vegetables

What’s on the Menu – Get’em while their fresh

Today’s menu spotlight is asparagus, which is why I want to address the stinky elephant in the room right off the bat. Yes, most people experience some unpleasant odors when they visit the restroom after eating asparagus. The reason why is a chemical contained exclusively in asparagus known as asparagusic acid.

Clever name right?

When digested, this chemical produces foul-smelling sulfur-containing compounds. As unpleasant as this olfactory side effect may be, it pales in comparison to the health benefits eating asparagus can provide (source).

Asparagus is full of healthy micronutrients but the one that is most prominent is vitamin K. One cup of asparagus contains over 100% of our daily value (DV) for vitamin K. This vitamin is essentially necessary for blood clotting. Studies have also found that the vitamin K in asparagus could help increase bone density, while decrease fracture rates among individuals with osteoporosis (source). The health benefits of vitamin K are extremely important, but asparagus contains a large amount of a another nutrient that I’m much more interested in, especially at this point in my life.

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The day this blog is posted, my wife Shannon will be 27 weeks pregnant. Anyone that has gone through this process knows that proper nutrition is a HUGE part of a healthy pregnancy. One component of pregnancy nutrition is making sure the woman receives an adequate amount of certain nutrients. Folate happens to be one of those nutrients and asparagus contains over 60% of our DV per cup. Folate aids in several functions critical to a developing fetus like preventing neural-tube defects, red blood cell formation and DNA construction (source).

Which is why it’s safe to assume that I’ve been essentially force feeding Shannon anything high in folate over the last six months. We’ll have to cross asparagus off that list soon because its peak growing season has nearly ended and freshness definitely affects the plant’s nutrient density.

Asparagus is a spring time crop. Yes you can buy canned and frozen asparagus year round, but the plant’s biology drastically reduces its available nutrients once it’s harvested. You may not know this but plants don’t instantly “die” once they’re picked. Metabolic functions continue to occur and in asparagus, these functions occur at a very rapid rate. In fact, asparagus’ post harvest “metabolism” is approximately 5 times greater than onions and potatoes stored at room temperature. This fact is why the George Mateljan Foundation recommends eating asparagus within 48 hours of purchasing (source).

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Hopefully this post inspires you to grab some fresh asparagus if you see it at the grocery store or farmer’s market this weekend. It may be your last opportunity! If you do grab an asparagus bunch during your next shopping trip, please let us know. Feel free to snap a pic and tweet it to us or post it on our Facebook page (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). We want to know if you were able to enjoy fresh asparagus before the season ends this year.

In addition to your asparagus pics, you can also contact us at elementaltampa@gmail.com to take advantage of the complimentary fitness consultations we’re currently offering. Whether you need advice on nutrition or just want workout tips, I’d be happy to set up an appointment with you to discuss how you can improve your fitness.

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Benefits of eating seasonal produce

This episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast is dropping on the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day. Cookouts, pool parties and summer vacation for students & teachers are all great reasons to love this holiday. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. Memorial Day is the day we pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect our country. I know military action may be a contentious issue, but I will always show my respect to those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country and its citizens. Thank you to all the members of the armed forces, past and present.

Alright, on with the show notes!

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This week’s training recap doesn’t really contain a lot of training. Shannon is quickly approaching her 6th month of pregnancy, which means her workout clothes, specifically her pants, no longer fit. The pants she had were so uncomfortable that she was dreading her beloved Peloton cycle rides.  This prompted her to splurge on specialized maternity workout pants, which she wore while we recorded the podcast. Judging by her reaction, she really enjoyed them. She encouraged all ladies, pregnant or not, to purchase fitness wear that is functional and comfortable. It will make workouts much more enjoyable.

My portion of the training recap included a discussion of the lab results from my recent trip to the functional medicine doctor. The only test results that were issues of concern were my LDL cholesterol and vitamin D levels. After discussing my diet with my doctor, he believes that my family history and certain dietary choices are contributing to my high cholesterol levels. He suggested substituting mass produced beef & pork for sheep, lamb or game meat and incorportating more small fish (sardines, achovies, mackeral, etc.) into my diet. He also prescribed red yeast rice and vitamin D supplements to address both areas of concern (check out our past podcast on vitamin D deficiency link).

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Image courtesy of foundmyfitness.com

I was super pleased by how thorough my doctor was. I’m very happy that I sought out a certified function medicine practioner (click link to learn more). I’ll make sure to keep you updated on any future doctor visits and test results.

After our training recap we get into a timely discussion on seasonal produce. The optimal growing conditions of spring & early summer usually result in a a wide variety of produce at the grocery store and your local produce stand. We use an article from the Feeding South Florida website (link) to discuss the health & environmental benefits of eating seasonal produce. We also consult the seasonal produce list from the USDA (link) to find out which season you can expect to find certain produce items. You can also click here to find out when certain produce items are in season in your state.

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We love supporting local businesses and we couldn’t think of a better one to promote than local produce stands. Both Shannon and I have fond memories of ours growing up, and I’m sure you do too. We’d love to hear what you look forward to getting when you visit your local produce stand. Feel free to send your responses to elementaltampa@gmail.com or send us a message on any of our social channels (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). We’d love to hear from you all.

One last thing, we’ve got another interview episode of Addicted to Fitness coming atchya next week. I don’t want give too much away about our guest, so I’ll just say two words: Coach Fury.

Links for this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/benefits-of-eating-seasonal-produce/id1121420986?i=1000385914079&mt=2

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

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/why-you-should-visit-your-local-farm-stand

What’s on the Menu – I can see clearly now

None of us are getting any younger. I know that’s not exactly breaking news, but I recently reached the point in my life where I’m beginning to feel the effects of aging. I cruised through my 20s with little concern every time my birthday rolled around. Now, as I inch closer to 34, I’m starting to experience issues that would have never affected me 5 years ago.

My muscles take a little longer to recover from a tough workout. It’s hard for me to be energetic the day after a poor night’s sleep and if I decide to forgo “clean eating” for a night, my digestive system is in turmoil for at least 24 hours. Fortunately, there is one bodily function that has yet to be touched by the hands of father time and I believe that has a lot to do with today’s menu spotlight.

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Whether it be in a salad I packed for lunch or Shannon’s delicious Saucy Tomato Eggs (clink link for recipe), bell peppers frequently make their way into many of our meals. Unlike their spicy cousins, bell peppers do not contain capsaicin, which is why they’re often referred to as sweet peppers. True to their name, bell peppers provide a sweet flavor and a tremendous crunch to any recipe. Even though they lack the beneficial capsaicin compound, bell peppers provide a host of beneficial nutrients that can help manage several different health conditions, including poor eye sight.

One medium sized red bell pepper contains approximately 75% of our recommended daily value of vitamin A. Research has shown that the vitamin A contained in vegetables like bell peppers not only protects the surface of the eye, but also decreases the inflammation created by specific eye conditions (source). In addition to vitamin A, bell peppers also contain high levels of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of age-related vision loss (source). Believe it or not, the bell pepper’s health benefits don’t stop there.

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Bell peppers also contain a significant amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and numerous antioxidants. This nutrient dense fruit/veggie improves immunity, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy pregnancies and stimulates collagen production. It’s important to remember that a lot of the vitamins bell peppers possess are fat soluble vitamins. Which means you need to prepare them with a fat source. Sauteing them up in olive oil or butter should do the trick (source).

I know I included the link already, but do yourself a favor and check out Shannon’s saucy tomato eggs recipe. If I had to pick only one meal that contained bell peppers to eat for the rest of my life, it would be that one.

No doubt about it.

If you have a recipe that features bell peppers that you can’t live without, please let me know about it. You can email your recipes to elementaltampa@gmail.com or post a pic of your favorite bell pepper recipe on one of our various social media channels. It’s going to be hard to beat Shannon’s recipe, but you can try.

What’s on the Menu – Expiration dates need not apply

I’m a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. I know I’ve said it before, but he is my man crush. He’s a badass chef, a killer writer and trains jiu-jitsu nonstop. Besides the decades of substance abuse, I’d definitely want to be him if I could switch bodies for a day. One of the main reason I want Bourdain’s life is he gets to travel the world and eat unique and sometimes unusual cuisine. One such trip, which was documented on this CNN show Parts Unknown, took him to Denmark and the “science bunker” of the often #1 rated restaurant in the world, Noma. There he got to taste numerous food items in various stages of fermentation. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to travel to Denmark to reap the benefits of fermented foods.

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Inside the Noma Science Bunker (pic courtesy of eater.com)

Fermented foods are all the rage nowadays. You can find them at grocery stores, farmers markets and juice bars. You can even find them at baseball stadiums. You may have several fermented foods in your fridge and not even know it. Common fermented foods include: yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, natto and kimchi, which is today’s menu spotlight.

The nutritional value of the vegetables used to make Kimchi are actually enhanced due to the fermentation process. The primary bacteria responsible for Kimchi’s fermentation, Lactobacillus plantarum, not only increases the numerous vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetables, it also increases important bioactive compounds like thiocyanate and glucosinolate. These compounds have been linked to possible treatments for various health conditions such as cancer, obesity and atherosclerosis just to name a few. Kimchi also happens to be a natural probiotic that promotes proper gut health (source). Sounds like a miracle food right? I think it is and what’s even more amazing is that you can make this miracle food at home for next to nothing.

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Making homemade kimchi is so ridiculously easy that I’m pissed at myself that I haven’t done it yet. The only supplies you’ll probably need to invest in are several glass mason jars with screw on lids. Other than that it’s just vegetables and spices. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to prepare (sorry for the commerical).

If you already make your own homemade kimchi, let us know about your recipe. We’d love to share a pic of your delicious fermented veggies on our social media channels. Feel free to send any and all feedback to elementaltampa@gmail.com or reach out to us on social media. We’re not afraid to “fanboy” over the greatness of kimchi in a public forum.

What’s on the Menu – Looks like Popeye was Right

I had a stout aversion to any green vegetables growing up. I don’t know if it’s a phase all kids go through, but the idea of eating peas, broccoli or kale made me physically ill. My parents gave up trying to incorporate green veggies into my diet after an unfortunate “messy” situation at the kitchen table. Those scarring experiences are probably why my parents, and other relatives, are still astonished when they see me pile green veggies on my plate nowadays.

One such green veggie that seems to make it into my diet on a daily basis is spinach. To be honest with you, I actually have to limit how much spinach I eat. It’s not because I’m prone to kidney stones, which the oxalates in spinach can contribute to, it’s because Shannon and I eat so much that we’d have to buy a new container multiple times a week. If you listened to this week’s Addicted to Fitness (episode link) you’d know that we buy it organically grown since the conventionally grown version contains high pesticide levels. I’d hate to go broke over spinach, but its health benefits are so prolific that its worth spending a little extra cash.

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I’m sure you’ve heard some of the major health benefits that spinach provides: high in numerous water & fat soluble vitamins (K, A, B6, Folate), minerals (magnesium, copper, iron) and fiber. What you may not be aware of are the potential health benefits of its “lesser” known micronutrients.

Spinach happens to be one of the richest sources of chlorophyll (substance that makes it green) on the planet, which means it’s also one of the richest sources of thylakoids. Recent research using spinach extract containing high levels of thylakoids has been shown to delay stomach emptying, decrease levels of hunger-related hormones and increase levels of satiety-related hormones. This research suggests that spinach extracts may be a viable treatment method for obesity and type 2 diabetes (source). In addition to its numerous health benefits, the mild taste of spinach makes it a welcome addition to a variety of dishes.

Spinach smoothie

Naturally I incorporate spinach into any salad I make, but the one meal that I always add spinach to that may come as a surprise to some is my homemade smoothie. Vegetable and fruit smoothies are a great way to add more dark leafy greens into your diet. My go-to recipe includes:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup of strawberries
  • 3 tbsp of Collagen Hydrolysate protein powder
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon & turmeric

I don’t think I’ve found a dish that I wouldn’t add spinach too. Even though I haven’t tried it in a dessert, I’m certain I wouldn’t turn down a bowl of spinach ice cream. Please feel free to share your favorite spinach recipe in the comment section below or email them to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. You can also share pics of your delicious spinach meals on our Facebook page. Click here and post away!

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Two Big Struggles: Allergies & Pesticide Contamination

Shannon and I recorded this week’s Addicted to Fitness a little earlier in the week than normal, which means we didn’t have a tremendous amount of training to recap. I was fortunate enough receive a Stick Mobility training session from Shawn at Tampa Strength. If you are unfamiliar with Stick Mobility, it’s an innovative exercise modality that uses pliable “sticks” of varying length to simultaneously build strength, improve mobility and increase muscle activation. Click here to learn more about this all-inclusive form of exercise

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Follow Stick Mobility on Instagram to see more exercises

Shannon didn’t have a lot to report during our training recap, but she did participate in a very important health related event this past week. If you’ve listen to the podcast in the past 3 months, you may have noticed Shannon frequently battling congestion. She finally came to the realization that her frequent “colds” may be the result of environmental allergies. Fortunately, her mother is a practitioner of a non-invasive form of allergy testing known as Namburdripad’s Allergy Elimination Testing (NAET). NAET uses muscle testing to determine the body’s response to a specific allergen (click here to learn more). Shannon’s test determined that she has sensitivities to trees, weeds and grass which are all in full BLOOM right now in Florida.

I recount my own experiences with allergy testing and I can tell you that they were the exact OPPOSITE of non-invasive. Shot, after shot, after shot. My arm would look like a dart board after an allergy test. When I got my final allergy test as a pre-teen, they ditched the single needle approach for a board with at least 16 needle-like attachments that they laid on my BACK, which allowed them to measure my body’s reaction to multiple allergens all at once. If I had to do it again, I think I’d rather live with the allergy than go through those tests again. However, I didn’t have severe allergies like the one nowadays that can ground a plane.

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Shannon and certain plants now have a love-hate relationship

Both Shannon and I feel as if peanuts are public enemy number one when it comes to allergies. We don’t have children, but we’ve already heard stories about schools being “no nut” zones and/or airlines having to offer “nut free” flights. Shannon and I give a quick synopsis of the 2017 recommendations to prevent peanut allergies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH guidelines state that early exposure may help prevent severe peanut allergies from developing (click here for the NIH press release).  After our peanut discussion, Shannon and I move onto another issue that I’m sure parents are concerned with in regards to its effect on their children’s health.

Numerous studies have linked the consumption of foods high in pesticide concentrations to adverse health problems. Shannon and I discuss one tool that can help consumers avoid these health risks. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out lists of the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” produce in regards to pesticide contamination. According to their website (link), the EWG is a non-partisan environmental group that acquires their pesticide data from tests performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We go over both lists in their entirety in the episode but if you want a quick sample from both: Dirty: 1) Strawberries 2) Spinach 3) Nectarines; Clean: 1) Sweet Corn 2) Avocados 3) Pineapple. Hopefully this information helps you make the healthiest decisions possible when it comes to picking out produce.

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We love providing you all with helpful health & fitness information on a weekly basis and judging by our download numbers, you all love hearing it. We actually have a little homework for you all this week. We’d like to know when your favorite time to listen to the Addicted to Fitness podcast is. Do you listen while commuting to work? Sitting on the spin bike? Walking the dog? Whatever time, place or activity you’ve reserved for the podcast, we want to know about it. Feel free to send your responses to elementaltampa@gmail.com or send us a message on any of our social channels. We’d love to hear from you all.

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/two-big-struggles-allergies-pesticide-contamination/id1121420986?i=1000384465001&mt=2

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

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/two-big-struggles-allergies-pesticide-contamination

What’s on the Menu – Not So Sweet Potato

I really think the sweet potato should thank the Paleo movement for its recent rise in popularity. I grew up on a farm and the only time I recall seeing and/or eating sweet potatoes was in pie form at Thanksgiving. But then the paleo diet started to gain popularity in the early 2000s and BOOM! Sweet potatoes were in vogue.

I should mention that there is some debate amongst paleo diet followers if sweet potatoes are “paleo” or not. Regardless, I think sweet potato farmers should thank Robb Wolf and Dr. Loren Cordain for the 80% increase in consumption of their product in the U.S. between 2000 – 2014 (source). Shannon and I have certainly done our part to contribute to that increase as sweet potatoes frequently make their way into our weekly meal plans, and why not! They provide significant amounts of essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C & B6 and manganese. They also provide more of the antioxidant beta-carotene than any other whole food on the planet (source). But what about their sugar content? Well, the actual truth of their sweetness may surprise you.

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The glycemic index (GI) & glycemic load (GL) chart is a good tool to use when you’re trying to determine your body’s blood sugar & insulin response to certain foods (click here to see chart).  If you check out the chart you’ll see that sweet potatoes have a lower GI and GL than russet potatoes. If you’re trying to maintain a strict diet that contains only low GI & GL foods, a baked sweet potato may not be an option. Luckily there is a certain way to prepare sweet potatoes that will significantly lower their GI & GL.

While a baked sweet potato contains a relatively high GL of 22, a boiled sweet potato contains a GL of only 11 (source). This is great news! Wanna know why? Because in order to absorb more of those awesome nutrients contained in the sweet potato, you need to add fat to them. See where I’m going with this? That’s right, mashed sweet potatoes with butter and heavy cream may be the healthiest way to enjoy this multipurpose starch. You can also toss the steamed sweet potatoes in olive oil if you’re lactose intolerant.

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Sweet Tater Chips – One of my fav preparation methods

Above you’ll see a pic of my sweet potato “chips” before they head into the oven. No, they’re not exactly low carb, but they are covered in butter and olive oil. If you’re interested in indulging in these every once in a while, you’ll need a stainless steel vegetable slicer to CAREFULLY cut the sweet potato nice and thin. Coat them and a foil lined baking sheet in butter and/or olive oil and bake them at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Take’em out, flip’em, and cook for another 10-15 minutes. You can broil them for a few minutes at the end if you want to crisp them up.

Now that I’ve share one of my favorite sweet potato recipes, it’s time for you to return the favor. Feel free to send your recipes, complete with pictures, to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also email them to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. We appreciate all feedback, especially the tasty kind.

What’s on the Menu – Cauliflower: The Veggie Drawer’s Utility Player

If you all are anything like me, you knew when your mom or dad was cooking cauliflower for dinner. Hell, you could probably smell it before you even walked in the house. In today’s post, we’re going to go over several reasons why you should eat cauliflower, but I get why kids don’t exactly go crazy when they see it on the dinner table. The smell, the stark white appearance and the overall bland flavor would turn off any 8 year old. The beauty of this “blank canvas” of a veggie is in its versatility and the fact that it is a nutritional “powerhouse“.

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Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes other highly nutritious veggies like kale, broccoli and turnips. One cup of cauliflower contains 5g of carbs with over half of those carbs coming from fiber. The phytonutrients contained in cauliflower include a significant amount of Vitamin C, K and folate. It also contains an organic compound known as glucosinolates, which when broken down during the cooking process produces cauliflower’s less than appetizing smell, but also produces several other compounds that have been found to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects (source).

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You know me, I’ll sacrifice taste for a nutritional payoff (e.g. sardines). Luckily, cauliflower is so adaptable that you can use it to make some of your favorite carby side dishes. Instead of white rice, try riced cauliflower (pictured above). Instead of tater tots, try cauliflower tots. Instead of a wheat based pizza crust, try a cauliflower pizza crust. Yes that’s a real thing! Former guest of the Addicted to Fitness podcast Anna Vocino has an awesome cauliflower pizza crust recipe on here website. Give her recipe a shot and let me know how it comes out. We’d love to see pictures of how you dress up your cauliflower.