Spring into a CSA Produce Box!

We all know that eating a lot of fruits and veggies is at the top of any healthy eating plan.  The Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. program is no different.  If you are going to try and get 10-13 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day you need to find an affordable source of produce.  We have been spending a fortune at our local grocer.  As we get better and better about eating more fruits and veggies each week, our grocery bill has been going UP UP UP!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel punished (huge grocery bill) for doing what is good and healthy for my family.  Enter the CSA.  I knew nothing at all about CSAs until last fall.  CSA, if you haven’t heard the term before, stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, you are cutting out the middle man, the grocery store, and you get amazing, fresh in-season LOCAL produce.  You get to know the people who are growing the food you feed your family and you get to support a family or group of families in your community.  Your produce never rides on a plane, sits in traffic in the back of a tractor trailer for hours, and never gets squashed on the shelves at the grocery store.  Pretty cool right?  So if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Here is the downside…there are a lot of choices for CSAs out there.  I had you worried didn’t I?  This is a wonderful problem to have.  There are CSAs for every budget, some are organic and some aren’t.  Some you can pick up at the farm, some are picked up at a more central location.  Figure out what works for your budget and your family. A friend recently told me about Marvin’s Produce.  For just $15 per week you get a lovely box of produce.  It isn’t organic, but you don’t have to sign a contract, and heck it is just $15 per week.  Here was her first box of produce.  I was really impressed with the amount of produce as well as the variety of colors. Another option is Noisy Rabbit. The fee is similar to Marvin’s Produce at $15/week, but you have to sign a contract to get this pricing and pay a $42/year membership fee.  If you choose the non-contract option, the price for a basket of...
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The Truth About Avocados

My husband’s workplace did a great thing a couple of weeks ago, they contracted with a local fitness company to offer a 4-week boot camp complete with a nutritional plan for any interested employees.  I love when a business will help employees be as healthy as possible.  The I-O Psychologist in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is a happy and productive employee who will miss less work.  The L.E.A.N. Coach in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is happier, more productive, and will probably live longer.  Wait, those are just about the same outcomes regardless of the approach I take. So you may be asking yourself where this post is going and why the title is “The Truth About Avocados”.  Here it is.  The nutrition plan for this boot camp severely limits what you can eat and completely nixes avocados (and basically all fats).  The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute has two main goals for clients – to eat a well-rounded diet and use portion control.  Dr. Sears constantly talks about the fact that veggies and fruits are GREAT!  Avocados, in particular, are a super fruit.  Therefore, I would like to take a couple of minutes to tell you all about the great benefits of avocados and by default outline some of the benefits of fats in general. If you aren’t familiar with the nutrients found in avocados take a look at these two charts before reading any further.  Please notice that both are based on a serving size of just 1/5 (20%) of a medium avocado. (http://www.avocado.org/nutrition/)   (http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/) Avocados are a nutrient dense fruit filled with monounsaturated fat, fiber, folate, and iron.  In fact, they contain over 20 vitamins and minerals! (http://www.avocado.org/avo-babies/nutrition-information/) Fat is a really important component of any diet.  We all need fat, we just need to make sure that we eat the RIGHT fat.  Saturated and Trans fats are the unhealthy, bad for you fats.  Those are the ones to avoid.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthy fats that everyone needs.  Based on Dr. Sears’ teachings and the research of so many other doctors and scientists, here are just some of the reasons we need a right fat diet: 1.     Fats provide energy. Fats give us more energy than an equal amount of carbs. (Sears, Family Nutrition Book) 2.     Fats help us keep our brains, cells, and...
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Shaping Young Tastes

That taste of ice cream, that little bite of cookie, the sip of soda, the piece of frozen pizza…they are harmless right?  After all, it is only one little bite once in a while.  Your child can’t be “ruined” by these harmless bites, right?  Every kid deserves to taste these foods, right?  That is debatable in the first three years according to Dr. Sears.  With each bite of ice cream, bite of cookie, sip of soda, and piece of frozen pizza you are shaping the tastes of your child.  You are teaching their taste buds what to expect, what is tasty, and what is normal.  Instead, why not teach their bodies to accept whole, fresh foods as normal and fun?  If you give your child a diet full of fresh foods, unsalted foods, foods low in sugar and high in fiber and protein you are setting them up for a lifetime of health eating and consequently good health. This can be challenging.  I will be the first to admit that it can be difficult to feed your child only the healthiest of options – especially if you are eating out.  As we are introducing solids to our son we are trying to only give him unprocessed foods, but guess what?  We sneak in organic o-shaped cereal and rice cakes in small amounts each day because he just loves the crunch.  We choose our processed foods very carefully though – no unpronounceable ingredients and no added sugar.  For the most part he gets fruits, veggies (when I can convince him to eat them), beans reconstituted in the crockpot to avoid any BPA contamination from a can, whole grain whole wheat breads/pastas, long grain brown rice, and organic whole milk yogurt.  He doesn’t yet have a taste for cake, ice cream, donuts, soda, etc. and I hope that he never does.  When we go out we take his food with us and if we want to order him something, we order fresh fruit. Don’t feel like you have to order from the kids menu, which are notoriously unhealthy.  Order sides from the adult menu and pack up the leftovers or bring your child’s food with you.  Teach them to choose the healthy options on the menu. Be kind to your child, help them develop tastes for foods that will keep them healthy throughout their life.  There will be plenty of time...
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Shopping the Perimeter

Go whole!  Try to make sure that majority of your food is unprocessed, whole, fresh, organic*, & in season. When you went grocery shopping the last time where did most of your groceries come from?  The perimeter of the store?  The aisles?  An equal mix of the perimeter and aisles?  When we go grocery shopping we try our hardest to stay on the outer perimeter of the store.  If we venture into too many aisles we end up with things like Oreo cookies and Mac and Cheese in our cart.  I’m not saying they aren’t yummy occasionally, but on the whole those are things we try to avoid. Go whole!  Try to make sure that majority of your food is unprocessed, whole, fresh, organic* (natural if organic isn’t available), and in season. So how do we tackle our shopping?  We start with the produce section.  Now, if you are fortunate enough to be able to shop in a Whole Foods or Earth Fare, the store is set up with that in mind.  We buy our snacks, sides, breakfasts in the produce section as much as possible.  By the time we are done in the produce section we have filled 8-10 reusable produce bags, added a melon to the basket, and probably a couple of plastic produce bags.  Our cart is nearly full by this point and our list is almost completely checked off. After the produce section we hit the bulk bin section.  If you have never shopped in the bulk section it is a little like being in a candy store (and there are even sweet things in this section).  You can try lots of new things for relatively little expense and you don’t have to buy a lot of the product (we have all been stuck with a huge box of something that we really did NOT like).  We usually replenish our stock of quinoa, oats (steel cut for morning oatmeal, and rolled oats for homemade granola bars), spelt flour, almonds, dark chocolate chips, long grain brown rice, whole wheat couscous, black beans (the baby loves them), pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and veggie pasta.  Just recently we tried amaranth (a grain) for the first time and we only bought exactly what we needed for the recipe.  Turns out we liked it, but if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have felt the guilt over not using something we paid...
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