What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 24, 2012

The Benefits of Breakfast

Filed under: Feature Articles, Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 9:18 am

Tips for Healthy Living

Geri Wohl is our latest and greatest 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. Feel free to contact her over at Better Eating Coach. – Carmelo Sigona

The Benefits of Breakfast

By Geri Wohl

Do you start your day with a bowl of cereal? Maybe it’s a bagel and cream cheese. Some people may begin with pancakes or French toast. Perhaps your breakfast begins with a cup of coffee and nothing else. Or are you part of the 44% of the US population that has no breakfast at all?

What’s in a good breakfast? Are there ways to start our days with vigor? While some of us don’t pay attention to our morning meal either because we’re not hungry or we lack time, we all need to jump-start our metabolism by providing our bodies with the fuel needed to be more effective at work or school. Breakfast provides fuel after an 8-12 hour fast.

Eating breakfast signals the body that the day is beginning and the appropriate hormones and enzymes need to get ramped up for the day ahead. As the brain is highly dependent on glucose (sugar), carbohydrates which break down to sugars are an important component of our morning meal. But having a heavily carb-rich meal will result in blood sugar spikes. Have you ever wondered why you’re ravenous at 10:00 am after eating a bowl of cereal? Sugar is used by the body as a quick source of energy. But once it is used, the body craves more sugar, resulting in continued hunger. In addition, sugar requires insulin to bring it into the cells. With increased consumption of sugary foods, the body may eventually develop insulin resistance.

Geri Wohl

Geri Wohl, Certified Nutrition Consultant

Skipping this meal can be just as problematic as having a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. No food signals the body to go into “starvation mode.” Without nourishment,the body tries to hoard every calorie possible until the food crisis has passed. Just like bears and whales put on fat and blubber to deal with the winter months of little food, so too our bodies have an inherent mechanism to protect us from periods of minimal food. The end result is extra fat and weight which most of us would rather avoid.

Eating a balanced breakfast has been shown to help with weight loss. Wholesome breakfasts help reduce hunger throughout the day. When people eat only two meals per day (lunch and dinner), they typically will eat more calories because those hunger pangs are so strong.

So what should be in that morning meal? I always recommend to my clients to start the day with a balanced breakfast including some form of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

So what are these different pieces? Proteins are broken down into amino acids, the building blocks for cells, hormones and enzymes. Proteins also help regulate blood sugar to prevent blood sugar highs and lows. In addition, they provide us with longer periods of energy so that we don’t get as hungry. Examples are eggs, vegetarian protein like lentils or beans, tofu or tempeh, fish, poultry or meat. Carbohydrates are any food that breaks down into sugar. Complex carbs are those that take longer to break apart, and are better for you as they have more dietary fiber. Vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit fall into this category.

Eating foods that break down into simple sugars too quickly – which is what most Americans eat for breakfast – provide little nutritional value because they are “naked” carbs with none of the necessary fiber, vitamins or minerals. Part of your meal should contain high-fiber and low-glycemic value foods so that your blood sugar remains at a relatively constant level. If you want more information about fiber-rich and low-glycemic foods, please contact me through my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com.

Finally, fat should be included. You don’t need a lot and small amounts of the right fats won’t necessarily make you fat. But you do need to choose quality fats. Some examples of healthy fats are olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.

I want to address one food that has been controversial – eggs. Some of us are very concerned about cholesterol. Some new research has shown that consuming eggs in moderation is not responsible for high cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association, healthy people can eat an egg per day. One egg has about 70 calories. If you buy pastured eggs, these eggs have many wonderful nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and rich in protein as well. For a delicious vegetable frittata recipe, visit my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipes.

So remember to begin your day right and allow your body to be at its maximum potential! Bon Appetit!


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

February 23, 2011

Tips for Healthy Living

Tips for Healthy Living

We’ve partnered with III Pillars, a gym in Menlo Park which educates its clients and the community on the importance of exercise, restoration and nutrition to lead a well-balanced and functional life, to bring you monthly healthy living tips. — Carmelo Sigona

Winter Sports Series Part 3: Recovering After a Day in the Snow

By Ryan Manuel, BS, a ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, and

Erik Heywood, BS, CSCS, CES, a Certified Metabolic Typing Adviser

Left: Start glute stretch. Right: Finish glute stretch.

It’s not uncommon for many of us to charge the slopes, work up a good sweat, and then succumb to the urge to kick the feet up and relax. Instead of just imprinting your body on the sofa, try giving it a little TLC with these series of stretches. Make this a ritual before hitting couch and this may prevent you from stiffening up like a board and keep you agile for tackling days 2, 3 or 4 on the slopes. We suggest the following…



Sitting Glute Stretch


  • Start by sitting close to the edge of a chair with one ankle crossed on top of the other thigh.
  • Lean forward by tipping your pelvis forward (sticking your tailbone out behind you).
  • Hold for about 1 to 2 minutes when you feel a stretch in your glutes.
  • Cherub (quad) stretch. Left: Starting position. Right: Ending position.

    *Optional- Follow the stretch by softly bouncing the leg for 15- 30 seconds.

Cherub Stretch (Quadricep Stretch)

  • Stand tall and hold onto something stable for support.
  • Grab one ankle from behind and pull the foot close to the glute comfortably.
  • Elevate the stretching leg behind you, and sink slightly on the balancing leg.
  • Left: Start Hip Flexor-to-Hamstring stretch. Middle Step 1 of Hip Flexor-to-Hamstring stretch. Right: Step 2 of Hip Flexor-to-Hamstring stretch.

    Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and then repeat without pausing for 10 repetitions.


Hip Flexor-to-Hamstring Stretch

  • Kneel down on one knee with the other foot out front.
  • Lean your pelvis forward bringing it towards the floor.
  • For more support, place your hands down on the floor or on your lap.
  • After holding this position for approximately a minute, sit hips back lengthening the front leg.
  • Hold this hamstring stretch for about the same amount of time.
  • After holding each stretch, repeat both positions at a moderate, yet comfortable pace for about 5-10 repetitions.
  • Frog pose to stretch lower back. Hold this position for approximately 2 minutes.

    *Optional- Place a folded towel under the knee to provide extra cushioning.

Frog Pose (Lower back and hip stretch) 


  • Start on all-fours with knees below the hips and hands below the shoulders.
  • Slide the knees apart to a manageable distance.
  • Place both forearms down and hold position for approximately 2 minutes.
  • *Optional- move your spine forward and back for 10 repetitions.

Spinal Twist (Lower back stretch)

  • Left: Spine twist stretch start. Right: Spine twist stretch finish.

    Lay flat on your back with arms out and legs straight.

  • Bring one leg up and rotate it over towards the other side.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds then alternate with the other leg.
  • Repeat for 3 to 5 repetitions on each leg.


Click here for Winter Sports Series, part 1

Click here for Winter Sports Series, part 2

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