Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yeeps? Feeling the Need to Move It & Lose It??

by Maria Noel Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Coordinator

Let's face it: Now that the holidays are behind us, we're all feeling a little overstuffed and undernourished. Most of us know what we need to do - eat better, more vegetables, more exercise -  but it just seems a little lackluster and difficult. I'm pleased to be working with Chef Scott, the Co-op, and area experts to bring back our popular Move It & Lose It! 6-Week Weight Loss Series, which runs on Wednesday nights starting January 14. We won't be dolling out any magic bullets, but we seek to inspire you with delicious, simple, healthy recipes and cooking tips to reinvigorate and expand your healthy kitchen. Click here to learn more about the series and how to register. But, in the meantime, here are some simple tips to get you on your way:

Get Nutrient-Dense: As yummy as pasta and bread can be, they tend to fall in the (mostly) "empty calorie" category. Let your meals be inspired by fare that multi-tasks with lots of vitamins, minerals, good fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidant and inflammatory action. These include cruciferous vegetables, berries, orange vegetables, greens, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, whole grains, beans and legumes, wild-caught fatty fish, eggs, grass-fed meat in moderation, and yogurt.  Season with citrus, herbs, spices, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and a little bit of hard cheese, dark chocolate, or a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil. Soups, salads, stir-fries, smoothies, and veggie-based juices make it easy to load up on the good stuff.

Get Inspired: We are bombarded with the sights and scents of tasty but less-than-healthy food via ads and roadside attractions. Surround yourself with healthy cookbooks, blogs, magazines, and websites that remind you how appealing healthy cooking can be. and its associated magazine and cookbooks are favorites in our house. Also check out and its magazine and cookbooks. Favorite healthy cookbooks include The Longevity KitchenPower Foods, Andrew Weil's  True Food... Also check out cookbooks by noteworthy authors Ellie Krieger, Christina Pirello, and Deborah Madison. Even if you're not vegetarian or vegan, meatless cookbooks can help introduce you to new healthy recipes to integrate into your kitchen.

On the Go: Cooking meals at home and bringing your lunch to work is the best way to improve your health and stick to a budget. When eating out for special occasions, opt for restaurants that understand real food including the Co-op's Celery Stick Café, Spoon Revolution, and Sunny's Table in Concord; Republic and Cafe Momo in Manchester; and Lemongrass in Moultonborough. Also opt for one or none - appetizer, alcoholic beverage, or dessert - to go with your meal and start with a salad. (Beware of salads in chain restaurants - they often pack two to three meals worth of calories!) Check out the menus ahead of time; fried food is less tempting on your computer screen than when the scents are wafting around you. Don't be afraid to split a meal (just tip a little extra) or ask to have half your dish wrapped up to bring home for lunch the next day.

Crunching Numbers: If you want to lose weight, one way to approach it is to measure your portions and count calories. Yes, it's tedious, but it can be eye opening! Take your weight and multiply it by 12. This equals the maintenance calories for the average person, or how much you need to eat to maintain your current weight. Subtract 500 calories per day to lose one pound a week (or 1000 per day to lose two pounds), but don't go below 1200 calories and keep your goals reasonable so that they're easier to achieve and maintain. This is generally 400-600 calories per meal plus one or two 100-200-calorie snacks, but it varies widely from person to person. Click here for more on this approach.

Listen to Your Body: "Intuitive eating" involves paying closer attention to how you feel throughout the day, how hungry you are, and whether or not your body really enjoys the food that you're eating. It's useful in place of or alongside calorie counting. No matter what the numbers say, if you're ravenous, you should eat. (Better yet, eat something nourishing before you get ravenous.) Try to avoid letting yourself get overstuffed after a meal and realize that it's ok to be a bit hungry when you wake up and before meals. How do you feel after you eat particular foods? As time goes on, you'll notice that you crave and feel much better with healthy foods without a rush of excess sugar or refined carbs. (But, if you desperately want that cupcake, intuitive eating says you should have it, in a reasonable portion, and enjoy it.) Local dietician Hilary Warner specializes in this approach, and you can also learn more in the book Intuitive Eating.

Move More: A few things in life positively or negatively impact almost every aspect of health: diet, sleep, stress management, and movement. From a numbers perspective, exercise helps you burn calories to reach weight loss and maintenance goals in an easier, more sustainable way, but the benefits reach far beyond that to improved mood, disease prevention, etc. Any exercise is better than nothing, but certain types of exercise make a bigger impact on calories burned. Some of the best include the gym stair-climber (306 calories burned*), mountain biking (291), cross-country skiing (my favorite!) or running (273),   snowshoeing, biking, jogging or swimming laps (240), or kayaking, gardening, golfing or walking at a brisk pace (171).  Strength-train a few times a week to boost your overall metabolism so that you burn a tad more calories all day long, even when you're not exercising. Strength training includes weight lifting, lunges, push-ups, etc. Certain types of yoga, hiking, and sports incorporate aspects of strength training. *The calories burned are calculated for a 150-pound person doing the activities for 30 minutes.

Enlist Aid: Having someone to enjoy meals and exercise with improve your odds of sticking with a routine and meeting your goals. I'm fortunate to have a supportive husband. I'm the health nut foodie, and I have certainly improved the quality of the food Shannon eats since we met. Cooking dinner together is one of our favorite parts of the day. He's the outdoor enthusiast, and over the years I've taken up hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and am dabbling with jogging, and we try to incorporate these activities into our weekend/weeknight play time and vacations. If you live alone or have a less-than-supportive spouse, connect with friends or family members who share your drive. groups are a great way to connect with like-minded adventurous folks, too. When my husband had to study for a big test last summer, I enjoyed connecting with several different kayaking groups and one of my cousins to get out on the water. I have clients who get together to snowshoe with friends every X day of the week in winter. Talk about positive multi-tasking! Social time, time out in nature, and movement, all rolled into fun! Click here for an article on how to have get outside this winter.

Herbs & Supplements for Weight Loss: I really don't believe in magic bullets. I've yet to come across any supplement that is safe and effective enough to impress. All the previous tips are much more likely to get you to your goal while also improving your mood, decreasing inflammation, and preventing a variety of chronic diseases. However, some herbs and supplements can lend a hand to make it a little easier to stick to your routine and lose weight. Some help balance blood sugar, others boost energy, and yet others enhance metabolism or thyroid function. Green tea has the most promise across the board. I love to combine it with holy basil (aka tulsi) for stress-busting, craving-curbing, metabolism-boosting effects as a morning tea. Cinnamon or chai tea (without cream and sugar) after meals serves as blood sugar-balancing dessert. Adaptogenic herbs that help your body adapt to stress - rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha, and eleuthero - provide support. Certain nutrients also help: Studies suggest that getting adequate calcium from food or supplements helps us burn calories more effectively. Before taking herbs and supplements, talk with your healthcare provider and check with your pharmacist for interactions if you take pharmaceuticals.

What are YOUR secrets to good health? Share them in the "Comments" section below!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Peelin’ Easy: Orange Fruits and Holiday Traditions

by Wesley Hatch, Produce Clerk

A well-loved tradition in my family, and a time-honored one in many families the world round, is the partaking of citrus during the holidays, specifically in my family those crate-bound, easily peelable miniature oranges. What are they called? Mandarins? Clementine's? Tangerines? Baby oranges? (as a kid, I could not have cared less what they were called: as long as they were juicy and easy to peel, my hands grabbed greedily orange orb after orange orb until my little fingers were sticky and my lips and cheeks stained and my belly full.  A delightful part of my holiday experience.) As I’ve grown older and, I hope, wiser, my palate has grown a bit more refined, leaving me wanting a holiday fruit with a little more complexity.  But first, where do those tasty crate-bound treats come from and how are they related to oranges?
Let’s see if we can’t break this down:
What often comes in crates and is eaten around the holiday are fruit known as Clementine's, members of the citrus family. The citrus family is easily recognizable from their thick outer skin – the rind – their segmented interiors, and their strong fragrance emanating from both the interior juice and the zest on the outside. Grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons are among the most popular citrus fruits, along with our old holiday friend the Clementine.
Clementine's are similar to oranges, though smaller, juicier, and easier to peel. The Clementine was first produced through accidental hybridization between the Mandarin and the sweet orange: hybridization in that it is a cross between two distinct fruits – the sweet orange and the Mandarin orange – and accidental in that the hybridization occurred without human intervention. Father Clement Rodier, the Clementine’s namesake, discovered an unknown fruit tree growing among the bushes in his orchard, and by grafting a cutting from the unknown tree onto an existing orange tree, the Clementine came to be.
Although the Clementine is often juicy and easy to peel, I have grown wary of buying the crates due to the seemingly increasing number of duds, or fruit not juicy or soft. What a let down, peeling back the skin and feeling the fruit, which should be soft, and finding it hard and juiceless.
For someone looking for more complexion of flavor in their holiday citrus, tired of disappointment in their Clementine crates, or just looking to try a new fruit, I suggest branching out to another soft, juicy citrus: the Satsuma.

About a month after starting here at the Concord Food Co-op, we in produce received a shipment of Satsuma mandarins – peeling back the skin, exposing the lush orange and white beneath, popping the first easily-separated section into my mouth, the juice burst forth onto my tongue so sweet as my teeth sank in: I was hooked.
Satsuma oranges, also known as Christmas oranges, are actually of the Mandarin variety, making these oranges a kind of step father to the Clementine. Just like the Clementine, Satsuma's are nearly seedless citrus, making it that much easier to eat. Taking their name from the Japanese Providence where the fruit was first exported to the West, Satsuma's are sweet and easy to peel, and are grown all over the world, including Florida, California, and Louisiana, and many parts of Asia. This holiday season, try a Satsuma. You never know, maybe it will be the start of a new, long-lasting tradition.
Thank you, and happy eating.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Baked Brie Two Ways

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

At the December Cheesy Wine Down Wednesday tasting class at the Co-op, Heidi suggested that our Executive Pastry Chef Elaine Speer come up with a cheesy treat for us to enjoy and Elaine did not disappoint!

Heidi pouring the Amaretto over the bake brie.
Elaine decided on two different kinds of baked brie that she prepared in advance for us and all we needed to do was bake them! Baked brie is the perfect holiday appetizer to warm your guests and pairs well with so many different flavors and textures. Elaine prepared for us a Henri Hutin Brie Couronne topped with raspberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry and a Blythdale Farm Vermont Brie that she suggested pouring a shot of amaretto over once baked.
These baked brie suggestions are so easy to prepare yourself and wow your audience, I was lucky enough to get the inside scoop from Elaine on how to create the perfectly gooey brie without it turning into a big melted mess. Let me share with you her tips for the brie with raspberry jam.
She first cut the rind off the top of the brie before topping with raspberry jam. Then very carefully she lay the puff pastry over the top trying to centre it as best as possible. Then even more carefully she flipped the brie, so now the raspberry jam top is the bottom with the puff pastry underneath, so she can now wrap the pastry completely around the brie taking care to pinch the dough together completely to seal it in. Once the brie is completely sealed in the dough flip back over so the jam will be back on the top of the brie and you have a nice smooth top. You can use any left over dough to create a decorative topping, like Elaine's grape design.
Elaine created a grape design on the top with the left over dough.

Elaine suggested preparing this a few hours in advance and freezing before baking. This will help the cheese melt slower so the pastry has more time to bake to a golden crust and the cheese will be less likely to leak through.
Once frozen and about 25 minutes before you are ready to serve, place your pastry wrapped brie on an oven safe tray and paint with an egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown at 400 F. Once baked you can carefully place on a serving dish to sit for five minutes before presenting your masterpiece to your guests. Don't forget to place a cheese knife on the platter to help your guests break into your treat. Serve with some crusty French bread or crackers, sweetened almonds and a glass of Predator Old Vine Zinfandel. Elaine tells me this is a nice hearty wine that goes well with the creamy brie.
If you were present and need a refresher for the rest of the cheeses we tried on the platter here is the list:
  • Brillat Savarin Cranberry (this is the one that we thought tasted like a cheesecake, yum!)
  • Mimolette (the bright orange cheese)
  • Petite Basque (he light colored, firm cheese)
  • Fresh goat cheese from Vermont Creamery covered in herbs or cranberry

And let me also give a shout out to Derek who came in especially to sample the Co-op Wines of the Month from Charles Smith Wines. I think everyone left the tasting class with a new favorite wine too, I know I left happily with a bottle of Boom Boom! Syrah in my bag. If you are looking for the list of Co-op Wines of the Month: 
  • Eve Chardonnay
  • The Velvet Devil Merlot
  • Boom Boom! Syrah
  • Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon
  • King Fu Girl Riesling
Derek educating us on the Charles Smith wines while we enjoy samples.
And of course if you ever have any questions or suggestions, either leave a message in the comments or come in store to chat. Elaine and her team of bakers love to help you out, especially with holiday baking!