“Stop eating so many fruits and veggies!” said no one.  Ever.

We all know how healthful fruits and veggies are.  That part is a given.  But, for some of us there may be a gap between knowing and acting.  It’s one thing to know we should eat more veggies and fruits.  It’s another thing to make that a habit, and a sustainable one at that.  So, I am here to share with you some helpful tips that have worked for me.

Over the years, especially in the last five years, I’ve radically shifted my relationship with and understanding of food.  I love food for its ability to fuel and support my body.  I feel empowered when I eat well.  I have more energy to move my body and I embrace food for the role it plays in my health and happiness.  I am not perfect.  I am not trying to be perfect, though.  Perfection is simply a construct of the mind.  I still love cookies and I enjoy the occasional vegan donut from whole foods.  But, most of the time, I eat foods in their whole, natural, minimally processed form and my body and mind thrive because of it.  So, here’s to eating your veggies and feeling like a rock star!

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Start small.

  • Add one extra vegetable each night at dinner. If you usually have broccoli, add roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, beets or another “sweet” vegetable in the mix.
  • Incorporate greens into your morning smoothie. This is especially great for kids.  The sweetness of the fruit in smoothies, along with nut butter, and any other add-ons, typically mask the greens flavor.  Try these Smoothie recipes below, add greens to any of them, and let your kiddos be a part of the creating.  They can help pick out the fruit, pour it into the blender and watch the magic happen right before their eyes!

Pick your favorite.

  • If you have a favorite vegetable, eat it! Even if it’s the same veggie each time, that’s okay.  There’s no harm in sticking to what you like, especially when it’s a veggie.
  • If there’s a vegetable you haven’t tried, maybe because of the name or because you had it one time as a kid and you hated it, take a risk and try it (again). The classic example is Brussels Sprouts.  In my younger days, I thought they were gross and bitter.  I don’t think I was alone in my thinking.  How often do you meet a kid who loves Brussels Sprouts?  Now, they are a household favorite.  Give these delicious Brussels Sprouts recipes a try and let me know what you think!

Go to the farmer’s market and shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

  • We are so fortunate here in the SF Bay Area to have access to an abundance of local, fresh fruits and veggies year-round thanks to our local farmer’s markets. They’re all over the place!  Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Orinda, Martinez, Danville, Oakland, and SF all offer farmer’s markets.  Going to the farmer’s market is an experience.  They usually have a live band, everyone seems especially jovial and friendly, and often times you get to meet the farmers/growers of your food.  It’s a great way to connect with your community and your food.  It’s also a wonderful experience to share with your family and your kiddos.  When I was younger, I loved going to the farmer’s market with my mom.  I would make a stink about it at first, but once we got there I loved it.  I would pick out my favorite things and get excited about eating real food.  Going to the grocery store and seeing a bright cereal box is a far cry from spotting colorful, aromatic fruits and veggies all around you.  To this day, the smell and feel of the farmer’s market brings me back to my childhood.
  • When you’re at the grocery store, shop (mostly) from the perimeter. I usually go to the middle of the grocery store for beans, nut butters, canned tomatoes, and frozen fruit/veggies. But, for the most part, the perimeter is where it’s at!  This is typically where you’ll find the whole foods, most importantly produce.  If you have kiddos, take them with you and encourage them to be a part of the process.  Have them pick out their favorite fruits and veggies and if they’re old enough, let them put those fruits/veggies in the bag and in the cart.  Sure, it’ll take a little more time, but you’re building building something special that will last a lifetime.

Crowd out.

  • This is not an original thought, so I’m not here to take credit for it – many health and wellness advocates promote the “crowding out” method and I love it, which is why I’m sharing it with you. It’s pretty simple.  When you add more whole foods, foods in their most natural, least processed form (i.e. fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains) you begin to crowd out the bad foods.

Alter your perspective.

  • Food is your friend. Its purpose is to nourish you, sustain your energy, support your immune system, and connect you with loved ones and the source (Mother Earth).  Before you take a bite or grab something to eat, check in with your perspective.  Are you eating that certain food to promote your health or are you eating it because you’re looking for a high?  Foods that are steeped in processed sugar, salt and fat give us a temporary high and a subsequent low.  They taste great, they immediately satisfy a craving and they make us want more.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  We want more, we eat more, we buy more, we feel like crap and then we repeat.  On the contrary, when we choose foods that nourish us and bolster our health, we feel better in the moment and long after.  The difference is intuitive.  I don’t have to tell you that eating a Big Fat Green Salad is better than gorging on a fast food combo meal.  We all know the feeling of eating too much of a bad thing and the high and low that follows.  Conversely, we all know how great it feels when we feed our bodies real, whole, minimally processed foods.  When we alter our perspective and treat food as our friend – something that promotes our health and sustains our energy – we tend to fuel our bodies with the right food and a new, more productive cycle ensues.  We eat until we are satisfied, we feel good, we have energy, we have more self-confidence, and we make choices based on our health and less on our cravings.  After a while, we start to crave the right things.  We even alter our gut bacteria – mounting evidence indicates our gut bacteria plays a significant role in our cravings.  We no longer beat ourselves up for feeling out of control or ashamed of eating the wrong thing.  We focus less on restriction, deprivation and calorie-counting and more on the tremendous, holistic benefits of eating well for life and overall health.  It’s a beautiful thing.  This is not to say you can’t have a piece of birthday cake every once in a while.  Think big picture, practice mindfulness, remember to take a moment and check in before you take a bite.

 

Chop, chop.  Meal prep.

  • When you bring home your grocery or farmer’s market haul, don’t throw everything in the fridge to find soggy produce in a week. Instead, take 20-30 minutes to wash, spin, scrub, chop and store your new goodies.  Hold off on washing your berries – they tend to get moldy, so wash those right before eating.  But, you can prepare and store things like carrots, kale, onions, romaine lettuce, and bell peppers.  I like to turn on a good podcast and get in the zone.  Before I know it, I have done my sous chef duties so when I’m ready to cook I just throw everything together.  This is also a great time to roast veggies, cook rice, quinoa and other grains.

 

Eat the rainbow.

  • Plants come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We are visual creatures.  We gravitate toward bright, colorful, vibrant things and that’s especially true with our food choices.  Plant pigments are more than just stunning and beautiful, they’re indicative of the health benefits of fruits and veggies.  We’re going to geek out for a moment and explore the wonderful world of plant pigments!
    • Carotenoids (yellow, orange, red):
      • Pigments include lycopene, xanthophyll, zeaxanthin, lutein and carotenes.
      • Fat-soluble compounds that do not leach out during moist-heat cooking preparation (carrots are still orange after they’re boiled).
      • Foods include: yellow squash, carrots, bell peppers, oranges, tomatoes, etc.
    • Chlorophyll (green and blue/green):
      • This pigment is present in nearly all plant foods. From immature bell peppers to broccoli.  It degrades over time, to reveal other pigments, which is why you’ll see older broccoli become slightly yellowish.
      • Fat-soluble pigment that’s heat stable with minimal heat. With prolonged cooking, however, chlorophyll breaks down.  So, only cook your greens for a short amount of time and on low heat, until they are bright green.  If you cook for too long, chlorophyll turns into pheophytin (a brownish green color).
      • Foods include: green cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, chard, spinach, lettuce, etc. Think green!
    • Flavonoids (red, blue, purple, white):
      • Anthocyanins (red, blue, purple). Foods include: berries, red cabbage, red potatoes.
      • Anthoxanthins (white). Foods include: yellow/white onion, cauliflower, turnips, potatoes, parcnips.
      • Betalains (purple, red, yellow). Foods include: pears and beets.
      • This family of pigments is water-soluble and they have a whole lot of antioxidant activity! So, eat fresh or cook minimally – roast instead of boiling to preserve the nutrients.

 

Thrive on!

Coach Jentry

 

Gumsaba Outdoor Fitness Class schedule Saturday 7/23/16

8:30 AM Saturday Co-Ed Boot Camp – Coach Michelle – TRX Partner Strength