Nutrition: The Real MVP!

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We all know that nutrition is an important player in any sport, but have you considered the role that snacking can play on and off the field? This past Friday Gourmet Gorilla hosted the Chicago Kics United Soccer team, where the players learned all about how healthy snacking can give them an edge in their games!

The night began with the young all-stars watching a video on healthy eating and sports, followed by a discussion on two important parts of any any athlete's menu; carbohydrates and protein, and how to integrate them into your snacking routine. Two important components of healthy snacking are power snacks, which are rich in carbohydrates and proteins, and energy boost snacks, which are great for getting in those necessary carbohydrates. Our team member and resident dietitian, Samantha Sullivan, walked the players through the snacking timeline of when to have a power snack versus an energy boosting snack. Have a game starting in an hour or two and want staying power to outlast your opponent on the field? Try putting together a power snack like a smoothie or fruit with nut butter. Have thirty minutes before you game starts and want an extra jump start to give you the advantage? Try a energy boosting snack like a small bag of pretzels or half a cup of yogurt to help you start your game strong. Just won the big game and looking to celebrate while replenishing your empty energy stores? Make another power snack like a bean and cheese quesadilla with your teammates to celebrate a job well done!

The night was finished off with a recap on the importance of healthy eating and a sampling of two power snacks; the Strawberry Banana Stamina smoothie and the Mighty Mercy Sunbutter Smoothie, both excellent choices for healthy snacking!

It’s important for athletes to keep a healthy diet for their performances both on the field and off of it. In addition to working power and energy boost snacks into your diet during game time, be sure to eat a variety of foods during the off season and in between games as well, including lean proteins, whole grains, dairy, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

What’s in Season: Spinach, Carrots & Broccoli

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At long last, the weather is warming up. Here in Chicago, late spring weather brings a few welcomed changes—like it’s finally time to put winter jackets in storage (at least for a few months). The change in weather also means it’s time to take advantage of Illinois’ late spring growing window by planting some of your favorite fruit and vegetable crops. Here are a few plants that we love, and grow well around this time of the year.

Spinach, a cool weather vegetable, is an easy crop for any aspiring farmer to populate their first garden, and are compact enough to grow in a window sill planter. With preferred growing temperatures between 40°F and 70°F, Spinach is well equipped to survive Illinois’ often unpredictable spring climate. After buying a spinach starter, plant in moist, nitrogen-rich soil, at 4 to 6 inches apart. In just a few weeks, your spinach will be ready to harvest and enjoyed raw in salads, or cooked down in pastas and sautés.

A hearty, frost-resistant root vegetable, carrots are as appealing in the garden, or window sill planter, as they are on your dinner plate. When searching for the ideal location, look for a space in full-sun, ideally with sandy, well-drained soil. Carrots mature in approximately 2 ½ months, but you can harvest whenever the desired size and maturity is reached. After harvest, carrots offer a wide range of uses ranging from roasting, to serving raw with your favorite dip. If you harvest more than you can eat right away, pickled carrots are a delicious snack that lengthens their shelf life to over a year.

Broccoli grows best in cold weather, with full sun and rich soil, and requires more space than carrots or spinach. Plant your broccoli starters roughly 18 inches apart, in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sun daily. These plants enjoy a steady source of moisture and plenty of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. After 2 to 3 months your broccoli heads should be ready for harvest. While they aren’t commonly sold at grocery stores, broccoli leaves aren’t just edible, but they’re also packed with nutrients. They can be cooked down in sautés similarly to kale, or baked in the oven with salt, pepper and olive oil to make delicious broccoli-leaf chips.

Don’t have a green thumb? Not a problem! You can support your local farmers at weekend farmers markets or signing up for a CSA. We’re excited to source spinach this summer from local Chicago farms including Growing Home and Windy City Harvest

On the Go!

It’s that crazy time of the year again. Between Spring Break, kids wrapping up school, and the start of spring after school activities it seems like you’re always on the run. With always being on the go it is vital that you and your busy little ones are putting the right fuel in your bodies! Check out this easy snack that is perfect for refueling and makes a great alternative to stopping at the closest fast food joint. Enjoy!

Sunbutter & Jelly Sushi Rolls
Nutrient Highlight: Sunbutter is a great substitute for peanut butter if there is an allergy present or you’re just looking for an alternative! Protein from the sunbutter and the whole grains from the bread is the perfect mix to boost your energy and keep you full until your next meal! Sunbutter also contains the antioxidant vitamin E which fights inflammation and is great for your hair and nails! 
Ingredients:

 

- 2 Tbsp. Sunbutter (Any seed or nut butter can be used)

- 2 Tbsp Strawberry or Grape Jam

- 2 Slices Whole Grain Bread

Directions:
Remove crust from bread and with a rolling pin flatten bread. 
Spread 1 tbsp of sunbutter and 1 tbsp of jelly on each slice of bread. 
Roll each slice into a tight spiral. Cut the rolled bread into 4 pieces

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics planned, nutritious snacks are an important aspect of a child’s daily routine. The majority of young children and teens need to eat every three to four hours to meet MyPlate recommendations. Planned, healthy snacks help can kids maintain a healthy weight. A few tips to remember when it comes to snacking:

1.) Wait a few hours after a meal and one to two hour before the next meal to offer a snack. This will help reduce skipping meals.

2.) It is important that snacking is done in a controlled environment. When children eat all over the house it is hard to control what AND how much is being consumed.

3.) Avoid letting children snack while watching tv. Studies have shown that watching tv and eating can lead to mindless eating resulting in eating too much.

Try introducing our new trail mix to your child's daily routine! It is the perfect balance of healthy and fun. Filled with sunflower & pumpkin seeds, raisins, & chocolate chips it packs a nutritious punch with each bite. Sunflower & pumpkin seeds are filled with powerful protein keeping your kiddo full until the next meal!  Raisins are rich in iron which helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, this is crucial for the growth and development.

Snacking, when done right, can be extremely beneficial to the health of your little one. Keep an eye out for our new Trail Mix making an appearance on a Snack Menu near you!

Let the Children Have Their Say!

Good nutrition is critical in the growth and development of your children. Making sure your kids have enough food and the right type of food will help them stay focused in school, grow strong, and prevent them from developing chronic diseases. One of the most crucial parts of having kids develop a good relationship with healthy food is providing them with a wide variety of healthy options. From those healthy options then allowing them have a say in which one they’re going to pick and how much. Giving them variety to pick from lets them try and experience foods they never have before.

Over the past two weeks at our new Education Space, we’ve been focusing on letting the kids have a say in what they are eating. They’ve had an opportunity to taste what we are currently making as well as design and build their own meals with a hands on approach. They were able to choose from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and whole grains and allowing them to build their own meals.  Not only have them come up with some very creative and delicious meals, but have also helped us develop some awesome meal names! Keep an eye out for some of our new menu name which will start to appear on the Spring men, along with more nutrition and cooking classes for you to bring your groups.

Nutrition is so important, especially in our growing children! Help your children make the right choices by providing variety and letting them have a voice in what is going in their bodies!

Start the New Year Refreshed

More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.”

― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

A New Year is upon us! 2017 holds so much opportunity. So much promise. How are you going to make the best of 2017?! This year Gourmet Gorilla is continuing to strive to deliver fresh, delicious, and nutritious meals to the kids of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin.  We are also striving towards creating the best possible work environment for our staff. We are  focusing in on stress management by making time to smile more, judge less, love more, and take a deep breath to de-stress.

Over the last month we have examined what would be the best way as a company to take a few hours a week to stop and refocus. After exploring many different stress management options we have found that the most beneficial would be Yoga and Tai Chi.

Yoga is considered a mind-body practice that brings together physical and mental disciplines to help achieve peacefulness of the body and mind. Research has shown that by taking a few hours a week to stop and practice this discipline it can result in multiple positive health effects. It has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood and overall well being. It can lead to improved fitness due to the physical strains of practicing different poses which enhance flexibility, range of motion, and strength. Yoga has also been shown to help manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Some studies have also shown that yoga has helped alleviate symptoms of depression, pain, anxiety, and depression.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that today is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It is a different type of meditative movement but still considered a form of yoga. Tai Chi was originally developed for self defense but is now used more as a form of exercise that focuses on stress reduction and help to manage other health conditions. Research has shown that Tai Chi has shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, it improves mood and aerobic capacity.  Tai Chi has been shown to increase energy and stamina, improve flexibility and agility, and improve muscle strength and definition.  Studies have shown that it can enhance quality of sleep, enhance the immune system, help lower blood pressure, improve joint pain, improve symptoms of congestive heart failure, reduce fall risk in older adults, and improve overall well-being.

By taking these few hours of the week we have  been able to refocus. It is helping us achieve a new level of positivity in the office, allowing us to think at a higher level, and helping us find inner motivation to continue to provide the best possible food to our schools and programs.  With all the craziness of life don’t be afraid to take a step back to smile more, judge less, love more, and take a deep breath to de-stress. Stress is hard on the body and mind. You deserve it. Join us in starting this year de-stressed and ready to take on 2017.

Happy 2017! 

Check out our awesome Tai Chi instructor, Stirling Levine: http://www.stirlingtaichi.com/

Don't Throw Away Those Scraps

 

At Gourmet Gorilla we are continually working towards reducing waste. As a society, whether we are on the supply or demand end, we have a serious food waste problem. One small step in the right direction for us as consumers is to reduce food waste by recycling food scraps. There are so many great ways to reuse food scraps so think twice next time before throwing out those orange peels! Below we put together some great tips for putting common kitchen scraps to use.

Avocado Pits →

– Save your guacamole. Keep your guacamole from going brown by putting the pit in the dip.

– Dry, grind, and put them in a homemade face mask as an exfoliant or in a smoothie for extra antioxidants.

Broccoli Stems →

– Turn them into baby food

– Shred them in place of cabbage in coleslaw

– Freeze and add to stir-fry

Citrus Peels →

– Use lemon, lime or orange peels to infuse water

– Throw citrus peels in your garbage or garbage disposal to de-stink it!

– Infuse your vinegar with citrus to make cleaning smell nicer

Regrowth → save your stems and regrow your food scraps!

– Pineapple

– Green onions

– Lettuce

– Garlic

– Ginger

Eggshells →

– Grind up eggshells and add to potting soil or sprinkle directly onto the garden. It will add a healthy dose of calcium to your garden to promote growth.

Let us know of any other scraps you use around the house!