Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” ~ English Proverb

Ok bloggers...I have decided to try to blog more often about staying fit, eating right, and living your life on our own two feet (by request)! So I have decided to write about ingredients that some of you all may or may not have in your protein powders/shakes. Knowing your ingredients and how much you are getting daily (especially if you take a multivitamin) is crucial in your weight loss/toning up journey. After all, they tell us everything that goes into our body needs to have a purpose- problem solved!

For example, did you know that too much Vitamin A is actually toxic and can be deadly? Polar bear liver is a HUGE source of Vitamin A (not that anyone eats it...). It's such a big source of VitA that eating it will kill you. Yikes!

Therefore, every week, I will be featuring a different ingredient that you may or may not have heard of. Hopefully, some of you will get more educated about the minerals and nutrients you put into your body!

This week's spotlight goes to.........drumroll......

Apple Pectin Powder

This is a water-soluble fiber that is helpful in removing cholesterol out of the intestines and delays glucose absorption. It is VERY BIG in being a digestive aid {which is very important in maintaining a healthy body weight!} It wears many faces, however, and also plays the role of antioxidant and detoxifier.

The pectin in apples transforms into a soothing coating for the intestines by intestinal bacteria, which soothes stomach cramps!

A recent study also hinted that pectin may stop cancer from spreading throughout the body, binding to certain carcinogenic compounds in the colon and speeds their elimination from the body!

Apple pectin reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics!

By now, most of us know what we should be eating—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish, among other foods. But anyone heading off to the supermarket with a shopping list of the best recommendations for a healthy diet is in for a bit of sticker shock. Over a 2-year period, a recent study tracked the costs of "nutrient-dense" foods (foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories) and "energy-dense" foods (foods high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals—aka junk). The nutrient-dense foods rose in cost by almost 20% while the cost of junk food declined. The study found that getting your average day's worth of 2,000 calories from the junk side cost $3.52, while getting your 2,000 calories' worth from nutrient-dense munchies would cost $36.32. Since the average American spends about $7.00 a day on food, you can see where the rise in obesity might come from. Ugh! It is possible, however, to eat healthily and still have some $$$ left over. Even on the tightest budget, you can do a little research to make the most nutritious choices for you. Here are nine tips to get the most nutritional bang for your buck:

1. 'Tis the Season

Eating seasonally is the best way to get the most delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. When harvest time comes around for your favorite fruit or veggie, the market is usually glutted, and following the time-honored supply-and-demand curve, the prices of those fruits and veggies plummet. If you're fortunate enough to live in a community with a decent farmers' market, it pays to get to know the men and women who are selling the produce. They can let you know when the best time to buy the best stuff is and give you a preview of what's coming up harvest-wise so you can plan your menu accordingly.

{Some Summer in season fruits/veggies include: apricots, avocados, basil, black/blue/rasp/strawberries, figs, carrots, zucchini, peaches, okra, plums, spinach, melons, lemongrass, peas, corn, cucumbers, and mangoes!} 

2. The Big Freeze

Not only are frozen and canned foods way cheaper than fresh foods, in many cases, they're more nutritious. Fruits and vegetables are usually preserved within hours of harvest, when they have their maximum vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruits and vegetables can take days, or even weeks, to make the journey from the field to your table. Add to that any time spent lingering on supermarket shelves and in your fridge's crisper drawer, and suddenly fresh doesn't seem so fresh anymore. The only thing to be wary of is the sodium and sugar content in many canned goods, or frozen veggies that come with high-calorie sauces or other not-so-healthy ingredients in not-so-healthy amounts.

3. Shop Around

Check out the supermarket circulars that keep getting stuffed into your mailbox. Every week, your supermarket advertises "loss leaders," including fruits, veggies, lean meats, and fish. Their hope is to lure you into the store with these bargains that they don't make so much money on and tempt you to buy extra high-profit stuff while you're there. But if you stick to your list, you can fill your cart with the loss leaders and save a ton of money. Plus they'll usually be items that are in season, because these are cheaper for the store to buy. Also, signing up for your supermarket's club or rewards cards can help save you money. It's better to monitor sales and promotions rather than clipping coupons, because coupons generally apply to processed, less healthy foods, although you can sometimes find good coupons for canned and frozen produce.

4. Get to know your grocer.

Find out on which day produce is delivered to the store, so you get maximum freshness for your dollar. Ask the store's butcher how soon before the printed expiration date they place meat, poultry, and fish on the "buy it fast!" discount shelf. Another tip? Many butchers will custom-grind for you at no additional charge. If a package of factory-ground turkey breast costs $6.00 a pound and a whole turkey breast costs $2.00 a pound, why not buy the whole breast and ask your butcher to grind it for you?

5. Think outside the big box.

Instead of always going to the big-box supermarket chains, check and see whether there are any farmers' markets and/or food co-ops in your area. The food will be fresher, cheaper, and hopefully not as coated with pesticides, waxes, or other unsavory elements. Organic food is great, but if you're trying to save money, traditionally grown food isn't any less nutritious than organic; it may just need a little more scrubbing.

6. Start your own farm.

If you have a yard, start your own vegetable and/or herb garden. With a little online research, you can find out what grows well and easily in your neck of the woods. Personally? My garden is currently growing kiwi, tomatoes, green/red/yellow bell peppers, lettuce, green beans, berries, lettuce, and squash!

7. Plan ahead.

Take some time on Sunday to plan out your menu for the week for all your meals and snacks. Find out what's in season and on sale in your area. If you can only make one shopping trip for the week, front-load your menu with fresh ingredients and stock up on canned and frozen items for the latter half of the week. Just by planning ahead and not wasting money on spur-of-the-moment restaurant meals, you might find you have a lot more money to spend at the grocery store, which means you won't have to cut as many corners for the meals you prepare.

8. Tap into tap water...not into your wallet.

Instead of spending big money on bottled water, try switching to tap water, which is subject to a lot more regulations than bottled water. If you're concerned about impurities or don't like the taste of your local tap water, consider getting a simple, relatively inexpensive filtration system—one that either attaches to the tap itself or is located in a separate pitcher. Brita makes a new water bottle with a filter system built into the lid, making it an easy tote and keeps you hydrated. Check it out here!

9. Take your vitamins.

Here's the easiest, most economical way to help ensure that you meet your basic nutritional needs. They'll help you get many if not all of the same nutrients you'd get from whole-food sources (often without spending nearly as much money)—and fish oil supplements are especially good for those who don't care for fish. My favorite multi-vitamin is GNC's Women's Ultra Mega Active, but do your research. Each person is different and may need certain vitamins and minerals for their own unique body.

So I hope this helps you understand your nutrition and your money a little bit more, bloggers. What are some of your favorite fruits/veggies? Do you ever go shopping at a farmers market? What do you do that helps you save money? I am excited to hear what you think and I hope you continue to make healthy choices...on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

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