Mindful Holiday Eating

Next week begins what, for some, is an all out holiday food fest. Between baking your favorite treats to holiday parties to friends and family get-togethers, the holidays can bring about a ‘let-loose’ attitude that even the healthiest eaters can find tempting. While there are no guaranteed ways to guard yourself from the onslaught of delicious foods, there are strategies and tips to help you enjoy the fun, food and spirit of the holidays mindfully. Here are seven tips to get you started.


Christmas Labels


 

Tip #1: Scope it out

Before you load your plate up with all of the delicious food and treats, be sure to look at everything that is at the meal and decide what you really want. By only picking foods you truly want, you will cut down on mindless eating once you are full and will be better able to control your portions.

Tip #2: If you really want it, enjoy it

Mindful eating around the holidays, and any other time of year, is not about deprivation. If you really want that piece of fudge/pie/peanut brittle, let yourself enjoy it!

Tip #3: Portions, portions, portions

While deprivation is not the name of the game, it is still important to watch portion sizes of treats as well as other food items you are eating over the course of your day.

Tip #4: Plan for success

Before heading to a get together, be sure to game plan how much you do want to eat. In addition, don’t skip meals before a big event in order to eat more. It is important to stick with a regular meal and snack schedule and not have a feast or famine mindset.

Tip #5: Stick to your goals

While it can be harder to stick with food and activity goals during the holidays, it does not mean you need to give up on your goals altogether and wait for the new year. It is still important to set meaningful, realistic goals for yourself that can help you navigate the holidays mindfully.

Tip #6: Keep the active in activities

The holidays are not the time to pack away those running shoes! Along with the ‘let-loose’ eating attitude, it can be tempting to put off exercise until the new year. You will feel better and be more motivated to stick to your goals if you keep up with your exercise routine.

Tip #7: Climb back up

Over the course of hectic holidays, there are likely to be moments of overindulgence and missed workouts for all of us. The trick is to keep going and to not let it have a snowball effect that follows you into the new year. Start each day fresh, with a clean slate and an active choice to keep going with your goals.



Have any other tips that help YOU stick to your goals during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Earth to Plate: Better Options

This post is the culmination of a three week journey to find out more about the how, where and why of the food on your dinner plate. To read about about the path both the veggies and the roast chicken took, click here and here.



Finding a Better Way

If reading about the far-flung journey of your roast chicken and vegetables surprised you, you are not alone. You may be wondering if there is a better way to be buying food that doesn’t require planes, trains, ships and automobiles or at least a shorter journey. To wrap up our earth to plate posts, we are going to go over ways you can eat greener for yourself and for the planet by incorporating three simple buying choices that have a big impact.


 

In a word: Local

Buying local whenever you can is a great way to eat green while also getting tastier, fresher foods. By choosing to support local farms and producers, you are helping to cut out the vast amount of resources that are required to move food all over the world. If your carrots do not require transportation to different states, countries and continents, they come to your table fresher and save the earth from all of the pollution transportation requires. You are also helping support and sustain your local economy. This is a win-win solution with huge impact.

CMAP_SustFoodSystemCycle_Fig1_edited

Don’t know where to start? Local Harvest is a great resource for anything from fruits, veggies and meats to local artisanal products. In addition, shop at grocers who have a clear cut labeling policy that tells you where your food was grown and produced.


 

Eat food in season

Shopping for food in season is not only easier on the earth, but easier on your budget while providing you with fresher food. Eating with the seasons also goes hand in hand with eating local or at least eating food that didn’t travel quite as far and likely will boost your local economy. While it can seem a little daunting to figure out what food is in season, there are great resources out there on the subject, including the website Eat the Seasons.

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Waste not, want not

One of the easiest ways to eat greener is to simply use the food you are already buying thereby reducing your food waste. As Americans, we waste up to 40 percent of the food we buy. It is not only not money smart, but it is hugely wasteful of the earth’s resources. There are a variety of simple ways to waste less, use more and save resources. For starters, plan your meals. By planning your meals, you can be sure to be including local, in season foods that you will also be sure to use. Secondly, be realistic when you are meal planning and buy only what you truly will need. Beyond planning and buying accordingly, you can be sure to store food properly, make use of leftovers, monitor what you do have in your fridge and designate a ‘use-it-up’ day.


With these simple tips, you can reduce waste and be on your way to a better way of eating!

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Remedy for the Common Cold

It is that time of year again, the common cold seems to be lurking around every corner. Looking for a scientifically tried and true recipe to help you get over the cold and on with your fall fun? Look no further! This chicken noodle soup recipe from the Food Network is the perfect homemade remedy to help you and yours get through cold season.



Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken soup

(From Food Network)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

4 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 quarts chicken stock, (recipe follows)

8 ounces dried wide egg noodles

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Chicken Stock:

1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded

2 carrots, cut in large chunks

3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks

2 large white onions, quartered

1 head of garlic, halved

1 turnip, halved

1/4 bunch fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Directions:

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Chicken Stock:

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Yield: 2 quarts

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence



While this soup is a great home remedy for sickness, stick to the following tips to enjoy it while perfectly healthy!

⇝Be sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day.

⇝Avoid touching your face throughout the day.

⇝Sanitize door knobs, telephones, keyboards and any other shared surface.

⇝If you have children, be sure to clean their toys frequently.

⇝Maintain a healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep, exercise and proper nutrition

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Earth to Plate: Chicken Edition

Last week we started our journey to find out how your roast chicken and vegetables found their way to your table. While we have uncovered the likely origins of the carrots, potatoes and onions, we have yet to explore how the chicken arrived at a grocer near you.



The chicken or the egg?

It turns out we are going to start with the chicken and move forward from there. Your chicken got its start in a breeding flock where birds of a certain age are grouped together in order to reproduce. Once the hen has laid your newly minted egg, it is then removed from the breeding flock facility and taken to another facility called a hatchery. Once at the hatchery, your egg will be stored up to 10 days before making its way to an incubator. With your egg kept at a nice 55-68 F, development begins and a mere 21 days later out hatches a chick. The chick will then begin another journey to a grow-out facility. If you are counting, that is now three facilities your chicken has been in to grow.

Once your chick has matured into a full-grown broiler chicken, anywhere from 4 to 14 weeks, it will then be transferred to a fourth facility for processing. Once processed, packaged and chilled or frozen, your chicken will then begin its journey to a grocer near you. In total, your chicken will make at least five stops at varying facilities before you pick it out and purchase it for your dinner.

This journey is quite different than a chicken’s journey from even 70 years ago. Prior to modern refrigeration, chicken consumption was rarely a daily occurrence and chicken’s were likely shipped alive or butchered and chilled on ice prior to shipment. Chicken production was much more integrated than today’s factory farm production. Your chicken would not have traveled to several facilities and would likely have come from a small family operation. The rate of chicken consumption has sharply increased and production, specifically factory production of chickens, has increased dramatically to keep up with demand.



What’s next?

After reading about the lengthy and often energy intensive journey of your dinner, you may be looking for more earth friendly options. Tune in next Monday for alternatives that are healthy for your body and better for the earth without skimping on flavor.

 

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Earth to Plate

Where Your Food Comes From and Why It Matters

 

Have you ever wondered how those bright, tasty tomatoes made it to your table? Or perhaps, wondered where and how the chicken you prepared found its way to a grocery store near you? As basic as consuming food can seem, a vast system generates and supports current food needs and consumption levels and it is vital that individuals take an interest in their food system, how it affects the world around them and its effect on their health.

As more and more of our food is grown by large corporations and consumption of goods increases, it is easy to lose sight of the origin of the foods we consume and how much time it takes to get them to our table. In an effort to lift the veil, we will outline how one dinnertime meal makes its way to a grocery store and then onto a table near you.

Over the next three weeks, every Monday, we will delve into the ingredients that you may use to cook a classic meal, roast chicken and vegetables. For today’s post, we will start with the veggies that make it to your dinner table and the road they take to get there.

Roast chicken

Calling all vegetables: Carrots, Red Potatoes & Onions

 

CarrotsTo start, we will examine the hearty carrot. Carrots are a root vegetable and are usually orange; however, wild varieties exist in purple, yellow, red and white. Carrots have a variety of uses and are often featured in recipes. They are a hearty vegetable and, if stored properly, can last for months. The carrots you pick up at a grocery store can come from a variety of countries. They may travel a very far distance, in the case of carrots originating from China, which produces nearly 50% of all carrots (FAO)  or originate from somewhere relatively closer to you in the US. The further a carrot is produced from you, the more energy is required to bring it to your local grocer. Your carrots journey will begin in the ground with a seed most likely originating from Canada (FAO) . Once your carrot has matured, it will likely be picked by a machine, cooled, sorted for quality, packed and, depending on the distance traveled, its journey may include a container ship, trains and trucks. Sounds a little complex for a humble carrot!

 

Next on the list is thered potatoes red potatoes we will use for our meal. Red potatoes are one of nearly a thousand varieties of potatoes. While the potato originated from South America and is still a staple crop in Europe, its production is now dominated by Asia, with China producing nearly 50 % of all potatoes (FAO) . Your potato will get its start from a seed most likely originating from one of two eastern European countries, Russia and Ukraine (FAO) . Once matured in the ground, your potatoes will be mechanically harvested, sorted for quality and then begin a lengthy maturation process that includes specific temperature and humidity levels and may be stored up to a year in a commercial storage facility. Their lengthy journey will then begin to a grocery store near you and may include a ship, train, truck and airplane!

 

Not to be outdone by the far flung journey of potatoes and carrots,onions your onions likely got their start in faraway Sri Lanka as seeds (FAO) . While six different continents play a part in onion production, Asia once again dominates with China and India pulling to the front (FAO) . Once your onions are ready to be plucked from the ground, they will likely be harvested by a machine similar to a potato harvester. They will then be dried out, sorted, packed and be ready to head to the grocery store. Similar to potatoes, commercial harvesters may choose to store onions up to several months in properly refrigerated facilities. Next the planes, trains, automobiles and ships come in. Quite a whirlwind for your veggies to make it to your plate!

 




Wondering what’s next?

Tune in next Monday to read about the paths your chicken may have taken to get to a grocery store near you!

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