• 29Jun

    Two weeks ago we asked you to vote on which oatmeal topping you would like to see on the new Fall, Winter Menu. Don’t worry…. there is still time to vote!!!  You have one week from today to ponder your favorite topping and vote. I will announce the winner on Tuesday, July 6th. As of right now #2 (dried cherries, a little bit of honey and pecans) is winning, but by only ONE vote. #3 is runner up. It could go either way at this point!

    Here are the options again:

    #1 – raisins, a pinch of brown sugar and almonds

    #2 – dried cherries, a little bit of honey and pecans

    #3 – dried bananas, a little bit of maple syrup and granola

    Vote by leaving a comment on this post. I seriously can’t wait for the results!!

  • 25Jun

    Like a lot of people, I have a busy schedule, and I don’t have the time to explore all the great events in the city as much as I’d like to.  However, when I heard about the opening of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s new edible garden, I knew I needed to check it out.  The garden, which opened in May (and will be open year-round), shows many edible plants that can be grown in Atlanta’s climate.  Produce from the garden is used in on-site classes and donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and other local charities. 

    The huge outdoor kitchen is used for cooking demonstrations and parties. I got to see a chef demonstrate how to prepare a recipe for healthy coleslaw.  She prepared it with vegetables and parsley from the garden, and it was delicious. 

    I saw edible flowers called calendula, asparagus plants, peach trees, sweet basil, an assortment of herbs and other plants growing from a vertical wall, and blueberry bushes—with berries almost ready to be picked! There were also simple recipes posted on plaques in the garden that highlighted a certain fruit/vegetable.

    I’m sure I’ll be back to the garden again soon—it’ll be inspiring when I’m creating the next spring menu! Have you visted the edible garden? What did you think?

  • 21Jun

    So the Triathlon that my best friend researched and decided on was an All Women’s Sprint up in Acworth, GA.  This race benefits Ovarian Cycles, Inc., a charity that promotes ovarian cancer research.  I tend to gravitate towards activities that support the health of our community, as this is my passion(Just like Good Measure Meals Supports Open Hand!)!  The Acworth Triathlon is good start for beginners.  The distances are shorter and limiting the gender makes the race a little less intimidating to me.  It starts off with a ¼ mile swim, which is equivalent to 8 laps (there and back) in a Junior Olympic Pool.  Sounds doable, but after my first few swim sessions, I am realizing that this challenge is going to give me a run for my money and I have a new found respect for Olympic Swimmers!  After the swim, we have a 13 mile bike ride.  Although I haven’t really ridden a bike in years, I am confident that this will come back to me fairly easily.  I live near the Silver Comet Trail, so I have a built in training route in my backyard-so no excuses for me!  Once the bike ride is completed, we have to run a 5K.  Now on any normal day, I would think a 5K would be the extent of my exercise, and while challenging, I know I can complete it without too much problem.  The trick here is having the energy left after a tough swim and long bike ride to get my legs moving.  I hear that it can be a difficult transition from the bike to the run because your legs still want to move in a cyclical motion… that will be a funny sight!  I have to make sure that I am consuming enough calories and water before and during the race to supply the energy that will get me through the day.  For training, I have opted to increase my daily intake to the 1700 calorie plan, due to all the training I am doing.  This still gives me a calorie deficit to lose weight, but ensures that I am not starving my body while participating in intense training!  It is always a good idea to meet with a dietitian when wanting to change your eating behaviors to understand what your optimal intake is to reach your goals.  Luckily for me, I share an office with 5 Registered Dietitians that help answer my questions about staying healthy while taking my fitness to the next level.  If you are looking for a consultation, check out the Dietitian Consultation page on the Good Measure Meals site.

    The Triathlon is August 8th, so I am really starting to ramp up the training with the help of my friends, but would love advice from anyone out there that has completed one before, especially tips on the swimming! 

    If you are interested in participating in a triathlon, check out:  http://www.trifind.com/ga.html They have all the triathlons in GA posted so that you can find one that fits your experience level.

    If you are a true beginner like myself, there is a site specifically for us: http://www.trinewbies.com/ that gives tips on starting your training!

    Click on this image to find more great Triathlon Training Tips!

    My advice?  Find something that motivates you to become physically active over a set duration of time.  By registering for a race, exercise class or sports league- you commit yourself to continual training and possibly an end goal.  This is a great way to build a habit!

  • 16Jun

    This recipe is oh so healthy!

    Oatmeal has soluble fiber which can help you lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and possibly reduce your risk of heart disease.

    Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats, and you need them for good health.  Our bodies can’t make omega 3s, so we have to eat them.  That’s why it’s good to eat foods like flax, walnuts, and salmon.

    Check out this link to see how The American Heart Association answers questions about “better” fats

    Cinnamon may help lower cholesterol and help you maintain a lower blood glucose level, but the research isn’t solid yet.  One thing we do know is that it tastes great in oatmeal!

    So what do you want on top of these wonderful oats?

    Here are the options again:

    #1 – raisins, a pinch of brown sugar and almonds

    #2 – dried cherries, a little bit of honey and pecans

    #3 – dried bananas, a little bit of maple syrup and granola

    I can’t wait to see which topping wins!! Vote by leaving a comment.

  • 15Jun

    I decided that this two month challenge would fit nicely into a training program with a capstone event (another way to motivate yourself to reach a goal!).  While I have always been active in sports, I often struggle with the motivation to participate in solitary physical activity.  Years of wear and tear on my body from competitive athletics make it difficult to still compete in sports such as soccer or tennis, so I am leaning towards something that I can train at my own pace, and focus on my physical gain rather than a final score.  I have decided that for the first time in my life, I am going to train for a triathlon.  As I said, I rely on the social aspect of sports to motivate my desire to workout, so I have enlisted some of my friends to train with me.  This is a great way to get started: build a support network of workout buddies and have a mutual goal.  I am lucky enough to have some friends that are eager to join my cause and willingly agree to train with me and keep me accountable.  Some have raced in triathlons before, but most are newbie’s like myself, just looking for a new passion and a method to increase their health.  It is amazing who you can bring together when you pitch an idea on getting healthy!

    Step 2:  My group has decided that the former swimmer among us will lead the swim training, I will route the runs, and another friend will lead the bike rides along the Silver Comet Trail.  Things are looking good.  This means that at least 3 days a week I am getting in a different form of cardio and the diversity should keep me from getting bored (another great tip to getting started)!  I am sticking to my Good Measure Meals to take the guess work out of my diet-  I know that I am getting a balanced diet and the proper amount of carbs, proteins, and fats to facilitate my healthy weight loss.  I think I might expand my plan to also include snacks.  That way I have an immediate source of energy to replenish after my workouts-wherever I may be!  With this new training schedule I am glad to have the grocery and cooking time cut out of my schedule too! 

    Tune in Thursday for Part 2 on “The Triathlon”  and more tips on how to integrate fitness into your wellness plan for the healthy challenge!

    Challenge Update: It’s 15 days into the Challenge and I have lost 4 pounds and am feeling great!  That is right on target, although there might be some lost water weight in that due to the extreme heat!  Better stay hydrated!

  • 14Jun

    As I started planning our next set of meals for the Fall/Winter menu, I thought about customer feedback and the suggestion that brown rice is a little, well, boring.  Brown rice is definitely a reliable staple in a healthy diet, but I listened to what you had to say and decided to trade some of the rice for other grains to add a little variety to the menu.  Which brings us to…barley. 

    When you think of barley, your next thought might be “beer!”—but it’s actually a wonderful grain to add to your regular diet.  Pearled barley is the most common kind, and it is most often used in soups, though it also can be used in pilafs, salads, or stuffing.  We’ll be using it in two Fall/Winter meals:  beef and barley stew and mushroom-barley pilaf.

    Hearty Vegetable Beef and Barley Stew - a new addition to the lunch menu.

    As new recipes are being developed, the staff members here at Good Measure are guinea pigs—trying each new recipe after it’s been cooked.  Both the stew and pilaf were big hits, with people commenting on how hearty the stew was, and how much they enjoyed the barley’s chewiness in the pilaf. 

    Aside from variety, why are we including barley in these meals?  For one thing, barley is very heart healthy.  A half-cup serving of the cooked grain contains only 100 calories, less than a half gram of fat, and no cholesterol.  Barley is also high in soluble fiber, so it could lower your LDL cholesterol level and potentially reduce your risk of heart disease.  Pearled barley has about twice as much fiber as brown rice, and it has a nuttier flavor, so it’s a great alternative when you’re tired of rice! 

    Along with other nutrients, it also contains these vitamins and minerals:

    • B vitamins – helps your body turn food into energy, keep your nervous system healthy, and are important for normal digestive system function
    • Selenium – a mineral which may help prevent cancer
    • Iron – helps your body use oxygen
    • Zinc – helps maintain your immune system and keeps your skin healthy

    For more information about whole grains and their nutritional benefits, check out these sites:

    Health Gains from Whole Grains

    All you ever wanted to know about barley – focus on health and nutrition

    What foods are in the grain group?

  • 10Jun

    It’s 10 days into the healthy challenge and I have successfully lost 2 pounds, which is right on target!  I will admit that I took a day off from exercise yesterday and might have had a small cup of ice cream as well. I am a huge advocate for moderation, and after the intense week of exercise and eating very healthy thanks to my Good Measure Meals™, I figured I was allowed to reward myself and take a day off!  Remember, being healthy shouldn’t be a punishment, so don’t set yourself up to resent it!  Enjoy the little things in life and when you do indulge, just pay attention to portion size and duration!

    I want to focus today’s blog on a really cool tool that I used to help gauge how many calories I should be consuming based on my personal metabolic rate.  The MedGem™ is a handheld device that measures (very accurately!) your resting metabolic rate (known as RMR) and oxygen consumption (VO2). RMR can be accurately determined by measuring the amount of oxygen a person consumes. Through this method, called indirect calorimetry, the amount of oxygen consumed represents the exact number of calories a person needs at rest each day. Metabolism is the body’s energy conversion process, turning food into the energy that our body needs to function. For those of you that have never taken a physiology or health class, resting metabolic rate represents the amount of calories that your body uses to maintain vital body functions like breathing, brain function, and heart rate.  For a completely sedentary person, the RMR accounts for 100% of total metabolism, but since I am active and constantly moving, my RMR is probably around 75% of my total metabolism (the remaining 25% comes from the walking, running, and exercise that I do each day!). GMM has a staff of Registered Dietitians that can provide this assessment, so if you are interested, please contact me at jparsons@goodmeasuremeals.com

    Me getting my RMR Evaluated on the MedGem!

    So there’s me, getting my RMR measured using the MedGem.  It is a relatively easy process.  I simply have to breathe into the little machine for around 5-10 minutes and then voila, it gauges my RMR.  There are several other conditions of testing, which can skew the reading.  We refer to these variables as the 4 C’s: Cardio, Cigarettes, Calories, and Caffeine.  All of these variables must be completely absent from your systems for at least 4 hours before you test, or you will have an inaccurate reading.

    I get my RMR: 1670.  I am pretty surprised and honestly delighted, as that is higher than expected.  This means that my body, if resting an entire day would burn 1670 calories to stay alive.  I know that partnered with my active lifestyle I am burning a total of at least 2000 calories a day(you can calculate the calories burn during different exercises at: http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc); more on the days with soccer and ultimate Frisbee(around 2700 calories according to my calculations). Remember that my weight goal required me to have a calorie deficit of 758 calories/day, so 2000-758 = 1242, so I am right on target with my Good Measure Meals!  On days with more vigorous activity I often add in a protein or high fiber bar as well, to ensure that I have enough energy to make it through my exercise.

    Weight Management is a science, but there are so many tools that are available to help.  Click Here to learn more about the science behind RMR and how you can calculate your metabolic rate. As long as you have an idea of the number of calories you burn each day, and how many you consume, the science is pretty easy!

    Tune in for the next post about training for my first triathlon!

  • 07Jun

    If you’re looking for healthy and delicious foods to supplement your Good Measure meals – extra snacks, food for entertaining friends and family or for any reason at all - consider buying produce grown right here in Georgia. You don’t have to go to a farm to find fresh fruits and vegetables, though—local farmers bring their colorful, fresh-picked crops to farmers markets throughout the metro area. 

    In the summertime, I think of farmers markets as relaxing and inspiring places—people taking their time, strolling around, looking at the huge variety of vegetables and flowers.  I love to cook, but it’s easy to fall into a rut, and I’ve realized that shopping locally gives me a chance to try new foods at their best.  Just the other day, I bought some kohlrabi and a couple bunches of rainbow chard and turned them into a curry with the help of a recipe from the Internet.  And last year, I discovered that I actually really love beets—as long as I buy them fresh and roast them for salads or a stand-alone snack. 

    Some beautiful beets at the Morningside Farms Market in Virginia Highland.

    Besides, have you ever compared a California-grown strawberry from the supermarket to a big, juicy berry straight from a Georgia farm?  The difference in appearance and taste is incredible.  That’s because the California berry was picked before it was completely ripe, and while it might have ripened a little more on the journey east, it wasn’t allowed to naturally ripen like the local, fresh-picked berry.  Freshness and flavor are two compelling reasons to shop at farmers markets.

    Atlanta-area markets don’t just offer seasonal fruits and vegetables.  They’re good places to find artisanal bread, honey, jams & jellies, fresh eggs, meat, and even locally hand-crafted items like soap and jewelry.  Some, like the Morningside Market and Green Market at Piedmont Park, also feature weekly cooking demonstrations by local chefs.  You might even get a chance to taste food made with ingredients sold at the market.   

    If you’re interested in exploring some of the markets around town, visit Local Harvest for a list of the markets near you.  

    Wondering how to choose the best beets, or what to do with that strange-looking kohlrabi?  There are some great websites with shopping tips and recipes galore.  Here are a few:

    10 Farmers Market Shopping Tips

    Guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables in Georgia

    Recipes for specific fruits and vegetables

    Happy shopping!

  • 04Jun

    It’s the 4th day of the Challenge and I am right on track!  I have dropped one pound and seen a difference mostly in my energy level!  It is funny how making healthy changes positively influence other aspects of your life!

    So I found my pedometer this morning which sparked the idea for this blog entry.  A pedometer is the fancy term for a step counter.  It clips onto your waistband and counts the number of steps a person takes by detecting the motion of the hips.  The more pricy versions will even record the distance your walked (number of steps x step length) and measure calories burned.  There are many versions of pedometers out there and honestly, there is a difference in quality.  While any pedometer will work as a motivator, not all are accurate.  If you purchase a pedometer, do a test first and count out 100 steps and see what it records.  The best pedometers will be within ± 5% error.

    We obviously use pedometers to count our steps, but what number are we trying to achieve? The US Surgeon General recommends that a daily target of 10,000 steps, as this is the necessary amount to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.  For an adult this is equivalent to about 5 miles, but obviously children should accrue more steps per day.

    So I will be wearing my pedometer each day and making sure that I am reaching the 10,000 step mark.  I figure if make small daily goals, they will make my big goal of 13 pounds much easier to achieve!  On the nutrition front, I am sticking with my 1200 calorie plan from Good Measure Meals(Delicious Golden Harvest Whole Grain Pineapple & Carrot Breakfast Bread this morning! mmm).  Between my planned nutritional intake and increased physical activity, I am making positive “strides” in the right direction.  My apologies, I just had to throw in the cheesy play on words!

    So grab your walking shoes, your Good Measure Meals, and a pedometer and let’s get this challenge moving!

  • 01Jun

     I am often asked what the best methods are to reach your health and wellness goals, and truth be told, there is no simple answer.  Everyone is different, and everyone is motivated by different goals, reasons, and opportunities.  As the Corporate Wellness Representative here at Good Measure Meals, I am in constant search of new resources to help the folks that I work with achieve their goals, whether it is weight loss, lower cholesterol, or increasing physical activity and fitness levels.  I decided that many of our customers might be interested in the tools that I come across, so I am joining Ashley in the social media realm to share my discoveries on our GMM Blog.  For the next two months I am going to report on my own quest for optimal health, with the help of a nifty little site I found, www.fitday.com, that allows me to track my daily caloric intake, my physical activity, journal everything from stress levels to moods, and calculate my weight goals based on BMI and the calorie deficit that I must create to get to my goals.

     I am  more successful when I am held accountable, so I am using this as a tool to help gauge the area’s that I need to focus on and to keep me on track (it actually lets me know exactly how many calories I can consume to get to the BMI that I want by the end of July!).  There are many sites out there that can help you manage your health goals and give you tips on how to avoid the obstacles that get in your way.  Find one that provides the motivation and structure that you need to make the changes and join me in my summer challenge!

    So here is the challenge… Feel free to take it with me and post your challenges and success.  I am giving myself 2 months to get to my ideal body weight (Based on my BMI).  I advise people to aim for no more than 2 lbs of weight loss per week.  More than 2lbs and there are probably negative health implications and will most likely result in only short term weight loss.  I decided that dropping 13 lbs would be an acceptable goal for me; not too daunting, but enough to really make a difference in how I feel physically. 

    So let’s do the math (with the help of the handy dandy FITday site I found): 

     It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound, so I have to either cut calories out of my diet or increase my physical activity to reach that goal.  Obviously, the combination of physical activity and proper nutrition is the way to go, so I am looking to create a daily deficit of 758 calories (again the website did the math for me!).  So now that I know I need to cut/burn 758 calories per day, I have a measureable goal to keep me accountable! YAY!  Between my exercise and 1200 calorie Good Measure Meals, I am set to tackle this new goal!

    Here are some resources that might be helpful, should you decide to take this challenge with me!

    Calorie Calculator - Scroll down to visit the calculator on the GMM Website.  It will suggest how many calories you should consume per day if you are looking to lose or maintain weight.

    -Physical Activity Caluclator-  This calculator will help determine how many calories you burn during different types of physical activity and exercise.

    www.fitday.com a great FREE resource to help you manage you goals.  You can insert the nutritional information from your Good Measure Meals in the custom food section, which will speed up your tracking time!

    Next Step:  Set your goal and join the challenge!  The more support we have- the better and sharing success helps motivate others to get started!  Good luck!