Weekend Activity: Farmers Market

Farmers markets are great places to buy fresh produce and other fresh food. They are usually locally-sourced, meaning that the food is grown or produced locally and many times the people selling the food are actually the producers, too. Farmers markets are one of the best options for high-quality, local, fresh food. Buying locally sourced products is great for many reasons. It is good for the environment because the food hasn’t been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, which uses a lot of fuel. It also means your food is much fresher. Many of the farmers own small farms and grow a few things which means you are getting a higher quality product. A lot of them farm organically, too, which is even better!

In Atlanta, we are very lucky because there are so many farmers markets here! We have traditional farmers markets that set up once a week and only open part of the year and we have year-round, permanent farmers markets. These are, sometimes, not strictly locally-sourced, but do tend to sell fresh, quality products. Some are also known as “world markets” and sell specialty, international products, too.

 

Some of our favorite Atlanta farmer’s markets are:

 

Your Dekalb Farmers Market

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This market is a permanent, indoor market. It is more like a big grocery store. There is a large produce section, a baked goods section, and a meat department. They also have a huge variety of products. They have more fruits and vegetables than a typical grocery store and their meat selection is also varied. They are considered a world market and have a great selection of international goods!

 

Morningside Farmers Market

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This market is a traditional farmers market where different, local vendors set up and sell their goods. However, it is open year-round! Morningside vendors also must be organic and local to sell at the market. Vendors include local produce farmers, bread makers, and coffee roasters!

 

Buford Highway Farmers Market

Harold Shinn is the president of the Buford Highway Farmer's Market in Doraville, Georgia.

This market is also a permanent, indoor market and sells a large selection of international goods. Their products aren’t always locally sourced, but they are high quality. This market also offers cooking classes with several classes being offered every week!

 

Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market

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Our neighborhood farmers market is open every Saturday morning from April through October. Vendors offer a variety of local produce, eggs, cheese, and other prepared food. They also have several local artists who sell other goods like jewelry, handbags, and pet supplies!

 

Peachtree Road Farmers Market

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Peachtree Farmers Market is a seasonal market and is open from April to December. It is the largest producer-only farmers market in the state. This means everything sold in the market is produced by the vendors, ensuring fair prices for buyer and seller. In addition to local produce and goods, they offer chef demonstrations and farm to table meals!

 

There are many other farmers markets around town, so find one in your neighborhood and add it to your weekly shopping routine to enjoy fresh, local produce!

Steps to Getting Your Nutrition on Track

There are many ways to make meaningful changes that will positively impact your diet and health. Focusing on certain areas of life and making simple changes can make a big difference. Here is what we recommend:

  1. At work: Make changes in your work routine that benefit your diet. Taking your lunch to work, keeping a water bottle at your desk, and avoiding the donuts in the breakroom are all great ways to start and keep up a good nutrition regimen.
  2. Social life: This might be the hardest part of life to make changes to, but if you can make better choices when you are out with friends, you will definitely see an improvement in your health! Choose simple, low calorie drinks when you are at the bar, have a date at home and cook a healthy meal instead of eating out, or eat a healthy meal at home before going out to keep you on track.
  3. Think ahead: This is huge in keeping your diet on track in every aspect of life. Whether it is meal prepping, looking at a menu before you head to the restaurant, or just packing some healthy snacks and a water bottle the night before, thinking ahead is vital!

This is definitely not the final word! When it comes to nutrition, the options are endless. There are so many good things you can do with your diet that will have positive effects on your health!

Veggie Egg Muffins

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! That’s what we’ve been told at least. And while there is an ongoing debate on the importance of breakfast, we think starting your day with a healthy meal is a good idea. It gives you energy to begin your day, gets your metabolism going, and can keep you from crashing mid-morning. WHAT we are eating for breakfast makes all of the difference, though. It is important to get a good amount of protein and healthy fats in the morning. This will help keep you full until lunch and even helps regulate your blood sugar throughout the day.

These veggie egg muffins are an excellent way to get a lot of protein in the morning and even a serving of vegetables! They are easy to make and can be reheated in the microwave for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. You can also make them using whatever veggies you have on hand!

 

What you need:

– 5 whole eggs

– 5 egg whites

– 1 red bell pepper, chopped

– 1 yellow onion, chopped

– 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon olive, coconut, or avocado oil

– salt and pepper to taste

 

What you do:

  1. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl or measuring cup (the spout on a measuring cup will make pouring easier).
  2. Sauté bell pepper and onion in oil until tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add spinach and sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute.
  5. Add veggies to eggs and combine.
  6. Pour mixture, evenly, into a greased, 12 cup muffin tin.
  7. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy later!

 

Are You a Good Egg?

I’m not sure about you, but I used to get “analysis paralysis” when trying to choose the right eggs at the supermarket. I could not decipher the difference between cage-free, organic, free-range, etc. There were so many different labels that I didn’t know where to start. It was only after I did some research that I realized just how misleading those labels were. Maybe you’re facing the same problems I did, or maybe you don’t even know you’re not eating healthy eggs, but we’re here to help! Here are some of the biggest misnomers when choosing your eggs and ways to find the best quality, nutritious eggs on the market.

Misleading labels:

As I stated before, there can be a lot of misleading labels, so let’s start with the first one: cage-free. Most of us have seen the video clips of mistreated animals, especially chickens being jammed into cages. So, when we hear cage-free, we immediately think they must be having the time of their lives! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. To be labeled “cage-free,” the chicken is indeed out of the cage, but not necessarily outdoors. Most cage-free chickens never even see a day of sunshine.

The next most misleading label is free-range. To be labeled “free-range,” the chicken must have “access” to the outdoors. This does not mean they will always see the outdoors, as the flock of hens and chickens can be so large that only a portion can see sunshine. In addition, having access to the outdoors does not mean24-hour access—some hens only have 5 minutes of access to the true outdoors!

Finally, the last misleading label is organic. The good thing about being organic is that the hen or chicken was fed organic, antibiotic-free feed, or food. However, this does not have to do with their living arrangement or access to the outside.

Image courtesy of the Humane Society of America

Image courtesy of the Humane Society of America

What you should buy:

After reading all of this, you may be thinking of throwing in the towel when it comes to purchasing eggs. But, don’t give up yet! There are healthy alternatives out there. The best option is organic, pastured (or pasture-raised) eggs. Pastured eggs mean that the hens could roam around outside in the pasture without being crammed into cages. They were exposed to sunlight and natural forms of food. As stated above, having the distinction of being “organic” means you don’t have to worry that the hens were fed feed with antibiotics while roaming the pastures.

If you do your homework and take your time when at the supermarket, you’ll be able to find the natural, healthy eggs. However, if you can stop by a local farmer’s market, make it a point to pick up organic, pastured eggs from a local farmer. If you’re skeptical, ask the farmer questions based on this article so you know you’re only getting the best ingredients.

Why bother eating organic, pastured eggs instead of eggs coming from chickens confined in factory farms? Check out these details below.

Eggs from pastured hens usually contain:

  • 1⁄3 less cholesterol
  • 1⁄4 less saturated fat
  • 2⁄3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 4 to 6 times more vitamin D

Honey Dijon Salmon for Two

Valentine’s day is a great time to get together with your significant other and spend quality time together. Many couples opt to celebrate the holiday at a restaurant, but the crowds can be crazy! Or, we are on a budget and can’t spend hundreds on a pricey meal. Sometimes, it is just a better idea to stay in. But, you don’t have to sacrifice a delicious meal! Buy a couple of quality salmon filets, some fresh veggies, and cook a fantastic (and healthy!) Valentine’s meal this year!

 

What you need:

– 2 large, fresh salmon filets

– 2 tablespoons honey

– 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

– juice from ½ a lemon

– 1 clove minced garlic

– ½ teaspoon dried parsley

– salt and pepper to taste

 

What you do:

  1. Combine honey, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Place salmon in a lightly greased baking dish.
  3. Pour combined ingredients over the salmon, coating the filets completely.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until salmon is cooked through and flakes with a fork.
  5. Enjoy with a side of roasted veggies (recipe below)!

 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

These brussels sprouts are an easy, healthy side for any meal! And you can use other veggies in this recipe, too! Broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and zucchini are all great when roasted. Use this same recipe using any of them, just adjust the cooking time!

 

What you need:

– 2 cups raw brussels sprouts

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

 

What you do:

  1. Wash brussels sprouts, cut off stem, and halve.
  2. In a large bowl combine brussels sprouts, oil, and seasonings. Mix well so all of the sprouts are coated with oil and seasoning.
  3. Spread brussels sprouts on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender.

 

 

4 Tips for Easier Meal Prepping

It’s the weekend! That means it is time to meal prep! I know many people think you have to cook for hours and use a ton of freezer space when meal prepping, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Before you get overwhelmed at the idea of making a week of meals ahead of time, check out some of our tips to make the process as efficient as possible!

  1. Don’t plan ALL of your meals:

Instead of prepping your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyday of the week, pick the meals that need to be planned the most. For example, if you work a typical 9 to 5, and usually have evenings free to make dinner, just plan your breakfasts and lunches. This will still help keep you on track during the work day, but cuts down on prep time.

 

  1. Prep for your work week:

This is similar to the first point, but a little different. If you have an untraditional work schedule or are a college student, you might not have to make a week of meals. For example, if you work a job that is 3 days on, 3 days off, just prep for the days you work. If you have class every other day, make sure those are the days that are prepped for.

 

  1. Cook in bulk:

Cook a lot of one thing and eat that for a meal every day. Making a big batch of soup is a great option for this and soups are usually pretty simple to make. Using a slow cooker or crock pot is a great way to make batch dishes. You spend less time cooking and cleanup is a breeze!

 

  1. Partial prep:

If you still don’t feel like completely prepping all of the week’s meals on the weekend, partially prep them. Go ahead and wash fruits and veggies and maybe even cut them so they are ready to cook during the week. This simple prep will go a long way when you come home from a long day and need to make dinner. If everything is ready to cook, it won’t feel as daunting to make a meal.

 

Check out our Veggie Egg Muffin recipe. They are perfect for meal prepping!

 

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a burden. Take a little bit of time once or twice a week to meal prep and keep yourself on track!

And, let us know your favorite meal prep tricks in the comments!

How to Build the Best Smoothie

Smoothies are very popular among those trying to lose weight or eat better. They are a great way to get in a ton of nutrients at once and can even be their own meal. However, it is important to build a smoothie the right way in order to make it as healthy as possible. You want to make sure you get all of your core nutrients – protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber – to help you get the most out of your smoothie and keep you feeling full. For example, an all fruit smoothie will get your carbs and fiber in, but will leave you hungry sooner than if you add in a good protein source. Another important thing to remember when making smoothies is to use as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible and not to add extra sugar. Use these four steps to build the best smoothie!

  1. Pick your fruit: Pick 2 – 3 different fruits to be the bulk of your smoothie. Berries are great because they are flavorful, nutrient rich, and low in sugar. Adding a banana will add a good amount of fiber to your smoothie to help you feel more full. Also, adding mango or pineapple will add a vitamin C boost and great flavor!
  2. Pick your veggies: Pick 1 or 2 veggies to add more vitamins and minerals to your smoothie. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are great! They are very nutritious and when mixed in with the fruit and other ingredients, nearly impossible to taste. Avocados are also a great addition. They are a known super food and will add fiber and healthy fats to your smoothie.
  3. Pick your protein: Use ¼ of a cup of organic almond, hazelnut, or peanut butter for a great protein source! We want to stick with using whole foods that are unprocessed, so we try to stay away from protein powders as much as possible. If you do choose to use protein powder, though, try pea, hemp, or rice protein. These varieties contain no dairy or other animal products and usually don’t contain artificial sweeteners.
  4. Pick your liquid: Use ½ a cup of liquid to blend your smoothie. You can use more or less depending on how thick you want your smoothie and how much of the other ingredients you are using. The best choices are water, chilled green tea, or coconut water. Fruit juices and milk add unnecessary sugars. If you want a creamier smoothie, try using unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

 

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Nuts and berries smoothie:

½ cup blueberries

½ cup strawberries

1 banana

1 cup spinach

¼ cup almond butter

½ cup coconut water

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

 

The Calorie Counting Game: Good vs. Bad

It’s easy to get caught up in the calorie counting game. Logically, you would think that the more calories you eat, the more weight you would put on, and vice versa. However, that’s not exactly true. Not all calories are created equal and we must stop treating 100 calories of raw almonds the same as 100 calories of Gummy Bears.

Different foods have different effects on our body, and not just from how full you feel. Our digestive tract is responsible for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. Each type of food you eat (carbs, fats, or proteins) determines where in your body it will begin breaking down. The longer the food is in your system before being broken down, the longer you feel full.

For example, carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth, continues in the stomach, and finishes breaking down in the intestine. Our proteins, on the other hand, don’t start digestion until they enter the stomach, while our fats and lipids really don’t start getting broken down until the small intestine (although there is partial breakdown in the mouth and stomach).

Image courtesy of commonsensehealth.com

Image courtesy of commonsensehealth.com

So, what does all of this mean to you? If your diet mainly consists of carbohydrates, you will experience a quick burst of energy, burn off everything in a short amount of time, and then become hungry again. Without a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in each meal, your energy will continue to spike and crash.

Next time you’re feeling a little sluggish and going for a quick snack, avoid that 100-calorie pack of cookies or chips! Most of these convenient snacks are nothing more than simple carbs that burn up in your body very quickly. Therefore, that 100-calorie pack becomes the “500-calorie pack” when you keep going back for more!

Need a morning or afternoon snack that will keep you satisfied and full until your next meal? Try celery with almond butter and raw, unfiltered honey drizzled on top. Because it’s almost completely water-based, eating celery and chewing it up burns more calories than you gain from eating it! Mix that with some healthy, organic nut-butter and a drizzle of raw, unfiltered honey and you’re getting a protein-packed snack with immunity boosting properties as well!

Listen below to a portion of our interview with Linda Citron and Citron Nutrition as we discuss the benefits of good calories versus bad calories:

What are YOU drinking?

We know that the weekends can be the perfect time to go out with friends or family to have a cocktail or two. Unfortunately, it can be hard to enjoy yourself when you’re trying to better your health and nutrition, but keep messing up every weekend. Below, we’re going to compare different alcoholic beverages so you can make a better decision when ordering at the bar!

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According to this graphic by LiveScience, we can see that one of the “healthier” options is an 80-proof spirit, like a shot of vodka, tequila, or whiskey. Here’s the problem…when you turn that shot into a mixed drink, you risk adding lots of unwanted sugar and calories. So, instead of adding soda, fruit juices, or pre-made cocktail mixes, try using healthier options such as sparkling water with lemon or lime juice. Like it a little sweeter? Mix in watermelon or muddled berries. A little bolder? A few dashes of hot sauce are a great way to kick it up! Try these healthy alternatives next time you’re at the bar to have fun without ruining your diet!

3 Ways to Eat Healthy on Game Day

February 5th marks this year’s Super Bowl Sunday and we all have a lot to celebrate—the Atlanta Falcons made the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999! Like many of you, I will be celebrating this Sunday and, like many of you, will be surrounded by tempting, delicious, yet unhealthy treats and snacks. How is it possible to stay healthy and “on track” when everyone is devouring food from chips and dips to cupcakes and brownies?

Here are a few tricks to help YOU win this Super Bowl Sunday, regardless of who is playing!

  1. Bring your own food: Now this depends on what type of party you’re attending. If you’re going to a pot-luck where everyone contributes by bringing food, then you’re in luck! Opt to bring healthy items such as a veggie or fruit tray or something more substantial like grilled chicken tenders! Go ahead and grill 6-8 chicken breasts and cut them into strips, or tenders. Bring along some BBQ sauce or honey mustard and this healthy treat is sure to be a hit!
  2. Eat beforehand: The Super Bowl is at 6:30pm, right around dinner time. Instead of going to the party or sports bar starving, eat a healthy dinner right beforehand consisting of protein (like grilled chicken or salmon) and complex carbohydrates (like quinoa) to help keep you full. This will curb your appetite so you’re not tempted by all the snacks when you get to the party.
  3. Host the party yourself: Although this is more work for you up front, this certainly helps you control what will and will not be at the party. You can make sure the snacks consist of healthy options like veggies and hummus and a desert table with a fruit tray.

Try using one or more of the tips above to help you stay healthy and full this Super Bowl Sunday! No one likes regretting their weekend food choices on Monday morning. Good luck and Go Falcons!