Fresh raspberries and blueberries


My first crop of berries this season

Our first berry crop of the year - California offers up a great climate for year-round gardening.

My husband and I have small farm outside of Los Angeles that we’ve been nurturing for the last few years.  Just this week we harvested our very first crop of fresh blueberries and raspberries.

These delicious fruits are nutrition powerhouses – full of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber – and we’re enjoying them just as they are for dessert, on top of our yogurt, and in our protein shakes.

Hunger Signals: Learn to Listen to Your Body

Keep track of your hunger patterns using a diary.

Our bodies send clear signals telling us when to eat and when to stop—but are we listening?

I was talking with a new client the other day and I asked her to describe her appetite. She thought for a minute and then told me, “I can’t really say that I ever get hungry.” She ate frequently throughout the day (maybe a little too frequently), and on a fairly set schedule. So she relied on the clock—not her hunger—to tell her when it was time to eat. And when I asked her how she knew when she’d had enough and that it was time to stop eating, she was completely stumped. “I don’t have a clue,” she said. “I’ve never really thought about it.”

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 best ways to help you control hunger

When I ask questions like this, what I hope to hear someone say is that they eat when they feel hungry and stop eating when they feel satisfied—not stuffed—and their hunger is gone. But when clients tell me that they don’t get hungry—or that the signal to stop eating is that “there’s no food left” —it tells me that when their body is speaking to them, they’re just not listening.

Your body sends clear and unmistakable signals when it needs attention.

You know what it means when your mouth is dry, your eyelids are heavy or your bladder is full. And while you might be able to ignore those signals for a little while, sooner or later you’ll be driven to drink something, get some sleep, or make a trip to the restroom.

If you think of hunger and fullness the same way—as clear signals from your body that it’s time to eat or time to stop—it can really help to regulate how much food you eat. To be fair, not everyone feels hunger quite the same way—most feel a little rumble in the stomach, but some get a little lightheaded or their thinking gets fuzzy when their blood sugar dips between meals. But these are still very clear signals coming from within: your body is telling you that it’s getting low on fuel. And when your stomach begins to fill, nerve impulses are sent to the brain, telling you that you’re satisfied, at which point, it’s appropriate to stop.

When we’re thirsty, we generally will drink, not to excess, but until our bodies tell us that we’re not thirsty any more. But when you eat, do you stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore? Or do you stop because you’re stuffed? Or do you stop because your plate is empty, or because you’ve scraped the last helping out of the serving plate?

Learning to recognize your body’s natural signals of hunger and satisfaction—and responding appropriately—are skills worth practicing.

Try keeping a food diary for a couple of days. Each time you eat, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means you’re weak and starving, and 10 means you’re so stuffed you almost feel sick) both before you start eating and after you’ve finished. Ideally, you want to start eating when your hunger is at about a 3 or 4—your stomach is growling a little and you feel ready to eat—and you want to stop when you’re at about a 5 or 6, which means that you’re satisfied and pleasantly full.

It’s amazing how this little exercise can help to put you back in touch with your body. When your body starts to tell you it needs fuel, don’t ignore the signals. If your usual habit is to let yourself get too hungry (a 1 or 2 on your hunger scale), you’re likely to overeat (hitting a 9 or 10). Train yourself to eat just enough so that you’re comfortable, satisfied and no longer hungry—not until you’re stuffed.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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7 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Love

There’s more to life than eating your vegetables.

Kids can be picky eaters, but here’s a short list of nutrition-packed, healthy foods that most will enjoy.

It’s always funny to me when people ask me how my kids ate when they were little. I’m sure many of them think that since I do what I do, my kids must have been perfect eaters––or that I had some special tricks up my sleeve that made them beg for broccoli and other healthy foods. Truth be told, my kids were no different from most other kids. They had their likes and dislikes. And they’d go on food jags where they’d want to eat the same thing every single day.

Naturally, it did concern me that their nutritional needs weren’t always being met. But there were several really healthy foods that they were almost always willing to eat. I just downplayed the “healthy” part, because once you tell kids something is “good for you,” that’s one of the surest paths to rejection.

So, here’s a list of my top-rated foods for kids––they’re good, and good for them.
Tuna fish – Many kids turn their noses up at fish, but they’ll eat tuna salad. Like all fish, tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and is rich in protein. Try mixing your canned tuna with mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise for a healthier tuna salad, and serve with some whole grain crackers––kids love to make their own little cracker sandwiches.

Smoothies –

A lot of kids fall short when it comes to meeting their calcium needs, and many don’t eat enough fruit, so smoothies can help fill both gaps. They’re quick and easy to make, and they’re great when things get rushed in the morning. Kids love to make their own. If you’ve got low-fat milk, protein powder and some frozen fruit at hand, your kids can take it from there.

Carrots –

Kids and vegetables often don’t mix, but sweet, crunchy, raw carrots are an exception. Carrots are rich in beta carotene to help support healthy-looking skin and eyesight, and they’re also a good source of fiber. They’re fun to eat plain or dipped in fat-free ranch, salsa or guacamole.

Oatmeal –

It takes just a few minutes to cook up some rolled oats, which are naturally rich in fiber and B-vitamins. Try making it with nonfat milk or soy milk rather than water to boost calcium and protein. Then sweeten lightly, and stir in some diced fruit like bananas or apples.

Strawberries –

Kids love strawberries because they taste so good. They’re also packed with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. When fresh berries are unavailable, use the frozen whole berries in smoothies or mixed with yogurt.

Nuts –

Instead of chips, offer kids nuts to satisfy their craving for something crunchy and salty. Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts or pistachios provide beneficial fats, protein and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Beans –

Beans do double nutrition duty for kids. They’re not only a good source of iron, but they’re a great fiber source, too. Most kids will eat canned beans seasoned with a touch of ketchup, barbecue sauce or salsa. You can also try bean soup, or whirl some beans in the blender with a little salt, lemon and olive oil for a tasty hummus dip for raw veggies.

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Fruits vs. Veggies: Which One Is Better for You?

Fruits and vegetables have vital nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables offer up natural plant compounds that help keep the body healthy, and variety is the key.

If you’re not a big fan of vegetables, you might think that you can make up for not eating them by eating lots of different fruits instead. It’s easy to see why. We almost always mention them in the same breath (“eat plenty of fruits and veggies”). Since they’re healthy plant foods, it’s natural to assume that they’re more or less interchangeable in terms of providing the nutrients the body needs.

To some extent that’s true. You can get your vitamin C just as easily from berries as from broccoli; potassium lurks in both beets and bananas. But fruits and veggies also offer up a dizzying and varied array of phytonutrients––natural plant compounds that can promote good health. So, getting the broadest range of phytonutrients is a lot more likely if you’re eating both fruits and vegetables.

Phytonutrients are responsible for the flavors and colors in fruits and vegetables. When you think about fruits and vegetables more from the standpoint of the huge range of flavors and hues they provide––and not so much as simply sources of vitamins and minerals––you can begin to appreciate how dissimilar they really are.

Berries and broccoli, for example, may look similar when it comes to their vitamin C content, but their phytonutrient profiles couldn’t be more different. Berries get their red-purple color from certain compounds that are a lot more widespread in fruits than in vegetables. On the other hand, there are different phytonutrients that are responsible for the strong odors found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. But you won’t find these smelly compounds in fruits. Another natural pigment, lycopene, gives a rich red color to fruits like tomatoes (yes, it’s a fruit), pink grapefruit and guava––but you’d be hard-pressed to find much in most vegetables.

I meet plenty of people who assume that eating fruits or vegetables is just as good as eating fruits and vegetables. So, I often use these examples to encourage them to get more variety in their diet. If this sounds like you, think of the hurdles in your way and how you might get over them.

Fewer people dislike fruits than veggies, and it’s often an issue of texture. If you don’t like the soft texture of ripe fruit, try whirling fresh or frozen fruit in the blender and add to smoothies or use as a topping on cottage cheese or yogurt. If some fruits are too tart for you, try the sweetest varieties. Tangerines, for example, are often sweeter than most oranges.

If you don’t like the texture of cooked veggies, try them raw. If strong flavors keep you from eating veggies, play around with seasonings, like herbs, garlic or citrus. You can also sneak them into soups, pasta sauces, casseroles and other healthy recipes. Or, cook them until tender-crisp, then chill and toss into a salad. That way you won’t pick up their strong odors in the steam.

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Food Safety: Expiration Dates on Food Labels

Food safety - Old food & expiration dates | Susan Bowerman | Discover Good NutritionI have to admit that I’m a little bit overzealous when it comes to food safety, and I take the expiration dates stamped on food labels and packages pretty seriously. Sometimes too much so… If I have some raw chicken in my fridge that’s going to ‘expire’ the next day, I won’t eat it. I know it’s safe, but in my mind, that chicken is on its death bed and doesn’t belong in my stomach.

At the same time, I’ll keep mayonnaise in my fridge until it’s gone – and at the rate I use it, that could be past the expiration date – and I don’t give it a second thought. But if you fear old mayonnaise the way I fear expiring chicken, there’s no need – as long as mayo is properly refrigerated, it doesn’t really go bad (by that I mean, it won’t make you sick).

Confused? You’re not alone. Sorting out the dates on food labels isn’t easy. Some people ignore them altogether, others take them a little too seriously (like tossing out ‘expired’ bottled water).

You’ve probably noticed the “sell-by” dates on perishables, like meat, fish, poultry and milk. Once that date passes, stores are supposed to pull these items from their shelves, and most people assume that the food shouldn’t be eaten after that date, either. But that isn’t necessarily so.

Just because the sell-by date has passed on your carton of milk, it can easily stay sweet and tasty (and safe) for a week or so after that – provided it’s been properly stored in the refrigerator. Eggs can easily stay fresh and safe for 3-5 weeks after you buy them – which is likely to be long after the date stamp on the carton. Even ground beef, which is highly perishable, is safe to eat for a day or two after you buy it – even if the ‘sell by’ date has passed.

Then there’s the “use by”, “best by” and “best before” dates – which aren’t even expiration or safety dates at all. In fact, they’re not even required on the label. Manufacturers put them there to let you know that after that date, the quality of the food might decline. So you might see a change in texture or color, but the food is still perfectly safe to eat. Keep ketchup around long enough and it’ll turn brown – your burger won’t be as colorful, but it’s still perfectly safe to eat.

Mold is another story. If your bread is decorated with fuzzy green spots, or your lunch meat is coated with gray fur, it’s got to go. But if you find a little spot of mold on firm veggies like cabbage, peppers or carrots, or on hard cheese, you don’t need to throw it out. Just cut about an inch all around the moldy spot, and then it’s okay to eat the rest.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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