Tag Archives: vegetables

Gardening Provides a Bounty of Benefits to Prisons and Public Schools

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade. 
Rudyard Kipling 

The act of planting a garden – working the soil, tending to the plants and reaping the bounty is a time-honored tradition that has slowly morphed from necessity to hobby. Over the last 100 years, America’s industrialization and urban expansion have eliminated the need for gardens in most households. Unfortunately, some apartment dwellers are packed so close together that growing basil in a pot on the windowsill is the closest they’ll get to a harvest.

Today we’re highlighting two programs that teach gardening skills in the United States. Though the “participants” are very different, they all receive benefits that go far beyond the eventual food a garden yields.


Prison gardens

Prison Garden

Last week, the National Public Radio (npr) website ran a story about several minimum security prisons that have developed their own vegetable gardens thanks in part to the Insight Garden Program. Inmates who qualify for the program are allowed to work outside where they tend to a small area of raised beds that grow everything from tomatoes to lettuce. Beth Waitkus, Director of the Insight Garden Program said she created this endeavour after the tragedies of 9/11 to, “restore her faith in humanity.”


The Dark Side of Juicing: Why Too Much Juice Can Get in the Way of Your Health

I’ll be the first to admit that a glass or bottle of fresh juice is a delicious treat. I’ve been known to order a green juice after yoga class or a beetroot juice before bootcamp. In fact I’ve even followed 1-day juice fasts with both Blueprint Cleanse and Cooler Cleanse.

But I’ve long wondered just how healthy the juicing cleanse trend was. After all, once you strain away the healthy fiber of fruits and veggies you’re left with a lot of nutrients (pro) and also a lot of sugars (con). People claim to feel lighter and “detoxed” after drinking these fresh blends, but regular juicing never sat right with me. After all, nutritionists regularly steer clients away from juice because of its high concentration of sugars and calories, recommending whole foods like salads and pieces of fruit instead. Why would a diet of just juice be good when a glass of juice is often considered bad?


When I read a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times, about how Jennifer Berman’s health habits—including juicing—were having the opposite affect, I wasn’t all that surprised.


7 Holiday Cooking Staples That Just Might Kill You

Oh, the holidays. A time for fun, family and potential cyanide poisoning. I know that last one isn’t a common item on people’s list of things to think about when preparing for Christmas, but maybe it should. Many of the foods that are commonly used in holiday dishes are surprisingly dangerous.

christmas dinner

We’ve listed the seven most serious offenders so you can be on the lookout at your Christmas dinner.

With his nose like a cherry, Santa sounds like he’s as much of a fan of the ruby fruit as we are. We’ll put cherries in pretty much anything, including the summer mainstay cherry limeades. Learning the cherries can also be harmful is the pits. Literally, the pits. Cherry pits are full of cyanide, but thankfully it can only cause harm if you manage to chew through them.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about fall and winter is breaking out the nutcracker and mixed nuts, especially almonds. Something about the flavor instantly makes me think of the holidays. That flavor comes from sweet almonds which, unlike their wild cousins, don’t contain cyanide. (more…)

WiFi is a Plant Killer. Should We Quit Nuking Our Veggies?

A Danish high school science experiment is gaining recognition again after going viral earlier this month. Though first reported in May, the experiment has garnered worldwide popularity as a warning against our tech-filled lives. According to the experiment, WiFi could be killing plants. In case you missed it — fruits and vegetables are plants.

plant and wifi experiment

A group of 9th-graders from the Hjallerup Skole in Denmark noticed after sleeping with their cell phones near their heads they had trouble concentrating the next day. Though they didn’t have the resources to test their cell phone theory, they tried to do the next best thing.

Taking garden cress seeds and placing them on wet paper towels, the girls set one plate next to a WiFi router that emitted about the same microwave radiation as mobile phones, and the other in a separate room away from routers. They controlled all other variables — water, sunlight and room temperature — to the best of their abilities to keep the experiment consistent.

When the seeds were checked in 12 days, the seeds from the room without routers had thrived, while the seeds next to routers were brown and shriveled. (more…)

Carnivorous Humans Poised to Shake Up the Food Chain

Traditionally omnivores, humans are shifting towards a more carnivorous lifestyle. This change is especially apparent in countries like India and China where the rapidly changing economies are causing citizens to eat more meat.

meat head

A new study on global food consumption published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks in detail at what people are eating. It also studied trends for individual countries. The ones that are eating more meat are doing so in such amounts that they effectively “cancel out” any decrease in meat-eating in other countries.


The 5 Diet Hurdles You Can Overcome for Weight Loss Success

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t I lose weight and keep it off?” Today, we are going to talk through the five biggest diet hurdles that many people face and the simple tips to overcome them.

Watch our G+ Hangout with Stefanie Painter, RD from Retrofit who explains more.

True Hunger

With food in our sights while walking down the street, in our office break room, or next to the cash register at the store, we are prompted to want to eat at any turn. Also, many times we will use food for comfort after having a stressful, long, or emotional day. However, our bodies do not know that we got yelled at by our boss, had back to back meetings, or broke up with our boyfriend. So, eating outside of hunger sabotages our efforts. When we have ignored what true hunger feels like for a long time, we have to retrain our bodies (and brains) to understand when and how much we actually should be eating for a healthy weight.

Think of a hunger gauge like a gas tank: On empty, we are the most hungry we have ever felt in our entire lives, like when you have had to fast for a medical test. At full, we are so stuffed that we can’t imagine eating another bite, like on Thanksgiving. These are the extremes that we need to avoid as much as possible. When you are feeling hunger (belly rumbling), then you are at one-quarter of a tank and it’s time to have a meal or snack. As you are eating, slow down and savor each bite so you can feel when you hit half of a tank. This is when hunger is gone. Four to five bites later, you will hit three-quarters of a tank and it’s time to be finished, no matter how much food is left on your plate.

women salad

Moderation vs Deprivation

Most diets require us to take something out of our food choices or make certain foods “off limits.” While this will create a calorie deficit and result in weight loss, it is not realistic for a long term lifestyle, especially because we are often forced to stop eating some of our favorite foods. Deprivation can quickly lead to disaster!

Make ALL foods part of our healthy eating plan! Yes, focus on the healthiest foods — fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy products, and whole grains, as your main choices — but plan for treats and heavier meals in your day or week. For example, if you love chocolate, have one small piece (of dark) every day so you do not feel deprived. If your favorite meal is a burger and fries, make that part of your weekly plan so you can enjoy it. No food is “bad” when we plan for it!

Produce, Produce, Produce

Fruits and vegetables are truly powerful foods. They are super nutritious, low calories, and crazy high in fiber. When we work on adding more produce into our life, we can fill up on lower-calorie, high-fiber foods and decrease our portions of higher-calorie foods. Plus, fiber is much harder for the body to break down, so our metabolism goes in to over drive to digest and use produce for fuel. This helps boost our metabolism and burn more fat.

Getting in more produce can be a challenge, especially when we aren’t used to eating it often. Start small… add a piece of fruit with breakfast, then some veggies at lunch and dinner, and lastly work on using fruits and vegetables as part of a snack. The ultimate goal is to have 50 percent produce at all of your meals and snacks.


Portion distortion is running rampant. Everywhere we go, bigger is better, but not so much for our waistlines. As mentioned before, one of the best ways to start to decrease portions of higher-calorie foods is to aim to make half of your meal or plate produce.

Another handy tip is to use your hands as a portion size guide. Put both of your hands out in front of you flat, fingers closed, thumbs tucked in, and touching. This is the appropriate portion of a meal for your body. Most restaurant meals, or even meals that we cook at home, are much larger than this. Pairing your hands as a portion size guide with listening to your hunger/fullness queues using the Hunger Gauge is a dynamic combo to keeping your portion sizes in check.

Planning Ahead

Planning ahead can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not so much about planning, but more about being prepared for whatever your specific challenge may be.

  • If you are going to a restaurant, check the menu and nutrition info online first so you don’t have to make a choice while you are tempted by the dozens of menu items.
  • Headed to a party? Have a snack before you go,so you are not as hungry, and give yourself a drink and/or food limit, such as, one plate of food and two glasses of wine.
  • If you struggle with nighttime snacking, think about what your nighttime snack is going to be as you are preparing dinner. Put together your nighttime snack then, too. Set an alarm on your phone so you know when and what you will be enjoying as your late treat.

Thinking about diet hurdles you have faced in the past, how can some of these tips help you stay on track in the future?

retrofit weight loss program____________________________

By Stefanie Painter, a registered dietitian for Retrofit. You can save $50 at Retrofit with this coupon. #Sponsored

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Twice Baked Shepherd’s Pies Makeover a Favorite Winter Classic with Baked Potatoes

New on our “cozy food” seasonal menu rotation is a made-over classic. It’s the Shepherd’s Pie like you’ve never tried it before. It’s usually not my thing – loaded with lamb and mashed potatoes – two foods I don’t particularly care for. But I’ve got a pretty big thing for the baked potato.

I made a Shepherd’s Pie that’s a little leaner, bigger on flavor, and maybe even cuter.

Call them miniature. Call them single-serve. Call them dinner! These Twice-Baked Shepherd’s Pies are bound to be a staple of your winter menu.

twice baked potato shepherd's pie

I skipped the mashed potatoes because, like I said, I’m a little un-American and truly can’t stand the stuff. But, a baked potato, much less one that’s been baked twice, I’m all over that.

Then I cut the lamb and even skipped over the beef and went right to ground Italian turkey sausage – super lean with a great taste that fits right in here. (more…)

Use It, Don’t Lose It! 10 Deliciously Vegan Recipes for Your Summer Garden Surplus

The great thing about having your own backyard garden is access to fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, and herbs any time you want. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to supply your groceries. The downside is having way too much of a good thing. One “harvest” in my garden last weekend yielded six cantaloupes; there are only three people in my household. That’s a lot of melon!

It’s a shame to let all of that excess produce go to waste. And as the summer draws to a close and all of those plants reach their peak of production, you’re going to have a lot of fruits and vegetables on your hands.


My primary policy is to share the wealth! I keep what we can reasonably eat and then start sharing the rest with friends and neighbors. No one has ever passed! My secondary policy – get in the kitchen! When pinched for creativity or inspiration at meal time, use what you have available as your muse. We’ll give you a little help to get started.

Tabbouleh-Inspired Freekeh Salad – Any extra cucumbers and tomatoes will go to good use in this simple vegan salad. You can also use some of the basil and chives you’re growing.

freekeh taboulleh (more…)

Your Ultimate Guide to Greens: 15 Greens, What They Do, and How to Eat Them

Growing up, most of us were told at some point to “eat our greens.” We may not have listened at the time, but maybe we should have. As a group, leafy green vegetables, or “greens,” are known for their bounty of health benefits. As a whole, they are great sources of vitamins A and C, and each green has its own broad nutritional profile.

We share 15 greens, why you need to eat them, why they’re so good for you, and even recipes to best prepare and enjoy them!

View Your Ultimate Guide to Greens Slideshow (more…)

Sip a Rainbow Smoothie to Deliciously Tackle Your Daily Fruit and Vegetable Serving Needs

How many fruits and vegetables have you had today? How about the kids? If you’re like most Americans, the CDC says it’s not enough. Sure, it can feel like a challenge to get more fresh plant-based foods on to your plate, but it’s absolutely worth trying. Nothing good ever came from a beige plate of food. That’s why every plate should look like a rainbow.

rainbow smoothie ingredients

We’ve got a pretty healthy, simple, and delicious way to fix this fruit and veggie problem, at least a part of it. You and the kids are going to love our Rainbow Smoothie because it’s as tasty as it is fun.

judah rainbow smoothie

The premise is really pretty simple – select one fruit or vegetable from each color family. Combine these with yogurt in a blender, and voila, you’ve got as much as seven servings of fruits and vegetables in one cup. If your kids haven’t met Roy G. Biv, now is a great time, especially when they can relate it to food.

ROYGBIV represents the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Now, that last arc of the rainbow gets a little tricky, but plenty of options exist. You can reference this chart. Stick it to the refrigerator and let the kids familiarize themselves with each food item, or they could even use it as a Rainbow Smoothie menu. (more…)