Thursday, June 30, 2011

Market Time!

While those of us who live on the Coast’s are spoiled by year round Farmers Markets - Summer brings these fabulous market places Coast to Coast!
Sure you can get all your produce at the local grocery store, but how local is that produce?
By buying food at the Farmers Market, you’re ensuring you’re getting the freshest, ripest, most nutrient dense produce available. You’re supporting local growers and family farms, interacting with your community, and supporting local restaurants, artists and musicians who also hawk their wares among the vine ripe produce.
When was the last time you spoke to the farmer who grew your food? How great to be able to ask where your food was grown, how your beef was raised, your fish caught and the breed of chicken that laid your eggs? Have you ever tried your local honey?
The abundance of fruits and vegetables, as well as samples at every booth, will expose you to foods you may not have thought to try before. Challenge yourself - Try something new - Something you’ve never seen before - and ask the growers how they recommend serving it. Many Farmers Markets have websites with recipes and information about the foods they sell and the farms they represent. 
While there’s the common complaint that fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive, you’ll find that by buying direct, the markets are generally quite affordable. If you’re truly worried about cost, you’ll learn you can get amazing deals towards the end when everyone is packing up.
Once you get your hands on a vine ripe tomato you’ll find that nothing compares. While a store is convenient, a market’s an experience, one you’ll soon find is too good to pass up.
So what are you waiting for? Head on over to your weekly Farmer’s Market!
Not sure where to find them? Here’s a link to the USDA’s Farmers Markets Search - Enter your zip code and it will hook you up with the closest one:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Hot - What are you Drinking?

It’s the first day of summer and it’s Hot - Hot - Hot!
We all know it’s important to stay hydrated no matter what time of year it is, but it’s particularly important to drink lot’s of fluids when the mercury’s rising. Did you know that thirst does not always accompany mild dehydration? As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes so it’s important to make sure we drink fluids regularly whether we feel thirsty or not.
Considering the human body is 60-70% water, water’s the obvious choice for hydration, but when asked why they don’t drink enough, most people will tell you it’s because they find water boring.
So-ooo - It’s time for Iced Tea!
True teas - Black, Green, White and Oolong Teas - all come from the Camellia Sinensis plants, which grow in Asia. They contain polyphenol antioxidants which aids in protecting our bodies from cancers, strengthens our immune defense, increases our metabolism - which in turn aids in weight loss, and may even help reduce heart attack and stroke.
Herbal teas, also known as tisane, are not considered true teas unless paired with the teas above. However, made from fragrant blends of flowers, herbs, roots and spices, they can be even more flavorful and equally refreshing - many containing health benefits as well - such as ginger teas which aid in digestion, chamomile teas which assist with relaxation and at the other end, mint teas which are naturally invigorating.
During the summer I keep glass pitchers constantly on hand, brewing four tea bags at a time in sixty-four ounces of hot water, chilling in the fridge once the tea has cooled down to room temperature.
My favorites are Pomegranate White Tea, Organic Ginger Pear White Tea, and Organic Mint Melange Tea, which can all be found at Trader Joe’s. 
On particularly hot days, I carry mint iced tea in my water bottle for my morning workouts. It’s refreshing and naturally cooling.
Unsweetened, Iced tea is the perfect refreshment, because it contains very few if any calories. If you find you still need sweeteners, here’s a tip that will help break the habit. Sweeten your tea with your regular sweeteners and drink as usual. Each week, reduce the sweetener by one teaspoon. Your tastes will gradually adapt as you make the adjustments until eventually you may find you don’t rely on any sweeteners at all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are you ready to Join the Revolution?

If you follow me on facebook, you know I'm a big fan of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and that I frequently post clips from his most recent episodes. This week I'm going to encourage you to watch the whole episode. It taps into so many topics that are close to my heart. The importance of quality food in our schools and daycares, the importance of food as fuel for our bodies, the correlation of counting calories and  exercise - why you can't just workout to eat what you want, the fact that fast food is NOT faster or cheaper than cooking at home, how eating fast food once in a while really adds up, and how the choices you make today will affect your tomorrow!

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - Season 2 - Episode 4

Help Be the Difference. Join the Revolution!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's all about Balance!

Balance - We take it for granted. 
Watching kids balancing on a curb, we assume we’ve still got it - But do we?
Similarly to muscle, we must use it or lose it. 
Balance, or lack of it, is one of the top reasons for functional injuries. It’s an indicator of proper alignment and of a stable core. Without proper alignment, core stability, or balance, we’re much more likely to twist an ankle walking down the stairs, be unable to right ourselves when slipping on a slick or unstable surface, or blow out our knees while carrying in the groceries.
The good news is, we can acquire it through training and practice.
How good is your balance? Let’s experiment.  
First, before we get started, I’d like you to look straight ahead and bounce lightly on both feet. Do this five or six times without looking down. Land on your feet and keep them still - don’t reposition them, just let your body stabilize for a moment. Now look down. Are your toes pointing straight ahead, turned in, or facing out to the sides?
Why does this matter? In order for us to properly balance, we must be in proper alignment. If our toes are facing in or turned out to the sides, we are compensating for overactive muscle groups which are pulling us out of alignment. In order to stay balanced, your feet should be hip width apart and your toes should be pointing straight ahead.
Find a wide flat surface. This can be a hall or smooth walkway. Make sure there aren’t any obstructions, such as loose carpet or cracked or raised pavement. With your toes pointing straight ahead, activate your muscles. Contract your thighs, your glutes, pull your navel toward your spine, and lift your arms in the air toward your sides, as if you’re getting ready to fly. Find a steady focal point - a picture on the wall, a sign post down the street - to set your gaze on. Lift your left knee as high as you can, really activating your core and the muscles of your right leg to keep you stable. Can you stand steady for  15 seconds? 30? 60? Lower your leg and switch sides. Chances are that one leg is stronger than the other. This is not unusual and you’ll find this to be true with all of your muscle groups. One side is generally more dominant than the other which is often reflective of past injuries, the kind of work you do, or recreational activities you take part in.
Now that you’re familiar with how stable, or unstable you are, repeat the above, and begin marching steadily down the hall or walkway. This is not a race, and actually the slower you go the more effective the exercise. When you come to the end of the hallway, turn around and repeat. Do this exercise four to five times and practice it regularly. The more frequently your practice the better your balance will become.
If you find that the marching comes easily, or after a couple of weeks when you’re ready to progress, you can add a forward reach to your step. With the opposite arm to the stabilizing leg, reach down to the ground as though you’re picking up a penny. Gently raise your body upright and step forward with the opposite leg, repeating the reaching movement. Again walk the full length of the hall or walkway, turn around and repeat.
Before long you’ll find you have a newfound confidence, a greater sense of stability and independence from guardrails and banisters - Freedom to move!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Cherry Season!

It’s Cherry Season, and if you’re in California - Jump! We have a short season between now and mid June. Those of you on the East Coast have a few more weeks to wait, but lucky you - you’ll be eating this delicious fruit through the end of August. Talk about a Sweet Treat - 1 cup yeilds just 74 calories, they taste amazing, and contain fabulous health benefits! 
For Hot Summer Nights: 
Pit one pound Cherries, place evenly on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, put your feet up and Enjoy -They’re nature’s Bon-Bons!