Farmers Market Weekly Must-Haves

If heading to the Farmers Market is already a Sunday ritual, then you already know that buying locally grown organic fruits and veggies can have a seriously positive effect on your week. Getting to know the local growers and understanding where and how your food is grown is not only a great way to stay connected with your health community, but also fuel your body with the highest quality nutrients available.  Here is a quick list of my favorite go-to buys at the farmers market, that add flexibility and versatility to my weekly nutrition, but also have added health benefits to shopping elsewhere. 

Eggs are a great source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids you need in your daily diet. But, some research shows that not all eggs are laid equally.  In fact, studies show that hens who were allowed to roam free had higher levels of Vitamin A & E, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids in their eggs. In addition, eggs that are certified organic were laid by hens who did not receive hormones or antibiotics.  Make sure you stock up on free range organic eggs at your next farmers market trip, and add some healthy protein sources to your day!

Having too many leafy vegetables around the house during the week is never a bad thing. Stocking up on kale, swiss chard, romaine, arugula, spinach or any other organic green will give you lots of options to be creative with your salads throughout the week. However, non-organic farming techniques can blast your greens with pesticides or fertilizers that have been linked with many harmful health effects. Buying your greens from organic farmers at your farmers market is a great way to buy locally and minimize health effects from harmful chemicals and toxins. 

Berries are one of the best super foods you buy! They are rich in phytochemicals, a natural antioxidant, which can help to decrease inflammation and the effects from cell damage. The chemical compounds found in berries have been linked with less mental decline in aging adults as well as heart health. Next time you are walking through the farmers market stalls, find yourself a flat of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries and add some color to your palate! 

Although apples are available all year round, Fall is peak season for deliciousness. Here's a couple healthy tips: Make sure to always eat the skin, because it contains 2/3 of the fiber; toss them on any salad for a healthy sweet addition; and add some almond butter to a slice of apple with a dash of salt for a healthy mid day snack! 

These juvenile vegetable leaves are anywhere from 7-14 days old and pack a serious nutrient punch. Studies have shown microgreens to have 4-6x more micronutrients than mature leaves of the same plant. Whether it's spinach, beets, peas, or many others, micro greens are a great garnish for many , and are sure to add sweet and refreshing flavor.  

Everybody love flowers! It's actually science. Having flowers in your home or apartment can not only be a great aesthetic addition to your living space, but also improve your overall mood, happiness and well being.  Whether you buy a premixed bouquet or mix and match to make your own, picking up fresh flowers at the farmers market will help create a positive atmosphere at your home and subtly brighten up your week.

6 essentials for your fall garden:

Fall is now in full swing! Just because the weather is changing and the days are becoming shorter, that doesn't mean your organic summer garden has to wither away until the spring! If you live in a place without snow or ice, you can continue your green thumb all year long!  Some vegetables do much better when the temperatures drop a little, and they don't have direct sun for long periods of time. Here are my picks for the 6 essential vegetables for your fall and winter garden.

1. Broccoli: Grows great in cooler temperatures. Requires lots water, approximately 4-6 hours of sun per day. Make sure to cut the heads off before they start sprouting yellow flowers! 

2. Cauliflower: Actually part of the same family as broccoli and brussel spouts. So they need the same amount of light and water. Once your cauliflower are nice and white, approximately 60 days, cut the heads and harvest. Cauliflower are so easy to use and taste great with little added.  Break up the head of the cauliflower. Lightly drizzle with truffle oil so the cauliflower is lightly coated. Salt away, and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. 

3. Swiss Chard: This is a staple of any fall salad greens mix. It is not only a very colorful addition to your garden, but also very tasty. You can harvest at any time, but the smaller leaves are a little sweeter. If you are looking to make salads regularly, make sure to plant 6-10 plants, so you can rotate which plants you harvest. 

4. Brussel Sprouts: These plants love their cooler climates, but still need ample water and 4-6 hours of sunlight. Harvest when the buds are about 1-2 inches in diameter. 1 plant can produce 2-3 pounds of sprouts! Of course, when cooking these delectable treats, i'm always a huge fan of adding bacon! 

5. Kale: The queen of resilient crops. They are very resistant to cold temps, and will produce almost all year round. Whether you use your kale for salads, smoothies or juicing, with a nutritional label like Kale's, you can't go wrong! 

6: Butternut Squash: A true Fall classic. Butternut squash take a little longer to grow, approximately 90 days, but i think they are worth the wait. They need lots of sunlight and lots of water! And they are a very large plant, so make sure they have plenty of room to grow! But there are so many great options for using butternut squash, from pastas, to soups, straight up, or even on pizza. 

Happy farming!
Dr. Vincent

Have Your Sweets & EAT Them Too!

Life is short. Eat dessert first
— Ernestine Ulmer

Life is all about balance. If people tell me, they never eat sugar or don't like dessert, i immediately think they are lying. Everybody likes something that's sweet. It's a part of being a normal human. So let's all agree that dessert is a part of life, and let's live a little and enjoy it!  Now, although no one has ever been hurt by a single cupcake... a dozen cupcakes is a different story. So how can we enjoy dessert or satisfy a sweet tooth, without unleashing the flood gates and eating the entire dessert table. Sometimes, that is easier said than done, but here are a few tips. 

1. Just let go! Telling yourself that you can NEVER eat dessert, will only breed more of that rebellious spirit that draws you closer and closer to a dessert chow down session. By telling yourself that sweets aren't allowed, it can also cause some people to feel guilty when they actually do eat them. The first rule: allow yourself to indulge. Enjoy it, and let's figure it out later. 

2. Portion Size:  Eating sweets isn't about being hungry! It's about satisfying a craving. So the bigger the cupcake, doesn't necessarily mean the better. A standard red velvet cupcake, with all of its amazing deliciousness, has approximately 500 calories. Just for reference, thats approximately a 5 mile run to work off that 1 minute of mouth ecstasy!  However, a mini red velvet cupcake has approximately 150 calories. Portion size is crucial when choosing dessert. By choosing smaller portions of sweets, you can nip that sugar craving in the bud, and keep your calorie count lower in the long run. 

3. Plan Ahead: So you know you are heading out with friends, going to a wedding, baby shower, birthday, whatever, and you know there will be some amazing baked goods and sweets. Moderating your calories during the day, is a great way to keep your overall caloric balance in check. That doesn't mean starving yourself all day, because that can have negative effects on the metabolism and hormones, but decreasing some calories here and there can create some room to indulge a little later. Hold the dressing on your salad, slow down on the 3pm snacking, and choosing a healthier lunch option are all easy ways to create a little wiggle room in the daily calorie balance. 

4. Pre Package your Desserts: When you're having a dinner party or bringing a dessert to a get-together, come up with a creative or festive way to pre-package your dessert. This way you can decrease the average portion per serving (See the s'mores picture above). Try a mason jar or individual basket to create a smaller stand alone dessert, which secretly is a smaller portion. Because, if they're all on the same plate, it's just too easy to grab another :) Remember, although the other dessert-partakers won't know about your secret calorie skimming ways, it's still good Karma. 

Cheers for dessert!
Dr. Vincent