Quality Produce in St. Petersburg

$12.82. That is how much I paid for produce this morning at my local Saturday Morning Market. In downtown St. Petersburg we are lucky enough to have a farmer’s market at our fingertips. Today I bought bananas, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, strawberries (Plant City style), apples and onions all for $12.82. Normally at Publix I would be paying $15 or more for all those goodies.

This was the first time I have purchased produce from this market, or any market for that matter and I’m cursing myself for waiting so long! I was motivated to buy today from the book I recently purchased, Eat This Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide. I am a huge fan of this book and this is author and Men’s Health Editor-In-Chief, David Zinczenko’s best yet. Just from the produce I bought today, I’ll give you a few facts and benefits of each.

Bananas: available year-round, store green, unripe fruit away from direct heat and sun. If you want to speed up the riping process put those green bananas in a paper bag. The benefits include B6 (USDA says this fruit helps prevent cognitive decline)

Mushrooms: Avoid dark spots or brittle caps. Best from Nov.-April. To store cover fungi with a moist towel and refrigerate for 3-5 days. Great to boost your immune system and tumor-suppressing.

Asparagus: Best when they are bright green from top to bottom with purple-tinged buds. Best to consume March-June. Trim the ends and stand upright in a little water, cover tops with plastic bag, good for 3-5 days. These spears have folate and a B vitamin that reduced inflammation and protects the heart.

Strawberries: Bright red color with no mushy spots. Best from June-Aug. (unless you live in Florida). These berries will last 2-3 days in the fridge. Packed with Vitamin C.

Bell Peppers: Bright and solid green color. Great to eat July-Dec. Can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. Loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A.

Onions: Crisp skin, no dents or dark spots. Great to use year-round. Store this veggie in a cool, dark place for up to 3-4 weeks. GPCS is a peptide known for reducing bone loss in experimental rates plus has the benefit of the cancer-fighting compound quercetin.

Apples: Firm skin, bright in color with no brusing. Best to eat Sept.- May. Keep apples in a plastic bag away from other veggies to ensure freshness. Contains quercetin which is linked to better heart-health, plus soluble fiber pectic which helps control cholesterol.

Whew. After all that, I think you know what is best. Use your search engines and find your local farmer’s market, or if you’re near St. Pete check it out every Saturday from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Tackle the Blues

For an upcoming Crow’s Nest article, I recently attended the stress management discussion hosted by Dr. Anita Sahgal and Dr. Sara Leslie.

I have to be honest; I was disappointed that no students showed up. If I did not go to write an article about it, only one person would have sat through the discussion.

While jotting down notes and quotes, I learned that stress is individualized – not a new concept to me, but a refreshing one.

In times of stress, it helps to know that organization, talking out problems with friends and family and exercising are a few ideas to make the world stop – at least for a minute.

I have always been an advocate for positive de-stressing. A semester away from graduating, I have to admit that I am a veteran of good, wholesome de-stressing.

Take a look at tips and tricks suggested by experts Sahgal and Leslie in my approaching article. But for now, here are a few of my personal de-stressing tips that came in handy during my four years as a student.

1. Power naps – The point is not to fall asleep but to rest. I know it is difficult to do but get comfortable somewhere, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Know that it is possible to clear your mind for at least 15 or 20 minutes. I power napped many times in my car.

2. Clean. Clean. Clean. Clean something – anything. Cleaning helps to clear the mind and it gives you a sense of control. Do not clean something that is going to frustrate you more – like the blinds or the garage. Throw out the junk in your car or reorganize your closet.

3. Favorite Foods. When I am stressed I like to make my self happy by doing something I like to do. Cooking and baking my favorite foods helps me feel replenished.

4. Reassurance. I think that stress is often produced by self-consciousness or a lack in confidence. Talk to a close friend or family member who will tell you your positive characteristics. Make sure you can trust a person who will tell you the truth and not what you want to hear.

5. Let it all out. Cry, scream, run 10 miles or vent to someone you trust.

6. Pin point. Try to put a finger on what exactly is bothering you. Understanding the problem will help you to solve the issue.

7. Beach. Imagine currently living in Maine and stressing out. We live in Florida people, and it’s sunny with a high of 75 right now on Nov. 15. Go to the beach! Relax.

8. Get out of the library. I know that Nelson Poynter Library is a home away from home to most of us. But get your nose out of the books for a few moments. Taking breaks in between studying always helps me to stay focused.

9. Evaluate your relationships. Having an ongoing fight with someone? Feel jealous, angry, bitter or spiteful? Figure out how you will deal with it. Don’t let it linger because everyone else will see that dark cloud hovering over your head.

10. Set priorities. I will never forget this valuable piece of information: work now, play later. If you get in the routine of doing so, I guarantee you will feel accomplished and less stressed. Yes, easier said than done. It takes strength and motivation.

When it comes to stress, remember to assess your problems and feel good inside.

Retreat to Relaxation at the Lotus Pond

By Amanda Smith

You don’t have to travel to India to find spirituality; just hop on the Veteran’s Expressway.

Located on Lynn Road near AMC Veterans 24 in Citrus Park, The Lotus Pond is a 4.5 acre retreat, featuring beautifully constructed log cabins for your yoga practice. The cabins’ high ceilings and natural surroundings make you feel like you’ve stepped into an alternate reality, where term papers and reading assignments are non-existent.

The warmth of spirit at The Lotus Pond is undeniable – and so are their Free Yoga Day offerings. The most recent Free Yoga Day, held on August 24th, was a wonderful day of free classes, chair massages, gardening and composting info. I learned how to combine and recycle organic waste (leftover/decaying fruits, vegetables, household and yard waste) so that I can reduce the amount of “green” waste that I contribute to landfills. For more info on composting techniques, check out: http://www.howtocompost.org

. Instructors offered raw food demonstrations, where I learned to make a wonderful sunflower seed hummus-like spread for crackers. Loads of people attend these events, I’m convinced some of which come purely for the free food.

After my chair massage, I had definitely transcended some of life’s less enjoyable moments.

The best part about Free Yoga Day at the Lotus Pond is the class discounts offered. Participants receive $5 off a five-class package and $10 off a ten-class package. Be sure to bring a friend to the pond – each newcomer you bring will add a free class to your package.

Even on a regular day at The Lotus Pond, the classes are reasonable priced – $15 for an hour of bending, stretching and meditation.

The most distinct aspect of The Lotus Room is their meditation, facilitated by comedy-inclined instructors. Be sure and catch Shelly’s class as she’s known for making you nearly fall out of a pose from laughter. She loosens up the class, allowing for an especially enthusiastic “Om” to end the practice.

Continue to check out the Health/Fitness blog for information and dates on the next open house at Lotus Pond – you won’t want to miss it.

For a full class schedule and pricing information, check out: http://www.yogalotusroom.com/about.html

Kick off the Semester with a Health Kick

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