I recently received an e-mail from a lovely reader. She had several great questions, so I figured I would share those and my answers with all of you—Q&A style.
Generally speaking, how long does produce last?
This question is a little tricky since it depends on quite a few factors. So while I may not be able to give any concrete answers, I do have a few tips.
How to make your produce last:
- Store it in the refrigerator! This is key. I tend to buy produce in bulk from Costco, so this is especially important.
- Buy produce that is not fully ripe. Leave a few pieces on the counter to ripen and eat, while leaving the rest in the fridge. Once you eat the produce you have out, take out a few more pieces and let those ripen. This works wonders for me.
- Freeze it! If produce is starting to go bad and you know you won’t eat it, pop it in a freezer bag or container. Frozen fruit can easily be blended into smoothies, cooked into oatmeal, or even thawed and eaten plain. Frozen veggies can be thrown into eggs, stir fries, pasta dishes…the list is endless.
- OR simply buy frozen produce. Most frozen produce is just as nutritious and it lasts for a quite a while.
- Once fruit or veggies get soft/mushy, they’re probably ready to be frozen or tossed. If they’re not able to be frozen, I toss mine outside for the animals! I never throw food in the trash because it’s biodegradable!
- Produce that I’ve found to last the longest (in the fridge): apples (a month in the fridge!), carrots (again, a month or longer), peppers, avocadoes, broccoli, cauliflower…
- A random celery tip: when your celery loses it’s firmness, don’t throw it out! Put it in a cup of water and voila it will be firm again in no time!
Do you shop for one? How often do you shop?
I shop for three. Myself, my fiancée, and our son. That being said, we all like different foods, so in reality you could say that I shop for one—three times.
My son and I are vegetarian, while my man is a meat-eater. About once or twice a month, I’ll replenish our shelf foods (i.e., not fresh).
Items I try to keep on hand:
- frozen veggie burgers (Morningstar farms spicy black bean/breaded chik’n)
- meatless meatballs
- crackers (Special K Multigrain, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Whole wheat Ritz, etc.)
- pretzels (Rold Gold lightly salted tiny twists)
- cereals (multigrain cheerios, kashi go lean, peanut butter puffins)
- frozen veggies (broccoli, edamame, sweet peas, corn, spinach, green beans, peppers, squash)
- frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango)
- almond milk (unsweetened vanilla almond breeze)
- hummus (sabra or tribe are my personal favorites)
- laughing cow cheeses
- breads (Arnold multigrain thins)
- canned beans (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans)
- whole grain pasta
- canned tomato sauce
- organic eggs
- rolled oats
- chia seeds <—a post all about chias
- almond butter/peanut butter
- extra virgin olive oil
- Greek yogurt
- cottage cheese
- baby spinach
Oh boy, that list is quite long and I’m certain I forgot some items!
For produce, I go to Costco every two weeks.
Although, I usually have one or two items to pick up at the grocery store during the week. So pretty much, I’m there at least once a week!
Do you prefer Whole Foods or Trader Joes?
Ahhh, this is a hard question! They’re both great, but they’re different beasts.
Let’s focus on the good points first.
- The hot bar <—you must visit this at least once!
- huge variety of foods
- bulk bins
- grind your own nut butter
- rocks my socks off!
- awesome prices for organics
- decent variety
- some of my favorites are here (meatless meatballs, peanut flour, cranberry apple butter, jalapeno cilantro hummus…etc.)
I think the biggest advantage to Trader Joe’s are the prices. You just can’t beat them!
What are your go-to healthy snacks?
- Special K crackers and cottage cheese (I dip the crackers!)
- sliced apple with almond butter
- 1/2 serving of oatmeal
- carrots & hummus
- mug of cereal with fruit (frozen works well)
- melon/grapes/fresh fruit on hand
- crackers & hummus
- chips & salsa
- Greek yogurt with honey/nut butter/fruit
- laughing cow cheese & mustard with pretzels <—sounds weird, but it’s so good!
- warm vitatop with almond butter
- 1/2 arnold thin with almond butter and banana
- 1/2 arnold thin with hummus and avocado
- mini green monster
- protein iced coffee
Again, the list could on and on!
What type of protein powder do you use?
I’m not the best person to answer this question considering that I’ve really only tried one or two types!
Right now, I have EAS vanilla protein powder. In my opinion, it’s pretty tasty.
I don’t use protein powder that often (maybe twice a week), so this lasts me quite a while!
I’ve heard great things about SunWarrior, so I might try that next!
Do you eat before you exercise?
Whether I eat before exercise depends on a few factors: time of day, type of exercise, and whether I’m hungry.
If I exercise first thing in the morning (this is rare), then I have a cup of coffee and a banana before my work out.
If I exercise midday or in the evening (most often), then I eat regularly and make certain to leave an hour or more in between eating and working out.
If I go for a mid-morning run, then I’ll generally have toast with almond butter and a slice banana in the morning. This has worked for me so far, so why change a good thing, right?
Since I work out in the evenings most of the time, I try to keep lunch light.
Do you ever get discouraged?
Oh yes. I think everyone does. I wish I could say I’m always motivated, but that would be a huge lie!
My biggest motivation is the feeling I get after my work out is over. I always feel my best after a sweaty run or a great strength session.
Since my weight loss was gradual, there were many times where I just wanted to say screw this and throw in the towel! But before I knew it, I was exactly where I wanted to be.
I have days where I eat more junk that I should, or weeks where I work out only once—but the important thing to remember is this: that one week or that one day will not make a difference in the long run. You slip up, you move on. Don’t dwell on the past because it’s exactly that: the past.
Getting beyond those hurdles is just as rewarding because you know you’re strong enough to push past that loss of motivation.
Once you get in the habit of living healthy to be healthy, there aren’t really any slip ups. It’s just life. I eat cookies, I skip work outs. No one is perfect, and that’s the way it should be.
Buy yourself a cute work out outfit, upload new tunes on your iPod, grab a work out buddy, join a gym…whatever it takes to get you started! Before you know it, you will only need one thing to motivate you: yourself.
Keep the questions coming! I’d love to do more Q&A or Reader’s Requests!