Winter Farmers Market

Farmers market closed? How to make the most of your grocery store’s produce aisle


(BPT) – It’s the same story every year — kids return to school, temperatures drop, summer vacation becomes a fading memory and the local farmers market closes. While you may spend winter longing for the return of 80-degree days and sunny skies, you don’t have to miss out on your favorite fruits and veggies. Many are still available in local grocery stores and some smart tricks and choices can help you eat like the farmers market is still open … all winter long.

“The seasonal nature of farmers markets doesn’t have to keep you from reaping the benefits of fresh and locally grown produce,” says registered dietitian Paul Kriegler, assistant program manager for nutrition and weight loss, Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company. “The average store carries more than 45,000 different foods, so it’s important to know what to buy and what to avoid.”

To eat as if the farmers market is still in session, keep these tips in mind on your next visit to the grocery store:

Plan meals and menus for the week and make your shopping list accordingly. If you stick to your list, it will help you avoid impulse purchases.

Keep kids involved. If your children loved visiting the farmers market and learning how to eat healthy, there’s no reason you can’t continue their education in the grocery store. Take them shopping with you and give them a small budget so they can pick their own produce. Encourage them to pick fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow.

It’s not just folklore – if you shop while hungry, you’re more likely to make poor choices. “When you’re hungry, anything looks good, and junk looks even more appealing,” Kriegler cautions. “Have a healthful snack like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit before you shop.”

Your diet should consist of mostly fruits and vegetables, so make the produce aisle the first stop when you visit the grocery store. If you fill your cart with more produce, you’ll have less room for less healthful choices.

Shop from the outer aisles, where you’re most likely to find whole, unprocessed foods – like fresh produce. Inner aisle have more processed foods.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. As the seasons turn, new and unexpected items may appear in produce aisles. Varieties of squash begin appearing in September and staying through March, as well as turnips, rutabagas, carrots and other cool weather favorites. An online search can help you find new recipes for virtually any type of unfamiliar produce. Experimenting with new veggies and fruits can be exciting and nutritious!

Take advantage of store resources. Many grocery stores now include signage in the produce aisle that tells you where different items originated, how you might use them, flavor and nutrition — even recipes. If your grocery store offers free recipe cards beside a new vegetable, give both a try.

Whenever possible, buy organic. “I commonly hear the question, is organic really necessary,” Kriegler says. “Your first goal is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables your family eats, but once you’re doing that it’s important to choose organic produce. It will help you avoid toxins, herbicides and pesticides in your food that could affect your metabolism and cause other health problems.”

If you must buy prepackaged and labeled foods, read the ingredient list first. If it’s full of unrecognizable or unhealthy ingredients, put it back on the shelf and look for a better alternative.

For more healthful living and nutrition information, visit

Sustainable Healthy Habits

A nutritionist’s sustainable healthy habits for the whole family

21701662(BPT) – It’s important to establish healthy eating habits for your family, but it’s not always easy to know where to start. We spoke to Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), to find out what she recommends her clients do to form healthy routines that can be maintained through even the busiest seasons.

“It’s all in the little things,” Scritchfield says. “Every day, find something that connects health with enjoyment – something that works for you.” Here are a few tips to get you and your family started:

Fill your home with enjoyable foods. Kids’ eating habits start at home, so make sure they have healthy options to choose from. I keep healthy foods like yogurt, cheese, berries, avocados, eggs and vegetables in the refrigerator, as well as frozen fruit, veggies and fish in the freezer. You can also stock up on oatmeal, granola and nuts for the pantry, and having a big bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop makes it easy for the whole family to grab and go.

Cover your nutritional bases. Despite our best intentions, we don’t always get everything we need from a healthy diet. I recommend vitafusion for adults and L’il Critters for kids – they’re gummy vitamins that taste great, so you’ll remember to take them every day.

Create colorful plates. Bring kids into the kitchen so that they learn how to build their own beautiful meal. Let them choose vibrant vegetables like carrots, beets and peppers to decorate their dinner plates, and encourage them to try new vegetables and fruits made in different ways. For young kids, you can even turn it into a fun art project, creating shapes and figures made from produce.

Set a good example. Kids learn best by watching you. Fill your own plate with fruits, vegetables and other healthy options even if they aren’t eating them as much as you wish they would. Ask the kids to express their likes and dislikes so they learn about preferences. Ask the family for more meal ideas. Everyone has a role.

Gather around the table. For the family that eats together, meals are a time to reconnect, reprioritize and reinforce healthy habits. Let them know how much you value this time together. Eating on the run or in front of the television makes it easier to overconsume without realizing it. Instead, sit together over a freshly prepared breakfast or dinner (or lunch, if you can!).

Remember that healthy living doesn’t begin and end in the kitchen. Make exercise a family affair by allowing each family member to choose a weekend activity that everyone can get involved in. It can be as simple as trying a new walking route with the dog, or as adventurous as trying a new sport like rock climbing. It’s a great way to bond and build memories associated with health and enjoyment.

“Take it one step at a time, and don’t aim for perfection,” Scritchfield says. “Do what works for you, and remember to enjoy it!”

To learn more about vitafusion and L’il Critters gummy vitamins and Rebecca Scritchfield, registered dietitian and vitafusion and L’il Critters partner, visit

Keep Cool Grapes

10 ways to keep your cool with grapes

(BPT) – This time of year, nothing tastes better on a warm day than a refreshing cool snack – like grapes. Delicious and good for you, California grapes are the perfect finger food but they can also be so much more. If you’re looking to treat your palate to new taste sensations, here are 10 recipes that will expand your horizons and your love of this delectable fruit.

1. Grapes of all varieties

Variety is the spice of life and snacking on grapes can invigorate your taste buds as well as please your palate. Available in red, green or black, there are over 80 varieties of fresh grapes grown in California, and each variety has its own unique characteristics and flavors. Indulge your senses and mix a variety of grapes together for new flavors in every handful.

2. Fresh Grape Salsa

For a fresh twist on a classic that will surprise and delight, use grapes instead of tomatoes: combine fresh grapes, cilantro, and chilies with some vinegar, onions and salt and pepper to make fresh grape salsa. Serve with chips or toasted crostini for a deceptively simple dish with an unforgettable flavor.

3. Green Grape Gazpacho

Turn old gazpacho recipes upside down with green grape gazpacho. Lettuce, cucumber, grapes and more combine to put a new twist on a traditional treat.

4. Refreshing Grape Agua Fresca

For a sweet warm weather beverage, whip up a grape agua fresca. Mix freshly made grape juice, sugar and lime juice together and you have a drink that may just dethrone lemonade as your summertime drink of choice. Add sparkling water for a bubbly spin.

5. Black Grape Sorbet

The perfect meal deserves the perfect dessert and black grape sorbet delivers. Pureed grapes, lemon zest, sugar and lemon juice blended and chilled for the perfect consistency. A frozen treat that is delicious and guilt-free! Who can say no to that?

6. Fresh Spring Rolls

If lighter fare is the meal choice of the day give this fresh spring roll recipe a try. Start with a sheet of rice paper, add fresh grapes, shrimp, shredded carrots and bean thread noodles. A dash of mint leaves and lemongrass give these rolls a unique zip.

7. Black Grape Margaritas

Black Grape Margaritas put a unique spin on cocktail hour. Tequila, sweet and sour and crushed ice come together with black grapes for added flavor. These beverages are sure to hit the spot on a hot day. Just don’t forget the salt.

8. Grape Daiquiris

If you’ve always preferred daiquiris over margaritas, there’s a drink for you as well. A grape daiquiri combines white rum, ice, lime juice and seedless grapes in an easy-to-create cocktail. Puree it all for two minutes and you have a delicious libation ready to savor.

9. Frosty Fresh Grape Pops

You can’t get these from the ice cream truck driver and that’s too bad – but they are fun to make at home. Frosty fresh grape pops are a cool treat for adults and kids alike and because they are made with fresh fruit they present a good-for-you option when compared to other desserts on a stick.

10. Frozen grapes

Sometimes the simplest treats are also the best. When you’re looking for an after-meal snack or a healthy option, try frozen grapes. Naturally delicious, each one is like a mini-sorbet on its own! Simply rinse, pat dry, then place your California grapes in a re-sealable bag and stash it in your freezer. Two hours later, you’ll have delectable frozen grapes to enjoy.

For more unique grape recipes visit

Rev-up Metabolism

Start Your Engines

Rev-up Your Metabolism

mE Oatmeal MixStart your day with a high fiber heart-healthy meal. Try adding this tasty oatmeal mix to your favorite quick oats for a preservative-free breakfast that will fill you up without filling you out.

mE Oatmeal Mix

1 cup Pecans
1 cup Sliced Almonds
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 cup Raisins
1/8 tsp Cinnamon

Chop pecans and almonds. Place nuts in container add cinnamon and mix. Chop dried cranberries and raisins, add to the nut mixture. Cover tightly, shake to combine.

Use with your fave oatmeal. Cook per instructions, add milk or sweeten if desired, add 1-2 tsp mE-O mix, stir and enjoy.

Use with your fave oatmeal. Cook per instructions, add milk or sweeten if desired, add 1-2 tsp mE-O mix, stir and enjoy.

Store the remaining mix for your next oatmeal fix.


> Protein
> Fiber
> Energy
> Antioxidant