We’re right in the middle of National Nutrition Month—the perfect time for a pantry raid! We asked Allison Enke, R.D., a dietitian with Whole Foods Market, to help us examine our kitchen shelves and shopping lists to see if we’re picking the proper fueling foods. Keep reading for her picks for the 10 essential items active women need in their pantries, refrigerators and freezers. “These foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients,” says Enke.
1. Oatmeal. Soluble fiber from oatmeal, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Click here for 11 fun ways our readers jazz up a usual bowl of oats!
2. Berries. A handful of frozen berries adds antioxidants and fiber to your morning smoothie or oatmeal. Blueberries are only 80 calories per cup, Enke notes, and they pack a powerful nutrition punch by supporting brain, eye and heart health.
3. Fish. Fatty fish are one of the best foods sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids and also provide vitamin D, a critical nutrient that many women lack (it works with calcium to preserve bone strength). Enke keeps cans of ready-to-serve 365 Everyday Value Wild Alaskan Red Sockeye Salmon in her pantry to add to salads or to make salmon patties for a quick, healthy dinner.
4. Flaxseed. Not a seafood fan? Flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3 fats, and they’re also filled with fiber. Mix a spoonful into oatmeal, Greek yogurt or smoothies to add flavor, texture and nutrition.
5. Quinoa. It contains all 9 essential amino acids as well as bone-boosting minerals like copper, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. Try it in one of these FITNESS fan-favorite meals.
To see the other five foods you should always have on-hand for quick, nutritious meals and snacks, click below.
Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern
Continuing with our celebration this March during National Nutrition Month, we checked in with Foursquare, one of the hottest smartphone apps, for some healthy living data. They recently released their top 10 healthiest and least healthy cities in the U.S. based on where residents were most likely to be found. How did your hometown fare?
Top 10 Healthiest Eating Cities Based on Check-Ins to Healthy Venues
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Burlington, Vermont
- San Jose, California
- San Diego, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Boulder, Colorado
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Los Angeles, California
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco, California
Bottom 10 Healthiest Eating Cities Based on Check-Ins to Healthy Venues
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Manchester, New Hampshire
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Peoria, Illinois
- Hunstville, Alabama
- Springfield, Missouri
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Want to see your city score higher on the health scale? This information was gathered only by Foursquare users, so if you have the app (or download it for free now and follow FITNESS!), start checking in at places that promote wellness! Need some ideas? Try running trails, healthy restaurants, the grocery store or outdoor parks to get in the groove.
Now tell us: What venue could you visit for a health boost?
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Steal slim kitchen secrets from top chefs. Surprise: Brownies are still on the good-for-you menu! — iVillage
- Whether your schedule is too packed for a gym visit or you’re looking for a commercial time workout, try one—or all—of these 50 body weight exercises. — Greatist
- Jazz up a ho-hum bowl of oats with these unique sweet and savory combinations. —Q by Equinox
- Beat boredom on the treadmill with these interval workouts. — Carrots ‘N’ Cake
- Wake up! These bedtime habits aren’t doing you any energy favors. — Fit Sugar
- Bypass the snack cookies and slushies and grab one of these 10 convenience store snacks when you’re road tripping for spring break. — Snack Girl
Ironman triathlete and ultramarathoner Brendan Brazier realized early on is his career that diet would play a big role in his overall performance. “Longer events really level the athletic playing field. It becomes more about training and the speed of recovery than about natural ability,” Brazier says. “Nutrition allows you to train harder and recover faster.”
The refined white starches he had added to his diet to make up for the carbohydrates he was burning weren’t increasing his energy levels as much as he had hoped. After extensive research, Brazier found that about 80 percent of recovery is linked to good nutrition. “Eating more doesn’t always mean more energy. You can be overfed while being undernourished,” he says.
Brazier eased into a whole food-based, vegan diet heavy on healthy whole grains (amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat), plant proteins (hemp, pea, rice) and dark leafy greans. Besides increasing his rate of recovery, he discovered that this eating plan with frequent, small meals helped him be more productive and sleep better.
“Look at Google. They were trying to decrease the amount of sick days their staff members were taking, so they put in cafes with healthy food. Since everything was free, employees would graze throughout the day. There was no mid-afternoon crash and many people were more productive and took fewer sick days,” Brazier explains.
Today, Brazier enjoys fitness recreationally and advises professional athletes about nutrition (Montell Owens, a Jacksonville Jaguar Pro Bowler and Simon Whitfield, an Olympic triathlete, among others). He guest lectures at Cornell University, has written three books, most recently Thrive Foods, and just launched Thrive Foods Direct meal delivery service.
We couldn’t wait for the meals to hit our doorstep, so we asked Brendan to share one of his favorite recipes. Keep reading to learn how to make his superpowered pizza.
The First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign strikes a chord with mom of four Cat Cora. In fact, Iron Chef Cora was at the White House in the spring of 2010 when Mrs. Obama kicked off the Chefs Move to Schools program. The goal: Improve the quality of food served during lunches at public schools and teach students to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. This week, Cora is spreading the word about the Love Your Veggies Lunch Break for Schools, which raises money to help fund Chefs Move to Schools.
We spoke with the restaurateur, cookbook author and soon-to-be co-host of Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates (with Curtis Stone) about how to help your whole family to enjoy produce.
- Ask for input. Offer options, such as broccoli or edamame as a dinner side, before you start cooking. Once the young ones come to a consensus, cook it up and prepare to watch it disappear! “If you give your kids a choice, they’ll feel empowered and will be more willing to try a new food,” Cora says.
- Dip it good. “I always serve my kids crudites as an appetizer,” Cora says. Carrot and celery sticks, snap peas and sliced peppers taste great solo or with a dip like light Hidden Valley Ranch, Cora recommends. Or you can toss roasted or steamed veggies with lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil for some Mediterranean flair.
- Don’t take special requests. Cora believes that raising kids who eat what the adults in the family eat will make them more adventurous eaters. “That’s how I grew up and I think that’s really what made my palate grow,” she says. “Don’t assume your kids won’t like something just because it isn’t a typical ‘kid’ food.”
- Think outside the box. When asked what fruit or vegetable she’d most like to see as the secret ingredient unveiled at her next Iron Chef battle, Cora quickly responded, “the all-American vegetable: broccoli! I want to make it fun and cool.” While Cora thinks she might whip up candied broccoli or broccoli ice cream, you can add to the novelty of a meal and inspire your kids to eat more greens by preparing them in different ways (grilling, mixing into soups or chopping and tossing into salads).
Now that we covered the vegetables, we asked Cat to share one of her favorite family-friendly fruit recipes. Who’s ready for dessert?
March 1 marks more than the start of a new month—it’s the beginning of a 31-day celebration of healthy eating. Welcome to National Nutrition Month! You’ll discover delicious recipes, food news and simple nutrition-boosting strategies to help you celebrate in style all month long here at The Fit Stop.
To kick things off, let’s talk food shopping. We know that it’s smart to shop in the produce aisle and save cookies for treats, but the gray area between these ends of the grocery spectrum can be tricky! That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) awards their Heart-Check mark to food products that meet their requirements as cardiac-friendly.
“It’s an easy way to identify, on the front of a package, heart-healthy foods,” says Rachel Johnson, R.D., PH.D., an AHA spokesperson and a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont. “The science-based criteria takes into account fat, sugar, sodium and a number of other factors. It’s really helpful because you don’t need a Ph.D. in nutrition to know if a food is healthy or not.”
To respond to the most recent research, new guidelines will go into place by 2014. Sodium and added sugar limits will be lowered and the total fat limit will be raised to accommodate products with healthy unsaturated fats, like nuts and oily fish.
Of course, there are many foods and drinks out there that are super-nutritious and don’t need a label to tell you (Strawberries! Oats! Water!). Follow these general guidelines from the AHA to consume a heart-healthy diet:
- 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables or more daily
- Two 3.5-ounce servings of oily fish (such as salmon, tuna or mackerel) weekly
- Three 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily
- Less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily
- No more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages weekly (less is better)
More from FITNESS:
- 10 Food Swaps to Make Your Heart Healthy
- Are Fortified Foods Good for You?
- Heart-Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes