorite and is often a guest with my breakfast yogurt and fresh fruit.

Say hello to Mr. Almond.

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Almonds deliver a massive amount of nutrition in their small package.

The almond is the edible seed that grows on the tree Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree.

Almonds are native to the Middle East, but the United States is now the world’s largest producer.

The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside.

They are sold either raw (often referred to as “natural”) or roasted.

Almonds boast an incredibly impressive nutritional profile.

A 1 ounce (28 grams, or small handful) serving of almonds contains

  • Fiber: 3.5 grams.
  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated, the good healthy kind)
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.

This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates.

It is also important to note that 10-15% of an almond’s calories are not absorbed by the body, because the fat is too difficult to access and break down.

The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside.

Almonds are also loaded with antioxidants,

Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin.

For this reason, blanched almonds (skin removed) are not the best choice from a health perspective.

Almonds are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E. Getting plenty of vitamin E from foods is linked to numerous health benefits. It’s also good for healthy skin and hair.

Almonds are also extremely high in magnesium, a mineral most people don’t get enough of. Higher magnesium intake may have major benefits for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Low magnesium levels are also linked to high blood pressure indicating that almonds could be good for blood pressure control.

Almonds can also increase energy production.  Copper, riboflavin and manganese present in almonds assist in metabolic rate and energy production. If you are pressed for time, grab a handful of almonds for a crunchy, satisfying snack to help you out.

How about one more health tidbit?

Unsweetened almonds are a great option to use if you are trying to lose weight. Almonds contain a lot of mon-unsaturated fats, which is what satiates your hunger pangs, helping you not to over eat no matter what. The dietary fiber in almonds also makes you feel fuller for long periods of time, despite consuming only a small quantity. Research suggests that a diet that is low calorie and also rich in almonds is excellent for obese people since it helps them shed excess weight faster.

Remember, as with any food, no matter how “good” it is for you, to much isn’t always a good thing and can lead to weight gain so monitor your portion sizes as it’s easy to over eat on them.

Other almond uses…

Of course some of the uses of almonds now days involve milk and flour. I will say I tried almond milk… once… thinking I might try and be one of the cool health kids.

Gross.

No.

One big drink made me gag and wonder why on earth anyone would drink it, unless they had no alternative because of allergy or lactose issues.

I will stick with my dairy as I know it. No offense if you like it, it just isn’t my cup of tea..or milk….

And as far as the trend with almond flour, I have no experience with it. I just bake the old fashioned way with old fashioned flour 😉

Almonds as a snack come in a variety of ways. I buy them raw and use them in my breakfast yogurt or as a snack. You can also get them in various flavors, just be careful with sodium intake on them.

They also can be used in your meals…..

How about a couple tasty recipe ideas?

 

 

Ok your turn. Do you like almonds? Do you have thoughts on almond “milk”? Have you tried almond flour for baking?

Spotlight On Watermelon

Here in the south summer has arrived with the vengeance of  a mother in law that has swept in for a long staying vacation.  It means light foods, pool time, sandals or flip flops as main stay foot wear, plastic kiddie pools and blow up inflatables ( am I the only one who loves the smell of that cheap plastic and sniffs it like a dog sniffing a bone ?? haha)  shorts, and an endless tan till November.

Summer “officially” doesn’t start till Thursday but I guess no one told the weather that. We are  now in days of endless blue skies, sun, temps dancing in the high 90’s and “don’t sit on plastic furniture or you will stick to it” kinds of fun.

I really don’t like having to cook meals when it gets so warm, but my body does dig eating, so I’ve had to come to a happy balance of food, but light foods.

Todays spotlight is on one of my favorite summer treats, watermelon.

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Get a fork, I’ll share

 

Cool, sweet, refreshing and you get an arm workout lifting and tossing them into your basket, it is total win on all levels.

Sweet and healthy

Who says sweets aren’t good for you?  Check out some of it’s vitamin and mineral benefits

As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup. That’s lower than even “low-sugar” fruits such as berries.

A cup (154 grams) of watermelon has may other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of the RDI

Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.

Watermelon is also loaded with anti-oxidants.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals. Not surprisingly, watermelon contains a hefty amount of vitamin C – 21% of the daily recommended value – that helps your immune system produce antibodies to fight disease. There’s also a 17% daily value of vitamin A, boosting eye health and preventing such diseases as macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures your nerves will function as they should. Your body uses vitamin B6 to help break down proteins, so the more protein is consumed, the more vitamin B6 is needed. Potassium, although a relatively small amount is in watermelon, helps balance fluids in your cells. (Low potassium levels sometimes cause muscle cramps.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn’t change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon, and is linked to many health benefits.

Cucurbitacin E

Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.

Let’s not forget one really big important factor, watermelon is made up of 92% water so it makes a perfect fruit to help keeping you hydrated.  Also, A high water content is one of the reasons that fruits and vegetables help you feel full. The combination of water and fiber means you’re eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.

Nutritionally, while vitamin A and C content is significant, it’s the lycopene that takes the prize for what it does for the body, which includes anti-inflammation bone health and an ability to neutralize harmful free radicals.

The nutritional break down

Nutrition Facts

Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup, balls (154 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 46
Calories from Fat 2
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g 1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 171.21mg 5%
Carbohydrates 11.6g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g 2%
Sugars 9.5g
Protein 0.9g
Vitamin A 18% · Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 1% · Iron 2%

 

Can we eat now?

One thing about watermelon, it requires nothing fancy to eat it. Just chill, cut and serve. If it’s for a picnic it can be cut and sliced and eaten right off the rind. Although messy, it’s one of the more fun ways to eat it, just have plenty of napkins on hand.  If you’re going for a more civilized way of eating it haha, it’s cut off the rind and served in a bowl where you can use utensils to dine on it ( I prefer the outdoor method, sun in my hair and juice on my face with plenty of napkins version ’cause well, that’s what summer’s about right?)

Watermelon is a very non-fussy food which perhaps in my estimation makes it perfect for laid back summer days.

Sweet, hydrating, packed with awesome invisible vitamins and minerals that are amazing for your body and crazy low in calories, all while satisfying your sweet cravings?

I think that’s a total win.

But wait…. wait a minute….

Do you know watermelon is not actually a fruit but considered a vegetable?

SAY WHAT?

We think of watermelon as a fruit because of its sweet flavor, but watermelon is actually a vegetable. It belongs to the cucurbit family, and is related to pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.

So… there’s that. I know you’re shocked.  Fruit? Vegetable? Let’s just call it tasty.

A few fun facts on melons…..

Seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified. They’re actually a hybrid watermelon created by crossing a watermelon with 22 chromosomes with a watermelon with 44 chromosomes. The result is a sterile watermelon. These watermelons produce immature white seeds that are perfectly safe to eat. Seedless watermelons were first created over 50 years ago.

Watermelons have been cultivated in Egypt for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians depicted watermelon in drawings on the walls of tombs and even left watermelon with their dead to nourish them as they journeyed through the underworld

Because watermelons are native to Africa, they need hot, sunny conditions to thrive. Some varieties need up to 130 warm days to ripen. Most watermelons mature in 85 to 100 days

Watermelons usually have red flesh, but some watermelons have white, yellow, orange or even green flesh

A watermelon will not grow in your belly if you eat the seeds. In fact, the seeds are actually quite nutritious with high levels of magnesium, zinc and protein. Chew the seeds before swallowing for optimum nutrition ( all the times your mom told you that story of watermelons growing in your belly, right??)

The Japanese grow square watermelon. How? They place square glass boxes around a growing fruit so it becomes square as it grows. The Japanese like them because they’re small and don’t roll around. They fit neatly in a refrigerator. The downside? These watermelon cost about $82!

And the recipe board……

You may not think of eating watermelon in other ways than it’s easy natural form. I thought I’d add a couple recipes that showcase this great summer fruit.

 

Oh, and can you go wrong with ice cream or sherbet for a cool treat? Check out this two ingredient healthy option.

 

And of course, let’s not forget cute ways you can play with this fruit….uh…vegetable?……too 😉

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A fruit shark??

 

Tell me, is watermelon an enjoyable summer fruit for you? Do you have any preferred ways of eating it or interesting recipes using it ?

Food And Dysfunctional Thinking

You don’t have to read to far, turn on the tv, or surf the web to see statements like this screaming at you…..

“Grains are bad for you!”, “Bread is bad for you”, “Dairy is bad for you”, ” Sugar is the devil and will kill you”, ” Starches are bad for you”, “Carbs are bad for you”, “Detox your body from poisons (bad foods)”, “Do a “cleanse” to help your body”, “You have to be hungry to lose weight”, “You can’t lose weight unless you cut out “these” foods” “You must only eat organic foods”, “You must eat only pricey beef or other foods” ( for the best health) “Skipping meals will help you lose weight”, “You need to do this “diet” to lose weight and be successful” “I ate to much yesterday so I need to workout really hard today to take away those calories” (as if)  “Gluten free!”  “Fat free!” …..

food good or bad
Truth.

 

 

Oh, I could go on but I won’t ’cause I want you to stay with me.

You get it. You’ve heard it.

So many times when I hear these things, I roll my eyes. I can’t help it, when I hear nonsense, it kinda just happens.

My mom used to yell at me when I did if for something she said… haha

What on earth has happened to us that we buy into and believe such dysfunctional  thinking with food and our bodies? Why are we made to feel bad or guilty for eating food and satisfying a natural hunger?  Why are we taught food is bad? Why do we believe foods are “bad”?  How do some learn to obsess over everything they eat and feel bad for it?  How do we develop this dysfunctional thinking ?

Worse yet, why do we follow along with an ideology or a certain camp of thinking, especially if it’s the current trendy thing to do, or our friends are doing it?

Sometimes, maybe we are a bit like sheep, eh?

First things first.

I want to address the fact that for some people, on a completely legit level, may have particular food allergies that necessitate removing particular foods. There are a small percentage of people who truly have celiac disease and have to live a gluten free life. Some may have experimented and realized maybe they feel better without certain foods than having them.

Real food issues that involve real health issues are important and need care and attention.

This is not what I’m addressing here.

Now that issue is settled….

Food isn’t bad for you.

Seriously. Food isn’t bad. Saying something is “bad” for you is  more disordered thinking of the world we live in and the lies we’ve bought into.

We’ve bought into feeling guilty over food. We’ve bought into thinking we should feel bad about what we eat. We’ve been taught we have to obsess over calories and most of all, there has to be a level of suffering involved with losing weight and how much food we get. We’ve been told if we eat, we’ll get fat so we learn to deprive ourselves and be miserable.

diet cycle
How dysfunctional thinking begins

 

 

Where has such wrong thinking come from?

Yes, many foods do not provide the best nutritional quality for your body. Having a soda over a glass of ice water is hardly a good nutritional choice. But if you only have one when you eat pizza and you have pizza maybe once a month, then it’s really not a big deal.

Daily sodas can pack on serious pounds fast, in that situation you need to assess, is that good for you ? Are sodas impacting your health.

Soda in and of itself isn’t “bad” used in moderation.  Not the best choice perhaps but not some evil thing.

Oh those carbs

I guess one of the comments I hate hearing is that “carbs” are bad for you.

I guess if we’re gonna split it out, let’s define those carbs.

Simple carbs that are found in those “not as nutritional food choices” would be carbs found in cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, chips, fast foods, sodas, candy, sugared drinks, etc.

You should only consume those products minimally for optimal health.

Complex carbs, now those are a different creature. Fruits and veggies are loaded with complex carbs that are good energy sources for our bodies providing tons of vitamins and minerals which also helps protect against diseases, build cells, protect our vision. help our digestive system and major organs, fill us up for minimal calories, and so many offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans etc also offer up a dense and nutritionally packed power punch for energy.

Sadly, these carbs are often viewed as the bad and shunned. Worse yet some “diet” plans entirely remove these food groups.

Real, natural, whole food labeled as “bad”.

Oh that sugar….

if there’s one thing that’s been heavily demonized is sugar. Again, as I mentioned, there are things we need to be mindful of in our daily diets. You shouldn’t be consuming a lot of sugar. That too, will pack on pounds if you’re eating those cookies and muffins on the daily. Don’t forget your sugary drinks you might enjoy as well.

Sugar in a modest amount isn’t “bad”.  If you have a weakness for it, then it might be that you make the choice to purposefully limit or stay away from it if it cause you to stumble in your health goals or to binge.

And fat free….

speaking of sugar, it leads me to the “fat free” thought. Get rid of fat it’s “bad” for you. Don’t eat fat.

Again like the carb lies, there are good fats and “bad” fats. Ironically, the fats that are not in your best health interest are also in many of the simple carbs I listed as well.

Years ago when the fat free rage was at it’s highest point and I was beginning to navigate the waters of health I learned a sobering truth while reading a label on some “fat free” cookies.

The calorie content was ridiculous! But why?? These were fat-free.

Listen, when you remove necessary fat from baked goods, you get essentially something that tastes like a cardboard shoebox.

To sell their product it had to have some taste so they majorly upped the sugar in their “fat free” cookies.

And the people eagerly bought into it. Because  fat free certainly must mean calorie free.

I realized if I wanted two “normal” cookies, I could do so with less calories involved. But then hey, the trend was normal cookies were “bad”.

Those other things I listed….

Cleanses and detoxes are awful for your body. Those are bad. Don’t do them. They just feed our disordered thinking on food and nutrition.

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. You WILL be hungry and think about food all the time… so it’s a bit dysfunctional to ignore your bodies physical needs.

You cannot hit the gym the next day to “work off” food and drink from the day before. You can’t “negate what you ate”.  What you can do is get back on track with your eating and do sensible exercise. Again, more disordered thinking that we could actually lose calories we sucked recklessly in the day before.

There is no diet that is some magic wand to help you lose weight. At the end of each day, you have a calorie deficit. THAT is how you lose weight. Run away if some product or diet is making wild promises. It just isn’t true.

You don’t have to eat organic or buy meats that cost you a weeks worth of pay. For many people, it is way out of their budget to do so.  I might suggest if you started eating more fruits and veggies you’d be on the road to a healthier lifestyle and wellness. Again, we’ve been conditioned to “believe” these things by a select group.

Foods that don’t fall in those categories (organic etc)  aren’t “bad” or “robbed” of nutrients.

Could I make a radical suggestion here?

If food in general isn’t “bad”, perhaps it’s our behaviors with certain foods that are “bad”.

Perhaps we lack a level of control with certain foods. Maybe the mere taste of something pushes us to eat more. There might be foods that trigger our eating.  Maybe our emotions are what cause us to indulge in things we don’t need or eat excessively. Perhaps our mouth just wants to eat even if our stomach isn’t physically hungry.

These are behavior issues we have. The food, is what’s used to support those behaviors.

Withholding food from ourselves or over indulging in food is dysfunctional thinking. We can’t medicate with or without food.

We have to get real with ourselves and know where our weak areas are.

It has been easier in the world to make food be “bad” then it is to examine issues that cause bad behaviors with food.

The bottom line

We have to change our thinking with food and how we interact with it. We have to stop thinking of it in negative ways and look at our own behaviors with it.

If you realize you may have some struggles with how you view food or the choices you make you might consider writing those things down and then setting small goals for yourself in ways to changes those behaviors or thoughts. Perhaps you might need an accountability partner, someone who you can confide in and you could walk with you and help you with those changes.

Listen, I believe eating well the majority of the time is important to living a healthy life, having energy and looking good.

I also like cake and occasionally some French fries.  I’ve grown in my understanding and relationship with food to not have any guilt connected to it. Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it means having fries or cake or whatever may float your boat.

There are things like alcohol, processed foods, excess sugar, and high fats ( not the good kind) that not only aren’t good for your health, but contribute to your aging process as well. Again, those should all be used cautiously.

Keeping a  healthy balance in your daily nutrition not only will keep you from dysfunctional thinking about food, but will let you have your cake and eat it too.

In moderation, of course 😉

cake

Spotlight On Apples

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a spotlight post and I figured it was about time to get back on it and offer you up another look at a healthy food and convince you to eat it if you don’t already.

Do I have persuasive powers? hahaha

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An apple a day…

 

 

Personally, I don’t think it should take much to convince anyone to eat an apple but I guess there are those who won’t or will pass on them for whatever reason.

I don’t understand it…. sweet, crunchy, tasty, refreshing…. delicious. How could you not?

Now be good and read all of this and I’ll toss some tasty apple recipes in at the end 😉

The Healthy 411 on apples

One thing that I perhaps (intellectually) know and understand doing research for these posts, is that it’s a no brainer  fruits and veggies offer amazing healthy benefits, can protect against diseases, can make our skin, and hair look great, offer significant anti aging benefits, keep our digestive system running smoothly, keep us feeling full, and all of that for minimal calories and no fat.

But every time I start my research so many offer all the same benefits.

Hmmm… you think it’s a good reason to get these into our daily diets?

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I love Granny Smith apples. Sweet and a bit tart they offer a great flavor combination. They also make good pie 😉

 

Besides apples coming in their own handy packaging that you can easily eat with minimal disposal at the end 😉 they make easy handy snacks to take on the go, can be fit in anywhere and satisfy any crunchy sweet cravings you may have.

Eating apples won’t replace a tooth brush but the biting and chewing of an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth reducing tooth decay by lowering the amount of bacteria in your mouth. It can also help clean your teeth.

Apples can curb all kinds of cancers. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds — triterpenoids — in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fiber intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer

Help reduce cholesterol.  The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

Get a healthier heart.  An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

Prevent gallstones. This is one of the health benefits of apples that is eye opening. Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fiber (ahem, apples again) to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

Control your weight. This is one of the health benefits of apples most of us are willing to get. Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage weight and improve overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fiber. Foods high in fiber — like apples — will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

Help prevent cataracts. Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants — like apples — are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

Boost your immune system. Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out. That’s one of the most unexpected health benefits of apples.

Eating fruit is linked to higher bone density, which is a marker of bone health.

Researchers think the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in fruit help promote bone density and strength.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may promote bone health, and eating fruit can help preserve bone mass as you age.

Some studies show that apples, specifically, may positively affect bone health.

Apples are also extremely rich in important anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.

And eat up….

with only about 95 calories in a medium apple you can easily have a couple in your day.

And apples are good for our skin…

Their high content of vitamin C helps to build collagen, and their levels of copper (60 mcg in a large apple) encourage your skin to produce melanin, the pigment responsible for color in your skin.

Are you ready to add an apple a day to your diet? With all those health benefits and being an easy, portable snack why wouldn’t you?

Ok I promised you food if you read to this point….

How about an amazing dessert ?  When I made this at Thanksgiving everyone went crazy over it. Not the healthiest way to eat apples but certainly tasty 😉

And of course I had to offer up a healthy alternative too, right? With summer coming on is there anything better than a light refreshing salad?

ok your turn! Tell me how do you like apples? In a pie? As a quick sweet snack? In a salad? Do you have a favorite kind?