By Jillian Teta
I know that some people can’t stand it, but one of my favorite things to do is go grocery shopping. I love seeing what looks good, what is in season and what sort of concoctions I can make from what is available. Like most of us seeking our optimal physique, I tend to shop around the periphery. Even though I do my best to mix things up, there is a list of foods that always finds its way into my cart.
Broccoli: My very first stop at the grocery store is the produce section, and that is where I spend the most time. Broccoli is one of my favorite veggies. It is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which are really powerful for women’s health. Additionally, broccoli is great for heart health as well. Rich in fiber and vitamin C, broccoli is a perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle.
Boxed Spinach: You ever notice how you can take a huge amount of spinach and cook it for a minute or two and that whole big pile reduces down to practically nothing? That is what I love about spinach, and what I really love about boxed spinach is that for one thing there is a lot of it and another it’s already washed! Spinach has great versatility. It can be cooked as is with a dash of pepper and garlic, added to an omelet or a scrambled, stuffed into a roast, or simply tossed on a plate as a base for salad. Spinach is rich in many vitamins and minerals.
Asparagus: What physique athlete or competitor has never heard of or eaten asparagus? This is a staple of those seeking leanness and fitness. These tasty stalks have a decent amount of fiber and contain less carbohydrate than broccoli. Asparagus has a diuretic effect, which means it helps your body to shed water. Asparagus is great stir-‐fried, roasted in the oven, or simply steamed. Look for firm stalks that don’t bend easily – they will be the yummiest!
Sweet Potatoes or Winter Squash: Sometimes I am a sweet potato purist, choosing only those, but at certain times of the year I will be enticed by the gorgeously shaped and colored winter squashes. All of the bright orange-‐red squashes and sweet potato varietals are rich in beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber and are a top-‐notch source of excellent quality carbohydrate that will keep your energy and mental focus up.
Apples: There is a huge variety of apples – try them all and see which ones you like. A medium apple has about 7 grams of fiber in it and is a good source of carbohydrate. Apples are rich in a particular type of fiber (pectin) that is great for gut health. Apples also contain trace minerals like boron. Apples are great for snacking – try them with a tablespoon of nut butter or with a handful of nuts; try them baked, steamed, as a sauce (homemade apple sauce = yummy), grated into stir-‐fries or oats.
Blueberries: These blue beauties are available year round if you buy them frozen. Packed with proline and vitamin C, they are great for collagen regeneration and will help improve the texture of your skin. Their deep blue-‐purple colored pigment coveys major benefit to your cardiovascular system. I often have a cup of frozen berries on the side of an omelet from breakfast, or as an after-dinner treat.
Eggs: Eggs are a convenient source of great protein. They are also extremely versatile. You can use them to make omelets, scrambles, frittatas and crust less quiches. You can hard boil them for a grab-‐and-‐go snack or meal, or poach them and top with spinach for a modified “Benedict”. We often reference egg whites, but don’t be scared of the yolks! The yolks are rich in phospholipids that nourish the brain and nerves, and boost the liver. Eggs that come from chickens that have been allowed to roam freely will also contain some Vitamin D in their yolks. One egg contains about 6 grams of protein.
Chicken Breast or Whole Chicken: Lately I have been dappling with roasting whole chickens, removing all of the meat and making a stock from what is left. I add veggies, garlic and herbs, boil it, and strain the whole thing out. It makes a great base for soups or to have a mineral-‐dense “as-‐is” broth. Chicken of course is a staple to the physique community, and one of our best loved and hated I am sure! IF you eat chicken 5 times a day it is easy to get sick of, so, try experimenting with different recipes and swap it up for turkey now and them. Protein-‐dense and lean, chicken is the one protein you want to hang on to.
Ground Bison: Another lean, delectable protein, bison is a yummy alternative to ground beef (although you are free to use lean ground beef as well). Some say bison tastes sweeter than beef. It is a great source of protein and the “meat-‐trients” (nutrients found only in meat) carnitine and taurine. It is a great source of iron as well. Use it to make patties to be wrapped in lettuce, topped with chopped onion, mustard, low sodium ketchup and whatever other fixings you enjoy, whip up a shell-‐ less taco salad or stir fry it up with broccoli and mushrooms. Bison is very hearty and satisfying.
Protein Powder: When I am prepping for a show, I like to use certain protein powders pre- and post-workout to deliver necessary amino acids to muscles at specific times. I have been doing a pea/rice blend from Vega brand, which is working well. I do a scoop of the VegaSport version pre-workout (higher in BCAAs, less carb) and do a scoop of Vega One (more of a meal replacement) post-workout. Many people will do great on whey powder post-workout as well, but as it is a dairy food, it’s important to make sure you don’t have a dairy sensitivity. Whey is also best if you are trying to put on muscle, because of its high BCAA content. If you are simply trying to maintain, eating real food post-workout is fine, or doing a pea/rice blend.
There are plenty of other healthy goodies that I mix in from week to week, but when I want to make sure I am on point, I always revert back to this list. What are your favorite healthy must-buys? ox Jillian
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