The farmers market is one of the best resources for healthy foods. But if you are new to the scene, a visit can be overwhelming. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you find the foods you want and get the best deals.
Choose your visit wisely.
The best time to attend the farmers market depends on how you would like to experience it. Arrive at opening and you will have the best selection and more time to talk with the vendors. If you like an upbeat atmosphere and don’t mind mingling with the crowds, aim for mid-morning or a couple hours after the market opens. If you are looking for good deals, head to the market just before it closes. The selection may be limited, but many vendors discount items to clear out their booths.
Take a full lap.
Take a walk around the whole market before you commit to a purchase. This allows you to research prices and prevents settling on an item that isn’t exactly what you want. Once you see what the full market has to offer, you can select the best quality for the best price.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The vendors are hoping to establish a relationship with you so that you will become a repeat customer. If you have questions about how a food was grown, how long it can be stored, or the best way to cook it, speak up and ask.
Look for bulk deals.
Often the more you buy, the better price you will get. Many vendors offer a set price and then discount the price if you buy 2 or 3 of the same item. If you don’t see these prices posted, ask if there are any bulk discounts available.
Know your cooking habits.
It’s easy to get overly excited at the market, which often results in buying more food than you can eat. Have an idea of how you will store and use the items you buy. Also look for options that decrease your time in the kitchen. For example, many vendors sell pre-chopped kale and bags of mixed greens that are perfect for salads and save on time spent preparing the meal.
Be open to new foods.
Take a sense of adventure and curiosity with you to the market. Ask about foods you are unfamiliar with and consider buying at least one new thing each week. Tasting new fruits and vegetables broadens your knowledge of healthy foods and will keep your eating plan from becoming boring.
Carry small bills.
Unless you buy all your produce from one vendor, you will be spending a few dollars here and a few dollars there at the market. Make it easy on yourself and on sellers by carrying small bills. This is especially important if you shop first thing in the morning before vendors have made sales that bring in smaller change.
Bring the right bags.
A few purchases at the market and your hands will be full. Choose bags that will allow you to easily carry produce while you continue to shop. Consider a backpack for heavier items like root vegetables. Place other vegetables in bags that can be carried on your shoulders. Bring flat-bottomed, sturdy bags for delicate foods like eggs and berries. If the weight of your purchases is a concern, consider a small rolling cart to make your shopping experience more pleasant.
A smoothie bowl turns your favorite healthy breakfast shake into a meal with nutritious toppings. This version uses unsweetened frozen fruit and yogurt to create a creamy base with protein and calcium. It’s topped with fresh fruit for more fiber, and a few seeds add heart-healthy fat to keep you full.
Yield: 1 serving
Preparation time: 15 minutes
½ cup unsweetened frozen pineapple
½ cup unsweetened frozen mango
¼ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup skim milk
2 fresh strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 tbsp roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
Place the pineapple, mango, yogurt, and milk in a blender. Pulse until all ingredients are blended. The smoothie will be very thick. You might need to open the blender and scrape the sides a few times to ensure everything is pureed. A single-serving drink blender works well for this recipe.
Transfer the smoothie to a small bowl. Top with strawberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and coconut, and serve.
Nutrition information: Calories 241; Total Fat 6.5 g; Saturated Fat 1.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 61 mg; Carbohydrate 34.9 g; Fiber 3.4 g; Sugar 23.5 g; Protein 11.1 g
Walking remains one of the most accessible and effective forms of physical activity for many people. Not only does it burn calories and improve heart health, research has shown that it can improve your mood and reduce tension. Use these ideas to find easy ways to walk more.
Take a Day Hike
Add some exploration to your weekend routine and plan a day hike. Whether you have access to coastal trails, deep forests, or mountains, weekend hiking is a great way to move more without making exercise feel like a chore. Pack a few healthy snacks and water, gather your family or friends, and set out to explore your area. Research shows that lower intensity, longer duration activities like hiking can improve blood cholesterol levels, improve insulin function, and burn calories for weight loss.
Give Yourself a Mental Break
Work stress and family conflicts affect everyone. Regular mental breaks are necessary to get your mind off of the problem and to help you brainstorm effective solutions. A 10 to 15 minute walk gives you a break from your current environment, adds exercise to your day, and leaves you feeling mentally refreshed. Don’t wait for a problem to arise before you take advantage of walking. Take regular breaks throughout your day to walk away stress.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone with an Active Commute
Walking to work, or to complete errands, can be challenging due to distance or lack of a pedestrian-friendly route. Investigate ways you can make a portion of your commute active. Can you walk to a coworker's house and then carpool from there? Can you walk to complete your errands or to meetings once you are at the office? Every little bit helps your health, so don’t get overwhelmed with the feeling that you need to complete a full five-mile commute to get exercise.
Always Be Prepared
You are likely faced with many opportunities to walk throughout the day, but you may be unprepared. Arriving early, waiting for a phone call, or a casual business meeting are all opportunities to squeeze in 10 to 15 minutes. Keep your tennis shoes nearby, or even better, invest in casual dress shoes that are designed with the comfort and support necessary for walking.
From improving heart health and digestion to promoting fullness, fiber is well known for its health benefits. Dietary fiber is classified as soluble and insoluble, but as researchers continue to take a closer look at why fiber keeps us healthy, we are learning that there may be more to the role than its solubility.
The viscosity of fiber (thickness as it moves through the small and large intestines) and how a fiber ferments also play a role when carbohydrates are digested. Resistant starch is a low-viscous type of dietary fiber found in carbohydrate-rich foods. As the name suggests, it resists digestion in the small intestines and ferments in the large intestines. As it ferments, it promotes beneficial gut bacteria.
What are the benefits of resistant starch?
Some studies have shown that resistant starch may help weight loss because it can increase fullness that leads to reduced food intake. There is also evidence that resistant starch reduces insulin resistance and improves blood glucose control.
What foods contain resistant starch?
Resistant starch comes in several forms. Some cannot be digested, such as parts of grains, seeds, and legumes. Others resist digestion like the starch in legumes and under-ripe bananas. In other foods, the resistant starch forms after the food has been cooked and then cooled, such as in potatoes, rice, and pasta.
How much do I need to eat?
There is no current recommendation for intake of resistant starch, but research shows it may be a beneficial part of a balanced eating plan. Incorporate foods that contain resistant starch as you aim to get the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of total fiber per day. Legumes, like beans and peas, and healthier versions of potato salad and pasta salad provide easy ways to eat more.
This soup provides a hearty, filling meal without the excess fat and sodium of canned versions. It uses fresh asparagus that provides vitamin K. The white beans add both protein and fiber. When blended, the beans thicken the soup to a creamy consistency without the need for cream or butter.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
1 cup chopped asparagus
2 (15 oz.) cans no salt added white beans, rinsed and drained
2 ¼ cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp fine ground sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Parsley and shredded parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a 3 to 4 quart pan over medium-high. Add the garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 more minutes.
Stir in the beans and then the vegetable broth. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley.
Transfer the soup to a blender and puree for 10 to 15 seconds, until the soup is smooth. Return the soup to the pan on low heat. Stir in the salt and pepper. Serve warm, garnished with parsley leaves and shredded parmesan, if desired.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 250; Total Fat 3.9 g; Saturated Fat 0.6 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 372 mg; Carbohydrate 41.3 g; Fiber 10.3 g; Sugar 3.9 g; Protein 14.2 g