Three Things

1. Hey look, it’s me on 6ABC on Philadelphia! I’m talking healthy breakfast for kids, but all my recipes are something that everyone can enjoy. It’s so important to meal prep so you have healthy breakfast choices all week. I always try to stay away from sugary breakfast options and it’s especially important for kids to stay away from them too! Check out my Breakfast page for more ideas.

2. New food trends are here. Low FODMAP foods are great for those struggling with gastrointestinal issues and it may also help decrease your uncomfortable symptoms. Fermented foods (like my favorite kombucha) are also great for gut health and pack on the probiotics. Various plant based food trends also make the list. What’s your favorite new trend? Mine is definitely fermented foods.

3. Help stop food waste by choosing the “ugly” produce at the grocery store. Good produce is often thrown out or rejected just because it doesn’t appear to be perfect. The “ugly” produce is no less nutritious than it’s beautiful counterparts. Choose the produce that won’t be picked up by others to help reduce food waste.

Raquel

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How To: Organic Foods

The word “organic” is one of the many hot button words in the nutrition world. So what does organic really mean?

Produce can be labeled organic if it is certified to have been grown on soil that had no prohibited substances (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) used there for three years before harvest. Meat can be labels organic if the animals are raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors, are fed organic feed and no antibiotics or growth hormones. Packaged products can be labeled organic if they contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Some products may say “made with organic ingredients” and will not have the USDA organic seal. Organic products may be more expensive than conventional ones. However, not all foods need to be purchased as organic. The Environmental Working Group creates the “Dirty Dozen” (produce you should be organic) and the “Clean Fifteen” (produce you can buy conventional) as a quick guide for consumers.


Download your free guide from the EWG here!

How much of your shopping cart is organic? Tell me below!

Raquel

Summer Produce Guide

Summer is officially one week away! One of my favorite lazy weekend activities is finding my way to a farmer’s market and picking the most delicious produce. Check out what you may find this summer and what to do with it.

summer produce

What’s in Season?

  • Arugula – Look for leaves that are uniformly dark green. Larger leaves are more spicy than smaller leaves. Keep packaged arugula in its original container. Don’t wash arugula until immediately before use. Use in salads or on top of grilled fish.
  • Avocados – If you want to eat avocados immediately look for ones that are a bit soft to the touch. Otherwise, buy avocados that are firm and allow them to ripen at room temperature. Use raw on salads, with eggs, as a snack, or make guacamole!
  • Beets – Choose beets that are firm and smooth. Look for beet greens that are bright and not wilted. Don’t throw out the beet greens! They’re tasty too. Don’t wash beets until immediately before use. Store beet roots in the crisper. Beets are great roasted as a side or in salads. Use gloves when working with beets to prevent staining.
  • Berries – Look for brightly colored, plump berries. Don’t wash berries until immediately before eating. Rinse in cold water and pat dry. Eat as a snack or over yogurt.
  • Chard – Find crisp looking stalks without wilting. Store chard in the crisper. Wash chard in cold water and pat dry. Use in salads or sauteed as a side.
  • Cherries – Choose bright and shiny fruit with the stems still attached. Rinse the cherries and remove the pit before using in dishes. Eat them as a snack or pitted and chopped in a salad.
  • Corn – Look for fresh corn that has plump, bright kernels and tight husks. Cook corn the same day you buy it or store in the fridge for a couple days. Remove the husks and silks before cooking. Grill or boil corn or cut kernels off the cob and add to salads and salsas.
  • Eggplant – Pick eggplants that are firm, smooth, and heavy for their size. Cook eggplant within a few days of buying them. Peel large eggplants as the skin is not very edible. Use them for a vegetarian main dish or chopped in a side dish.
  • Figs – I love figs! Choose fragrant, smooth figs. They can be stored in the fridge for up to five days. Eat them whole, slice for salads, or over yogurt.
  • Melons – Look for melons that are heavy for their size and give a little with pressure. Ripe melons can be stored at room temperature. Melons that have been cut should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Slice melon and scoop out the seeds. Use in salads, for appetizers, or as a snack.
  • Potatoes – Choose potatoes that are firm with no dark spots, cuts, or sprouts. Store in a cool, dry place away from onions. Scrub potatoes before using and use within a few days of buying them. I don’t think I need to tell you how to use potatoes!
  • Spinach – Find leaves that are dark green and smooth. Remove any wilted leaves from the bunch and store in the crisper. Rinse spinach and spin dry. Use as the base of a salad or saute as a side.
  • Stone fruits – Peaches, nectarines, and plums. Look for fruit that is smooth and firm. They generally smell just as good as they taste! Once they are tender to the touch store in the crisper. Use in salads, as a dessert with ice cream, or as a snack.
  • Summer squash – Choose medium sized squash with brightly colored skin. Store in the crisper. Lightly scrub summer squash before cooking. Saute, bake, fry, or grill as a side.
  • Sweet peppers – Pick peppers with smooth, firm skin. Store peppers in the crisper. Green bell peppers last a few days longer than yellow, orange, and red bell peppers. Wash peppers and remove ribs and seeds before cooking. Roast peppers, eat them raw, or stuff for a vegetarian main dish.
  • Tomatoes – Look for plump tomatoes with firm skin. Tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes come in various colors so don’t be afraid to try them! Store tomatoes at room temperate. Gently rinse tomatoes before use. Use in salads, on sandwiches and wraps, in salsas, or in side dishes.
  • Watermelon – Find smooth, round melons that produce a dull sound when tapped. Store watermelon in the refrigerator. Wrap sliced melon in plastic wrap before storing in the fridge. Use watermelon as a snack or a sweet, fruit dessert.

Raquel

Three Things

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1. Vitamin D has become one of the most supplemented vitamins in recent years. New research has shown that higher levels of vitamin D correspond to a reduced risk of cancer. The Institute of Medicine recommends a target of 20 ng/mL as an adequate blood level of vitamin D. This can be achieved through daily exposure to sunlight. You can always kill two birds with one stone by exercising outside now that the weather is getting warmer. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU. Good food sources of vitamin D include tuna, milk and yogurt, liver (but who eats liver?), egg yolks, and cheese.

2. Do you buy organic produce? While I try to avoid organic products due to their price, I do follow the Dirty Dozen. This is a list of produce that you should try to always buy organic to reduce the amount of pesticides in your food. This year the list includes: strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. There is also the Clean Fifteen which is a list of produce that tends to have the least amount of pesticides. Therefore, I buy them conventional and save some cash at the grocery store.

3. I love a good snack bar. I tend to look for bars that are lowest in sugar, higher in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. I found a ranking of snack bars by their nutritional value. My favorite Kind bars make the list tied for sixth place. There are even several flavors of Kind bars that boast less than 5 or 4 grams of sugar. Have you tried any of the bars on the list? What do you think?!

Raquel

How To: Store Produce

Throwing away unused produce that has gone bad is a huge waste. I always try to use every piece of the produce I’ve bought. One of the best ways to do that, besides meal planning, is to store your groceries properly! Check out these tips and tricks to make your groceries last longer.

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How To: Store Produce

Fruit

  • Apples – refrigerator drawer; I like to let them come to room temp before eating
  • Pears – counter top or fruit basket
  • Citrus – refrigerator shelf; half of a citrus fruit will last in plastic wrap for a few days
  • Bananas – counter top; half a banana will last in a plastic bag for a few days
  • Berries – refrigerator drawer; only rinse berries immediately before using
  • Avocados – ripen on counter top, refrigerator shelf when ripe; half an avocado can be kept by spraying with cooking spray, wrapping in plastic wrap on refrigerator shelf

Vegetables

  • Asparagus – refrigerator shelf; stems in water if possible or loosely in a plastic bag
  • Bell peppers – refrigerator shelf in plastic wrap
  • Broccoli – refrigerator shelf in plastic wrap; I love using frozen broccoli for a quick veggie side
  • Carrots – refrigerator drawer in a plastic bag; I tend to keep baby carrots in their original bag
  • Cabbage – refrigerator drawer in plastic wrap
  • Celery – refrigerator drawer
  • Cucumber – refrigerator drawer in plastic wrap or plastic bag
  • Leafy greens – refrigerator drawer in a plastic bag lined with paper towels
  • Mixed greens – refrigerator shelf in plastic container lined with paper towels
  • Garlic – pantry, unwrapped; I love using jarred minced garlic for convenience
  • Mushrooms – refrigerator shelf in brown paper bag or box
  • Onions – pantry, unwrapped; half an onion can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes – pantry in brown paper bag; don’t forget to separate onions and potatoes as they will make each other go bad faster
  • Summer squash – refrigerator shelf in a plastic bag

Don’t forget to clean out your refrigerator regularly! You never know what you’ll find hiding in the back. Always remove anything with mold. Remember, the freezer is your friend. You can freeze banana halves for smoothies, cut up avocado for later, and of course chicken, turkey, beef, or fish!

Raquel

How To: Save on Groceries

Around the holidays I’m always looking for ways to save money so I can splurge on holiday festivities. Saving money on groceries can be done and these tips can be used anytime. Personally, I use most of these tips especially the meal prepping and stocking up on bulk items. Cooking for one can be tough and it can be tempting to waste food, but planning ahead can help avoid that.

groceries

Top 10 Tips to Save on Groceries

  • Stick to your list – Always, always, always go to the grocery store with a list! This will help prevent you from throwing things in your cart that you don’t need. When making your list be sure to assess your refrigerator and pantry for items you may already have.
  • Don’t go hungry – I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. Don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. You will be tempted to add extras to your cart that you don’t need!
  • Buy in bulk – If you have the space to store bulk items then you have an advantage. Buying in bulk lowers the price of many items such as dried beans and lentils, rice, quinoa, nuts and seeds, pasta, etc.
  • Buy in season produce – In season produce will always be cheaper than out of season produce. Plus it will be much more fresh and flavorful. Bonus!
  • Buy generic brands – Each grocery store chain has their own generic brands. These products are generally cheaper than name brand items and will still give you what you’re looking for.
  • Don’t buy toiletries – The prices of toiletries are spiked at grocery stores! While it may seem convenient to pick them up while grocery shopping it will hurt your total. Save toiletries for a trip to Target or another store.
  • Avoid prepared foods – Prepared foods include all those pre-made meals at the deli counter, as well as fruits and vegetables that are already cut. If you simply spend some time on Sunday prepping your fruits and veggies and other meals for the week you can save some cash.
  • Stock up the freezer – This goes along with avoiding prepared foods. If you meal prep on Sunday freeze some meals for the week or month. Buy meat and seafood in bulk and pre-portion and freeze that as well.
  • Take reusable bags – Most places give a few cents back for using reusable bags. While this isn’t a huge saving technique it helps! You can also donate the cents you get back from using reusable bags to good causes at some grocery stores.
  • Stock up on sales – Don’t be afraid to use coupons as well. Sign up for coupon booklets and pick up your grocery stores sale flyer to plan meals around what’s on sale. You can always find fruits, vegetables, and protein on sale each week. Make it fun and come up with creative meals around sales and coupons.

Where’s your favorite place to grocery shop? Tell me below!

Raquel