Tag Archives: food tip

10 ways to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer

It’s no secret that I love farmers markets. But I think I might love them a little too much – I have such a hard time limiting what I buy! Sometimes I’ll come home with enough food to feed a family of 6 for two weeks (FYI, I live at home with just my mom and my dad right now… and my dad doesn’t really eat vegetables)!

And sadly fruits and vegetables don’t last forever. But thanks to my food science class in university, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer:

10 ways to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer

1. Don’t store beets in a closed bag – they will go mouldy because of the trapped moisture (trust me – I just did this recently by accident!). Store them in the fridge in a bag with holes poked into it to let the moisture escape. If you want to get really intense like Alton Brown, you can store beets and other root vegetables in a bucket of clean sand in a cool place, which keeps them good for months.

10 ways to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer

2. Store asparagus standing up in water to keep it crisp. I’ve never tried this because I don’t like asparagus (I know, I’m a horrible RD), but I hear it works!

3. Store potatoes between 60-65°F (16-18°C) in a dark area like in your basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. Storing them in the fridge makes starch to turn to sugar, which changes their flavour and browning properties when cooked. But the fridge can prolong their shelf life, so if you decide to keep them in the fridge, simply take them out a few days before you use them and their sugars will convert back to starches.

4. Don’t keep tomatoes in the fridge – when they are stored below 50°F (10°C) a flavour compound is switched off, so they become less flavourful. And that would be a shame since local tomatoes are so delicious right now!

10 ways to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer

5. Only wash your berries right before use. Pre-washing them will cause them to develop mould much quicker! Also store them in as large of a container as possible so they can be spread out.

6. If your peaches, nectarines, or plums aren’t fully ripened, wait to put them in the fridge until they have ripened. Putting them in the fridge when they are unripe can give them sub par flavour  and turn their flesh brown.

7. Store pumpkin and winter squash (i.e. butternut, spaghetti, acorn, delicata, buttercup, hubbard, and kabocha) slightly below room temperature between 60-65°F (16-18°C) and avoid storing them in the humidity if you want them to last a long time.

10 ways to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer

8. Store onions in a dark place between 60-65°F (16-18°C) and keep other fruits and vegetables away from them so that they don’t absorb the odour of onions. Carrots in particular like to absorb other odours. I actually once had a carrot that tasted like ham… I really don’t want to know why!

9. Store root vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips, and turnips separately from their tops – this is because when the tops are attached, they can leach moisture from the root vegetables.

10. Don’t keep avocados and bananas in the fridge before they are ripe – this can damage them and prevent them from ripening. But once ripened, avocados actually keep best in the fridge.

What are your tips and tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer?

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10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

Farmers market season is in full swing here in Ontario – and I am loving it! But navigating the market can be confusing and overwhelming – sometimes it’s hard to know what to buy, where to spend your money, and how to make the most of your farmers market experience.  So today I’m sharing my top 10 tips for shopping at farmers markets:

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

1. Shop around

Walk around and visit all the vendors before deciding what to buy. This way you can be sure to get the best deals and the best quality. Last time I was at the market I bought the first raspberries I saw, but after buying them I realized they were mushy! There were much better looking berries at other stalls, so I wish I’d shopped around first.

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

2. Bring your own bags and containers

You probably already bring your own reusable tote with you, but have you thought about bringing your own containers? I like to bring tupperware with lids for my berries and cherry tomatoes so that they stay protected in my bag. I will also bring old plastic bags from the grocery store for things that I don’t want to put directly in my tote, like beets that still have some dirt on them. Vendors like it when you do this because it means they can keep their containers and reuse them, and save money on buying bags!

3. Talk to the vendors

Talking to the vendors is a great way to learn more about your produce and even pick up some cooking or recipe tips. They may even cut you some deals. One time I complimented a vendor on her gorgeous beets, and she gave me 50 cents off the price – she’s now my go-to person when I need beets. Another time I asked a vendor about a variety of apple I wasn’t familiar with, and he gave me a few free ones to sample!

4. Question the source

I don’t know about other farmers markets, but at mine there are some vendors that sell their produce directly from the food terminal. Even though much of this produce is still local, I prefer to buy my produce from the farmers themselves. So ask questions to find out where your food is coming from! Or just use your judgement: if you see blueberries at a farmers market in Ontario in June, chances are they are not local. If you’re not sure when a crop is available here in Ontario, check out this handy guide from Foodland Ontario.

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

5. Go early

I know some people say to go late so that you can get the best deals, but by the afternoon on a summer’s day, most vegetables are looking pretty sad and limp. Not to mention some hot selling items like early season berries might already be sold out. I much prefer to go first thing in the morning to get my pick of the freshest produce!

6. Don’t go in with a plan

So this is the opposite of what I usually tell people. When shopping at the grocery store, it’s always a good idea to have a plan and stick to it so that you don’t overbuy. But when it comes to farmers markets, you never know what is going to be there or what will be the freshest. I like to just go in without a plan and buy what looks the best to me. I find the best meal inspiration comes from the farmers market!

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

7. Connect online and on social media

Find out if the vendors at your market have websites and/or social media accounts and connect with them to be in-the-know about their crops, their favourite recipes, special deals, etc.

8. Be picky

Don’t be shy about making sure you get the best quality produce. Ask the vendor if you can take a quick peak at all the tomatoes in a basket to make sure they are fresh and not damaged; open a carton of farm-fresh eggs to look for cracks; give zucchini a quick squeeze to make sure they are firm. It’s okay to make sure you are paying for the best quality! Another tip is to ask the vendors when something was picked. Some things like beets and potatoes are good for longer periods of time, but if berries and leafy greens weren’t picked that morning, I would find another place to buy them!

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

9. Ask if you can customize

Often when I’m shopping at farmers markets, I’m just buying for one person. So I may not need 4 zucchinis at a time or a whole basket of potatoes. And most of the time when I ask the vendor if I can buy half, they are happy to accommodate.

10. Enjoy it!

Set aside a chunk of time to go to the farmers market so that you don’t feel rushed. Chat, sample, dawdle, and enjoy the experience!

Do you shop at a farmers market? What are your tips?

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How to choose a healthy granola bar

Granola bars are a sneaky food.

They have the reputation of being healthy, but in reality they can be total sugar bombs with very little actual nutrition. So rather than keeping you energized until your next meal like they should, they just leave you hungry and unsatisfied. Who wants that?

How to choose a healthy granola bar via chelseashealthykitchen.com

So when I’m buying granola bars, there are always a few things I keep in mind to help me choose a healthy granola bar:

  • Short ingredient list comprised of whole foods: If I couldn’t make the granola bars with ingredients in my own kitchen, I tend to avoid them. My general perspective is that the more crap there is in a granola bar, the less actual nutrition it contains.
  • Contains whole grains: If made with grains at all, I want it to be made with whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and millet. This will add fibre to the bars, which helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and keep you more satisfied.
  • Sweetened naturally with dried fruits, or minimally with sugar: I don’t really have a hard and fast “rule” about sugar in granola bars because it can really depend. If a bar is made with a lot of dried fruit, it can be quite high in sugar – but still a very healthy choice. If it’s mostly a dried fruit bar, it shouldn’t really need any added sugar. But if it’s a grain based bar, it’s going to need some added sugar to make it taste good and to bind it together. For these bars I just try to make sure the sweetening ingredient isn’t at the very top of the ingredient list.
  • Made with a source of protein: Protein in your granola bar, such as nuts, seeds, nut/seed butter, roasted beans, or a plant-based protein powder will give your bar some staying power. It also makes it a good post-workout snack, since you want to have a mixture of carbs and protein after you exercise.
  • Contains healthy fats: Ingredients like nuts, seeds, nut/seed butter, coconut oil, coconut, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax will add healthy fats to your bar, which will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.

One of the granola bars on the market that definitely meets all my criteria are Nakd Bars, which are made with just dried fruit, nuts, and natural flavour – no funky additives, no added sugar, and no refined grains!

And the good news just keeps on coming – because Natural Balance Foods has offered to send one lucky winner a sample pack of their Nakd Bars.

nakdbarssamplecase

Here’s how you can enter this giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment telling me your favourite brand of granola/energy bars
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter: “Win a case of @Nakd bars from @healthychels! Enter here –> wp.me/p3QHsK-3BY”
  4. Follow me on Instagram
  5. Follow me on Pinterest

Make sure to leave me a separate comment for each entry.

This giveaway is restricted to readers in the US only (sorry to all my fellow Canadians!) and will be open to new entries until Friday May 2nd. Good luck!

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Filed under nutrition