Stay Fresh and Local at the Farmers Market

iStock_000010147416XSmallWhen you live in the city, it’s easy to take some things for granted. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are sort of a thing of the past, with a few minor exceptions. Can you imagine how your great grandparents might react if they knew they could get fresh fruit in the middle of December? It’s easy to take that kind of access to fresh food for granted.

But we lose something when we 24/7 access. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize how blessed we are to have access to food whenever we need, but there’s something special about knowing that peaches will be ripe this month, or knowing that those green tomatoes are going to be turning red any day now. The anticipation of knowing fresh food was coming up made it taste that much sweeter when it finally did become available.

That’s why I love local farmers markets. You get to see locally made products, meet new people, and most importantly, be exposed to fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables. While you can get relatively fresh food at any supermarket, you can find freshly picked, locally produced fruits and vegetables that was likely grown within 30 miles of your location. And I don’t think I need to remind you how important it is to escape processed foods and incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.

Now, you might be thinking “Brian, why waste time going to a farmers market when I can get something almost as good down the street? After all, you just said it: I can get the same kind of foods at the superstore, and it’s much more convenient.”

Going to a Farmers Market does more than expose you to good food. A farmers market gets you outdoors, in the sun and away from the couch! You can ride your bike down to the market, or just put on some walking shoes and just go for a casual stroll around the various stalls. Just getting outside and keeping yourself active is a great way to stick to a fitness regime. Plus, a little vitamin D from the sun always helps! It’s more than just helping your physical fitness; it’s about social health as well.

Here are a few things to consider when you go to the Portland or Vancouver Farmers Market this coming weekend:

Know your Seasons – If you have your own garden, you probably know that there’s a season for every kind of fruit and vegetable. Apples naturally grow during a specific part of the year, squash normally shows up in the fall… So plan your meals accordingly! There’s always something fresh and new that’s going to be popping up at the market. Right now for example, you can likely expect to see some fresh tomatoes showing up, so think about incorporating some fresh tomato into a garden salad. Or if you’re looking for a snack, think about grabbing some fresh celery or some cucumber.

Dress for the Occasion – Farmers markets are a great place to enjoy some time outdoors, so make sure you wear the right apparel! Put on some comfortable shoes, plan for the temperature, and wear a hat to keep the sun off your head. Don’t forget sun protection if it’s going to be hot out, like sun block, sunglasses, and even an umbrella if you’re very sensitive.

Be Spontaneous, but Healthy – When you’re walking down the stalls, you’re probably going to see some foods that you may have never heard of before. I remember one client of mine was so excited that she found this thing called Okra, something she had never tried cooking with before. If you see something new, don’t be afraid to ask about it, pick some up, and try making something with it. What’s the worst you can do? But beware – farmers markets are well known for having unhealthy foods, like deep fried Twinkies. Try new things, but REMEMBER YOUR MEAL PLAN!

Ask Vendors for Recipes – Think about it this way: If a vendor has some kind of vegetable at his booth, he or she has probably had a lot of it at home, which means they probably have to find some pretty creative ways of eating it to keep it from getting mundane. After all, there’s only so much you can take of the same meal. I remember one vendor told me about a recipe she had for eggplant pizza. At first, I thought she was just a bit too enthusiastic about eggplant – I mean, how versatile can the thing be? It turns out, eggplant pizza is delicious! I never would have known such a recipe existed if she hadn’t told me about it. Vendors want to talk about their food – Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.

So come on down to the farmers market! Enjoy the sun, browse the stalls, and see what you can find to help spice up your meal plan. And if you’re looking for something specific, ask a personal trainer at Boomer Fitness what you should look out for when you head down to the Farmers Market. We’ll have some great recipes you can incorporate into your meal plan.

Superbowl Snack Aftermath: Part 2

TiStock_000009709487XSmallhis last Tuesday, I wrote about some of the less-than healthy food you might have been enjoying during the Superbowl. Like I wrote before, hindsight is always 20/20, but I feel it’s important to acknowledge the reasons why we are making changes. Especially when it’s a daily change, like our diet.

Today, I want to highlight healthy foods, things you can enjoy without worrying about empty calories, excessive carbs, or high levels of salt.

One misconception I hear a lot is healthy food is simply boring food. It can be bland, repetitive, and at the end of the day, simply doesn’t taste good. We all know these culprits of the bland food crime: Celery sticks, plain kale salad, white fish a la carte. Trust me, after a week of nothing but white fish for dinner, even those plain corn chips in the cupboard start to look really, really good.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can still enjoy healthy food without forcing yourself to endure tasteless, repetitive health foods we start to dread.

The Right Carbohydrates – Carbs are not the enemy! A lot of people who come to the gym tell me they’re trying to eliminate all carbohydrates from their diet. It’s important to remember that carbs are not the only enemy, and in fact give you the energy to hit the day. What we do want to do is reduce carbohydrates, and get them from the right sources.

I recommend adding Quinoa, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal to your diet. These are full of fiber and protein, getting us the nutrients we need to hit the day running.

Proteins: Not just for Bodybuilders  – Protein seems to be the big word that comes to mind when you think of weight training, bodybuilding, marathon running, and so forth. But it’s important to remember that proteins are also an important part of a healthy diet. Whether you’re an herbivore, a carnivore, or somewhere in between, it’s important to get yourself the right amount of protein in your diet.

I recommend unprocessed cheese, greek yogurt, beans, eggs, and lean meats, like chicken breast and lean beef. These get us high amounts of protein and other supplements our bodies need, while avoiding unhealthy levels of sodium or other unnecessary byproducts.

Fats are you Friend –  Fats usually get a bad rap in a lot of conventional diets, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, give us healthy hormones and some structure in our body composition. Like everything else, the real culprit is the amount of fats that we consume.

I recommend almond butter, avocados, olive oil, and nuts to get your daily dose of fats. These give you the energy your body needs, while avoiding excessive saturated fats.

iStock_000018256851XSmallThe More Natural Color, the Better – It might sound ridiculous to judge foods on color, but it gives you a visual gauge of how healthy and unprocessed a meal is. And in the end, colorful food looks a lot more appetizing than the greys and tans of processed foods.

When I’m in the kitchen, I like to include as many colors as possible in each dish. This can include vegetables like bell peppers carrots, radishes, zucchini, and fruits like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, and oranges.

So a lot of tips, right? You might be thinking it’s easier said than done, throwing all these suggestions into action. That’s why I’ve got a couple of recipes to show you that health food done right doesn’t have to be bland food.

Breakfast Burrito – To start the day, I like to throw together something quick and easy, so I can take it out the door if necessary. To start, I like to gather some eggs (high protein), red bell peppers (vitamin C) , kale (fiber), pesto (healthy fats), non processed cheese (more protein, and flavor!), and a corn tortilla (magnesium and fiber). Then, I crack some eggs on a medium powered skillet, add the ingredients, and then wrap it all up in the tortilla. Now I’ve got a healthy meal I can take on the road if need be.

Tuna Sandwich – Nothing hits the spot for lunch like a classic tuna sandwich. I like to use whole grain bread, spinach, hummus, sun dried tomatoes, and a can of tuna. This combination gives us a lot of fiber from the bread, iron from the spinach, chickpeas, olive oil, and carbs from the hummus, and lean, low fat protein from the tuna. And best of all, it’s quick, easy, and tastes better than celery sticks.

Chicken and Rice, with a side of Salad – Not ground breaking, but a good way to prove to yourself that healthy can be tasty! For dinner, I like to cook lean chicken breast (healthy protein) using olive oil (healthy fats) and combine it with peppers and squash (vitamins). I also cook up some brown rice to serve under the chicken (for healthy carbs) and add a side salad of kale mixed with cranberries, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and a light dressing.

Getting hungry? I know I was when writing this. Next time you come in to the gym, talk to us about making some changes to your diet. We can give you some in-depth ideas of restructuring your meals.