My Top Veggie Picks…and a Giveaway


Here I am at our local Farmer’s Market right in Rockefeller Center at the heart of Manhattan.  This Farmer’s Market runs Monday thru Fridays during the summer and is a great spot to visit during my lunch break.

Veggies are low in calories and loaded with micronutrients, fiber, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals…so go ahead and eat them until your heart’s content (exceptions: starches such as white potatoes and corn)…I eat a vast array of the rainbow in unlimited veggies each and everyday.  What’s the secret? Keep your veggies exciting by incorporating them into your morning smoothie, afternoon salad, evening soup and snack time crudites.

Start your breakfast, lunch and dinner with a serving of vegetables such as a large salad or crudites to increase nutrient intake and help control your appetite.

Dark Leafy Greens-

Bursting with Vitamins A, K and C, folate, magnesium, manganese, calcium and fiber.  Health Boosts: May promote eye health thanks to carotenoids (a group of pigments found mainly in green leafy veggies, tomatoes and carrots) and fight cancer.

Bok Choy-

Contains Vitamin C, folate, fiber and Calcium.  Health Boost: May help promote bone health and support immunity.

Brussels Sprouts-

Full of Vitamins A, K and C, manganese, folate, fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6.  Health Boost: Linked to reduce cancer risk, especially colon and breast cancers.

Radishes-

Full of folate, fiber and Vitamin C.  Health Boost: Helps with weight control and may help boost the immune system.

Bean Sprouts-

Soaring with Vitamins C and K, folate, potassium and protein.  Healthy Boost: May boost satiety and assist in weight management.

Red Bell Peppers-

Chock full of Vitamins C, A, B6 and K, fiber, folate and manganese.  Health Boost: May promote heart health.  Vitamin C supports immunity; cartenoids may decrease risk of certain types of cancer.

What are your favorite vegetables and how do you incorporate them into your day?

And Now For My Giveaway:

I’m picking 2 lucky readers to win a package from Element Bars, a website that lets you create your very own bar with the ingredients of your choice.

To Enter: Leave me a comment on this post telling me what kind of Element Bar you would create.  I will pick 2 lucky winners on Friday, August the 20th at 5PM EST.

Good Luck!

And, I’ve got an Element Bars Discount for you too…

You can receive a 15% Off Discount at Elementbars.com by entering the code: EB15 from now thru December 31, 2010.

Enjoy!

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Fresh Direct 20% Discount

Turn off the alarm clock and sleep in. Your weekly early morning dash to the Farmer’s Market for fresh salad greens and pasture-raised eggs has just ended. Beginning today, timed to the arrival of the summer’s bounty of fruits and vegetables, leading online grocer FreshDirect will double its local offerings to include more than 350 products during the peak season, from more than 30 farmers and suppliers within 300 miles of New York City.

“We’ve traveled locally to find small-scale producers and family-run businesses that offer the freshest, most delicious, highest-quality food direct from the farm.” said Monica Woo, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, FreshDirect. “At FreshDirect, our criteria for the local products are that they must not only be good for our customers, but also good for local farmers and good for our environment, too.”

FreshDirect’s fresh selection of local fruit, vegetables, dairy, cheese, grass-fed beef, seafood, bakery, and specialty products such as beer and wine can now be delivered to your door, many within 48 hours of being picked.


For FreshDirect, local means within 300 miles of FreshDirect and clear traceability of the products. On a daily basis, their trucks will pick-up seasonal products from farms out on Long Island, meaning you can have produce picked from the land and onto your table within 48 hours. Other products come from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley, as well as cheese from Vermont.

FreshDirect believes in supporting local producers and cares about their community. All of the farms and purveyors have been visited by the FreshDirect team, where they have formed personal relationships. And whenever possible, FreshDirect places emphasis on small-batch or small-scale and family-owned and run companies.

Now you can get your pasture-raised eggs without waking up at the crack of dawn to get the goods at market. FreshDirect comes to you, on your time, offering everything and more than at the farmer’s market. Customers will be able to order hormone-free, antibiotic-free dairy from Ronnybrook Farm, Constant Bliss Cheese from Jasper Hill Farms, grass-fed beef from Hardwick Beef, Long Island wines, Ommegang beer, new offerings from FreshDirect favorite Satur Farms, fresh fruit pies hand-made locally by Breezy Hill Orchards, fresh Long Island seafood, packaged goods with locally-sourced ingredients, and when it’s time, local corn from Altobelli Farms.

New site features on the local page include an interactive map of all of the farms that lets you shop by proximity, as well as sweepstakes and discounts. And throughout the summer FreshDirect’s weekly newsletter ‘What’s Good’ will feature letters from the farmers themselves.


So, I wanted to share with all of you, my readers and fans FreshDirect’s impressive local expansion. They’ve doubled their local offerings and can now provide their customers with farm-to-table produce within 48 hours. www.freshdirect.com/local.

Because it’s seasonally dictated, gorgeous produce will be added throughout the summer… newly available on the site are local golden zucchini, rapini, yellow tomatoes, squash blossoms, black Tuscan kale, Satur Farms herbs (lemon thyme, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint), local cherries, and so much more. And by July 12th, FreshDirect will have delicious Long Island corn, plums, apricots, and fresh fruit pies from upstate NY.

Even more exciting news —  I’ve asked FreshDirect to provide a discount code as a special deal for your readers. The SUPPORTLOCAL code is good for 20% off their entire Local Market and is good all summer long. I hope you’ll post about FreshDirect’s renewed commitment to local farmers and producers.

You can use this link: http://twitpic.com/1ysh5l.

About FreshDirect

FreshDirect is one of the nation’s leading online food brands and grocery providers, known for its convenient home delivery service and the manufacture of fresh, delicious food. Changing the way customers shop for groceries since 2002, the company uses a direct distribution model with in-house, overnight production that cuts out the middleman and helps FreshDirect offer farm-fresh food at prices up to 20% lower than conventional grocery stores. Every product is 100% satisfactory guaranteed, every time.

Thanks to expert daily ratings, FreshDirect customers can easily shop for best of the season in produce and seafood. Only at FreshDirect, the online shopping experience is highly personalized with smart shopping features that help customers track their favorites, remember missed items, shop from previous orders and get recommendations on new foods they might like. FreshDirect has also teamed up with top New York City chefs and restaurants to bring customers quick, restaurant-quality prepared meals, unavailable anywhere else.

FreshDirect has fulfilled more than 11.6 million orders to date. Their ever-expanding service area includes most of Manhattan, locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, as well as parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester and Nassau County.

For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com.

In The News…

Bringing Clarity to ‘Natural’ Claims

A & P Launches Produce Loyalty Program

Too Much Sugar in Toddler Foods

Keep Hydrated in the Summer Heat

FDA Seeks Less Use of Antibiotics in Animals

Going Gluten-Free is A Growing Trend

Banish the Bloat

We’ve all had those days when we just can’t seem to banish the bloat in our stomach areas…here are a few culprits that may be causing your bloated belly…follow these tips and see how you feel.  Many of my clients swear they instantly feel better within a few days after tweaking a few of their daily rituals.

Forgo the Gum

When we chew gum, we swallow air, which can be trapped in our GI tracts and result in an uncomfortable bloated belly.

Ditch the Salt Shaker

High sodium foods such as processed, packaged goods, condiments and many restaurant meals can leave you bloated and uncomfortable, especially if they ‘slip’ MSG in the ingredient list.

Bloater Veggies

We all know broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are sure gas creators, therefore steer clear of these gas guzzlers and your intestinal tract will thank you.


Reach for Potassium

Foods rich in potassium such as strawberries and bananas counterbalance the sodium in your system and will leave you feeling less bloated and ‘puffy’.


The Bloat Culprits:

  • Alcohol
  • Soy Sauce
  • Canned Soups
  • Popcorn
  • Dried Fruit

The Bloat Busters:

  • Blueberries
  • Asparagus
  • Salmon
  • Watermelon
  • Citrus Fruits

Are there certain foods and beverages that seem to leave you feeling bloated?


Lucious Leafy Greens

greens

Many of my clients considered ‘leafy green veggies’ unappetizing before they came to me for counseling.  The first thing that came to their minds when I mentioned ‘leafy green veggies’ was “Well, I eat Iceberg Lettuce”! O boy, I thought…we’ve got some work to do and this is going to be fun.  This is what I love about being a Nutritionist.  I truly love making a difference in the way my clients eat and make them realize that this pale lettuce, once so ubiquitous in restaurant salads, does not have the power-packed goodness of other delicious greens.

Before my clients came to me for counseling, they either forgot about these nutrient-rich, flavorful foods or got scared off by the idea of preparing them.

Learning to cook and eat greens is essential for creating lasting health.  It is a simple, easy way to boost your daily diet.  The next time you are at the farmers market or in your local food store, be sure to add some of the following greens to your shopping list: Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Cabbage, Collards, Chicory, Dandelion, Escarole, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Watercress and many other varieties of lettuce.

Leafy green veggies help strengthen our respiratory and circulatory systems.  They are high in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K.

Leafy green veggies are packed with folic acid, chlorophyll, fiber and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  Moreover, they help with blood purification, cancer prevention, improving circulation, strengthening your immune system and improving gall bladder, kidney and live function.  They are also a great ally in the Fall when cold season begins because greens can help clear congestion and reduce mucus.

Surprisingly, greens are not as complicated as they may appear  Try a variety of cooking methods such as boiling, sauteing in olive oil, steaming, blanching, roasting or chopping up for salads and snacks.  Chopping raw veggies for salads and snacks takes only a few minutes to rinse and prepare.  Cooking greens takes a couple of minutes of prep time and about two minutes of cooking time.  You can experiment with cooking your greens with seeds, nuts, beans, butter, tofu, seital, tempeh, chicken, turkey, fish, ground meat, eggs, etc.  Green veggies are easy to add to homemade or prepared soups or stews right before serving.

Try to get into the habit of adding these green veggies to your diet as often as possible.  While veggies are the scarcest food in the American diet, leafy green veggies area is lacking most of all.

Give some of these green leafy veggies a try and see how you feel!  Let me know what you think about the different flavors and textures of these delicious greens…I’m interested to hear!

Uproot from the Green Basics

While everyday veggies such as broccoli and spinach are great for your health, be adventurous and try these other dark greens that pack a flavorful and nutrient-dense punch.

  • Kale- This leafy green is easy to grow and thrives in cold temps.  The beautiful leaves provide an earthy flavor and excellent nutritional value.  I love making ‘kale wraps’ where I wrap kale leaves around my fish and chicken for a fun finger food!
  • Collard Greens- A staple of traditional Southern cooking, this nutritional powerhouse provides vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and magnesium.  Collard greens are delicious to bake with and I love adding collards to my baked fish recipes.
  • Bok Choy- This veggie has a light, sweet flavor and a crisp texture.  Toss some bok choy into stir-fries, Asian dishes or soups.
  • Escarole- This curly Italian green has a bitter taste.  As you remove the leaves, you will experience different degrees of flavor! As the leaves are peeled back, they continue to lighten in shade and bitterness.

Homeade n’ Hearty Gluten-Free Pizza

Last night I created a homemade gluten-free, dairy-free veggie pizza that had my taste buds dancin’ for more…it was fabulous (to say the least).  Here are the easy and delicious recipes for my pizza crust, sauce and topping.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice milk
  • 2 large eggs or egg substitute
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ripened avocado, mashed and slightly melted

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, beat together milk and eggs.  Add flours and salt.  Slowly add in avocado.
  • Transfer mixture to a 12 inch circle on a baking sheet or round pizza pan. Be sure to leave a thicker crust along the outsides to keep the sauce and vegetables from running onto the pan.
  • Top with sauce and vegetables of your choice (see below).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pizza is golden brown and fully cooked.

Gluten-Free Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce can) organic tomato sauce
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp. sage

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine all above ingredients and mix well.
  • Spread evenly atop unbaked crust.
  • Top with the following or any toppings of your choice:

Pizza Toppings

  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 1 Fresh small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Fresh small summer squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Fresh red peppers, diced

Simply add any or all of the above toppings to your pizza.  I enjoy sprinkling nutritional yeast and ground flax seeds atop my pizza…it adds a perfect nutty, cheese-like taste without the dairy!

Now that’s what I call a seriously delicious (and healthy) New York pizza!  Enjoy.

Get Smart n’ Get Snackin’…

Are You a Smart Snacker?  Here are a few of my tips to help you navigate through the snack drawer.  Be aware of those processed, store-bought ‘treats’ and opt for your own homemade, nutritious snack packed with vitamins and nutrients to keep you happy and healthy all day long.

nutttt

Traveling for the New Year? Pack some of my portable snacks to keep your tummy satisfied whether you’re in the car, on the plane or train…these healthy nibbles are sure to keep your taste buds happy and your belly trim…just in time for the New Year.

Happy New Years Eve!

Be Mindful of Why You are Eating.

Are you stressed? Thirsty? Not eating enough? Ask yourself these questions before you dig in.  Be sure to keep healthy snack options in your office for a quick go-to when you’re in need of a quick fix.  When eating your meals, plate it,  sit down and savor your food…chew each bite and relax.  Plating your food and sitting down will give you visual of how much you have consumed. Many of my clients eat breakfast standing up, lunch at their desks and dinner in front of the television, this will not only disrupt your digestion, but leaves you unsatisfied and yearning for more!

Portion Control.

Know your weaknesses and your triggers.  If you’re known to eat a box of cereal or cookies in one sitting-reach for your Ziploc bags as soon as you purchase these foods and make yourself portion controlled snacks.  This way, when you are in the mood for cereal or cookies, you can easily reach for one bag, sit down, put it on a plate or in a bowl and enjoy your snack without mindlessly over-doing it.

Don’t Skip Meals.

We all know the most important meal of the day is a hearty breakfast.  Be sure to follow up with a mid-morning snack, a filling lunch, an afternoon nibble and a nutritious dinner.  Do not skip meals; this will only set you up for failure.  Keep your blood sugar steady and your body and brain fueled by eating a 3 balanced meals with 2 snacks each day.  This may not work for everyone, many of my clients prefer to have 3 meals and a dessert or they have learned that eating mini-meals throughout the day works for them.  Whatever works for you is what you should stick to-we’re all different people with different needs, therefore the is no cookie cutter way of how many meals and snacks you should be eating each day.  Just be sure that you feel energized and satisfied; if you are hungry, reach for a smart, healthy option.


Decipher Between Snacks and Treats.

Those ‘100 calorie’ packs that you see in the food store are not snacks–they’re treats! Take a looksy at the nutrition facts and ingredients- you’ll be surprised by the amount of sugar and additives in each little pouch.  Instead of reaching for processed treats, opt for a more nutritious whole food option such as a whole grain cracker with cheese, a small Greek yogurt with apple slices or a banana with nut butter.


Don’t Wait Until Your Tummy is Rumblin’.

I encourage my clients to eat every 3 to 5 hours.  If you let yourself go any longer, you can damage your day and set yourself up for an overeating fest.


Reach for Lean Protein, Good Fats, Fruits and Veggies.

When you eat a snack of protein, healthy fat and produce you can achieve a satisfied feeling rather than reaching for a sugar-laden treat.  Try pairing a nut butter atop celery, a few slices of cheese with an apple or a handful of pistachios and grapes.


Cook in Bulk for Easy Prep.

Purchase store bought rotisserie chicken and you can easily toss it into your morning omelet, afternoon chicken salad sandwich and evening pasta  dish.  On a Sunday evening, try to cook up a batch of inexpensive pantry staples such as potatoes, rice, pasta and beans.  Store leftovers in the fridge for the week in Tupperware containers, therefore when you are ready to eat, you can simply reach for these precooked foods and whip up a nutritious snack meal in no time.


Have Fun, Get Creative
.

Eating should not be a chore; take a look at my On-the-go-Snacks and More Snacks for healthy ideas between meals.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, instead of a peanut butter and jelly white bread sandwich, opt for a whole grain bread with all natural nut butter and jelly without added sugars.

Take a look at Cooking Light Magazine’s ’10 Healthy Habits in 2010′ for some great ways to kick off your New Year on the right foot.

In The News…

A&P Features Printable Coupons

Safety of Food Spotty at Airports

Gluten-Free Menus Make Their Way to Small Towns

USDA Program Aims To Simplify Foods’ Nutritional Values

Have a safe and enjoyable New Years Eve!

10 Healthy New Years Resolutions

As 2009 rolls to an end, too many of us are still eating too much cholesterol, sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats.  We’ve made resolutions each year, but daily stressors and our constant time-crunch lifestyles lead to mindless and unhealthy eating.  Here are ten simple steps to a healthier diet and lifestyle for 2010, so cross off your list of excuses and start January on the right foot.  Healthy diets don’t require a major overhaul, just a few changes here and there is all you need.

Don’t Cut Out, Simply Add In

Instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love, start slowly by adding in healthy, wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Avoiding the foods you cannot live without will only set you up for disaster.  Moderation is key to enjoying some unhealthy foods, so don’t beat yourself up for savoring sweets, just be sure to keep yourself in check throughout the rest of the day.

Watch Where Your Calories Are Coming From

If you’re eating a white bagel for breakfast, a smear of Jiff on Wonder bread for lunch and a frozen entrée for dinner, it’s a smart choice to re-consider the source of these processed foods.  Aim to eat as close to the natural source as possible and revamp your pantry with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  For instance, opt for a whole grain bagel with lox, almond butter on whole wheat bread for lunch and a tofu stir fry for dinner.  You’ll be amazed at the surge in energy these simple swaps will make in your daily life.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Hop off the Lo-Carb bandwagon, which phased out years ago; by now you should know healthy carbs do exist.   Enjoy nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which contain complex carbs and fiber to keep you satiated longer than the nutrient-void simple carbs found in candy, soda, white bread products and juices.  Simple carbs are nothing but empty calories and will leave you unsatisfied with a blood sugar surge and crash, therefore opt for your whole grain friends in lieu of their white counterparts.

Enjoy Heart-Healthy Fats

All fats are not created equal.  Forgo the fat phobia and enjoy healthy unsaturated fats from oils, fish, seeds and nuts in moderation.  Steer clear of saturated fats found in whole milk, meat and cheese.  Make an effort to scan nutrition labels for trans fats, which are unhealthy and found in many products containing hydrogenated oils.  Moreover, limit your intake of full fat dairy and red meat; opt for skim milk or unsweetened soy milk in your morning cereal and swap ground chicken in place of beef in your evening tacos.

Increase your Fiber

Americans typically don’t get enough fiber in their diets, therefore make it a ‘Must’ for 2010 to increase your fiber intake with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.  You get more fiber, vitamin E, B6, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium in whole wheat than in refined ‘enriched’ white flour.  Moreover, toss in fruits, beans and vegetables to your morning omelet, afternoon salad and evening chili to reap the heart-healthy benefits of fiber.  Get creative and opt for a breakfast parfait, whole wheat zucchini bread, hummus with vegetables or bean burgers.

Up Your Water Intake

It’s quite easy and free.  Keep bottled water with you all day long; one at your work desk, another in your kitchen fridge and yet another along your bedside to give your body a fluid boost and help flush out toxins.  Opt for a glass of water with fresh mint, cucumber slices, oranges or limes, which will give your taste buds a refreshing treat without the calories and sugar of soda or juice.  Avoid sodas and sugar-laden juices by slowly transitioning to a mixture of seltzer and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Create A Rainbow

Vary the rainbow of produce in your meals; try adding a new fruit and vegetable to your meals each week.  Toss an apple in your brown bag or whip up a fruit smoothie for breakfast.  When creating dinner, opt for topping your fish or chicken with vegetable and fruit purees.  Keep handy bags of frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer and create ready-to eat crudités in your fridge.  Need an emergency snack to keep in your gym bag? Why not create a mixture of dried apples, apricots, pears and cherries? Dried fruits are a tasty way to satisfy your sweet craving and add to your fiber quota for the day.

Nix Mindless Munchies

Keep yourself busy with a mint or a piece of gum.  Moreover, make a habit of brushing your teeth after each meal.  After your meal, enjoy a hot herbal tea or hot water with lemon while you digest your food and give your brain enough time to register that you are full.  Take a walk, call a friend or journal; make a list of things to do when you are ‘bored’ and find yourself mindlessly devouring the pantry.  Post this list on your fridge and refer to it each time you find yourself reaching for the pint of Breyer’s.

Forgo Temptations

Leave the chips, cookies and candy in the food store, not in your pantry.  Unfortunately these tasty treats seem to creep into our kitchens and the outcome is never enjoyable.  Instead of depriving yourself of sweets, think about what you are craving and what would satisfy your need for sweetness.  Perhaps it’s a cup of hot coco with skim milk, cinnamon and coco powder, or an apple dipped into agave nectar and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut.  If you are a chocolate fan, enjoy a square of rich dark chocolate or a few raw cacao nibs to cure your sweet tooth.

Enjoy Your Food

Create an eye-appeasing dish and sit down in an enjoyable environment while you dine.  Many people eat while standing up and end up inhaling food out of the fridge.  Turn away from the computer at lunch and savor your food, turn off the television at night and focus on your food presentation.  Taking the time to prepare a beautiful dish is the name of the game and easier to do than you think.  The only way a healthy diet will work is if you enjoy the foods you are eating so be sure to savor each bite of your meal and concentrate on your hunger and satiety levels before reaching for seconds.

In The News…

General Mills Launches Liveglutenfreely.com

General Mills To Reduce Sugar in Cereals