4 Things to Eat in May

8 May

Although you can get almost any food year-round, there is a benefit to eating foods during their natural season.  Eating what’s in season allows you to enjoy produce at peak flavor, nutrition, and lower prices due to abundance.  So, what’s in season for May?

ASPARAGUS
Asparagus spears can grown an unbelievable 6-10 inches a day in the spring. Just 1/2 cup serving of this stalky green delivers 1/3 of the folate you need each day. A key nutrient for women of childbearing age, folate is essential for cell growth and development. Each serving is also a great source of potassium and vitamins A and C. Eat it raw in a salad or try it as a steamed side with herbs and a fresh squeezed lemon wedge.

CHERRIES
Fresh cherry season can run from May to August. Cherries are a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Beyond the nutrients, the benefits of cherries are worthy of superfood status. They have been shown to fight inflammation in conditions like arthritis. Sour cherries, specifically, may boost heart health and help with sleep and post-exercise recovery. Top grilled chicken or fish with Cherry Salsa or add this superfruit to a smoothie.

SALMON
You may not think fish has a season, but salmon does. Wild salmon season starts on the Pacific coast in May. Not only is it a quality rich protein source, consuming salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to help protect the heart and also positively impact the brain when it comes to depression and dementia. Please note that the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in wild versus farm-raised can vary widely. Check your seafood counter for fresh wild-caught king salmon this month. Buy it while it’s in season (and on sale) and freeze some for later. Salmon is great on the grill, poached, in parchment packets or even formed into a burger.

STRAWBERRIES
The sweet scent of ripe strawberries can be found by walking through any farmers market or produce section. Strawberries are bursting with vitamin C and folate. New research suggest that snacking on strawberries may help cut the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Enjoy them on their own or in a fresh salad!

 

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Food Labels 101

4 May

How do you read a food label?  What should you look for in a food label?  Follow the tips below – reading food labels has never been easier!

Image result for food label

From left to right:  Example of an OLD food label and NEW food label.

Ingredients
There shouldn’t be too many names you don’t really recognize. Aim for less than 7-10.

Serving Size
Check out the portion size you’re going to consume!

Sugar
Sometimes sugar is natural (like in fruit!) and sometimes it’s added. Aim for less than 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 26 grams for men. Added sugar will appear on new nutrtion labels!

Total Fat
This tells you how much fat is in 1 serving. Look for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated versus trans fat or saturated fat.

Sodium
This acts as a cost effective way to preserve and flavor. Want low sodium? Aim for less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.

Protein
It’s very individual, but important for maintaining and repairing our body’s tissues like our muscles!

Calories
Shouldn’t be your top priority but they’re important! For example, some foods are great for you, but not low in calories so watch your serving size!

Vitamins
These show a percentage for a normal 2,000 calorie diet. The new food label is coming, but look for calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. Vitamin D will be added.

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5 Easy Perennial Vegetables & Herbs to Grow

14 Apr

Most of our favorite vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes (technically fruits!) – are annuals.  They complete their life cycles in a single growing season so we have to plant them year after year.  While there aren’t many true perennial vegetables, there are some that behave that way and can return each year.

 

  • Asparagus. Once planted, a good asparagus bed can last for decades, with weeds being their only real enemy.  Keep your bed weed-free by adding a layer of compost on top each year.   Asparagus “crowns” can take about three years to fully mature so be patient, as they are well worth the wait for a bountiful spring harvest.
  • Chives. The slender leaves can grow up to a foot long and are very popular throughout the world.  They are easy to grow and can form clumps fairly rapidly.
  • Garlic. Break the head of garlic apart into individual cloves and plant them in a sunny, well drained bed with the root side down.  The soil should cover them so that the cloves barely stick up above the ground. When it’s time to harvest, leave some of the smaller plants to die – they will come up again the following year and will provide a new crop.
  • Peppers. Although they are planted as annuals, pepper plants can be brought inside and cared for over the winter, and returned to the garden in the spring.
  • Wild Leeks. Relative of the onion, Wild Leeks are also known as “Ramps”. These plants are tender early in the spring and produce edible bulbs in the fall, winter and spring.
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