Friday, June 29, 2012

Savvy Market Shopping

The best thing about the summer for nutrition is the farmer’s market! I love waking up on Saturday, iced coffee in hand, and heading the farmers market to see the latest, most beautiful produce nature has to offer. Here are my tips to making your farmer’s market trip most successful…

Why have you done a good thing?
Farmer’s markets are right-to-the-source in terms of nutrition. The fresher you eat produce from the time it was picked, the higher in vitamins and minerals the fruit or vegetable will be. The reason? The second a fruit or vegetable is picked, it starts to die, and the nutrients die along with it. So eating local by shopping at farmer’s markets ensures that you are getting the best BANG for your BITE! You are also doing your part to reduce energy consumption, as the produce does not have to travel as far. In terms of meat and dairy products, at a farmer’s market you will be purchasing more grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free products that have been fed and raised appropriately. Eggs at the market, in particular, as also incredibly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for good heart health and reducing inflammation.

How to make your farmer’s market trip successful…
It’s always a surprise what is going to be freshest and most delicious at the market on any given morning. Here are Your Secret Ingredient 5 steps to a productive market shop:

1) Know your seasons. Take time to understand what is in season at the market at any given season. Right now, expect to see lots of greens, berries, onions, scallions, beets, and in some places, corn is starting! Here is a guide to seasonal eating in NY.

2) Plan out your recipes before you go. IF you have some idea of what you want to make for the week before you shop, you will shop with purpose. Have 3 recipes in mind for your week of dinners, and have a list with the products you need. Supplement with fresh fruits and veggies to snack on and have for breakfast and lunch. Having a plan with prevent overbuying and subsequent waste.

3) Go early and have bags. The produce is there when the market opens. The frequent market goers know to go early and try to get the first crop, before the summer heat has had time to wilt the produce. Bring reusable shopping bags to carry all your produce.

4) Buy what looks freshest. If you get to the market and don’t see what you hoped for, see what looks best and more delicious! Use your senses, sight, smell, touch, to pick the perfect produce and be creative with your recipes.

5) Prep when you get home. Take time to wash, clean, and prep your vegetables when you get home from the market. This will help to save you time during the week and keep you organized.

Enjoy your local farmers market. Check out these maps and websites to find one near you!


--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

Friday, June 15, 2012


Last weekend I was in Los Angeles for a wedding. It was my first trip to the west coast, believe it or not! There are so many great things about California, but one that especially stood out was the MEYER LEMON! We were staying with cousins and in their backyard lies the most beautiful Meyer lemon tree. Take a look...

And it gets better. Beyond their good looks, their taste is just as great! It is a cross between a lemon and an orange, giving it a sweet but also a traditional sour feel. 

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?
Vitamin C, baby! Keep the antioxidants coming. Plus, by using this sweet & sour lemon to flavor drinks, you are getting all the flavor and nutrients but barely any calories.  And, if you are going to sweeten your drink a bit, at least you will be in control of the amount of sugar you decide to add, probably far less than any manufacturer would!

And you know what they say: "when life gives you lemons, especially Meyer lemons, make lemonade!" And that's exactly what we did...

Ok, so we added just a little vodka, everything in moderation! We also cut some fresh mint from the garden to use as a garnish and for added flavoring. 
To Make a great Meyer Lemonade: squeeze the juice of about 6 lemons into a large pitcher, mix with cold water and a little simple syrup (to make a simple syrup just add 1 part sugar and 2 parts water to a small pot and boil until disintegrated). Add fresh mint and a slice of lemon for garnish.

 I know it's hard to find these around New York, so do your best and if you see 'em grab 'em! I brought a few back on the plane with me and kept them in the refrigerator. Regular lemons will work too, but I can't promise that same amazing taste and smell!!

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shopping for Summer

Getting home from a long weekend away can really cause havoc for your weekly grocery shopping and meal planning.  As much as I love summer, I can easily get overwhelmed by not having my time to plan ahead for meals on the weekends to keep me organized. Here are my tips and strategies for coping with summer weekend travel…

Why have you done a good thing?

As hard as we try to be good, we tend to indulge all summer long with extra bbqs and treats, especially when traveling. When we come back from a long weekend, it's time to get back on track and eat healthily as much as you can. The less often you eat out, the healthier your meals will be. Studies show that meals made at home are lower in calories and fat and are higher in vegetables, fiber and nutrients. Staying organized and planning ahead can help keep you and family fit for the summer sun.  Here are 3 basic rules for keeping your meals in sync over the summer months:

1)    Use mail order groceries. FreshDirect, and companies like them, are your friends! Order groceries directly from your computer or iphone at the beach, schedule a delivery for when you are home Sunday night or early Monday morning. Order early (such as on Friday) to get the best delivery slots!

2)   Stock up on frozen options. As much as I love my trips to the farmer’s markets on the weekends, if I’m away there is just no time! I make sure to have a few bags of frozen fruits and veggies. When I am home over the summer weekends, I buy extra at the farmer’s market and freeze produce to make my own frozen fruits and veggies. Berries, corn, broccoli, all great freezer items! 

Other frozen options: I always have a pound of frozen chicken cutlets and ground turkey in my freezer for easy weeknight meals. I often freeze my ground meat in individual burger patties for burgers or convenient portions for pasta dishes. Try frozen shrimp and edamame beans also for a quick addition to any meal. 

3)   Make easy meals with foods on hand. Don’t resort to frozen meals and take-out every night. Here are your 10 summer staple meals to resort to after a weekend in the sun:

Eggs dishes: Easy weeknight meals of omelettes, frittatas, breakfast burritos, and veggie egg sandwiches on whole wheat bread. Use frozen veggies.

Grilled cheese and soup night: Comfort food night with grilled cheese. Make low-fat grilled cheese with canned low-sodium soup (try “Healthy Valley” varieties).
Veggie burgers: Dr. Praegers makes great frozen varieties that are low in sodium. Other option is to try purchasing fresh veggie burgers from your local butcher and freezing.

Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes, French toast, breakfast for dinner is super fast and easy, no preparation required! Check out our post from a little while back on breakfast for dinner ideas.

Whole-wheat homemade pizzas: Always keep frozen dough from your local pizzeria, Trader Joes or Whole foods in your freezer. With pizza dough you can also make your own pizza rolls, super easy!

Sandwich night: Make it an at-home diner night with low-fat tuna or egg salad sandwiches.

Spice it up with quick and easy Mexican: Black bean, frozen veggies, salsa, and low-fat cheddar cheese quesadillas are an easy weeknight meal.

Stir-fries: Who needs take-out when you can make a homemade Asian stir-fry in 20 minutes flat! Take frozen shrimp or frozen edamame beans with frozen veggies, low-sodium teriyaki or soy sauce over brown rice or lo mein noodles. Add some fresh ginger or garlic too. 

Pasta dishes: Make easy whole-wheat pasta dishes with beans, frozen broccoli, garlic and oil. For a quick meat sauce, use a frozen hamburger and canned tomatoes to make a quick meat sauce. Add frozen shrimp for quick easy switch up. Or use frozen ravioli or tortellini with a fresh tomato sauce.

Low-fat risottos: All you need is rice, low-sodium stock and frozen veggies. Easy dinner in 30 minutes flat.

Keep these items on hand and you will have great meals all summer long. Summer staples grocery list:

Freezer Section:
3 bags frozen veggies (including an Asian stir fry mix)
3 bags frozen fruits
1 bag frozen shrimp
1 bag frozen veggie burgers (Dr. Praegers for low sodium)
1 lb frozen chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb frozen ground turkey (99% lean)
1 lb frozen edamame beans
1 loaf of whole wheat bread
1 package of whole wheat tortillas
1 lb frozen whole wheat pizza dough
1 box frozen waffles (Vans or Kashi 7 grains)

1 dozen eggs
1 jar lite mayo
Low-sodium soy sauce
Low sodium teriyaki sauce
1 jar natural peanut butter
8 oz low-fat mozzerella cheese
8 oz low-fat muenster or swiss cheese (try Trader Joes!)
Ginger (peeled in the freezer)

1 box trans-fat free whole grain pancake mix (Trader Joes!!)
3 cans of beans – black beans, chick peas, cannelini beans
2 cans low-sodium soup
3 cans tunafish
1-2 boxes whole wheat pasta
16 oz low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
1 box brown rice
1 box arborio rice
1 lb lo mein noodles
24 oz can of low-sodium tomatoes
1 jar low-sodium tomato sauce 

So don't fret when going away for a long-weekend, knowing you can still have great healthy meals for when you get back.

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN