insulin

What’s on the Menu – The Fruit that Tells You It’s Summer

We discussed the optimum growing seasons for produce in a recent episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast (click to listen), but we didn’t discuss which produce best REPRESENTS each season. My “season appropriate produce” list is as follows:

  • Fall – Pumpkins, squash and other gourds
  • Winter – Kale and Apples
  • Spring – Berries and Asparagus
  • Summer – Corn and Watermelon

I’m OK with people disagreeing with me on most of my choices, but for those who don’t agree that watermelon is the most summer produce there is I say FOR SHAME.

I can’t be the only one who attended summer cookouts where the giant green melon was used for the appetizer, main course and/or dessert. I’m sure if you go back and look at your family photos, they’ll be a picture of you standing next to a sprinkler with a giant wedge of watermelon in your hand. The fruit’s optimum growing season is May through September for PETE’S SAKE. Anything else go on between May and September?

How bout a little thing called summer break.

I rest my case.

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Now that I’ve established the fact the watermelon is THE summer produce, let’s discuss whether or not it’s healthy. One cup of watermelon contains less than one gram (g) of fat & protein and 11 g of carbs, 9 of those grams coming from sugar.

Not terribly uncommon for a sweet fruit, but somewhat of a departure from the items you’d usually see on this weekly blog. The relatively high sugar content translates to a rather high number on the glycemic index (GI), 76. However, unlike its GI, watermelon’s glycemic load (GL) is only 8, which is considered low. In layman’s terms, a serving of watermelon can cause a blood sugar spike but only for a short period of time, which translates to a minimal insulin response (source). With that said, if you are obese or a type 2 diabetic, I’d suggest asking your physician if it’s OK to add watermelon to your diet.

If you are fortunate enough to include watermelon in your diet, expect even more benefits than just its delicious flavor. In addition to a host of important vitamins (A, B6 & C), minerals (copper & magnesium) and amino acids, watermelon contains a significant amount of the phytonutrient lycopene. This carotenoid is not only responsible for giving watermelon its red color, it also provides the fruit’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Recent research also suggests that lycopene can be very important to our cardiovascular and skeletal systems (source). Both of which are super important when you’re 30 something year old going head first down a homemade slip & slide.

I mean it is summer after all.

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Watermelon is also one of those fruits that pairs well with a wide variety of other foods. Shannon and I are big fans of watermelon salad with feta cheese and reduced balsamic dressing. If you have any other mouthwatering dishes that feature watermelon, please share them with us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

Before I wrap up this menu spotlight, I want to give you a friendly reminder about ETTampa’s free fitness consultations. If you are looking for a little guidance, whether it be for exercise, nutrition or even accountability, send me an email at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Hope to hear from you soon!

What’s on the Menu – Superfoods in my Backyard

The Florida Strawberry festival takes place every year in the small, rustic town of Plant City. The event has been going strong for over 80 years, and it continues to grow each year with the addition of rides, livestock contests and popular music acts like Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and Elle King (one of Shannon’s personal fav’s). The vast majority of the food at the festival is typical fair food; deep-fried and/or covered in sugar. However, the festival’s namesake is readily available and it when it comes to nutrient rich foods, it’s hard to beat strawberries, or any berries for that matter.

Strawberry shortcake

I consider myself pretty lucky to live in an area that has access to substantial berry crops every year. The farms in my area plant over 10,000 acres of strawberries annually, along with other berries like blueberries and blackberries (source). You best believe that when berry season rolls around, Shannon and I stock up on a weekly basis.  Not only do they taste delicious, but they’re often considered a superfood because of their nutritional benefits.

Possible health benefits associated with eating berries include reduced disease susceptibility, increased insulin sensitivity and improved arterial function. They are also high in essential nutrients (ones our bodies can’t make) like vitamin C, K, manganese and folate (source). I’m a huge berry fan, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention strawberry’s regular appearance on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen List.

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Organic berries from Florida’s Wish Farms

Since 2004, the EWG has been creating lists of the dirtiest and cleanest produce in regards to pesticide contamination. Strawberries often find themselves at the top of the “dirty” list, most likely due to year round production brought on by high demand. According to EWG’s website, Americans individually eat an average of 8 pounds of strawberries a year. Even though we’re still discovering what negative side effects eating foods containing pesticides can have on our health, the EWG recommends that you buy organically grown strawberries whenever possible. If you like to check out what other produce made it onto EWG’s lists, head on over to their website.

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I believe the reporting of high contamination levels in produce like strawberries will help increase the demand for organically grown produce. The overuse of pesticides and the negative effect its had on our agricultural industry is a discussion for another day.

Whether you buy organic or conventional berries, I want to hear how you prefer to enjoy them. Do you throw them into a smoothie, add them to yogurt, or just eat them by the handful like I do? However you enjoy them, please feel free to let us know by leaving a response in the comment section below or emailing it to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Interview with Swerve Sweetener President & CEO Andress Blackwell

Notes by Shannon.

This week’s podcast is going to be sweet.

It all started with the discovery of Swerve Sweetener. Picked up on a whim, we tried this sugar alternative after seeing it in a blog recipe. After making one kick-butt pumpkin pie, our interest was piqued.

Could this product that tastes comparable to sugar (you can use it 1:1 in most recipes to substitute regular sugar), with zero effect on blood sugar & insulin response, be too good to be true?

We put the question out into the world (and social media) and got a response. A response from the folks at Swerve Sweetener no less, offering up an interview with their President and CEO Andress Blackwell!

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Picture courtesy of Shannon Palmer

The quest for more information about this sugar substitute, which we have previously chatted about in a past episode, is what led to this week’s interview. Nick got the chance to ask those questions that had been nagging at us for weeks:

  • Where did the development of this particular sugar alcohol – erythritol – come from?
  • How was it different from other sugar alcohols that can cause some… gastric issues?
  • Where has it been tested? Will there be more tests in the future?
  • What’s the mission for the Swerve Sweetener team?
  • Who could benefit the most from a sweetener like this?
  • Where can you find this product now?

Nick got the answers to these questions and more in the interview.

As for where you can find this product to try it out for yourself (just in time for the holidays no less!), you can use the store locator feature on their website to find a retailer near you.

We’re not the only podcast talking about sugar substitutes. Friend of the podcast, Vinnie Tortorich voiced his opinion in an episode of his podcast not too long ago. (If you know Vinnie, you might very well be able to guess what his vote on any sugar-like product would be.)

Our main takeaway, though? It’s easy to see how something like this could come in handy as an extra tool to battle the overwhelming amount of sugar in our diets around the holidays (and the rest of the year). There’s a good chance I’ve got a couple batches of favorite holiday cookies baking up in the oven right now. It’s tradition after all.

But don’t take our word for it! Listen to the interview and let us know if this is a product you might be using to sweeten up your life in the future.

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President & CEO of Swerve Sweetener, Andress Blackwell

Have a topic or interview you want to hear us discuss in a future podcast? Send us an email – elementaltampa@gmail.com – or give us a head’s up on our social channels. Thanks so much for all your support and don’t forget to tell us what you think either on Facebook or by leaving a review in the iTunes store. We love your feedback! Thanks for listening and stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/interview-president-ceo-swerve/id1121420986?i=1000378846236&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/an-interview-with-the-president-ceo-of-swerve-sweetener-andress-blackwell

 

Getting Our Swerve On

This week’s Addicted to Fitness starts of with a recap of a recent trip back to my old kickboxing gym, Amir’s Academy. As soon as I walked through the doors at Amir’s, “Glory Days” by the Boss starting playing in my head. I owe a lot to Master Amir and his school and I knew he and his fighters would be the perfect people to help ETT client Carmin prepare for her upcoming celebrity boxing event. Master Amir put Carmin and I through 30 minutes of conditioning/cardio followed by several rounds of sparring. I was super proud of how Carmin performed in the ring. She sparred a very experienced martial artist for 3 rounds and did a fantastic job. After she finished, I knew that she was prepared for her match on November 12th at the Mike Calta Punchout 2. Shannon followed my week in training recap with her own (6 workouts in a row including an aerial yoga session) then we transition to a detailed examination of a natural sweetener called Swerve.

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Swerve is composed primarily of a sugar alcohol called erythritol. Erythritol is created when glucose ferments with the fungus Moniliella pollinis. According to the Swerve website, their product has zero calories, does not raise your blood sugar or create an insulin response. Preliminary experiments support their claims, but further studies are needed to determine if this is the zero negative impact sweetener we’ve all been waiting for. Even though it doesn’t create the same metabolic response as regular sugar, it’s taste may perpetuate the current sugar addiction we are currently seeing in this country. Shannon has used it in a few baked goods she’s made recently and I can attest that it taste just like sugar, which makes me believe that it’s zero health impacts are too good to be true. Our Swerve debate was not the only somewhat controversial topic we discussed on this week’s episode.

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Image courtesy of the Swerve website

Netflix recently added one of my favorite shows to their ever increasing repertoire of programming. Meateater can be described as a hunting show, but it is more a show about exploration and discovering what you’ll go through to obtain sustenance. Growing up on a farm, obtaining my own food, whether it be through hunting, fishing or farming, was an integral part of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, we still went to the grocery store, but wild game was a staple of our diet. That’s why I wanted to have the conversation about wild game and how it’s obtained with Shannon. I’ve learned through the numerous years we’ve been together that Shannon is not a fan of the smell or taste of wild game (not including wild caught seafood). I describe the nutritional benefits of wild game, hunters contribution to wildlife conservation and the effect hunting has on your mindset. I know the topic of hunting can invoke a wide arrange of feelings in people, and I encourage you to leave your thoughts for or against it in the comment section below.

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My uncle preparing venison sausage

If you have a comment about hunting, or any topic we bring up on the podcast, feel free to leave them below or reach out to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. We love using your feedback to help make the podcast better. We’d also love it if you’d give us a rating and review on iTunes. We truly appreciate all the support you all give us. It really motivates us to put out the best podcast we can on a weekly basis. Keep listening, keep sharing and stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/getting-our-swerve-on/id1121420986?i=1000377317236&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/getting-our-swerve-on

 

 

What’s on the Menu

This week’s menu item is not one particular food, but an entire meal I prepared for my wife and I. The salad is made of arugula, watermelon, grated cheddar and a balsamic reduction. Even though watermelon has a high glycemic index (72) it has a low glycemic load (5) due to the water and fiber it contains. Enjoying it with a protein, like the shrimp pictured below, will reduce the watermelon’s insulin response even further. While we’re on the topic of reducing insulin response, substituting zucchini noodles for any refined grain based pasta will do just that. Reducing your refined grain intake could lead to you avoiding troublesome health conditions like bloating and irritable bowel syndrome just to name a few. The real beauty of this meal is that it took about 15 minutes to make. Quick, healthy and delicious. Just the way I like it!

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