What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 11, 2012

A Peach a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Filed under: Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 9:21 am

Tips for Healthy Living

I’m incredibly excited to announce Geri Wohl as our newest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Geri is a Bay Area-based Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator with extensive training in holistic and whole foods nutrition focused on emphasizing positive lifestyle changes. Her articles are sure to educate, engage and entertain. Welcome aboard Geri! – Carmelo Sigona

A Peach a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The Nutritional Benefits of Fruits and How to Select Them

By Geri Wohl

Now I know that the saying is actually “an apple” but let’s look at the beneficial qualities of peaches and other similar stone fruits, including nectarines, plums, cherries, apricots and their associated hybrids and why they keep us away from the doctor’s office.

Summertime isn’t typically associated with sickness, but is it because the germs are fewer, we spend more time outside or we consume foods that are immune supporting?

I love this time of the year with all the juicy, sweet stone fruits. Their aromas waft through the air as I enter into their section at Sigona’s Farmers Market, beckoning me to pick them and savor their incredible flavors. One of the ways I choose my produce is by a fruit’s smell. But more about choosing ripe stone fruit later in the article. Eating these fruits also requires a bit of a carefree attitude as the juice just drips as you bite into them.

All these fruits are classified as stone fruit due to the hard pit in the center. Also called drupes (pretty strange name), they have a single seed that is encased in a stony, hard shell. The hard pit protects the seed and allows it to be scattered as droppings by our avian friends. These fruits are all in the genus Prunus and family Rosaceae or rose family. These fruits are at their peak of ripeness between May and September (or October if we’re lucky). If you buy these fruits in the winter, they are typically from South America and will have the transit issues that were discussed in the last article (http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/62212-eating-with-the-seasons.html).

Geri Wohl

Geri Wohl, Certified Nutrition Consultant

All of these fruits are low in calories due to their high water content. The high-water composition (87% in peaches) helps suppress hunger. Anyone trying to lose weight may want to grab these as a great snack. Furthermore, your body actually uses more calories digesting the fruit than the fruit has so it is a negative calorie gain. In addition, all these fruits have high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins are beneficial for a variety of reasons, including immunity, heart health, joint support and eye health. These fruits also enhance our digestive system, as they all are good sources of dietary fiber. Did you know that plums act like their dried counterparts, prunes, against constipation?

Each of these fruits has high levels of potassium (and of course, no salt) so they’re good for anyone on a low-salt diet or with cardiac issues. Potassium is essential for heart health, kidney function and digestion. Most of these fruits also contain iron, which is necessary for red blood cell formation, nervous system function and immune health to name a few. As vitamin C enhances absorption of iron, these fruits are chalk-full of nutrients that work together to enhance our well-being.

Other important components of these fruits are antioxidants such as beta carotene (which creates the deep colorful skins), lutein and lycopene (important for our eyes). These antioxidants work on cleaning up the toxic compounds in our bodies as well as the by-products of our metabolism. They are linked to cancer prevention and are extremely important for optimal body functioning.

So how do you pick the best stone fruit out there? The fruit should have a bit of give when you press the skin—not too hard and not too soft, but just right. After pressing the skin, I always pick up the fruit and smell it to see if it has that wonderful aroma I spoke about earlier. If it doesn’t, find another piece that does. Or you can put it out on the counter for a couple of days to ripen and then savor.

Be aware that conventionally grown stone fruits typically have a lot of pesticides. If you can buy these fruits organically grown, you will be better off. If not, just rinsing in water isn’t enough to remove the pesticides. Instead, try filling your sink or a large bowl with cold water. Add 4 T salt and the juice of half a fresh lemon. Soak fruits and veggies for 5-10 min. (for leafy greens 2-3 min.; for berries 1-2 min). Rinse well and enjoy. For another nontoxic and inexpensive cleaning method, combine 1 T lemon juice, 2 T distilled white vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Spray the fruit or vegetable, wipe and then enjoy!

Savor these wonderful fruits because the season goes by quickly. For a delicious blueberry and peach crisp recipe, go to my website at http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipe-summer-2011.html.

June 27, 2012

Eating with the Season

Filed under: Feature Articles, Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 10:15 am

Tips for Healthy Living

I’m incredibly excited to announce Geri Wohl as our newest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Geri is a Bay Area-based Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator with extensive training in holistic and whole foods nutrition focused on emphasizing positive lifestyle changes. Her articles are sure to educate, engage and entertain. Welcome aboard Geri! – Carmelo Sigona

Eating with the Season

Health and Environmental Benefits of Eating with the Season

By Geri Wohl

In our global economy, when we can buy anything at any time, is there any good reason to eat seasonally? In fact, there is.

Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is more economical. Have you ever looked at the price of asparagus in the fall and then in the spring when it’s in season? Obviously spring is the time to buy those tender stalks.

Local, seasonal produce provides us with optimal flavor and maximum nutrients. The reasons are multifold:

  • The produce is harvested when it’s at its peak of readiness. The ripened produce has the full complement of vitamins and minerals that allow our bodies to thrive! In contrast, food grown remotely has to be picked well before ripeness to account for extra transit time. By picking too early, the produce doesn’t develop its full array of nutrients.
  • The length of time for food shipment affects the vitamins and minerals by allowing break down. Once produce arrives at a typical supermarket after being shipped across the country, it has lost about half of its vitamin C levels, as an example.
  • Seasonal foods taste better. Have you ever bit into a tomato (shipped from South America) in the winter? It has no taste and it’s usually mealy. Compare that to local tomatoes picked at the height of summer when their natural flavors are at their maximum. Delicious! The reason is the same as before — produce picked too early hasn’t had the time to develop all hte nutrients. These nutrients give the produce the flavor that we all cherish.
  • Buying seasonally and locally allows us more variety of plants species. We can buy varieties that are optimized for flavor and nutrition rather than transit robustness.
  • When we buy in the season, we reduce our carbon footprint. Food harvested locally doesn’t need to be shipped across the country and refrigerated extensively; each of us is in effect reducing the emissions into our environment.
Geri Wohl

Geri Wohl, Certified Nutrition Consultant

Our bodies are designed to obtain the maximum benefits of eating foods that are in season. Have you ever noticed that you crave certain foods during certain times of the year? Our family loves all the summertime fruits (right now) that are sweet and juicy. But usually during winter, we want warming foods that can be classified as “comfort foods.” Let me explain:

  • As the seasons rotate, so too do our bodies need to adjust. Before refrigeration, our ancestors had to rely on what was seasonal because they had no means of storing foods for long periods of time.
  • During the fall (which is a transition period), the body is preparing for winter. The body will start to transition to wanting more warming foods (think soup for those cooler nights). You will most likely be eating fruits and vegetables that are orange or yellow in color. These foods, high in vitamin A, will support our immune systems for the upcoming winter colds.
  • Winter is a time when the earth takes a rest. With the cold temperatures, our bodies look for warming foods (i.e. stews and hearty soups). Most fruits are not as available. Root veggies (carrots, potatoes, turnips, and parsnips, for example) are at their peak and provide us with their stored energy supplies.
  • With spring comes the rebirth of the earth, and to a degree, our own rebirth. The body needs to be cleansed of the heavier winter foods. Fortunately, the springtime bounty is full of light, green, leafy veggies (examples include lettuces, kale, spinach, chard, and dandelion greens) that will cleanse us and prepare us for the coming hot, summer months.
  • And finally we have summer. The warm summer days encourage us to be outside. Foods that will nourish us are ones that are refreshing and have a high water content. These replenishing fruits and veggies will cool us down from the hot summer days. It’s also the perfect season to enjoy fruits and veggies in their raw states, which will provide us with a full complement of nutrients. So now that the summer solstice has just past, stock up on your favorite summer produce and enjoy. For a few summer recipes, click on the link http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipes.

In future columns, I will focus on various aspects of good and wholesome food ranging from specific foods to generalized nutrition tips. A whole foods diet provides us with the building blocks to health and wellness.

© Geri Wohl, Better Eating Coach

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