Thursday, May 7, 2015

Keep Grocery Shopping Simple

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when walking into the grocery store?  With all of the health claims and options available, grocery shopping can be a daunting task.  Below are some tips to consider to help make your grocery shopping experience a bit easier.

1. Go with a pre-made list. This helps decrease impulse buys and allows you to plan out balanced meals before buying the ingredients.  You can organize you list by aisles in the store or by food category (dairy, meat, produce, etc.)

2. Make sure you are not hungry.  The best time to shop is AFTER a meal, especially if you have a list.  If you are not hungry, you will most likely stick to the items on the list and skip the foods that sound good due to hunger.

3. Shop the store perimeter. Ever notice that all the fresh food is around edge of the store and all the boxed food is in the middle? This makes it very easy to shop for fresh and whole foods! The produce, meat, and dairy section are all around the edge of the store.  The more you make your way into the middle, the more you'll see processed, boxed foods that are not fresh options. 

4. Compare unit prices. On price labels, most stores list the price of the product and a unit price.  For example, a jar of peanut butter may cost $4.59, but the unit price is 22 cents per ounce.  Looking at the unit price will help you better compare different brands and food items.  This is a good tool to use if you are comparing products of different sizes.  A large jar of something may be more money total but cheaper per ounce, so you would be saving money in the long term.  Here is a picture of a price label with unit price listed:

5. Compare, Compare, Compare. Don't stop at unit prices, compare brands as well.  Store brands are often much cheaper than name brands because they do not spend money on advertising.  If you want to buy name brand, compare sales and coupons to still get a deal.

6. You CAN enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. To save money on fresh produce, most shoppers go for frozen or canned options.  You can still buy those fresh fruits and vegetables if you buy what is in season.  Buying watermelon in the winter would be expensive because it would have to be shipped from some far off place where watermelon is in season.  However, buying a produce item that is in season in your area will save you money.  If that fruit is not in season and you really want it, then go for the frozen option.

7. Buy in bulk. You save money on packaging costs if you buy a bulk item.  You must choose to items to buy in bulk wisely though, because you certainly cannot buy milk in bulk, it would go sour!  Look for those shelf-stable items that come in large quantities to save money on bulk items.

8. Always consider the option of "make it yourself".  Buying a frozen entrĂ©e, like dinners and pizzas, is very convenient, but it is often healthier and cheaper to make it yourself.  Find a frozen dinner you love and buy the ingredients to make it.  This way, you know exactly what is going into that meal and you skip out on additives like salt.  You'd also save money in the long run by purchasing the basic ingredients.

9. Avoid food waste. Have too much of a food that's about to spoil? Try using them in different ways around the kitchen. Use extra fruit in a smoothie or in baking, like using spotty bananas in a bread or muffin. If you have a whole loaf of bread that's about to mold, place it in the freezer and take out a piece at a time as you use it.

10. Spice it up! If you get tired of eating plain, steamed vegetables, look for spices in the store instead of turning to salt.  Spices that add great flavor include garlic powder, oregano, cracked pepper, minced onion, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.  Remember, some spices work good in combination, like oregano, cracked pepper, and garlic.

Created by Rebecca Kennedy, Dietetic Intern 2014-2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't get "Hangry"

With different classes and schedules, sometimes it is easy to skip a meal or only eat a small snack.  Then what happens? It gets to be dinner time and you are ready to FEAST! You are so hungry that everything looks delicious and it all goes in your mouth very quickly.  In this situation it does not seem like you are overeating, but that is exactly what is happening. Eating an excessive amount of calories at one meal is very confusing to your body.  Eating too much food after not eating at all encourages your body to hold on to every calorie and store the energy, because your body doesn’t trust you to give it fuel on a regular basis anymore! Also, it is very hard on your body’s processes, hormones, and enzymes to digest and absorb that much food at once.

Overeating can be avoided if you know how to keep your body fueled and happy! Here are some tips to help you prevent getting to that “hangry” state:

1. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Put the cookies and chips in the cupboard and keep fruit on the counter.

2. Don’t eliminate foods you enjoy eating—if you tell yourself you can’t have something it just makes you want it even more! Give yourself the option to eat whatever you feel like.

3. Find ways to cope from a hard day—write down what is stressing you out, call your Mom or a good friend to get things out, listen to music, go for a walk, or watch TV for 30 minutes.

4. Portion out food, DON’T EAT FROM THE CONTAINER!—don’t let yourself grab the whole bag of chips or pint of ice cream.  ALWAYS put a portion on a plate or bowl and finish that serving before you get more.

5. If you are hungry, bring in more variety to your snack—try changing up what you eat every time you get hungry.  Switch from salty to sweet to cool to chocolate and you’ll never get bored with eating a healthy snack

6. Stop midway through a snack of meal and analyze your hunger level:

Starving: An uncomfortable, empty feeling that may be accompanied by light-headedness or the jitters caused by low blood sugar levels from lack of food.

Hungry: Your next meal is on your mind. If you don't eat within the hour, you enter dangerous "starving" territory.

Moderately hungry: Your stomach may be growling, and you're planning how you'll put an end to that nagging feeling. This is optimal eating time.

Satisfied: You're satiated—not full, but not hungry, either. You're relaxed and comfortable.

Full: If you're still eating, it's more out of momentum than actual hunger. Your belly feels slightly bloated, and the food does not taste as good as it did in the first few bites.

Stuffed: You feel uncomfortable and might even have mild heartburn from your stomach acids creeping back up into your esophagus.

7. Spoil your appetite: Eat before a meal.  Have a small snack before a meal to prevent yourself from succumbing to cravings or a starving feeling.

8. Refuel every 4 hours—your body depletes its glucose stores every 4 hours and then sends cues to your brain that it needs more fuel.  Listen to your body cues!

9. Snack on Fiber during the day—fiber-full snacks help you stay full longer!

10. Drink water!!!! Keeping your stomach partially full of water will help control your hunger.

Written By: Rebecca Kennedy, SFA Dietetic Intern 2014-2015 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Into Shopping Seasonal & Local

Spring Into Shopping Seasonal & Local

It’s Spring! 
The weather will be getting warmer, the birds will be singing and the produce will be growing more plentiful and colorful!  Shopping local can include fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bread, milk, tea and nuts as well as other products like soap, jewelry, woodwork, and clothing among other things.  You can shop local at the Farmers’ Market, directly through the farm with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, and at local businesses and restaurants.

Spring is a great time to shop local at a place like your farmers’ market to take advantage of the season’s produce and great weather!  Though you may not know what to do with some produce items, you will find that many unfamiliar fruits and vegetables can be prepared much like some familiar items and can be easily researched for new recipes online!  You probably won’t be able to find everything you need at the local market, but can still try to support local by purchasing any available seasonal foods and products.    

Spring Produce Available
The produce is variable depending on length of seasons and other weather conditions.  During Spring in East Texas, the following produce might be available:
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beets                                                   
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Garlic 
  • Green Onions/ Leeks
  • Greens (kale, turnip, mustard, chard, spinach, etc)
  • Herbs (parsley, chives, sorrel, cilantro, dill, rosemary, etc.)
  • Lettuces 
  • Peas 
  • Potatoes 
  • Sweet Potatoes 
  • Radishes 
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Turnips   

Why shop Local?
You might ask why you should bother shopping local when there are grocery stores in every town.  While it is not necessary to try to survive completely on local seasonal foods, there are many benefits of shopping local: 

  •  Support the environment - You can reduce your carbon footprint by knowing that the local good used less energy during production and by traveling less distance in shipping. 
  •  Support your local economy – Shopping local keeps money within your community, helps to create jobs, and supports local business owners and farmers.
  •  Support your health – Research has shown that buying produce and food from local farmers and restaurants improves health due to the increased intake of fruits and vegetables, higher amounts of quality animal products generated through small farms, and a greater appreciation of the food system.
  • Support the process - Talking to the people who grow or home make the product you purchase is a gratifying feeling.  You can learn about the farm practices and even visit or work at the farms for an even greater experience connecting you to your food!
  •  Support the service – Local goods and services are generally quality and unique.  The service from owners of a local restaurant or market will usually be much more personal, knowledgeable, and memorable as they are more passionate about customer relationship and product quality. 

Looking for a fun way to shop local? 
Visit the Nacogdoches Farmers Market Spring Fling!  This Saturday, March 28 from 9:00am – 1:00pm there will be children’s activities, performances, and vendors with produce, soap, cheese, bread, jewelry and more!   The Nacogdoches Farmers Market is located on 107 W. Pearl Street in Nacogdoches, TX.

If you cannot make it this Saturday, remember that the Nacogdoches Farmers Market is open year round from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays, and during the week on Wednesdays when in peak growing seasons. 

For more information on the Nacogdoches Farmers’ Market visit:
For a recipe using spring vegetables visit:

Written by:  Hannah Dunahoe (Dietetic Intern for SFA Dining/Aramark)