Let’s first cut the habit of imbibing in high calorie, sweetened non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. Why? Did you know that the average person drinks over 800 calories per day? That is MORE THAN HALF of my daily caloric intake. Gasp. Hiccup. Oops! Removing these from your diet + cutting sugars will help you lose weight + feel more energetic without the sugar crashes. Let’s make it happen!
MY RULES: SIMPLE + STRAIGHT FORWARD
- Water first…it’s king. I start my morning with hot water + lemon every day to get my “habit” going. Water hydrates you, fills you up, lends to the 10 control systems in your body functioning properly. Drink 1/2 of your body weight in fluid ounces. Every. Single. Day. Keep reusable bottles in all of your “places.” I have one in my kitchen, bedside, car, + purse.
- Bored? Then flavor the water naturally with citrus or fruits/herb combinations. My fave this time of year is lemon + mint. There are bottles on the market that will infuse it for you – simply put the combination in the bottle, follow instructions, and refrigerate overnight to snag and go in the morning.
- Skip the soda (and the juice.) Soda addict? Yes, I am talking to you people out there who drink 3+ per day, whether it is diet or regular. Sugar, even sugar “flavored”/faked, merely lends to wanting MORE. You are feeding your cravings and that has to stop.
- Ween yourself off of the soda 1 by 1. How do you do this? Cut back by 1/day for 3-5 days, then another the next 3-5 days, until you get to none. Meanwhile, you can replace them with one carbonated all-natural drink per day. Carbonation bloats us + lends to poor digestion.
- No adding in…this means, with coffee, tea, anything, don’t add in syrups or sugars. Again, real or fake, you are feeding the sugar frenzy inside by sweetening your caffeine. Try a lighter, naturally flavored tea or a milder coffee bean where sugar isn’t needed.
LET’S TALK ALCOHOL too- tune in next week for a run-down on the do’s + don’ts
CALL TO ACTION FOLKS: Before we get into this topic- you have HOMEWORK! Write down what you drink. How much you drink/week. Then, I dare you to google the calories + tally up your weekly caloric intake when hitting happy hour or having wine with dinner. Let’s see the damage that is done that we may not be privy to- it’s all about being in the “know” before making changes. Check in with your reality. I will also debunk and/or support the benefits of some cocktails.
Millions of peaches….peaches for free! The health benefits and tasty, sweet goodness of this pitted stone fruit are incredible! Nutrition truly does come straight from the produce department!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PEACHES
- Aids in digestion: thanks to beneficial gut bacteria in the prebiotics that help with inflammation, immunity, and mood, peaches along with their decent level of fiber, are good for your digestive system.
- Immune system support: thanks to their Vitamin C + A content, these antioxidants help peaches boost your immune system.
- Beneficial for your skin: thanks to the water content (85%!) peaches help keep your skin hydrated while the Vitamin C content helps build collagen which fortifies the skin’s integrity and elasticity. Beta Carotene is found in peaches as well (thanks to their orange coloring,) and is what lends to the benefits of Vitamin A; protects from sun damage, balances the skin’s color, and lends to a glow.
- Helps protect your vision: Vitamin A lends to eye health, while peaches also have lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
- Lowers blood pressure: the potassium content in peaches, which works directly with sodium to keep the body in balance, helps regulate blood pressure. This relationship with sodium also helps potassium control bloat.
Purple Potato Health Benefits
Purple potatoes come in several varieties: Purple Peruvian, Purple Majesty, All Blue, Congo, Adirondack Blue, Purple Fiesta, and Vitelotte.
Purple potatoes have a richer, nuttier flavor than white potatoes and are higher in fiber with the skin on.
They contain high levels of:
- vitamin C
- carotenoid compounds
- polyphenolic compounds like caffeic acid, scopolin, chlorogenic acid, and ferulic acid
Purple potatoes are especially rich in polyphenol antioxidants called anthocyanins that lend to healthier cholesterol levels, improved vision and eye health, and a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
Part of the starch in purple potatoes is a type of fiber called resistant starch. Resistant starch resists digestion in your gastrointestinal tract, but the bacteria in your large intestine ferment it.
Their high potassium content, higher than a banana, helps improve blood pressure.
Dietary fiber helps keep you feeling full, prevents constipation, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Grill them, mash them, shred them for a hash…they can be cooked in any way!
GIMME ME…some organic blackberries!
I’ve always loved mixed berries thanks to their low sugar content + utter deliciousness, but when Spring rolls around, I am all about snagging some blackberries for smoothies, toast toppers, soups, salads, + more tasty uses.
SNAPSHOT OF HEALTH:
1 cup has just 62 calories, but have some of the highest antioxidant content amongst fruits. The dark-colored berry is a definite superstar. They are touted as a natural skin-tightener thanks to their Vitamin C + K levels, Also high in tannins, they are known for anti-inflammatory qualities, which we all need in our lives!
Simply put- give yourself a dose of blackberries while they are in season to boost your overall health + wellness!
Check out my quick toastie recipe with blackberries in it:
Blackberry + Sage: 1 1/2 TB goat cheese spread over a toasted slice of whole grain bread + topped with a handful of microgreens, several slightly smashed blackberries, a smidge of chopped sage, + a drizzle of honey.⠀ ⠀
BEHIND THE BEET
Did you know that beets were originally used solely for their greens? Centuries ago when they started using the root of it (where the color is or the “bulb;”) they used it to help with diseases related to digestion and the blood. Fast forward a bit and now we even use beetroot juice to color wine and food!
- Most common with the most varieties and all have a different, notable appearance
- Flavor: Earthy, gritty flavor which is due to the pigment and lends to this variety being the most beneficial to your health
- Names: red ace, Detroit dark red, early wonder tall top, bull’s blood, ruby queen, + the longer shaped (like a wider carrot) are: cylindra, forono
- Yellow-orange in color with less belatains
- Names: Touchstone gold, golden, boldor
- Flavor: Milder, more palatable flavor
- Most often pink-toned on the outside. When cut open, they look like a peppermint swirl
- Flavor: Are sweeter than red varieties + known for making dishes “pretty”
- Names: bassano, Bull’s eye, candy stripe, chiogga
- Most uncommon + least “healthy”
- Names: sugar, baby white, albino…
- Flavor: white beets are the mildest, sweetest, and least “earthy-tasting”
When hitting up the produce aisle or Farmer’s market, make sure when picking beets they are smooth, firm, and without blemishes.
COMMON COOKING PREPARATIONS:
- 100 grams (2/3 cups) of beet roots are a mere 44 calories + have 2 grams of fiber along with 1.7 grams of protein.
- They have a good deal of vitamins and minerals, but the true health benefits come from their color + their chemical composition due to the soil they grow in.
- Nitrates, of the dietary kind, are converted into nitric oxide in the body. This is a molecule that dilates blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to drop. Studies say the effects can happen within hours and is stronger in raw vs cooked beets.
- Interestingly, these nitrates have also been said to lend to improving mental and cognitive function by helping blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain
- These nitrates are also said to enhance athletic performance because they improve the efficiency of mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy within your cells. Beets are also said to increase your oxygen use by 20% when exercising. Consuming them 2-3 hours before a workout is recommended to see these benefits.
- While human studies are limited, the pigment in beets called betalains have proven to act as an anti-inflammatory in rats.
- 1 cup of beets contain 3.4g of fiber, which helps regulate digestive health. The average American only consumes 10-12g of fiber/day and we need 25-30g people!
FUN FACT: You can use the greens/leaves attached in a pesto or saute to add to a veggie dish or salad. Wash well + dry before using.
MY RECENT RECIPE:
Ashley’s Winter Slaw
Your average serving sizes visually defined
How you can do nutritional math in your head, visually
Most clients I have met over the last 12 years have not known the visual cues for proper serving sizes in the main food groups. This can be attributed to the fact that we have grown so accustomed to reading what it is on a box, a can, or a bag of food that we have not learned anything ourselves about the caloric count of what we eat as whole, fresh foods.
While I am not an obsessive calorie-counter because I preach a focus on quality over quantity, we do need to know how much of this quality we need. (See the word I used there? NEED vs WANT.) Over time, I boosted my own confidence in visually identified proper portions for food groups and putting it together to define an ideal meal time “plate” visually as well.
I will admit, it takes practice and some awkward plate shifting, analyzing, + general touching of your food- but with practice, you will start to immediately identify the standard visuals. See below for the 3 main steps to learning your visuals.
The approximate gram counts and calorie counts per serving of a major food group is below:
A good rule of thumb is to memorize this initially
- Carbohydrates: 1 serving = 15 grams/80 calories
- Protein: 1 serving of lean = 7 grams/55 calories, 1 serving of extra lean = 7 grams/35 calories
- Vegetables: 1 serving = 15 grams/25 calories
- Fruits: 1 serving = 15 grams/60 calories
- Fats/Oils: 1 serving = 5 grams/45 calories
Here is this information in real-life servings:
- Grains/Starches (15g = 1 serving) includes:
1 slice of bread, 1 roll, ½ C cereal, rice, or pasta, ½ tortilla, 6-8 small crackers, ½ bagel, pita, English muffin, or bun, ½ C potatoes, peas, or corn, 1/3 C beans
- Fruit (15g = 1 serving) includes:
1 piece medium fruit (ex: kiwi), ½ C cut fresh fruit, ½ C fresh juice, ½ C apple sauce (natural), ¼ C dried fruit (no sugar added), 15 grapes
- Dairy (15g = 1 serving) includes:
1/2 C milk substitute, ½ C Soy-based yogurt, Note: cheese is not dairy, it’s protein
- Vegetables (15g = 1 serving) includes:
½ C cooked veggies, 1C salad greens, 1C raw veggies, doesn’t include the higher starch veggies: carrots, peas, or potatoes
- Protein (7g = 1 serving) includes:
¼ C Tuna (canned), 1 oz or slice of soy cheese, 2 oz of crab, lobster, or shrimp, 1 slice luncheon meet, 1 oz. poultry, fish, pork
- Fats/Oils (5g = 1 serving) includes:
1 tsp butter/margarine, 1 tsp peanut/nut butter, 1 TB of most dressings, 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp seeds or nuts
Serving Sizes In Real Life Visuals
If you are out to eat and cannot decide how to make this more user-friendly, you can visualize the proper portion sizes easily with these helpful visual clues.
- Thumb tip or small marble: 1 tsp (to measure: oils)
- Thumb tip to first knuckle or large marble; 1 TB (to measure: butter or nut butters)
- Thumb or 2 large marbles: 2 TB solid food (to measure: nuts) or 1 ounce liquid (to measure: salad dressing, sauces, etc.)
- Golf ball or cupped handful: ¼ cup (to measure: beans, rice, etc.)
- Hockey puck or the inside of your palm from wrist to fingertips: 3 ounces (to measure: cooked meat, poultry, or fish)
- A 4×6 photograph: a slice of bread/whole grain
- Tennis ball: ½ C (to measure: fruit)
- Your fist, clenched, or a baseball: 1 C (to measure: vegetables)
Meanwhile, while learning to connect these visuals to food servings in your brain, you can utilize the plate method where, at lunch and dinner, visually this is your portion equation:
- YOUR PLATE = 1/2 vegetables + 1/4 lean protein + 1/4 whole grain starch (served with minimal sauce/dressings which serve as your fats)
Time to get learning- try to teach yourself these visual cues so that you can learn how to monitor your daily intake.