Tag Archives: vegetables

5 Questions to Ask at Your Farmers Market

farmers market carrots

I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.

However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide  better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.

Farmers Markets in all 50 States Accept Food Stamps and EBT

DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?

Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.

WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?

Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef. (more…)

Sunny Side Up Breakfast Sandwich: Because We are Free to Eat Egg Yolks Again!

fried-egg-breakfast-sandwich

While most people like to take advantage of sleeping in on a weekend morning, I roll out of bed and start cooking. Similar to most other families, mine is a crazy kind of busy all week. But on Saturdays we get one another’s undivided attention over a hearty breakfast that fuels our equally busy weekends. Since I have a preschooler who rises at dawn, sometimes my version of sleeping in is letting someone else cook, and that’s where I found this sandwich.

One morning at a favorite local breakfast dive, I poured over the menu and couldn’t find anything I wanted. However, the BLT on the lunch menu called to me, especially with the mention of avocado and tomato slices. I asked them to breakfast-ize it with an over-medium egg. They did, and it was glorious. It seemed so obvious, yet, I’d never thought about it before!

Any guilt you’ve harbored for the last few decades over eating a fried egg, well go ahead and shake it loose. Cholesterol is no longer the nutritional enemy we’ve been told to avoid. Our Mary Hartley, RD explains why we are no longer relegated to egg white omelets. That’s why we’re celebrating over runny egg yolk sandwiches! (more…)

Exclusive! Spaghetti Squash Chicken Alfredo Recipe from The Biggest Loser Bootcamp Book

biggest-loser-bootcamp-spaghetti-squash-chicken-alfredo

Resolve to eat more vegetables. Or try new foods. Or eat more colorfully. Or reduce carbs. Or eat more home-cooked foods. Or just eat cleaner. Which ever one of these resolution categories your “diet” falls into, this dinner is a perfect fit.

We snagged this Spaghetti Squash Chicken Alfredo recipe out of the new book The Biggest Loser Bootcamp (out December 30, 2014!). It met our own food resolutions — C: all of the above — and offered a fresh take on the spaghetti squash trend we love so much. Spaghetti squash has taken off in recent years, and for good reason. It’s a hearty vegetable that has a mild enough taste that you can pair it with almost anything. It’s a great alternative for noodles, but I don’t fully buy in to it being a supreme replacement. Don’t eat this expecting it to taste or feel like noodles; it gets the job done, deliciously so, but stands on its own as a noodle-ish food. (more…)

Produce Over Pills: Your Doctor’s Newest Rx Option Comes from the Garden

vegetable-RX

It was Hippocrates who first said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” And while it may have taken a few thousand years for this to really catch on, doctors in New York City have finally started applying this concept to their patients.

NYC docs involved in the Wholesome Wave program have now started writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables for their patients battling obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high-cholesterol, and other weight-related diseases. Instead of drugs for weight loss, doctors provide these patients with a “prescription” of sorts to eat more vegetables and fruits.

It is this program’s goal to empower under-served and low-income communities with access to healthy foods in efforts to manage obesity and its resulting health conditions. In recent coverage from the New York Times, success stories are popping up throughout the 1200 different low-income families enrolled in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or FVRx, in four major hospitals throughout New York City.

Most astonishing is that after just four months in the program, 40% of children successfully lowered their body-mass index (BMI) once they ate their prescribed fruits and veggies. (more…)

Jim Gaffigan’s Hilarious Food Rules for Everyone Not to Live by

food-love-story

Jim Gaffigan recently recently his second book entitled Food: A Love Story. Gaffigan, if you are unfamiliar with his brand of humor, is a hilarious, honest, satirical comedian. He previously wrote the book Dad is Fat, in which he reels on fatherhood with five young children. And in similar fashion in his newest release, Gaffigan has his readers rolling with his honest take on food. He says the things we all may be thinking, but we all may not be saying. Gaffigan explores everything from American food consumption to the questionable purpose of kale.

Though the entire book is quotable, we probably can’t republish it here. So we’re sharing a few of Gaffigan’s best food rules to abide by. (Or, to not abide by, but to at least laugh at.)

Jim Gaffigan’s Hilarious Food Rules for Everyone

1. Never take advice from skinny people.

“When a thin person announces, “Here’s a great taco place,” I kind of shut down a little. How do they know it’s so great? From smelling the tacos?”

Now maybe this isn’t fair. Of course there are plenty of skinny people who know great food when they taste it, and of course there are plenty of skinny people that like particular foods that other not-so-skinny people might also enjoy. The point is, Gaffigan’s point is hilarious.

2. Steak is a big deal.

“…because consuming a steak is one of the great pleasures we get to experience during our short time on this planet.”

Gaffigan describes his confusion toward his father’s love for steak as a child, though he touchingly concludes just why it was so important to him throughout his life. Steak can be particularly fancy, and I think we all know that.

3. Gravy is not a beverage.

Our eyes met, and he gave me a warm Midwestern smile as if to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” I nodded and said hello and was only a bit more than slightly tempted to exclaim, “You realize you’re drinking gravy, right?”

Gaffigan pokes a lot of fun at Midwesterners, a title he himself holds, and though I must add that not all Midwest-residents probably drink gravy, this story is too good to pass up. It’s one of the best LOL anecdotes in the entire book! (more…)

11 Recipes That Will Convince You to Try the Veggies You Love to Hate

Kids are notorious for it, but there are still plenty of adults who struggle to eat their vegetables. However, the time has come to move on from the idea that vegetables beyond potatoes, carrots and green beans are “yucky,” and expand our palates.

We want to set the record straight for some of the least-loved vegetables (and one fruit) and encourage you to give them a chance. All are packed with nutrients, and are a healthy addition to any diet. We’ll start you down your new vegetable-eating path by providing some recipe suggestions that are so good, you won’t want to pick out the previously-offensive veggies.

Look at this list as your own personal vegetable challenge. Try a new one at least once a week, and you may be surprised which formerly condemned veggies become new favorites!

chicken broccoli

Broccoli

It’s hard to say if the “little trees” nickname helps or hurts broccoli’s appeal. Regardless, the vegetable is packed with vitamin K, important for blood clotting, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Ease your way into eating broccoli by combining it with foods you already like.

Try it mixed into your stir-fry for added flavor, fiber, bulk, and color!

 

beets

Beets

A beet’s color may be the prettiest in mother nature’s palette. This nutrient-rich root veggie is also full of carbohydrates, which means they can be a great way of boosting your energy without a sugar crash later. Beets are chock full of many nutrients including calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.

Try it in our amazing Harvest Chopped Salad. (more…)

21 Recipes and Ways to Clean Out the Summer Garden Surplus in Your Backyard

The summer growing season may be nearing its end, but your garden is probably just hitting its peak production! You can only personally eat so many tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and zucchini. Your neighbors and co-workers will only allow you to share so many. And really, it seems a total waste to let them go. So don’t!

Belly up to your kitchen counter, pull out a few handy appliances, and make finished food items you can eat through the winter and your neighbors and co-workers are far more glad to take off of your hands now!

homemade pickles jar

HOMEMADE SWEET AND SPICY ENGLISH CUCUMBER PICKLES

Does your neighbor want 10 cucumbers? No! Does your neighbor want an adorable jar full of homemade pickles? Heck yes! Use any garden variety cuc to make these shockingly easy pickles. You’ll never want store-bought again. And in our experience, a generous batch will last you all the way to spring!

melon ball soup

TWO INGREDIENT MELON BALL SOUP

When the watermelon and cantaloupe runneth over, runneth it through the blender! Combine your favorite melons, add your choice of fresh herbs, and top with a goat or feta cheese to make the simplest chilled soup ever! We love ours at brunch. (more…)

Pulp Fiction: Why My Misadventures in Juicing Left Me Feeling Terrible

carrot juice

By Cat Poland, a writer who shares her experiences with life and motherhood at Mom on the Range.

You know what’s cute? Baby bellies. Aren’t pregnant women adorable?

You know what’s not so cute? Baby bellies when you’re not pregnant. I’m not making a blanket statement about the size of other women’s bodies and what I think they should or shouldn’t look like. I’m talking solely about my own.

It’s annoying. Pants don’t fit well, and forget about wearing maxi dresses without getting “the look” from others. Is she, isn’t she? When a family member put her hand on my belly and asked if I had “news,” I lost it.

What if I did a juice fast? (Or cleanse, as some might call it.) I just wanted to look not so pregnant. And I was curious. Would I have renewed energy as some claimed? Would I cure my pesky battle with constipation (thank you, hormones). Would I feel rejuvenated? (more…)

The Freshest Produce Picks for Early Summer: Here’s What’s Ripe in June

By Team Best Life 

Nothing says summer like a garden full of fresh vegetables or a farmers market bursting with juicy, in-season fruit. It’s hard to beat the taste of a just-picked sweet tomato or a fragrant strawberry. Whether you eat them plain or toss them into a favorite dish, they’re sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.

Ready to kick off the summer? Try one of our four favorite June produce picks:

broccoli

Broccoli.  If you grow your own in a garden, you’ll likely start to see small heads soon. For a more tender and mild taste, try to harvest the heads and leaves before they grow too large. Don’t have a green thumb? Look for small heads of broccoli at your local farmers’ market early in the season. Use them to whip up this Fresh Broccoli Salad, which makes for a healthy barbecue side dish.

 

raspberries

Raspberries.  You can get most berries year-round, but early season raspberries are especially delicious. Look for black raspberries, which are available in many parts of the country in June. In this Raspberry Pistachio Chickenthey make a tasty topping. (more…)

6 Ways to Makeover a Boring and Bland Salad

salad

By Team Best Life

As the weather warms up, you might be looking for easy meal solutions that don’t require turning on the oven. We’ve got a suggestion: Salad! Think your salad has to leave you hungry or dissatisfied? We can help! To create a full-meal salad that really fills you up, use the following tips:

Go green. You may be most familiar with iceberg and romaine lettuce, but why not experiment with other greens that offer different flavors and provide different nutrients? Give these greens a shot: arugula, butterhead, escarole, kale, mache, mizuna, spinach and watercress.

Choose a variety of veggies. The classics, like carrots, radishes and celery, are no-brainers. But if you want to be more adventurous, you can sprinkle on some roasted red peppers, canned artichoke hearts, or hearts of palm. Best Life lead nutritionist Janis JIbrin likes blueberries, beets, pomegranate seeds, butternut squash and fresh mint.

Get your fat fix. Stir in just one high-fat addition, such as 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese, 1 tablespoon of nuts, or ¼ cup of sliced avocado. That will help keep you satisfied without adding too many calories to your bowl and help you absorb some of the vitamins from the vegetables. (more…)