Papples: You won’t be disappointed!

Walking through the produce section the other day, one of my favorite produce guys, Karl, came running up to me enthusiastically describing this new fruit. For those of you who don’t know Karl, he and I share a passion for great produce, and have both been known to be a bit too excited about most things in life!  -So yes, he was actually running, and nearly stammering with excitement!

The fruit he introduced me to is called a papple. Pear + apple = papple. I just love combined words. “Liger” anyone? Roar!

Papple

The papple isn’t really an apple at all, but rather a cross between a traditional pear and a crunchy, Asian pear.

I’m always up for trying something new, and my man Karl didn’t disappoint. I love pears, but really dislike over-ripe, mushy pears. This pear is slightly crunchy and oh-so-sweet.

It was great eaten by itself as a snack and would be amazing chopped up on a salad. It has a lovely refreshing taste, perfect for snacking on, and is a fun alternative to an apple a day. The biggest advantage of trying something new is that it solves the produce boredom that we often get into.

Even working in a grocery store, I find myself reaching for the same produce items time after time. After awhile, I get bored of eating oranges and don’t look forward to my afternoon snack.  Trying something new solves this dilemma and brings back the produce excitement again!

 

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10 Reasons to LOVE Dairy

10 reasons to LOVE dairy.

1. Calcium – Dairy is probably best known for its calcium, which helps to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

2. Vitamin D – Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is one of the nutrients Americans lack the most. It helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone strength. But beyond bone health, science is discovering just how important this little guy is. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to heart disease, Seasonal Affective Disorder, cancers, stroke and maybe more. Pouring a glass will get you 25% of the RDA.

Milk-Tasty-Nutrition-FINAL

3. Protein – A glass of milk provides 8 grams of muscle-building protein. Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue and serves as a source of energy during high-powered endurance exercise. Protein is essential for every function your body carries out. Because you can’t make all of the amino acids (protein building blocks) you need, eating protein-rich foods helps you get the ones you can’t make on your own.

4. B-vitamins – Milk is a great source of several key b-vitamins often lacking in our diets.

  • Vitamin B12 helps build red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles. .  
  • Riboflavin helps convert food into energy – a process crucial for exercising muscles.
  • Niacin is important for the normal function of many enzymes in the body, and is involved in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids.

5. Cheese – I love cheese! It is probably one of the foods I would have the hardest time giving up if I had to. And with only about 100 calories per serving and 7 grams of protein, you don’t have to feel guilty anymore!

6. Recovery – After a vigourous workout, your body is “hungry” for carbohydrates and protein. Chocolate milk has the perfect ratio (plus hydration) of carbs and protein (specifically whey protein) to help refuel your body and give it what it needs. You don’t want to work your butt off for nothing!

7. Hydration – Water isn’t the only way to get your fluid in each day. Milk is a whopping 87% water. Still pounding sports drinks after a tough workout? You’re behind the science times. Milk, thanks to its natural balance of sodium, carbohydrate and protein, helps the body retain fluid, researchers report in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, making it an effective recovery drink for exercisers.

8. Milk mustache – Like suspenders and bow ties, I love a good mustache. So when my little ones drink their milk a little too quicly, or eat their yogurt a little too aggressively and walk away with an adorable milk mustache, my heart nearly swoons!

9.  Milk is a local food! It takes only 48 hours to get milk from the farm to your table.

10. It is convenient and delicious – I’ve often talked about how I’m efficient not lazy, and dairy fits this mantra. If I’m needing a little pick-me-up, yogurt, string cheese, or even a glass of milk are common choices. So the next time you’re feeling a little snacky, go ahead, reach for your favorite dairy good!

The reasons to love dairy don’t end here. Check out more from Midwest Dairy Council.

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Holland Peppers

There’s a “new” guy in town.

Okay, so Holland peppers aren’t new, but they are new to me. I’ve been working in a grocery store for over 7 years and this is the first year that I have seen (or at least paid attention to) Holland peppers.

HollandBellPeppers

They aren’t just your normal pepper. Holland peppers come in all sorts of colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, purple,brown, white, and even striped! These bell peppers are prized for their uniform, almost perfect, shape, thick walls, and sweet flavor. The sweetest variety is white, and generally the lighter the color, the sweeter the pepper.

Holland Peppers

Most Holland peppers are grown in green houses under strict controls of humidity and sunlight. Because of these conditions Holland yields beautiful “meaty” peppers that hold up well to cooking.

The first time I took a bite of these crunchy and juicy peppers I fell in love. My absolute way of enjoying them is to cut them in half (remove the stem and seeds) and spread with hummus.  It is a perfect afternoon snack that I don’t feel guilty about!

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5 reasons to love milk

In honor of National Dairy Month, here are five more reasons to love milk:

1. It’s a Nutrient Powerhouse. Milk is the top food source for three out of the four nutrients Americans are most lacking – including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. All milk – including fat free, lowfat or organic – has 9 essential nutrients, including B vitamins for energy, vitamin A for a healthy immune system plus several bone-building nutrients.swimming-pool-boost-2

2. It Ups the Protein Ante in the Morning. While many experts now recommend 25-30 grams of protein at each meal, the average breakfast plate only contains 13 grams. Add an 8 oz. glass of milk to your eggs or Greek yogurt and get an extra 8 grams of high-quality protein!

3. It is not Easily Replaced. It’s hard to get the nutrients you need without real dairy milk in your diet. Dairy milk has 8 times the protein of almond milk and rice milks, which can contain a long list of ingredients, including added sugar, salt and thickeners.street-dancer-boost-2

4. Protein Power for Your Dollar. Milk is one of the best protein bargains for your dollar. For about 25 cents per glass, milk packs 8 grams of protein in every 8 ounce glass. This calculates to around 32 grams of high-quality protein per dollar! That’s a big protein bang for your buck.14_ml_milk_glass-4p-2

5. It’s Wholesome, Real and Local. Did you know 97 percent of dairy farms are still family-owned and operated? Little handling is done from farm to fridge – and that’s why you can trust the milk you buy at the store is safe and wholesome.

 

Information from MilkPEP

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Lemondrop Melon. A family favorite.

Ask my 4-year old what her favorite fruit is, and you will get a resounding “Lemondrop Melon!”. Melon season is always a favorite at our home and lemondrop is a frequent flyer. The taste is a super-sweet honeydew melon with a lemon twist at the end. It pairs perfectly with fresh blueberries.  It is only around through the summer months (like most other specialty melons) so we are sure to grab our fill while we can.lemondrop melon2

It looks similar to a cantaloupe on the outside (netting), except it has ridges. The inside is a beautiful light green color.

lemondrop melon

Lemondrop melon makes the most wonderful tasting infused water. It is light and not overly sweet or acidic.  LOVE my infused water. Although, it isn’t often that we have enough left over to put in my water. My daughter usually makes sure of that!

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Know What You Grow: Garden Signs

I have had several people asking where I bought the garden signs that I use for my square foot garden. I purchased these from Amazon – and they even come with a special paint pen. The signs are so useful when the plants are just coming up and I’m trying to decide if it is a weed or the plant I want.

 

kaleI mean, aren’t they adorable?

There are a lot of signs out there from copper, colorful, and these biodegradable ones. But these white, plastic ones are what I bought and I just love them. They are completely customizable so that I can label everything in my garden appropriately.  The problem with the super-cute pre-labeled signs is that in my square foot garden, I have several sections of the same vegetable, so I need several different markers for the same food. With the blank signs, I can have a label in each of my squares.

Last year I tried to go without labeling and it was a mess. I had no idea which sprout was supposted to be there, and which was a vegetable. So this year, I was a bit more proactive and went a little label crazy.

beetsThe signs come with a black paint pen, which holds up better than a permanent marker. I have had them out for almost two months and they are still looking great (even after my youngest has helped himself to the signs and attempted to mangle them).

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Beet Juice for Performance

I was really excited with finding a recipe for beets that I actually loved (Beet and Feta Burger ) and have been searching for more ways to enjoy these beautiful gems (beet chips anyone?!) . I’m so excited about beets that I even planted some seeds in my garden for the first time. – Wish me luck!beets

*I have had several people asking where I got the plant signs that I use for the square foot garden. I purchased these from Amazon – and they even come with a special paint pen.  The signs are so useful when the plants are just coming up and I’m trying to decide if it is a weed or the plant I want.

Beets are gaining popularity and are working their way to the top of the nutrition list.  More and more research is popping up linking beets to increased athletic performance.

Beet Performer with B12  and Beet Performer with passion fruit juice

beet performer

Beets contain a large amount of inorganic nitrates. These compounds are the precursor to a very important molecule that our body needs to function- Nitric Oxide. Among other roles, nitric oxide helps to increase the size of blood vessels to allow more oxygen flow.

Beets aren’t the only food with high nitrate content. Aruguala, spinach, lettuces, radishes and bok choy are also great sources. Try adding a handful to your morning smoothie or evening roasted vegetables.

Beets are not going to make you fast on their own, but for the athlete that cares about marginal gains, they could provide the race winning boost. New products such as concentrated beet shots now make it convenient to consume on race day, and it’s ideal to do so 2­-3 hours before the gun goes off. Experiment in your own training to see what works for you.

FYI: there are some side effects to consuming beet juice. The dark-red color of the juice often makes its way into your urine, changing it to a pinkish hue. Though harmless, it’s a bit unsettling if you haven’t seen it before. Second, if you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk for them, you should avoid beets and beet juice, as they are high in oxalates, a chemical which can crystallize in the kidneys.
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