Tuesday Tip: Fall Time at the Farmers’ Market

Happy Tuesday! It’s getting chilly here on the farm so I’ve got my warm sweater on, sipping Moroccan mint tea while looking at the front garden’s palm trees and gardenias. Sounds like heaven right? It is (most of the time) but today I realized that for the first time in my life I’m not going to experience fall in the East Coast. Fall for me is as much about the color of the leaves changing as it about going to the farmers’ market. There’s something about being bundled up in the chilly weather, hunting for treasures in a sea of color and all the possibilities of great meals to look forward to that make farmers’ markets in the fall so special.

Farmers Market

Make a spread with the kids using the goodies you just brought back from the market. {Ripe heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, basil, balsamic reduction served over fresh baked olive bread}

If you’re reading this, you probably already know the great benefits that come with supporting farmers’ markets. Aside from being better for the planet, it’s a great chance to get your kids involved and emotionally connected with healthy seasonal foods from an early age, not to mention an opportunity to expand their taste palate.

Consuming produce from a farmers’ market can also be an easy and direct way to increase your family’s nutrient intake. I found this great article from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment that goes into detail about these benefits**:

  • Variety: Supermarkets (that have more middlemen and overhead costs to cover) decide which produce and varieties to offer based on efficient yield, profit margin, consistent appearance (those apples need to look perfect and identical) and shelf-life, among other things. Having so much overhead cost and extra transportation time doesn’t leave much room for prioritizing taste and nutritional value. Farmers’ Markets do, however, have that luxury.

    …the spice of life.

  • Healthier farming methods = more nutritional value: The methods used in local farms vs industrial produce farms allow the plant to absorb and sustain more nutrients
  • Harvest Time
    Peak ripeness is when nutrients are at their highest.  The earlier the plant is picked the less nutritional value it has.  Harvesting prematurely is necessary when foods have to travel far to extend shelf-life.
  •  Handling
    Any damage done to a plant can lower its nutritional value.  Bruising is probably the most common problem which is hard to avoid with industry practices such as mechanical harvesting and moving them with trucks and forklifts.
  • Packaging
    If a bruise can affect the nutritional value, you can image what cutting can do.  The second the plant is altered, it starts losing its nutrients.  That why it’s best to consume fruits and vegetables sooner than later once you’ve ‘processed’ them somehow (cut or blended).  Buying pre-cut foods can save time but it does affect the value.  However, if that’s what works for you, pre-cut veggies are certainly better than no veggies!  You can work around this by eating your pre-cut foods earlier in the week or ideally the same day.
  • Longer storage and transportation time
    Plants start losing their nutritional value from the time they’re harvested.  Also, the longer it takes to transport, the harder it is to prevent damage along the way.

Getting there:  Saturday morning rolls around, my comfy sweats and Netflix are enticing me to stay in.  “What time is the market open ’til?”  My husband and I have a leisure debate about that until we know it’s too late to go.  ‘Next week’ we say.

Farmstand app no longer lets us get away with that.  It tells you where the closest market is and what time they’re open.  Did I mention it’s free? :)

Farmstand App

Photo courtesy of itunes.

What’s in Season? Check out this great interactive map from Epicurious.  It allows you to easily select your state and month to give you a heads up for what’s in season.  LOVE!

Whats in Season

Now that you’re fully armed with all this info., grab your coats, enjoy every second of the market, every sip of hot cider, knowing that these are small yet invaluable steps to keeping your children happy and healthy!

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**This is a summarized version of the article.  If you do have the time, it’s well worth reading through it.

Tuesday Tip Served on a Stainless Steel Platter

While the controversial debate about plastic continues to unfold, I decided to incorporate longer lasting materials in our kitchen that were better for us and the environment.  Glass is beautiful, classic, easy to clean and non-odor-absorbing; it was the perfect fit… until we needed a larger bowl for our salad (I like to leave my workouts at the gym) or we dropped the first of many glass items on the kitchen floor.  Stainless steel has proven to be more and more an indispensable material in our quest to eat healthier the easy way.

Pros to using stainless steel:

  • Low maintenance and easy to clean
  • Shatter proof and break-resistant
  • Non-odor-absorbing
  • Lightweight
  • Long-lasting
  • Free of phthalates and BPA
  • Attractive

The only con is the price, but, considering its lifespan, it’s arguably cheaper than replacing plastic and glass.  Another thing to be aware is the quality.  Amazon is full of stainless steel products that are not high-grade or only use stainless steel as a casting instead of making the entire product stainless steel.  I’ve read reviews complaining about peeling and chipping… Yikes!

As a parent, you can certainly appreciate the lightweight and break-resistant part, especially since babies and toddlers get a serious kick out of playing the drop-everything-all-the-time game.  If you can swing it, I think it’s well worth the splurge for your baby and their future  :)

Here’s a list of some great products I found:

Lunchbots Stainless Steel Dish Set (perfect for babies and toddlers)

$24.95 per set

Photo courtesy: lunchbots.com

Sur La Table Stainless Steel Bowls

$7.16 – $22.36 per bowl

Sur La Table Stainless Steel Bowls

Klean Kanteen Leak Proof 1 and 2 cup Food Canisters (perfect for travel or bringing lunch to school)

$17.95 to $34.95 (depending on insulation and size)

IMG_20140508_073934-480x297

Photo courtesy of Raw Food San Francisco

Leak proof Condiment Containers by Lunchbots

Set of 3 for $20.99

pic7

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All About Adipose: How to Reduce Fat & Your Child’s Likelihood of Obesity

There’s so much talk about fat but still such little understanding about these very same cells that can wreak havoc on our health. This post was written as a humble attempt to understand one of the most talked about cells out there, adipose (fat) cells, and shed some light onto the many myths and misunderstandings that surround them.

Do fat cells differ between lean and overweight people?

Yes, and a significant study in 2008 showed evidence that there are two contributing factors that make up what we consider to be fat mass (adipose tissue):

  1. The number of fat cells an individual has

  2. The volume or size of each fat cell. It’s important to keep in mind that adipose (fat) cells differ from each other in type, location and behavior.

The quantity of fat cells we have and how “full” each cell is determines how heavy or thin we are. Often compared to little grocery bags, each adult has a set number of bags. These bags may be full to the brim or just slightly full, expressing the weight we carry.

Overweight people compared to leaner individuals have both a greater number of cells, as well as, fuller larger cells. Once the number of bags are set, gaining or losing weight is a matter of changing the volume within each bag, not how many bags you have.

{Interestingly, the only way to reduce the number of fat cells is through liposuction by which the cells are literally extracted from the body. If and when the individual gains weight again, the newly formed fat droplets will migrate and find shelter in other fat cells located in other areas (since the cells where they would normally go to have been removed). For example, liposuction in the thigh area will decrease the size of the person’s thighs but months after surgery, fat will start showing up in new parts of the body such as the back of the arms and/or stomach where they normally wouldn’t go to prior to surgery. This is irrelevant as far as children are concerned but it does give us a better insight on how adipose cells work.}

How does having a higher number of fat cells affect a person?

It’s been shown that individuals who have a higher cell number struggle more with weight-loss than individuals with a lower number.

This also highlights how important it is to take the time to understand the complexity of nutrition rather than to simplify and overlook significant details. Blaming overweight or obese individuals for lack of self-control and discipline when chemically speaking it’s more difficult to do so, robs us of understanding, and as a result, efficiently treating obesity. That’s not to say discipline and emotional eating don’t play a role in obesity, but that there’s a lot more to ‘deciding’ to be heavy.

When are adipose cells formed?

Historically, experts believed that the number of adipose cells were formed within the first year or two, however, recent studies indicate adipose cells are formed throughout childhood and adolescence. While these findings are important, the research is still far from being complete. What is certain is that instilling healthy habits at an early age can make a huge impact on achieving good health in the child’s future.

Photo Courtesy: http://realitytvmagazine.sheknows.com

Photo courtesy: http://realitytvmagazine.sheknows.com

Do overweight children become heavy or obese adults?

There is a 70 to 80% chance an obese child or adolescent will suffer from obesity as an adult. As we age, the accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle choices and other factors such as hormonal changes and less activity increases our adipose tissue consistently and cumulatively.

The earlier added accumulation and extra formation of fat cells  will make it that much harder for the child to be a healthy weight as an adult. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss childhood chubbiness as a phase they will inevitably grow out of. We might have to move away from this mindset to one that is more proactive considering these recent findings.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The fact is that there is a lot we can do. Not to mention that succeeding in health is actually fun and involves eating delicious, colorful foods. Understanding the slightly boring details is the worst part, I promise!! With that said, Part 2 will cover the fun stuff and how to make unhealthy weight a thing of the past :)

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References

Cold War Bomb Testing is Solving Biology’s Biggest Mysteries
A PBS article written by Carrie Arnold, Published: Dec 11, 2013

Dynamics of Fat Cell Turnover in Humans
Kirsty L. Spalding, Erik Arner, Pål O. Westermark, Samuel Bernard, Bruce A. Buchholz, Olaf Bergmann, Lennart Blomqvist, Johan Hoffstedt, Erik Näslund, Tom Britton, Hernan Concha, Moustapha Hassan, Mikael Rydén, Jonas Frisén & Peter Arner
Nature.  June 5, 2008.

Fats and Cholesterol in the Diet
Sherry Henley, Instructional Specialist, Scottie Misner, Associate Nutrition Specialist
The University of Arizona. August 1999.

Fat cell number is set in childhood and stays constant in adulthood
Ed Yong, popular science writer
ScienceBlogs. May 4, 2008

Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood.
Guo SS, Chumlea WC.
Am J Clin Nutr. 199 Jul;70(1): 145S-8S. via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 

 

Tuesday Tip: 124% of Vitamin C in a Single Serving

All you need is love daikon.  One 7 inch long daikon (consumed raw) will give you 124% of your vitamin C for the day.  The added toasted sesame seeds will boost the goodness to 37% calcium and 31% of your iron and folate daily requirement.

I used to ignore this wanna-be white carrot until I came across that percentage when I was researching vitamins.  Vitamin C is very sensitive to cooking so it’s best consumed raw.  It’s also a vitamin that depletes quickly so topping off is always a good idea especially with cold and flu season coming up.

Photo courtesy: burpee.com

A third of your folate, iron and calcium condensed in a single bowl isn’t the only good news though.  Did I mention it tastes DELICIOUS!?  I used a julienne peeler to get perfect slivers of these yummy crunchy bits.  If you don’t have a julienne peeler, the $10 is certainly worth every penny.  Especially for crunchy vegetables (cucumber, radish, carrots, etc.), being able to create uniform thin slices can really make a difference in saving time and getting the best results.

Julienne Peeler

Photo courtesy: ShapeMeUp & Culinary Pro

In a bowl, mix the following ingredients for a treat you and your children will love as a snack or served over any Asian-inspired dish you’re serving for dinner.  The raw garlic gives it that spicy kick to it and the earthy roasted flavor of the sesame seeds meld all of the flavors together in perfect unison.  I hope you enjoy it!

Asian Daikon Slaw

Deliriously Delicious Daikon Slaw (serves 1)
1 daikon (7″ long)
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Cilantro, chopped
Apple cider vinegar
Dash of sea salt
Thin slivers of 1 raw garlic

****These nutrients are based on just the daikon and toasted sesame seeds since the other ingredients are optional and the amount varies depending on individual preferences.

Micronutrients: Vitamins
Vitamin C: 124% (All of that comes from the daikon alone!!)
Vitamin E: 0%
Vitamin K: 1%
Thiamin (vitamin B1): 20%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 8%
Niacin: 9%
Vitamin B6: 19%
Folate: 31%
Pantothenic Acid: 5%

Micronutrients: Minerals
Calcium: 37% (28% comes from the sesame seeds)
Iron: 31% (23% from the sesame seeds)
Magnesium: 39%
Phosphorus: 26%
Potassium: 26%
Zinc: 16%
Copper: 54%
Manganese: 41%
Selenium: 5%

Macronutrients:
Calories: 219
Fat: 13 g
Carbs: 21 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 7 g (5 grams from the sesame seeds)

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Our First Tuesday Tip of the Week!

Tuesday tips are weekly, bite-size tips that can help boost you and your family’s health.
We’ve been so busy with projects in the making, events and marketing that we’re going back to this blog that desperately needs some tending to!  We’re making some big changes actually but more on that later.  For now, let’s get to it because…

Pomegranates are in season  :D  and while some of you may or may not know this, I happen to live on a fruit and vegetable farm in Morocco, so it’s been quite the feast over here.  We’ve watched the fields of this ancient fruit change throughout the year.  The blossoms are an indescribable red-orange color and while you’re sad to see them go, the fruit they bare is such an exciting treat for everyone here on the farm.

Pomegranate blossoms
I normally enjoy the seeds with watercress and lemon juice or paired with eggplant but after doing some research and discovering the incredible health benefits of pomegranate, I started looking for more ways to incorporate these delicious, garnet-colored gems.

  • Pomegranate is considered to be THE most powerful anti-oxidant rich fruit of all fruits (woah.)
  • They help protect us from heart attacks, strokes, and have anti-cancer properties
  • They boost our immune system
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • They have also shown to speed up the removal of life-threatening artery plaque

Removing the seeds yourself can save money and increase the nutrient value of the pomegranate.  You can  check out how to do this here.  This recipe is a quick and easy way to get a lot of great nutrients packed into a little bowl of happiness.  I hope you enjoy it!

Pomegranate oatmeal

Yummy Pomegranate with Rolled Oats Recipe
1 whole pomegranate seeded
1/2 cup dry rolled oats (unfortified)
Add hot water to reach the consistency you like
Add 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds
Sprinkle 1 tsp of ground cinnamon

 

Micronutrients: Vitamins
Vitamin C: 48%
Vitamin E: 9%
Vitamin K: 60%
Thiamin (vitamin B1): 33%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 14%
Niacin: 8%
Vitamin B6: 13%
Folate: 32%
Pantothenic Acid: 17%

Micronutrients: Minerals
Calcium: 10% (3% comes from the cinnamon alone!)
Iron: 18%
Magnesium: 29%
Phosphorus: 31%
Zinc: 19%
Copper: 34%
Manganese: 122%
Selenium: 22%
Potassium: 25%

Macronutrients:
Calories: 431
Fat: 9 g
Carbs: 85 g
Fiber: 18 g
Sugar: 40 g
Protein: 12 g

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Goodbye My Little Artichoke

Growing up the only artichokes I ate were marinated and came in expensive, tiny jars.  It wasn’t until I visited Morocco that I had the pleasure of enjoying the entire plant in its intimidating splendor.  Excited by the novelty of it all, I dipped the steamed leaf into a small hand painted bowl filled with crushed raw garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.  I finally reached the heart and it’s been a  lifetime love affair ever since.

IMG_4987 copy

Kids are likely to develop a preference for foods they familiarize themselves with and eating artichokes the traditional way is a fun opportunity to slow things down and get your children involved in the kitchen.  After the entire vegetable is steamed, they get to to peel, dip and nibble the flesh of each leaf and work their way down to the best part, the heart!  The whole process is an invaluable learning experience where they get to see the inside of the plant from start to finish.  This kind of ritual can become bonding moments they will cherish and take with them to adulthood :)

Artichokes’ full bodied texture and earthy, yet subtle flavor is reminiscent of eggplant and portobello mushroom.  They give substance to any dish, from paella to quinoa recipes.  Frozen artichokes are also a great option when they’re out of season since frozen produce are normally harvested at their peak (meaning higher nutritional value) and the way they are steamed and frozen does a pretty good job at keeping the nutrients.  My absolute favorite is extracting the heart from a fresh artichoke and serving it steamed with sliced avocado, lemon juice and paper thin slivers of raw garlic.   This is a simple recipe with complex, out-of-this-world flavors!  Here’s a helpful 90 second video of how  to remove an artichoke heart.

Roman Style Artichokes from 'Savoring Time in the Kitchen' blog.

Roman Style Artichokes from ‘Savoring Time in the Kitchen’ blog.

If raw garlic might be a bit overwhelming for your little one, a sprinkle of garlic powder will do the trick.  Odds are, them watching you enjoy it will pique their curiosity and  increase their odds of acquiring the delicious, spicy taste eventually.  Leading by example instead of nagging is as effective for adults as it is for children!

I know this sounds crazy, but I’m pretty sure that in another life I was Mediterranean and lived off of artichokes.  This past year I’ve been fortunate enough to live on a  fruit and vegetable farm in Morocco, so you can imagine how I felt when I discovered the farm’s blossoming artichoke field!  Everyday before sunset I would collect a couple and have fun preparing them with my husband.  Turns out adults like using their hands as well!  Working side by side in the kitchen, laughing and listening to music was the perfect way to end the day.  Since cooking needs to be done regardless; why not make it a time to nurture and bond with loved ones, instead of treating it as a chore?

The cold winter days grew longer and we were scheduled to travel during the end of artichoke season.  When we came back from our trip my heart ached just a little as I walked towards the silvery field knowing the season had passed.  To my surprise, they had left us these bittersweet parting gifts and a promise of return.

Artichoke-Flower

 

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New Beginnings: Developing Your Baby’s Palate

Thank you for visiting!  We’ve been meaning to launch this blog for quite some time now and even though I’m excited, I can’t help feeling slightly overwhelmed.  Partially because it feels like a first day at school but mostly because there is sooo much to cover and it’s all so important.

This post is dedicated to all the recently crowned parents and parents to be.  I can’t think of a better place to start than the beginning.  Luckily for you, we’ve done all the grunt work so you can focus on basking in your pregnancy glow or your new little bundle of joy.

Baby tastes what Momma tastes:  Babies growing in the womb drink ounces of amniotic fluid every single day.  The smell of amniotic fluid is affected by the food the mother eats and 90% of what we taste comes from smell.  This means that by the third trimester, your baby is also enjoying your recent garlic-on-everything craze and the tartness of your newfound love/hate relationship with kumquats.

This is also the case for breast milk.  Depending on the food, the taste of the breast milk is affected by what the mother has recently consumed.  Different foods linger for different amounts of time and a small study done in Copenhagen University also found that the timing of the flavors showing up in the breast milk varied between the mothers.  Experts theorize this transfer of taste and smell at an early age enables a smooth transition into the baby’s new environment.  What’s even more exciting is that studies suggest  the baby is likely to enjoy novel foods when the food is  introduced through the mother’s diet while breast feeding.

Developing your baby's palate Take advantage of this opportunity to encourage diversity.

Biologically, our taste buds are designed to favor salty, sugary, and fatty foods. These characteristics meant more calories and nutrients  for our ancestors at a time when food was scarce.  Plants harvested at the their peak ripeness, for example, have higher nutritional value than if you were to consume them prematurely.  Our preference for sweetness over sour is designed to encourage us to eat the sweeter, more nutrient dense fruit.  We also tend to shy away from bitter foods since bitterness can be a sign of toxicity.

Our predisposition for loving salt, sugar and fat  works perfectly for an environment with limited food.  Obviously, babies today are born into a very different environment! So… there’s no need to worry about developing the baby’s love for Ben and Jerry’s; our evolution has that covered. Take this opportunity now to increase the chances of having your baby fall in love with amazing, healthy foods,  instead of struggling to get them to enjoy them later on.  In the future, if they refuse to eat their brussels sprouts, they might be calling your bluff.

Here’s a list of some of the most nutrient dense foods with complex tastes to turn your baby into a little connoisseur:

Garlic
Onions
Ginger
Radishes
Celery
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Radicchio
Cranberries
Kumquats
Turmeric
Limes
Lemons
Olives
Grapefruit
Kale

Here’s to New Beginnings :)

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References

Breastfeeding facilitates acceptance of a novel dietary flavour compound.
Hausner H, Nicklaus S, Issanchou S, Mølgaard C, Møller P.
Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;29(1):141-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.11.007. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Evolution’s Sweet Tooth – NYTimes.com, Published: June 5, 2012
Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard and author of “The Evolution of the Human Head.”

Understanding the Origin of Flavor Preferences
Julie A. Mennella and Gary K. Beauchamp

Chemical Senses.  2005 Jan; 30(Suppl 1): i242-i243.

Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants
Julie A. Mennella, PhD, Coren P. Jagnow, MS, and Gary K. Beauchamp, PhD
Pediatrics.  2001 Jun; 107(6): E88