Have You Joined A CSA This Season?

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while, I know.  This past month has been an unbelievable, incredible whirlwind and I promise we’ll catch up this week.  But today I wanted to write about something that is important to me as an aspiring registered dietitian, someone who cares about the health of people through what we put into our bodies.

Common HandsBack in March I was contacted by one of the local farms in the New York area, Common Hands Farm.  I wrote this fantastic post  about them and gave some detailed information on how to sign-up.  Today is the first day of pick-up and I am super excited to see all of the green goodies I get!  If you are in the Brooklyn area (specifically, Park Slope, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, etc.) and still looking for a CSA to join for the season, Common Hands is distributing at Brooklyn Boulders.  You can still sign-up!  Stop by this evening and see what they’re all about.  Or you can e-mail Tess at hudsonlocale@gmail.com.  Or, if you were strongly considering signing up but have not yet provided payment or a contract, you can bring these with you later this evening to finalize your membership.

I always say, spending a little extra on good food to be put into your body is an investment in your own health.  Think of it as spending $25 on extending your life and the lives of your loved ones.  Believe me, one day they will thank you for making them eat their veggies. 🙂

Hope to see you at Common Hands later this evening!  Pick-up begins at 5PM and ends at 8. 🙂  Brooklyn Boulders is located at: 575 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

Stay tuned for some delicious recipes I come up with using the beautiful, local, organic produce I receive from Common Hands.  So excited!!!

With love and veggies!

Relieve the Traveling Blues by Getting Active with Yoga – A Guest Post

It’s always nice to hear from readers, it’s even better when readers contact me with guest posts!  Recently, Wes Vonn, a fitness and healthy living enthusiast, also writer and creator of “Wes’ Musingsthoughts on health, fitness and a fresh perspective on life”  contacted me with a great guest post that I could not resist.

Yoga as an everyday practice, while at home and especially when traveling is fantastic for the body.  Traveling can cause anxiety and also physically damage the body.  It is good to practice yoga for whatever time available, wherever you may be to quell the rigors caused by travel.  Though, regular and sporadic voyagers shouldn’t let this be an excuse to stop a regular yoga practice.  It’s actually quite easy to keep up the good work and Wes has some good insight on keeping up the good work while traveling and practicing yoga.  Here it is:

If you travel on a regular basis, you may have experienced the aches and pains that are commonly experienced by busy travelers.  Some people travel endlessly for executive meetings, sales conferences, school events, sporting events, and a myriad of other reasons.  No matter what the reason is you are traveling, consider taking up yoga as a way to relieve your body and your mind from stress and burdens.  Yoga offers numerous benefits that can provide you with a relaxed and rejuvenated feeling to help you tackle any task or challenge you may be facing when you travel.

Yoga Relieves Pressure and Stress for Travelers

Yoga is an ideal exercise activity for harried travelers to get involved with due to the flexibility of the workout – no pun intended.  Yoga requires only a simple mat that is portable and can be used practically anywhere.  Not only can you do yoga at the airport while you are waiting on your flight, you can also do yoga in the mornings at your hotel or even before you leave your home for your next trip.

Not only can yoga help you to relieve pressure and physical stress that is often associated with weary travelers, yoga can be a great health promoter.  Using yoga for exercise increases physical strength, improves sleep habits, and it also promotes a healthier circulatory system.  The Mayo Clinic has released an article that provides information on popular forms of yoga and how easy it is to begin doing yoga on a regular basis.  Following a few simple guidelines is all that is necessary to begin getting active with this relevant form of exercise and to begin nearly immediately enjoying the results of it.

You Can Do Yoga Anywhere

Many hotels offer complimentary yoga and aerobics classes for their guests. It is important to perform some due diligence to find these types of hotels if it is desired to attend yoga classes. On a recent trip to Las Vegas I researched what hotels have the best complimentary yoga classes by looking at reviews and commentary based around all the Las Vegas Hotels. Hotels that do not offer these free classes can typically instruct a person to a local yoga clinic or wellness center so travelers can enjoy group yoga if they are staying in a city for an extended amount of time.  Group yoga is ideal for people who want to turn exercise and a commitment to fitness into a social interaction that can be encouraging and motivating.

I don’t travel very often (though I have an insane wanderlust) but when I do, yoga is one of my favorite things to do while away from home.  It eases the stress of getting from here to there, stretches out the muscle kinks from sitting for extended periods of time, and subsides the guilt of eating out almost every day while away.  (My personal favorite, yoga on a beach :)).

SDo you keep up with your yoga or fitness regimen while away from home?  Let us know what you do to maintain your normal routine.   If not, try some yoga the next time you go away.  It will be a guaranteed perk to any traveling you may be doing.

Common Hands CSA

Today I am posting about something that is very important to me and I assume you (yeah you) :).  You’re following my blog, obviously you have some passion, need for education, love of nutrition and healthy food and living.  Am I right?  So I have a few questions for you:

  1. Are you one of my nearly 1000 readers and live in the New York City area and/or more specifically Brooklyn?  Or do you know someone who does?
  2. If yes, how do you obtain your produce?
  3. Do you believe that fresh, organic produce should be available to all?
  4. Do you believe in sharing meals, relaxing and receiving nourishment with loved ones?
  5. Have you ever joined a CSA before?
  6. Have you considered joining a CSA this season but kind of stumped on where to go?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, consider  Common Hands Farm, a CSA shareholder owned farm for all your fresh-from-the-farm organic produce needs.

Common Hands

Recently the great farmers at Common Hands asked me to help get the word out about their CSA in Brooklyn.  They are working extremely hard to raise an organic farm “from the roots, up” and fulfill their mission to provide organic, healthy, fresh food to others locally around Hudson, NY as well as us city-dwellers here in NYC.  They drop-off in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Boulders in Park Slope.  If you live in Gowanus, Park Slope,  Carroll Gardens, Cobble & Boerum Hills, you’re in walking distance and it would be really easy to drop-by, do some “rock climbing” and pick-up your CSA.  Or, you can just pick-up your CSA. 😉

Common Hands is going strong.  This is their second year and they want to continue on this successful path.  But that depends on us to join-up and gain the benefits of fresh, organic produce.  When you purchase a share through Common Hands Farm you will receive an assortment (6-8 different kinds of vegetables) of seasonal organic, fresh-picked produce on a weekly basis starting in June and ending in November.  This works out to about $24 per week for produce.  $24 for 6-8 different kinds of veggies is a sweet deal and you’re supporting local organic farmers! What do you have to lose except the freshest of the fresh produce?  The produce is literally picked the day it is delivered!  How awesome is that?!

If, after reading all that you’re thinking “I’d like some more information o CSAs” or “How do I get more information on Common Hands Farm?”  here’s some more information for you (be sure to follow the links to their website and blog):

What is a CSA?  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It allows city-dwellers to have access to fresh-picked produce, direct from a regional farm.

How does it work? Becoming a member of a CSA means you are purchasing a share up-front from the farmer and a weekly plethora of fresh produce is then delivered to your neighborhood on a weekly basis, on a given day for you to pick-up.

What does a share typically include?  Shares typically are for an assortment of seasonal vegetables and some CSAs include a fruit share and an egg share.  Common Hands has all three.  Eggs and fruit are usually separate from the vegetables.

Finally, bringing affordable produce to the masses is something I believe is worth fighting for.  With my future degree in nutrition, as a Registered Dietitian, making healthy food accessible to all is my future career goal.  Eating fresh and natural food is a cause that is crucial to the well being of all men, women and children.  More people are now dying from food-related illnesses than hunger and the only way this can be revered is by eating right.  We can eat right by supporting those who work hard to literally put good, fresh food on our tables.  Join a CSA if you’re in an urban area and support your local farmers.  Join Common Hands Farm if you’re in the Brooklyn and/or New York City area.  This decision is one that pays forward.  Eating healthy food and produce gives you a long and healthy life.  Who could ask for more?

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Iron

My last post (“I’ve Come To Suck Your Blood…”) was about my experience giving blood and some helpful tips on what to do before and after donating.  Today’s post is about iron, which is a necessary component of healthy blood.

heme groups

To start, here’s a bit of science for you.  On a molecular level, a red blood cell is made of hemoglobin which consists of 4 chains of amino acids called “globulin chains – alpha and beta.”  Each chain contains a “heme group” containing iron attached at the center (pictured in red). It is here that oxygen can bind forming oxyhemoglobin.  Carrying oxygen is iron’s main function.  I could keep going but I won’t bore you with more except that blood is made in red bone marrow which is found in the flat bones of adults, such as the scapula (the shoulder wing), the ilium (the top portion of the hip bone) and the sternum.  To help the red bone marrow inside these bones make good blood rich in iron foods rich in iron should be consumed regularly, or iron supplements can be taken if instructed by a doctor or nutritionist/Registered Dietitian.  If iron gets low in the blood, it can’t carry enough oxygen.

The night before I gave blood we had two good friends over for dinner, one of which gave blood with me.  I did a little research for our meal and found some interesting information about iron in food.

  • Iron comes from both plant and animal sources.
  • Animal sources are considered “heme iron” and plant sources are considered “nonheme iron.”  The distinguishing factor has to do with the way the iron is carried in the food.  For example, heme iron in animal sources comes from the animal tissue with similar hemoglobin to humans.
  • Unfortunately, iron is not easy to absorb and many factors affect absorption.  These factors can include how much iron is already in your system, other nutrients that can enhance or cancel out the iron ingested, and what form (heme or nonheme) is consumed.
  • Heme iron is more easily absorbed but nonheme iron can be absorbed more easily if consumed with vitamin C.  Also, for carnivores, the absorption of nonheme iron can be boosted if eaten with some heme iron.
  • Cooking in an iron skillet helps iron absorption (I found this most interesting).

According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (which you can find on my Book List) foods rich in heme iron include (starting with the greatest number of iron): beef liver (I know), sirloin, ground beef, skinless dark and white meat chicken, pork and salmon.  Sources of nonheme iron include: fortified breakfast cereal, pumpkin seeds, soybean nuts, spinach, red kidney beans, prunes and prune juice, lima beans, whole-wheat bread, eggs, etc.  The list goes on.

There you have it.  Everything you may or may not have wanted to know about iron. 😉  Feel free to ask any questions.  Oh, and if you’re interested, I roasted a chicken and paired it with green beans and red potatoes cooked with caramelized onions.  For dessert we ate mango popsicles.  Happy Monday everyone!