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heart healthy local food

Go local with 7 healthy breakfast foods

A healthy start for every taste

By the Veggie Fairy Team

A good day starts with a good, healthy breakfast. That means different things to different people, depending on what each individual’s body needs to comfortably break the night’s fast.

From some of us, it’s a hearty meal of eggs, toast, and fruit. For others, it’s a simple cup of coffee.

Whatever your personal power breakfast may be, you’ll get more out of it when you get it from a local source you trust — you can be sure it’ll be fresher and richer in flavor and nutrients.

So let’s take a closer look at seven of the best things you can eat when you roll out of bed.

pasture-raised eggs

#1 PASTURE-RAISED EGGS
#2 WHOLE GRAIN BREAD

We Veggie Fairies get our pasture-raised eggs from Authenticity Farms in Amelia, Va., where the girls spend their days in the sunshine foraging for grass, seeds, and bugs — all the things chickens naturally eat. Thanks to their own healthy diet, they produce eggs that are healthier for us too – and sooo delicious!

A pasture-raised egg looks different from an industrial farmed egg (even if it’s “cage-free” or so-called “free-range”). A pasture-raised yolk is deep orange surrounded by a thick, milky white. On top of more flavor, it offers higher amounts of vitamin A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA.

A pasture-raised egg offers the highest quality protein, too, second only to the lactalbumin protein in a human mother’s milk. Eating eggs for breakfast increases your feeling of fullness, so you’ll eat fewer calories for lunch and even out your blood sugar and insulin levels. (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Many studies have shown that a pasture-raised egg aren’t just a healthy breakfast food — it’s a true superfood. This study
found that compared to industrial farmed eggs, pasture-raised eggs may contain:

  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 3-6 times more vitamin D (thanks to hanging out in all that sunshine!)
  • More K2, B12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, and calcium
  • More antioxidants that help prevent eye trouble like cataracts, according to this study and this study
  • More choline your brain and liver depend on to stay healthy
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 1/3 less cholesterol – that said, eggs don’t actually raise cholesterol levels in most of us. On the contrary, eggs may reduce your risk of heart disease risk by modifying the shape of “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, and improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Enjoy your eggs with whole grain toast – your online farmers market has a variety of healthful breads to suit your taste buds. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a number of studies have shown that eating whole grain foods within an overall healthy diet helps to lower your risk for many diseases, including stroke, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and colorectal cancer.

    Whole grains are also rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system, and control weight. (If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, be sure to opt for gluten-free options.)

    So in the morning, sit down to toast and eggs cooked any way you like them, or grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs for a portable breakfast on the go.

    Read more about Authenticity Farms humane farming practices and their pasture-raised eggs here.

    local granola

    3. OATS
    4. NUTS
    5. YOGURT

    Combine the first two of these healthy breakfast foods and they add up to… granola! Our granola is made in small batches by Hudson Henry Baking Co. in Palmyra, Va.

    Oats contain a unique fiber called oat beta-glucan which, among other things, reduces cholesterol. Thanks to this fiber, oats make you feel full, like eggs. Oats are also rich in antioxidants that may boost your heart health and lower your blood pressure. (Oats don’t have gluten, but they’re often contaminated with it from being processed with other grains. So if gluten’s an issue, look for oats that are certified gluten-free.)

    The nuts in granola are filling and help prevent weight gain (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source). Nuts are high in magnesium, potassium, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They’ve been shown to improve heart disease risk factors, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and decrease inflammation. Yeah, they’re high in calories, but scientists have tested almonds and found that you don’t absorb all the fat – in the case of a one-ounce serving, your body only absorbs about 129 calories.

    To boost the protein content of a nice nutty granola breakfast, toss a few handfuls on top of yogurt. We get our yogurt from sustainable artisans like Mountain View Farm in Fairfield, Va. In addition to leave you feeling satisfied, full-fat yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid, which may increase fat loss and decrease breast cancer risk.

    All together, oats, nuts, and yogurt add up to a breakfast of healthy champions!

    local berries

    6. FRUIT, FRESH OR FROZEN

    Fresh fruits are arguably the healthy breakfast foods. All fruits contain vitamins, potassium, fiber, and are relatively low in calories.

    To get your vitamin C on, savor one large, Florida-grown orange while they’re in our winter-time market. It’ll give you more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.

    So will a cup of strawberries. In fact, all berries are mini superfoods. They’re packed with antioxidants, including anthocyanins that protect your heart and may help you age better. They reduce inflammation, too.

    To keep you supplied with fresh-picked berries during berry season, we rely on local farmers like the Geyer family of Agriberry Farm in Hanover, Va.

    local coffee

    7. COFFEE

    Believe it or not, a cup of Joe is a healthy breakfast food — not to mention an excellent way to jumpstart your day. And it’s not just the caffeine – a 2005 study found that, believe it or not, coffee is the number-one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. That’s because we drink so much of it. Doctors say it’s actually best if you get most of your antioxidants from things like berries.

    But the antioxidants in coffee are icing on the cake. And combined with caffeine, coffee is surprisingly good for you. Coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes and prostate cancer, and it may even help you live longer. It reduces inflammation, protects the cells lining your blood vessels, and decreases liver disease risk.

    Sip some caffeine and it’s been shown to improve mood, alertness, and mental performance. In addition to waking you up, caffeine also increases your metabolic rate and fat burning. Just 100 mg of caffeine can help you burn an extra 79–150 calories in a day.

    Even the little bit you get in decaf can benefit you. An analysis of 41 studies reported that you can maximize the benefits while limiting the side effects if you get 38–400 mg per day (18). Depending on the strength of the coffee, that’s about one-third of a cup to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day.

    We Veggie Fairies like our coffee with a conscience. So we get our caffeine fix from local roasters like Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters in Gloucester, Va. Celeste and Jo source their beans from small plantations that they’ve personally vetted, and continuously give back their community, with a focus on keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean and healthy. Read their story here.
    *
    So to get your day off to a great start (even better than a good one!), make one or all of these 7 great local breakfast foods part of your morning routine!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    heart healthy local food

    Celebrate American Heart Month with heart-healthy local foods

    This month, show your heart some love!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    While Valentines are nice, a healthy ticker is even better! February is American Heart Month, and it’s the perfect time to start getting into the habit of keeping heart-healthy foods on hand.

    We’ve rounded up our top 10 heart-healthy, local foods, recommended by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the Cleveland Clinic. Some of these items are available year-round, and some are seasonal, so keep an eye out when you’re browsing our online farmers market. If you put a few of the foods on this list in your Seasonal Roots basket each week, your heart will love you for it!

    heart healthy leafy greens

    #1 Dark leafy greens

    Leafy greens are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to heart health. Examples include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, and watercress. These tasty greens are grown locally all year round and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Try using these greens in sandwiches instead of lettuce, or mix them up for a heart-healthy salad.

    heart healthy whole grains

    #2 Whole grain items

    Opt for whole grains when you can; this applies to items such as pasta, breads, cereals, and crackers. In their original, unprocessed state, whole grains still have the outer layers that contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber, plus carbohydrates, protein, and healthy, unsaturated fats. So grains like whole wheat, oats, and kasha provide more heart-healthy fiber than white flour. Bonus: They’re more filling too!

    heart healthy tomatoes

    #3 Tomatoes

    This versatile fruit masquerading as a vegetable can be added to most savory dishes — think salads, pastas, eggs, and sandwiches. In addition to antioxidants, tomatoes are high in potassium, which can help control high blood pressure.

    heart healthy acorn squash

    #4 Red, yellow, and orange veggies

    Many studies show that carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and acorn squash are packed with carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins that are beneficial for your heart. So cook with color and eat the rainbow!

    heart healthy legumes hummus

    #5 Hummus

    Legumes in general are great for your circulation, and hummus is chock-full of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), which is a type of legume. The olive oil in hummus is good for your heart, too! A study showed that eating legumes four times a week (compared to once a week) was associated with a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

    heart healthy berries

    #6 Berries

    Everybody loves berries, and local berry season is coming soon! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in fiber and antioxidants, especially when you eat them in season — at their flavorful and nutritional peak. There’s evidence that getting your antioxidant vitamins from food is much more effective and beneficial than getting them from supplements. So go ahead and grab another helping of berries!

    heart healthy tofu

    #7 Tofu

    If you’ve never cooked with tofu, don’t be intimidated! Try tofu in a flavorful stir-fry with fresh veggies for a heart-healthy lunch or dinner. Research indicates that including more soy foods like tofu in your diet may have cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering blood pressure. The prepared vegan meals in your online farmers market are a super-easy and tasty way to get your tofu, whether your a tofu newbie or a tofu super fan.

    heart healthy asparagus

    #8 Asparagus

    According to the NIH, asparagus is filled with mighty nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate, and fiber. This tender, sweet vegetable is delicious when roasted and drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Plus, asparagus only has 25 calories per cup (or about 5 calories per large spear) – win-win!

    heart healthy broccoli

    #9 Broccoli

    Crisp, fresh broccoli florets dipped in hummus are an extra powerful snack with a whopping list of heart-healthy nutrients, including vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to bile in the gut (which is made up of cholesterol) and removing it with the body’s waste.

    heart healthy chocolate red wine

    #10 Dark chocolate & red wine

    Since this is Cupid’s month, we veggie fairies are happy to report that dark chocolate and red wine are both good for your heart! (Based on personal experience, there are definitely some days when wine and chocolate are really good for mental health, too. Just sayin’…!) The Cleveland Clinic put dark chocolate up against red wine to see if one is better for you than the other. Find out which one was the winner here!

    SO IN CONCLUSION…
    By eating these foods locally when they’re freshly made or in season, you’re maximizing the nutritional benefits for your heart. Other heart-healthy staples to keep on hand include nuts like almonds and walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, canned or dried legumes, and quinoa (a grain that’s a great source of protein and rich in fiber). So with a clink of our glasses of red wine we say: Here’s to your heart!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

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