• 20Nov

    Today’s post was contributed by Sarah Shanahan MS, RD, LD

    It’s THAT time of year again. Thanksgiving is now in plain sight, and all the parties have started — at the office, at school, and at your friends’ and family’s homes. It’s a wonderful time of year, full of joy and good cheer, and plenty of time for indulgence. How can you possibly get through this time and come out feeling like a champ? Use these tips to navigate the party scene, the big celebratory meals, and everyone dumping all their leftovers in the kitchen at work so you can save them from eating it all.

    Tip #1 (shameless plug alert!): Feel great by giving back with the purchase of a healthy-decadent signature holiday bread platter from Good Measure Meals. 100% net proceeds from the sale of holiday bread trays support the local non-profit, Open Hand Atlanta, providing nutritious meals for our neighbors in need this holiday season. Order your Whole Wheat Apple Quinoa, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan, or Whole Wheat Cherry Walnut bread platter by Friday, Nov. 21, to receive delivery to a convenient location next Wednesday, Nov. 26 – just in time for Thanksgiving!

    bread tray collage

    Tip #2: Chow
    • Statistics vary on the amount of weight people gain in the 6 weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years—anywhere from 1 to 8 pounds. The problem usually isn’t the gain; it’s that people don’t lose the weight after the holidays.
    • Continue to eat your regular meals and snacks through the day so you don’t arrive famished to a party and end up eating every single hors d’oeurves passed around during cocktail hour.
    • Use the Plate Method to build a better balanced buffet plate. Make ½ your plate non-starchy vegetables, ¼ lean protein (light meat poultry or seafood), and ¼ carbohydrate (pasta, rice, breads, and starchy vegetables like root vegetables).
    • Choose Chex Mix (½ cup = 100 calories) instead of mixed nuts (1 ounce = 170 calories) and save 70 calories.
    • Choose baked sweet potato (1 medium = 100 calories) sweet potato casserole (3/4 cup = 650 calories) to save 550 calories.
    • Or, host the party so you can choose the food.

    Tip #3: Booze
    • 150 extra calories per day for 6 weeks can lead to 1.8 pounds weight gain. This is the same number of calories in one 6 oz glass of wine.
    • Save 160 calories by drinking hot apple cinnamon tea instead of spiked apple cider.
    • Have champagne or other bubbles (4 ounces = 80 calories) instead of white wine (6 ounces = 150 calories) to save 70 calories.
    • Have hot chocolate (1 cup = 105 calories) instead of eggnog (1 cup = 360 calories) to save 255 calories.
    • Soda water or seltzer is ZERO calories. So, make a mocktail with a splash of juice and a lime and save yourself 150+ calories per drink and a holiday party hangover.

    Tip #4: Activity
    • Get moving! The average 150 pound person burns 100 calories per mile, no matter the speed. This is a great reason to go for a walk after a meal or to get the family together to go caroling. It’s also a great excuse to window shop.
    • Play active games with kids like tag, basketball, or flag football.
    • Sign up for your neighborhood holiday 5K and walk or run off about 300 calories!

    How do you plan to stay healthy, active, and happy during the holidays? Join the conversation on Facebook!

  • 12Nov

    Like many of us, Hot 107.9 radio personality and producer Tonya Clackum, AKA “Beyonce Alowishus,” repeatedly found her busy schedule standing in the way of her health goals.
    She regularly skipped breakfast, sacrificed nutrition for convenience at lunchtime, and grabbed fast food on the way home from work.

    After years of struggling with her weight, trying every diet under the sun, she was looking for a plan that would allow her to lose weight despite her busy schedule, eat fresh food, and be sustainable long-term. Her doctor suggested Good Measure Meals (GMM).

    Tonya was immediately impressed by the friendly, informative Good Measure Meals staff and wide variety of meals on the menu. The calorie and portion controlled meals made it easy and convenient for her to eat healthfully – and deliciously! And once she found out that GMM proceeds go back into the community by supporting the non-profit Open Hand Atlanta, she was hooked.

    Tonya starting receiving the 1200 calorie meal plan, 7 days per week, and documenting her experience in a series of blog posts. Check out some of her comments below!

    “A lot of times we go on diets and feel as though we have to starve ourselves, but that’s not the case with GMM. The meals are very filling, and now that I’m eating the correct portions, I get fuller much faster and have learned not to over-eat.

    With other diets in the past, the weight would come right back when I got off the program. So I was nervous to be away from Good Measure Meals during one 10-day train trip through Canada. But this time, I didn’t gain weight or fall off my diet. How did I manage? Portion control. Plus, I opted for more of what I had eaten with GMM- more fruits, whole grains, and baked and grilled foods.

    The best parts of the program are the food variety (I never had the same meal twice), easy pick-up locations, being informative and affordable, and the GREAT taste. My favorite meal? Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers. Some other favorites include Tilapia Florentine with Brown Rice and Broccoli, Brunswick Stew with Cornbread, and Turkey Meatloaf with Parsley Potatoes.

    Not only did I lose weight on the program, it taught me portion control. I felt better overall, and even my blood pressure went down. I also felt good about getting involved with the non-profit Open Hand. All the net proceeds from GMM go to support Open Hand, and Open Hand serves more than 6,500 meals a day to people who are home-bound seniors or less fortunate across 17 counties in Georgia (AMAZING)!!!

    My friends and co-workers say I look great, but it’s not just because of the weight loss; it’s also because the meals are so well planned. I am getting all of my daily nutrients that my body needs on a daily basis. Plus the MAIN reason I am a fan is that all of the money raised by GMM goes to Open Hand Atlanta. It’s just AWESOME. Period. 1200 calories a day and I get my breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s FRESH, not processed and frozen. It’s super healthy and it goes to a good cause. I have never felt better.”

     

    Several months into her Good Measure Meals, Tonya is 20 POUNDS DOWN and continues to lose weight, looking and feeling better every day.

    For updates on Tonya’s health and weight loss journey with Good Measure Meals, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @BeyonceATL.

  • 03Nov

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

    fall eats fruits header

    Don’t fret the disappearance of Georgia peaches– there are still plenty of delicious fruits to enjoy this fall!

    Pears: High in fiber and vitamin C, many varieties of pears are in season in the fall. For traditional pears, keep them in a paper bag at room temp to ripen, then store in the fridge. Consume when slightly soft for best flavor. For Asian pears, select a fragrant fruit without blemishes or brown spots, and note they are ready to eat when purchased and will not soften like other pears. Store for 1 week at room temp or up to 3 months in the fridge. Pears are delicious sliced with cheese, chopped into salads, baked into desserts, or enjoyed raw.

    Apples: An apple a day may indeed help keep the doctor away! High in fiber, apples contain a phytochemical called quercetin, which has been linked to a range of potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. As fruits go, apples are pretty convenient– they can be kept at room temp or in the fridge, can last for weeks after purchase, and travel well, making them a great on-the-go snack! Pair apple slices with your favorite nut butter or cheese for a perfect afternoon snack; sprinkle with cinnamon, oats, and honey and bake for a healthy dessert reminiscent of apple pie; chop and add to oatmeal, salad or stuffing for a boost of flavor and nutrition. Or just bite into one whole!

    Pomegranates: These gems take a bit of work to extract, but it’s worth it! High in fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, folate and copper, pomegranate seeds pack a nutritional punch. They are also a rich source of flavonoids, which help protect your heart, boost your memory and prevent diseases such as cancer. For less mess, try cutting the fruit in quarters and placing it in a large bowl of water to remove the seeds. Choose plump, round, heavy fruit and store in a cool, dry area for up to 1 month, or 2 months in the fridge. Juicy and crunchy at the same time, pomegranate seeds are a delicious addition to Greek yogurt or as salad topping. (See below for recipe.)

    Cranberries: A good source of vitamin C and fiber, cranberries are available dried all year long, but can be found – and enjoyed – fresh in the fall! Choose firm cranberries and keep in the fridge for up to 2 months, or freeze for later use. Skip the canned version and make fresh cranberry sauce and enjoy with roast turkey for a Thanksgiving inspired sandwich all season long! (See recipe below.) Add fresh cranberries to your favorite baked apple recipe for a burst of tart flavor and color. Dried cranberries are super versatile – great for making your own trail mix, adding to salads, and in grain salads.

    pomegranatePomegranate Protein Parfait
    Ingredients:
    • ½ cup Pomegranate seeds
    • 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
    • 2 tbs. dark chocolate chips
    Directions:
    • Extract seeds from pomegranate
    • Layer half the yogurt, half the pomegranate seeds and half the chocolate chips in a tall, clear glass.
    • Repeat layers. Enjoy!

    cranberry sauceHealthy Homemade Cranberry Sauce*
    Ingredients:
    • 3 cups fresh cranberries
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
    • 1 tsp orange zest
    • ½ cup honey, maple syrup or your choice of sweetener
    Directions:
    • Combine cranberries, water, cinnamon, and orange zest in a pot.
    • Add sweetener
    • Cook over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is gone (about 30-45 minutes), stirring more frequently towards the end.
    • Allow to cool and enjoy!

    *Recipe from the gracious pantry

  • 28Oct

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

    fall veggies header

    It has been unseasonably warm the last week or so, but it looks like the weather finally decided to take a turn for the Fall-ish yesterday. If this cooler weather and the shorter and shorter days have you craving hearty, savory dishes then you’re in luck – the dark orange and green veggies in season now are perfect for creating warm and satisfying meals all season long. (Recipes at the end!)

    Butternut Squash: Just one of several squash varieties in season in the fall, butternut squash is high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. With its bright orange color, butternut squash helps protect your eyes and can sub for pumpkin in recipes. For best quality, look for squash that’s heavy for its size and store it in a cool dark place for up to a month. Try it steamed and drizzled with olive oil, cubed and roasted, or mashed like potatoes. Make it sweet by seasoning with cinnamon, nuts and raisins.

    Sweet potatoes: Higher in vitamins A and C than their white counterparts, sweet potatoes can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Like other orange vegetables, sweet potatoes promote eye health and are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Choose firm, small to medium sized potatoes without blemishes or soft spots, store them in cool dark place and use within 3-5 weeks. Enjoy them baked, mashed, cubed and roasted, or –my personal favorite- cut them into wedges and make sweet potato fries! (See recipe below)

    punkinsPumpkin: The benefits and uses of pumpkin go far beyond their best-known role as jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. Like other orange vegetables, they are a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin A. Select pumpkins that are firm and heavy for their size, and store in a cool dry place for up to two months. Try toasting the seeds with a little olive oil and salt for a savory snack– make them sweet by adding cinnamon and brown sugar, or spicy with a bit of cayenne paper. Enjoy the “meat” of the pumpkin by roasting or sautéing it diced, along with diced squash and/or sweet potato. For healthier baked goods, try subbing canned or pureed pumpkin for some of the fat in your favorite brownie or muffin recipe. Pureed pumpkin is also great in soups and parfaits.

    swiss chardSwiss Chard: A dark leafy green that often has colorful stems, Swiss Chard is high in magnesium and vitamins A and C. Choose chard with fresh green leaves and store unwashed in the crisper for 2 to 3 days. Delicious sautéed with olive oil and garlic, it’s also a great way to pack some extra nutrition into smoothies. Try adding it to soups and stews, layering it in lasagnas, subbing it for spinach in omelets and quiches, or steaming the stalks and eating them like asparagus.

    Brussels Sprouts: These cruciferous vegetables get a bad rep, but Brussels sprouts can actually be delicious when prepared right, not to mention low in calories and packed full of nutrients, such as fiber, vitamin C and folate. When shopping, look for firm, bright green sprout heads, and keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a week. My favorite way to enjoy Brussels sprouts is to cut them in halves, toss in olive oil and roast until they are brown and crispy, bringing out their natural sweetness (see recipe below). Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar complement their flavor nicely. You can also steam them, boil them, add them to stir-fries, or try them shaved in a cold salad.

    sweet potato friesSweet Potato “Fries”
    1. Pre-heat oven to 450° F
    2. Peel sweet potatoes (if desired) and slice into wedges or strips.
    3. Coat with olive oil and spread on sheet pan.
    4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices you enjoy. Try cinnamon and nutmeg for a sweet dish, or paprika and chili powder for a spicy kick. (Or rosemary, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning… the possibilities are endless!)
    5. Roast until potatoes start to brown and are slightly crispy, about 20-30 minutes, turning half-way through.
    6. Remove from heat and enjoy!

    roasted brusselsOven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
    1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F
    2. Rinse and pat dry Brussels sprout heads. Trim ends and chop into halves.
    3. Toss in olive oil (or use spritzer) and spread on rimmed sheet pan.
    4. Roast sprouts until they turn golden brown and crispy (about 25-30 minutes), tossing half-way through.
    5. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    This recipe is delicious on its own, but there are many variations to explore to add flavor, texture and color! Try sprinkling Parmesan cheese, drizzling balsamic vinegar reduction, adding herbs and spices, such rosemary, or mixing in nuts and dried fruits (pecans and cranberries work great.)

  • 21Oct

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

    healthy snacks to fuel your fitness

    By finding time for fitness this fall, you’re well on your way to improving your health. But don’t forget the other half of the equation: healthy eating! Good nutrition is vital to overall health – Good Measure Meals has your breakfast, lunch, and dinner balanced and portioned for you, and choosing the right snacks will also help fuel your active lifestyle. If you haven’t yet added a Good Measure Meals 200-calorie or 400-calorie snack plan to your meals yet, our snacks are an easy way to keep on track between meals while you’re on-the-go.

    Registered dietitian Alissa Palladino also has some tips for how to best stay healthy while you Fall into Fitness this season.

    For moderate exercise lasting less than an hour, there is no need to refuel while on-the-go. But for hikes, bike rides or other activities lasting longer than two hours, it is smart to pack a snack.

    trail mixSome portable and healthy options snack ideas include:

    Trail mix – the quintessential hiker’s snack! DIY and make your own tasty mix by combining your favorite types of unsalted nuts, seeds, dried fruit and whole grain cereal. This combination will provide a good dose of healthy fat, carbohydrates for energy, and protein to keep you satisfied. (Any of these ingredients on its own works as a snack, too!)
    Energy or granola bars – there are tons of options out there- your best bets will be minimally processed versions (i.e. not too many ingredients and ingredients you recognize). Look for bars that are low in saturated fat and added sugars and high in protein and fiber.
    veggies and hummusFruit – apples, oranges, grapes and bananas (especially if not too ripe) travel well, providing natural sugars for energy, water to keep you hydrated and important nutrients lost in sweat, like potassium.
    Raw veggies - baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and celery sticks are some easy and portable options. Pair with peanut butter or hummus for protein and healthy fat- you can even find these in single-serve containers for added convenience.

    Note that during vigorous aerobic exercise, like running, you’ll want to stick to simple carbohydrates for energy, and avoid high fat, high fiber, and high protein foods, which can cause GI distress. For exercise lasting more than an hour, try dried fruit like raisins, or pretzels (the salt may be helpful if you’re sweating heavily), or sports gels/chews containing a mixture of easily digestible simple sugars. Then, replenish with a balanced meal containing both carbohydrates and protein within an hour of exercise.

    No matter the type or intensity of physical activity, remember to stay hydrated! While you’ll likely sweat less in the cooler weather, it is still important to drink water before and after exercise. Bring along a water bottle if you’ll be out for over an hour. For vigorous bouts of exercise, consider a sports drink that provides electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to replenish sweat losses as well as carbohydrates for sustained energy.

  • 15Oct

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

    fall into fitness header

    With the cooler weather and leaves starting to change color, the fall is a great time to be active outdoors. Walking, biking, jogging and hiking are all great ways to enjoy the outdoors and improve your fitness.

    Here is one important question to ask yourself honestly:
    Are you (a) getting in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week OR (b) getting in 25 minutes of strenuous exercise three days a week?

    Moderate exercise is akin to pushing a stroller, biking 5 miles in 30 minutes, shooting baskets, playing touch football, raking leaves, or vigorous social dancing.
    Heart-pumping strenuous exercise is more along the lines of swimming laps, jogging/running, jumping rope, shoveling snow, or climbing stairs.

    Fitness is a life-long habit to start forming today, and regular aerobic exercise has many health benefits from protecting your heart, boosting your mood, raising your energy levels and even improving cognitive function!

    Whether you’re an early riser or prefer evening workouts, stay safe when exercising in the dark by sticking to well-lit areas and wearing reflective clothing or a headband flashlight.
    Remember to stay hydrated! Even though you’ll sweat less when working out in the cooler weather, it is still important to drink water before and after exercise, and definitely bring along a water bottle on longer bouts of exercise.

    jog with dogFinally, have fun! Working out does not have to be painful – in fact, it shouldn’t be! Take your dog out hiking with you, experiment with new activities, and explore new trails and parks to prevent boredom.

    If motivation is lacking, try signing up for a race  a few weeks/months ahead or making exercise plans with friends. Include your family in your workout routine, whether it’s jogging with a stroller, taking a walk together in the evenings or organizing a family bike ride on the weekends. You won’t have to sacrifice family time or your health, and you’ll be setting a great example for your kids.

    family fall bike ride

    By making exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your life this fall, it will become a healthy (and helpful) habit by the time holiday season strikes.

    So – what’s your favorite way to exercise outdoors?

  • 09Oct

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

    notes from the kitchen

    The signs of fall are undeniable, from the cooler weather and leaves changing colors to pumpkin-flavored versions of just about everything! Good Measure Meals is marking the change of seasons by launching its fall/winter menu. You’ll still find many of your favorite meals, with the addition of seasonal vegetables and fall-inspired flavors. Here’s the inside scoop on some of our new items for autumn.

    It’s all about orange vegetables this season. High in vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium, nutritional powerhouses like butternut squash and sweet potatoes will help protect your eyes, support your immune system, regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and promote heart health. Plus, beta-carotene, the pro-vitamin A pigment that gives these veggies their bright orange color, is a powerful antioxidant.

    You’ll find roasted butternut squash and oven roasted sweet potatoes on our fall/winter menu as tasty and nutritious side dishes at lunch and dinner. They also make appearances as main dishes in creamy Butternut Squash Ravioli and a returning favorite, Sweet Potato Spinach Burgers.
    sweet potatoes

    squash2

    Another seasonal vegetable to look for this fall are Brussels sprouts. Packed with fiber, vitamin C and folate, these cruciferous vegetables don’t deserve their bad rep! They’re delicious roasted, which is exactly how you’ll find them as a savory side dish to our lunch and dinner meals.

    brussels1
    Some breakfast staples also get a fresh fall makeover with the addition of cranberries, in season during Fall/Winter. From orange cranberry scones to cranberry maple sauce for dipping French toast sticks, you’ll get a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors and a good source of vitamin C and fiber to power up your morning.
    cran2

    cran3
    Start the season off right and enjoy the fresh favors of fall with Good Measure Meals!

  • 18Sep

    notes from the kitchen

    When it comes to food, sometimes it feels like a choice between what tastes good and what we know is good for us. With Good Measure Meals, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor OR your health goals. Check out these healthy, fresh and still-delicious takes on classic comfort-food favorites, featured in next week’s menu!

    Asian-Inspired Turkey and Chicken Meatloaf, with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Edamame Succotash

    Asian Meatloaf_crop_editYour mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes, only better! Made with turkey and chicken instead of beef, this meatloaf is lower in fat but still high in protein, moist, and full of flavor! The kick from the wasabi means you won’t miss all the butter and whole milk that typically make mashed potatoes loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat. Even traditional succotash gets a healthy makeover thanks to the addition of edamame, or soybeans, which are full of fiber and a great plant source of complete protein. Eat up!

    Cheese Lasagna with Marinara Sauce served with a side of Zucchini and an Oat Bran Roll with Smart Balance Spread

    Zucchini on the wooden tablePortion control is key to creating a lighter and leaner version of this Italian favorite. Marinara sauce is an excellent source of the carotenoid lycopene, a potent antioxidant that offers protection against many cancers and is actually better absorbed when cooked and consumed with some fat (thanks, cheese!).
    The dinner rolls gets a boost of healthful soluble fiber from oat bran, which can help lower “bad” cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and promote regular bowel movements. Rounding out the meal is zucchini—a good source of potassium and vitamin C. High in water and low in calories, it will fill you up without weighing you down.

    Buon appetito!

     

     

    Today’s post was contributed by Alissa Palladino, RD, LD.

  • 29Aug

    Today’s post is contributed by Good Measure Meals intern, Claudia Utesch.

    Fall is just around the corner, which means there are a few weeks left to take full advantage of the longer, sunny, warm days that are currently at our fingertips.

    Summer is truly one of the best times of the year to be outside and enjoy what your environment has to offer. It is such a treat living in Atlanta because it is the best combination between city life and the great outdoors. Atlanta has a variety of parks, running routes, and even mountains just a short drive away. This Labor Day weekend, get out and take advantage of the outdoors with a couple of these helpful tips.

    1. Try out a variety of parks. There are so many parks in the metro Atlanta area like Piedmont Park, Grant Park, Candler Park, Inman Park, and of course Centennial Park. Take your loved ones for a day at the park; bring a picnic and some activities (bocce ball, frisbee, a kite to fly, etc.) to do outside while you enjoy being outdoors. Many of these parks like Piedmont Park and Grant Park offer a pool for visitors to cool off from that late-summer Georgia heat.
    piedmont park

    2. Another great way to get out and play is finding running routes or trails near you. The Atlanta Beltline covers a 22 mile radius around the city of Atlanta. The Beltline is commonly used for biking, running, and walking. The Beltline runs through multiple parks like Piedmont, Glenwood, Maddox, and Atlanta Memorial Park. Finding a trail near you, whether it is a neighborhood trail or a public one can be a great way to spend the afternoon exploring the nooks and cranny’s of your community. Check out the Beltline’s and the PATH Foundation’s lists of trails to find one near you!

    tomato3. Gardening – it’s not just a spring-time activity! Whether it’s a fruit, vegetable, or a bed of flowers or plants, gardening can be enjoyable and therapeutic. As I have gotten older, a couple of my friends have started their own small gardens. It is incredibly rewarding to  experience the growing process under your care. Fruit and vegetable gardens can have a lot of benefits, especially because you can add the end product to your dinner table! And now is the time to get your Fall veggies in the ground – plant your kale, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, and turnips in September, and enjoy the perfect harvest for stews, roasts, and Fall flavors.

    4. Georgia has a wide variety of hiking trails on which to spend a few minutes, hours, or an entire afternoon. The closest “mountain” to the Atlanta area is Stone Mountain. This hike is relatively short, but has QUITE an incline. Kennesaw Mountain and Sweetwater Creek are other nearby trail systems, and these paths are usually quiet and filled with lots of shade. Find a list of top 10 Atlanta hiking trails here!

    waterpark5. Waterfront activities like visiting a pool, a lake, or the beach are a great way to get the kids out of the house while keeping cool. Georgia has several lakes that you and your family can relax on during a late summer day. And if you’d rather have a more exciting day in the water, you can also visit some of the waterparks in the area, like those at Lake Lanier Island. Spending the day in the water is a fun way to maximize the final weeks of summer and relax with your loved ones and friends.

    Take the time out of your busy schedule to explore what our area has to offer outside. You may be surprised at the fun adventures you can find without spending a fortune!

  • 21Aug

    Today’s guest article is contributed by Open Hand Atlanta/Good Measure Meals intern, Claudia Utesch. Claudia is a senior in the Didactic program at Georgia State University. She currently holds the position as student gardener in the Nutrition Student Network at State and works as a supervisor at the Georgia State Recreation Center.

    Often when people think of farmer’s markets, they think of springtime. Fresh produce and new growth after dormant winters, and all.

    But, weather pending, high season for farmer’s markets is actually during July/August, when produce is catapulting from the ground in epic proportions after weeks of careful planning, growing, and harvesting. Maybe you haven’t been to a farmer’s market yet in 2014, maybe you haven’t been since the spring, or maybe there are ones you haven’t tried out yet. Either way, the time is now to hit the markets – especially if you only use Good Measure Meals for 1 or 2 meals per day!

    However, while farmer’s markets are new and exciting places to shop for ingredients, they can also be a little daunting. There is a variety of produce available to shoppers, but where to start and what to buy can leave a shopper discouraged. Follow these steps to make your late summer trip to the farmer’s market a success.

    Know what is in Season
    Before heading to the farmer’s market, understand which fruits and vegetables are in season. Since most the produce is local, the season will strongly impact what you see as you search for ingredients. Here is a link that shows which months will bring specific fruits and vegetables.

    farmersmarketunionFind a Location near You
    Don’t know where to find a farmer’s market? It can be challenging to find one you enjoy that is close by. Luckily, the Atlanta area has many options, and there are a couple websites that can direct you to the closest one. Try out a couple different locations to get a feel of what you like in a farmer’s market. Here is a link of some markets in your area.

    Plan Ahead
    Go with recipes in mind. Since farmer’s markets are not laid out like grocery stores, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need. Try to find recipes that include a lot of produce and make sure to stock up. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables so try and get all you or your family needs for the week. If you are in need of ideas, try tomato basil skewers as healthy snacks for your next summer BBQ.
    **Tip: At farm stand farmers markets with farmers present, ask the farmer how best to store the produce you purchase for maximum/prolonged freshness. Not everything needs to go in the refrigerator, and many things should be stored specifically in plastic or paper. Your farmer should have good tips so that your food doesn’t spoil before you get to it.**

    Try Something Different
    Have you ever gone to the store and noticed a fruit or vegetable that you are not familiar with? Unknown produce often looks way more complicated than it actually is, and it can seem daunting as a waste of precious time in the kitchen compared to tried and true recipes. But trying a new vegetable or fruit could ultimately open up your list of recipes and mealtime variety, not to mention your taste buds. Start by picking up one different fruit or vegetable, and incorporate it into your salad, sandwich, stir-fry, veggie roast, etc. You never know until you try it! Here are some examples of exotic produce worth testing in your home kitchen: tomatillo, star fruit, young coconuts, Dragon Fruit, Kumquat, or even a Pummelo.

    farmers market 1Ask the Farmer
    If you are unsure about what an item is or how to cook it, do not be afraid to ask the seller. Farmer’s markets can have a lot of local farmers who are happy to show people how to use their products in the tastiest ways possible. Asking for new recipes or ways to cook produce can be an exciting activity for you and the family!