The smartest way to store fruits and veggies

I have this weird thing where I’m paranoid about my food going bad. So I eat it up like crazy. Not the best habit. I also have this thing (that I totally hate) where I get totally judgey when I see someone storing their produce wrong. Tomatoes in the fridge - no way! If you’re feeling paranoid, confused, or concerned about me judging - no fear! The realm of fruit and veggie storage may not be the most familiar, but I promise it’s easy peasy. Follow below to help your happy produce last for days.

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LEAFY GREENS

  • Store in the fridge in an airtight bag or container
  • These you can can wash either before storage or at time of eating
  • Pro-tip: I've had luck wrapping the greens in a damp paper towel and then storing the whole bundle in a produce bag to prolong shelf life. If you’re not into bags or clunky containers, one of farmers  market friends recommending wrapping a bunch of greens in a damp tea towel. I have yet to try and will report back!

BANANAS, AVOCADOS, TOMATOES

  • Don't ruin these guys by keeping them in the fridge! Like stone fruit, these ripen on the counter and are tastiest at room temp
  • They emit a gas called ethylene that quickens the ripening of other produce
  • Pro-tip: I do place avocados in the fridge once they're ripe to slow the process, but, as I’m sure you’ve experienced the road from perfection to mushy mess is a quick one. It's definitely better to just eat them at that sweet spot instead!

STONE FRUIT (peaches, plums, nectarines, etc)

  • These should live on the counter and will ripen at room temperature
  • Once ripe you can store in the fridge to prolong shelf life
  • The exception here is cherries, which want to stay refrigerated
  • Pro-tip: If you’ve overdone it and find yourself with an excess of ripe stone fruit, and aren’t feeling up a pie or jam sesh, slice those juicy babies and pop in the freezer for an off season (and convenient - yes!) treat

ROOT VEGGIES

  • Most root vegetables love cool, dark storage
  • Potatoes, garlic, and onions want to be out of direct light and out of the fridge
  • I do often keep turnips (especially those cute small guys that are around this time of year), beets, and carrots in the fridge, but as long as your kitchen isn't too hot these can last at room temperature for some time
  • Cabbage is another good storage vegetable that can go either way. I keep mine refrigerated, especially in the summer when the house temperature tends to be warmer
  • Radishes tend to be fragile, so keep refrigerated
  • Pro-tip: cut the leafy end from the veggie part of radishes, turnips, and beets to keep each part lasting longest. If kept on and stored for a bit, both parts fade faster. Definitely keep those greens for a nice sauté, addition to pasta, or funky pesto
If you’ve overdone it and find yourself with an excess of ripe stone fruit, and aren’t feeling up a pie or jam sesh, slice those juicy babies and pop in the freezer for an off season (and convenient - yes!) treat

HERBS

  • Like leafy greens, these belong in the fridge; put them in a bag or, like the greens, wrap in a damp towel and then store in a plastic bag
  • You can also keep herbs fresh in the fridge by placing in a jar of water like a bouquet of flowers

CITRUS

  • Up to you! There are 2 camps here and I’m a party of both
  • I keep most citrus in the fridge, but the sticklers recommend eating grapefruit, oranges, clementines, etc at room temperature for best flavor
  • According to people who have done their research, lemons and limes last a long time kept in the fridge in a plastic bag

BERRIES

  • Store these UNWASHED and in the fridge
  • I recommend picking out any moldy or sad pieces before storing to maintain the integrity of the rest of the bunch
  • Of  course, wash at time of eating.

Almost everything else

  • Eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, corn, celery, artichokes, apples, asparagus are best in the fridge as well. Most want to be sealed for longevity

Any storage tips I'm missing? Let me know in the comments.

5 ways to prevent runner's trots

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I just found out that Runner’s Diarrhea is alternatively known as Runner’s Trots. Trots! I love that name! Trots, themselves, however? That’s one thing I certainly do not love.

What are these trots I speak of?

Long-distance running sometimes has the unfortunate side effect of an upset stomach. We’re talking frequent, loose bowel movements and/or cramping during or after a run.

Why?

The cause isn’t 100% clear, but is likely related to a few factors:

  • Muscles have increased needs for oxygen when they’re working hard. This means blood flow is diverted from other places, like your gut, to help them out.

  • When you’re bounding down the road your organs are moving too. All of that jostling might make them cranky.

  • Running is accompanied by a host of physiological changes. Alterations in intestinal hormone secretion could be the cause.

  • If y ou’re racing or just have mixed feelings about running, anxiety is a possible culprit.

Racing season is here! How to prevent the dreaded Trots?

  • Eat at least two hours before running. Aim for fiber-free carbs + protein. Go easy on the fat. Try: hard-boiled egg and white toast, bagel and nut butter, yogurt and banana.
  • Get to know your body. Berries and whole grain breads are chock-full of fiber, but they don’t bother me before a run. Experiment and learn what works for your body before, after, and during a run. Keeping a journal may help identify triggers.
  • Hydrate well and often, but also with caution. Drink up the day before a long run. Fluid is good before you head out, too, just take it easy. Drink slowly and moderately to avoid the sloshy feeling once you start. Sip along the way when you’re feeling thirsty. Water is best, as electrolyte drinks might exacerbate a cranky belly.
  • Beware the day before. If you’re sensitive, you might want to steer clear of possible trigger foods the day before you run. Common culprits include: cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale), beans, fried foods, dairy, caffeine, sugar-free products, and alcohol.
  • Commercial fuel may not be your friend. If you’re out there for a while, you might need some energy on the go. Gels, goos, chews, and bars don’t sit well with a lot of athletes. Be sure to take them with water, and if they don’t work for you, don’t fear! Try whole food alternatives made of simple carbs and sugars: pretzels, banana, sweet potato, honey packets, fig bar.

Keep calm and run on! Not everyone experiences running-related GI distress. Stress can only add to the risk. But if the feeling strikes, by all means find a restroom!

Smartphone dieters shed more pounds

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Looking to lose weight, but stuck in a diet rut? Your smartphone may be the missing link.

Logging eating and exercise on a mobile device can enhance weight loss when done in conjunction with a weight loss plan, indicates research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in December 2013.

In a trial of 69 primarily male overweight adults, those who added mobile technology and telephone coaching to a standard weight loss program lost nearly nine more pounds than those who participated in the program alone. The biggest losers were the ones who used the tool consistently and attended classes regularly.

The technology may have helped participants lose more weight because tracking allowed for greater support and accountability suggests lead researcher Bonnie Spring, PhD, of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Tracking your diet and activity on a smartphone or similar device is an easy step to a slimmer you. The difficulty lies in selecting from the scores of available apps the one that works best for you. Look for one like MyFitnessPal that allows you to track calories and exercise, or better yet, one like LoseIt! that also offers an online support community with others looking to slim down.

Everything you need to know about cranberry supplements

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Cranberry has long been named in the Super Food Hall of Fame, and for good reason. It serves up a powerful punch of adored antioxidants, contains a fair dose of vitamins C, E and K, and, as a berry, is a healthy provider of dietary fiber (keep in mind that when we’re talking cranberries we mean that tart, hard fruit, and not its processed twins Cranberry Cocktail and dried cranberry).

For me, cranberries made a few annual appearances in my mom’s classic cranberry salad, but stayed low on my radar until a round of UTIs desperately drove me on a hunt for pure cranberry juice. I learned to drink it straight and later prescribed myself a periodic regimen of supplementation with cranberry pills. I was hooked. But since I’ve begun sharing my nutritional wisdom with strangers (my patients) who inquire about all sorts of nutrition myths, I’m less concerned about anecdotal success and more interested in what the science actually says.

Cranberries, usually as juice or pills, have a reputation for preventing and/or mitigating symptoms of UTIs. This makes sense for a few reasons. First, cranberries contain a substance that may inhibit bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, limiting the chances of acquiring an infection. Second, consumption of cranberry may create an anti- inflammatory response that reduces symptoms and lowers the severity of a UTI episode.

How does this hold up in the real world? A 2012 review of 24 studies found a small trend of decreased UTIs in a population drinking cranberry juice compared to those taking a placebo, but the findings were not significant. Other reviews, however, did find significant reduction in new UTIs with either juice or pills, though many of these studies had small sample sizes, which limits their credibility. The most notable findings I tracked down were in a 24-week study published this year with a sample size of over 300 participants. The participants, who all had a history of recent and recurrent UTIs, drank 8 ounces of cranberry or placebo over the course of a day. Researchers found a significant reduction in new UTIs in the cranberry group.

What does this mean for us? I feel like this is yet another instance where research can support or discredit just about anything. Here the findings are not so much conflicting as they are just not overwhelmingly positive.

The thing to keep in mind, I think, is that even if cranberry supplementation is not a sure bet in UTI prevention, a daily dose of pills or juice does not seem lead to any undesirable side effects. If you’re a frequent UTI victim, it might be worth giving cranberry a try.