The current state of the weather and the election may leave you searching for something comforting. Instead of reaching for that mac-cheese or glass of wine, you might want to consider this ultimate comfort food: white bean, sausage, kale, and sweet potato soup.
If you know me, I love food and especially soups at this time of year. This nutrient-dense soup is one of my all-time favs. Why? Because it not only tastes good, but it packs a lot of good stuff, is quick to prepare, and freezes well for leftovers.
What’s in the soup? Well, I’m glad you asked because this soup has a lot of greatness going on!
This soup is incredibly versatile and can be made vegan friendly by omitting the Italian chicken sausage and swapping the chicken stock for vegetable stock instead.
In any normal year, the fall would bring visions of kids heading towards yellow school buses with their backpacks. Or maybe college students heading back to school. Instead, we enter a new world of online learning at home or on college campuses. The world continues to be an uncertain place; our routines continue to be disrupted. But unlike the summer when routines are normally askew, we need to pull it back in and adjust to something different this fall.
It is time to get back into a groove and get your health back on track. Here are some easy ways to do that.
One of the easiest places to begin is with food. How do you do this? Well, it begins with a plan. No, I am not talking about some grand meal plan, just a roadmap of how you will eat for a week.
This last point is super important. We all have days where we end up working later than expected or something else happens and we don’t have the time to cook. I think of these moments as “fire drills.” In a fire drill, you have a plan right? You know where the route to safety is. Eating is no different. When the unexpected happens, have a plan because you will be less likely to say, “screw it” and eat something really unhealthy. Part of this plan might be getting carryout from a local restaurant. Yes, carryout. The difference is, you already know where and what you will order that meets your dietary goals.
Yep. That’s right, pack your lunch. You may think that you don’t have to do this for yourself or your kids because, well… you’re at home working and they are doing virtual school. Actually, this is when these steps are even more important. When you are sitting around at home and only have a moment to grab food before your next meeting or your child’s next class, you will reach for something easy to grab. Unfortunately often the easy to grab foods aren’t the healthiest. If your lunch is already ready to go and you only have to pull it out and eat it, you will be more likely to eat good food. The bonus is with everyone home, you can make use of leftovers more easily for kids lunches.
If you use a step tracker, you may have noticed your daily steps have dropped over the last few months. Think about it. Maybe you are using Instacart more, or you’re not commuting, or you aren’t out running errands or transporting kids to activities. Instead, you are in your home. You and your children are sitting in front of their monitors for hours on end. Simply put, you aren’t moving. What can you do?
The sun is shining, and the local produce is fresh and vibrant!
But, why is eating local beneficial? If you want to eat fresh, you need to eat local! Aside from supporting the community, the food actually is fresher. If a food item is grown in the U.S., it may travel 5 days to reach a distribution center before ending up in a store; if it is harvested from outside the U.S. and travels by refrigerated ship, the travel time could be several weeks. The longer the duration from harvest to consumption, the greater the losses. Produce picked at its ripest point with minimal travel time will yield a better tasting and more nutrient-rich food. This is why eating local means eating the freshest possible food.
The selection of foods available locally varies by farm and time within the harvest season. Commonly available foods might include berries, leafy greens, peppers, beans, melons, cherries, asparagus, beets, radishes, carrots, peaches, and squash.
Fresh, local produce is often featured at local markets such as The Common Market, MOM’s Organic Market, Wegmans and even in smaller quantities at Giant. Additionally, you can seek out freshly picked items at any of the following farmers’ markets per Homegrownfrederick.com. If you are not local to Frederick, you can search for a market near you:https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
June 22-September 21, 2018
|302 S. Seton Ave. Emmitsburg||Fridays
|Farmers Markets at NCI
April 10-October 30, 2018
|Parking Lot in front of NCI Cafe/Scientific Library
NCI-Frederick Located on Ft. Detrick
(open to the public)
May 13-November 18, 2018
|Old Carmack Jays Parking Lot
331 N. Market St, Frederick
|Frederick Farmers Market
April 28-November 17, 2018
|Wolf Furniture Parking Lot
1215 West Patrick St, Frederick
|Frederick Farmers Market at
Eveready Square & Shab Row
May 31-September 27, 2018
113 North East Street, Frederick
Church St & East St, Frederick
|Field Fresh Farmers Market
April 28-November 17, 2018
Holiday Markets: December 1, 8, 15
797 E. Patrick St, Frederick
|Friends of Frederick
May 20 -November, 2018
|1 Wormans Mill Court, Frederick||Saturdays
|Grace Farmers Market
May 19-November 17, 2018
|649 Himes Rd, Frederick||Fridays
April 4-September 12, 2018
|Jefferson Ruritan Center
4603 Lander Rd, Jefferson
|Key City Food & Farm Market
|121 N. Bentz St, Frederick||Fridays
June 7 – August 23, 2018
|6718 Coldstream Drive, New Market||Thursdays
May 3-October 11, 2018
|Christ Reformed Church Parking Lot
12 S. Church St, Middletown
April 14 – October 27, 2018
|301 Main St, Myersville||Saturdays
June 2-September 22, 2018
|Municipal Parking Lot
South Center St, Thurmont
May 20-October 28, 2018
|Urbana Regional Library
9020 Amelung St, Frederick
June 9- August 11, 2017
|Walkersville Volunteer Fire Department||Fridays
|YMCA of Frederick County
May 22-October 30, 2018
|YMCA of Frederick County
1000 N. Market St, Frederick
Alternatively, you could choose to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. A CSA is a relationship between the farmer and the consumer whereby you invest an up-front amount in exchange for a portion of the harvest through the season, and you both share the risk. The portion sizes purchased can vary and may include full or half shares. There are several CSA programs out there, including those at Thanksgiving Farms as well as the Big White Barn. Additionally, some of these venues are open to selling their produce harvested directly to the consumer without participating in the farmers’ market.
Eating with the seasons can present a wonderful opportunity to expand your culinary horizons. Maybe you pick up a vegetable that you’ve never seen before. Or maybe you seek a different way to prepare corn. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Take a chance and explore your food, you never know the surprises which await you!
Metabolism. You may know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Your body is comprised of a series of biochemical reactions. It is an amazing machine that takes in nutrients and oxygen and uses them to fuel everything you do. The word “metabolism” actually describes all those biochemical reactions that an organism, in this case, you, need to live. It’s three main purposes are to: help convert fuel for use in cellular processes, provide building blocks for cell growth and healing, and for elimination processes.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
-Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
-Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
-Allow storage of excess energy for later.
When you put all of these processes together to form your metabolism, sometimes they can work too quickly, too slowly, or (ideally) just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate.”
This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in kilocalories, or more commonly abbreviated to just “calories.”
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
-Fuel physical activity (i.e. work, exercise, and other activities).
-Fuel for biochemical reactions in your body to exist.
-Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine, the more calories you burn as fuel for activities or biochemical processes, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how many calories your body needs just to perform the basic functions to live like your heartbeat, moving your blood through your body, fueling your lungs to breath. Imagine what your body needs to function while you lie in bed without any physical activity; this is your RMR.
Now imagine you get up, go to work, hit an exercise class and later return to bed. Just like a car, your body needed more fuel for those activities. This is where the other energy expenditure measurement comes in. The “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) includes both the resting metabolic rate (RMR) or what you need to just exist AND includes the calories you need to actually function, work or exercise over the course of a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
More than you can imagine!
Age, gender, and body size all play a role. But it isn’t just about size, what is also crucial is body composition.
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
Sometimes when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Speaking of exercise, physical activity is also important.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work.”
When people have a hard time losing weight, sometimes they will wonder if their thyroid is operating properly. The thyroid gland is located at the front of your throat and releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn. If the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, your metabolism will be impacted. This is a great example of how a hormonal imbalance can impact metabolism.
Other factors which can impact your metabolism might include genetics; environmental changes such as heat or cold variances; certain medications and even dietary intake.
Yes, the type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off. However, be mindful. This is not an excuse to eat only proteins. Too much protein can actually be tough on your kidneys.
Last, but not least, don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows stress and sleep have an influence as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breast
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs, and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more roasted, then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Our bodies are comprised of 50-70% water. A reduction of as little as 1-2% of our body water can result in cognitive issues and increased fatigue. The heat of the summer will drive water losses through sweat, and even more with exercise, all of which can lead to dehydration. So what can you do to make sure you are covered this summer?
Infused water is easy to make and one of my favorite things to do. I typically will toss some fruit or berries into one or more largemouth mason jars and let them infuse overnight, so I am ready for the morning. I like watermelon and basil or mint; slices of grapefruit or blood orange; cucumber, mint and a slice of lime; or just simple lemon water. At a minimum, you will want the mixture to infuse for 3-4 hours. If you are looking for further inspiration, Wellness Mama has some great recipes for this! https://wellnessmama.com/3607/herb-fruit-infused-water/
If you engage in summer exercise, hydration is especially important. But instead of drinking down an athletic drink, which can have 34 grams of sugar (almost as much as a 12 oz soda) and is full of food coloring, why not try one of these healthier alternatives?