In honor of the veggie…(recipes galore!)

The Diane Rehm show featured an interesting discussion yesterday on new research suggesting that it may not be the vitamins and nutrients in fruits and vegetables that are so good for you, but rather their toxins. Here is a synopsis for the episode :

Your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables, but maybe not for the reasons you think. New research suggests it may not be the vitamins and nutrients in fruits and vegetables that are so good for you – it may be their toxins. Plants naturally produce chemicals to ward off insects and other would–be predators. When we eat fruits and vegetables,these chemicals stimulate our nerve cells and seem to boost our body’s resistance to disease. We hear more about the benefits of toxins in fruits and vegetables, and other anti-aging research.

Listen here!

In honor of the growing list of reasons why you should eat your veggies, here are some perfect summer, veggie-focused recipes!

We can’t talk veggie recipes without mentioning one of our favorite vegetarian food blogs, Cookie and Kate!

Check out this awesome recipe for Asian Chopped Kale Salad!

Healthy chopped kale salad with Asian flavors -

  • 1 bunch kale (preferably lacinato/Tuscan/dinosaur kale but regular curly kale works, too)
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped snow peas (slice off tough ends first)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 heaping cup organic edamame (if using frozen edamame, defrost by tossing into a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced into small chunks
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • handful Thai basil (or regular basil), chopped
Tamari-Ginger Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (or other low-sodium soy sauce*)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  1. Use a chef’s knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves in your hands and releasing until the kale is a darker green and fragrant. Toss the remaining salad dressing ingredients with the kale.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients until emulsified. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve.
Yields 2 enormous salads or 4 medium.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for a day or two.
*MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Tamari is a gluten-free Japanese soy sauce that has a flavor I love and is readily available at stores. If you want your salad to be gluten-free, be sure to pick a gluten-free soy sauce.
*MAKE IT SOY FREE: Switch jicama or cucumbers for edamame and remove the soy sauce and instead dilute a little chickpea miso with water and add 1 tbsp of that.
Inspired by my recent trip to Turkey, check out these sure to please dips for your 4th of July party!
Carrot Yogurt Dip


4 medium sized carrot, peeled and finely grated (use a food processor)
1 tbp olive oil
1 tsp salt and a bit more
1 cup natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
A gentle squeeze of lemon juice
A sprinkling of sumac, paprika or garnish with parsley or dried mint, your choice


In a large skillet, cook the carrot with the oil and some salt until just cooked through. Set aside to cool down a bit.

Mix the carrot with the yogurt, garlic. Taste for salt and add lemon juice if needed.

Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle sumac, paprika or garnish with parsley or dried mint, your choice.

Smoky Eggplant and Yogurt Puree

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds eggplant

2 garlic cloves, mashed in a mortar and pestle with a generous pinch of salt (more to taste)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup drained yogurt

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped fresh mint for garnish

1. Prepare a hot grill. Pierce the eggplants in a few places with the tip of a knife or with a skewer. Grill until they are uniformly charred and the flesh is very soft and beginning to ooze. Transfer to a bowl, and cover tightly. Allow the eggplants to cool until you can handle them, then remove their skins and stems and discard any juice in the bowl.

2. Transfer the eggplant pulp to a food processor fitted with the steel blade or to a bowl. Mash with a fork, or purée in the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients, and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings. The purée will be slightly runny, but it will stiffen up. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm or room temperature with pita bread or crudités.

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups, serving six.

Advance preparation: Although this is best served warm, you may prepare it hours ahead and serve it at room temperature, or reheat for about 30 seconds in a microwave.

Nutritional information per serving: 65 calories; 3 grams fat; 1 gramsaturated fat; 2 milligrams cholesterol; 8 grams carbohydrates; 4 gramsdietary fiber; 5 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 2 grams protein


Summer 2015 Sunscreen Guide


Hall of Shame for Worst Sunscreens

We just spent a wonderful family vacation at the beach!!  With a total of 7 cousins under FIVE, Sunscreen was definitely on everyone’s minds!!  My FITmama pick for Best Sunscreen was California Baby.  Before you head out to the pool, park, or beach, be sure to checkout the report below by the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Hall Of Shame.

When deciding on sunscreen this summer for you and the kids, be sure to checkout whether your pick is good, bad, or shameful! Those in the “shameful” category are not only a waste of money and time but also potentially harmful. Here are the EWG’s picks for products to banish from your beach bag.

  • Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
  • SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
  • Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.
  • Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.

11 Worst Spray Sunscreens

These sunscreens are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Ultra Defense MAX Skin Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray Sunscreen, SPF 70
Coppertone Sport High Performance Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sheer Mist Spray Sunscreen, SPF 70
CVS Sport Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85
Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85+

12 Worst Sunscreen Lotions

These sunscreen lotions claim SPFs above 50+ and contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Liquid Sunscreen, SPF 70
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids

These terrible kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Two have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.

Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

How the EWG picked the Hall of Shame

1) Spray sunscreens

One in every four sunscreens in this year’s database is a spray. People like sprays because they’re easy to squirt on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas. But they may pose serious inhalation risks, and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.

The FDA has expressed doubts about their safety and effectiveness but hasn’t banned them. As long as they’re legal, sunscreen manufacturers will make them.

2) Sky-high SPFs

One eighth of the sunscreens we evaluated this year boast SPFs above 50+. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” but that outdated term refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It has little to do with a product’s ability to protect skin from UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system and may cause skin cancer.

The worst thing about high-SPF products is that they give people a false sense of security and tempt them to stay in the sun too long. They suppress sunburns but raise the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering barring SPF above 50+.

3) Oxybenzone

Half of the beach and sport sunscreens in this year’s guide contain oxybenzone, an active ingredient in sunscreens. But it penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions. Some research studies, while not conclusive, have linked higher concentrations of oxybenzone to disorders, including endometriosis in older women and, lower birth weights in newborn girls.

4) Retinyl palmitate

Nearly 20 percent of the sunscreens and SPF-rated moisturizers and 13 percent of SPF-rate lip products in this year’s guide contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. Night creams with this chemical may help skin look more youthful. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Why does the FDA allow this “inactive ingredient” in sunscreens intended for use in the sun? The agency has been studying the chemical for years but hasn’t made a decision. We have. The definitive study may not have been done, but we think we know enough to believe you’re better off without sunscreens with retinyl palmitate.

Click here to find out how your sunscreen rates!! 

Stay Safe:)



Summer Vacation Survival Guide

Hi all!

Sorry for the lack of posting last week but FITintheCITY was on summer vacation in Turkey! Here are a few pics from Cappadocia:




The view from the Argos Hotel

IMG_0785Enjoying Turkish Wines!

IMG_0781 (1)

Tom and Liz enjoying the sites


From the awesome Pigeon Valley Hike

We also visited (and by visited, I mean ate our way through Istanbul)…which leads us to the FIT-portion of this post. How can one “enjoy” summer vacation and explore a new city without packing on lbs??

Here are my top 3 tips for summer-vacation survival:

1. Walk, walk, walk. It is not only THE best way to explore a new city, but it definitely allows for you to enjoy that extra Kebab or glass of Turkish wine.

2. Practice Moderation. Try everything but keep the portions small and pick your bigger meals. For our vacation, it seemed like dinner was the thing, so I stuck to salads at lunch and eggs for breakfast so that I could really enjoy dinner.

3. Don’t overeat or drink alcohol on the flights. Especially for those longer flights, pack some healthy snacks and stick with them. On this trip, I was basically sedentary for almost 2 full days of an 8 day vacation so I stuck to seeds and salads. Pass on the in-flight meal if you can. It is (almost) never good and it is (almost) always full of sodium and way too large. You generally eat out of boredom, not hunger when you fly. And stick to water!! Alcohol dehydrates you even more and when you are dehydrated, you tend to feel hungry. Oh and there are calories in alcohol (even though we like to forget that fun-fact sometimes).

Lastly…remember that no “damage” cannot be undone. If you overdid it a bit on vacation, just commit to super clean eating and no alcohol when you return from your trip. One week of daily exercise and vegetables galore will offset your overindulgence.

Where are our FIT-Friends heading this summer??