Balanced Health Archives - ig2go

Boost Your Immunity This November with our Nutrient-Packed Menu

Intelligent Gourmet was created to take the guess work out of eating healthy. We don’t expect the average consumer to be nutrition experts That is why our menu items are carefully crafted to offer a wide range of nutrient-dense, delicious options. From hearty soups to protein-packed meals, sides and immunity boosting wheat grass shots, we’ve got the perfect options to keep you in peak condition throughout the season. Don’t let the colds get you down—enjoy the benefits of staying healthy with us.

As the days grow shorter, and temperatures drop in the evening, November signals the onset of the holiday season. It’s a time filled with gatherings, but it can also bring colds and busy schedules. At Intelligent Gourmet, we value your health, and we’re here to share valuable insights and tips on staying healthy and vibrant this November.

Keeping your immune system robust is crucial to fend off cold viruses. Incorporate these vitamin and mineral-rich foods to naturally bolster your immunity.

Vitamin C:
  • Vital for health due to its roles in supporting the immune system, acting as an antioxidant, and aiding collagen production. It also benefits cardiovascular and brain health.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and more.
Vitamin D:
  • Essential for a strong immune system and for promoting healthy bones through calcium and phosphate absorption.
  • You can obtain vitamin D from fatty fish (salmon, black cod trouts, tuna), fortified dairy products, and egg yolks. Sunlight exposure is a primary source, and supplementation may be considered.
Zinc:
  • Zinc is a supplement prescribe by health care as the ultimate immunity booster. Imagine incorporating it daily  through food.
  • Zinc can be found in lean meats like pork tenderloin, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains such as farro.
Vitamin A:
  • Vitamin A is the magic ingredient to maintain the integrity of your skin because it is involved in cell grown for your skin, and the lining of your mucus membranes, respiratory, digestive & urinary tracts. it is also important for good vision , especially in low-light conditions.
  • Add Vitamin A into your diet by eating sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach & kale.
Iron:
  • Vital for healthy blood and energy metabolism, reducing fatigue and supporting physical and mental well-being.
  • Sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, spinach, fortified cereals, and pumpkin seeds.
Selenium:
  • Acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting cells from damage and enhancing immune function. It’s essential for proper thyroid function and metabolism regulation.
  • Foods rich in selenium include tuna, halibut, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds (great for salads), eggs (especially the yolk), and whole grains.
Intelligent Gourmet

We understand that not everyone is a nutrition expert, which is why our menu items are thoughtfully crafted to offer a wide range of nutrient-dense, immunity boosting, delicious options. From hearty soups to protein-packed meals, sides, and immune-boosting wheatgrass shots, we have everything you need to stay in peak condition throughout the season. Don’t let the colds get you down—enjoy the benefits of staying healthy with us.

 

 

Embrace Autumn’s Bounty: Healthy Food Choices in Fall

As the weather here in Florida finally has a bit of crispness in the air, we becomes aware that the fall season has come about. The fall season brings an abundance of delicious and nutritious foods. October is the perfect time to savor the flavors of autumn while prioritizing your health. Here’s a glimpse into some of the wholesome foods you can enjoy this month.

1. Apples:

October is synonymous with apple-picking season. Apples are not only a tasty snack but also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Try them in salads, oatmeal, or as a crunchy dip with peanut butter.

2. Pumpkin:

Pumpkin spice everything might be popular, but real pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Roast it for a tasty side dish or blend it into soups for a comforting meal. Stop in and grab our pumpkin pancakes

3. Squash:

Varieties like butternut, acorn & spaghetti squash are excellent sources of vitamins A and C. They make delightful additions to soups, stews, and casseroles, adding a creamy texture and a hint of sweetness. We use spaghetti squash in our chicken Lasagna

4. Cranberries:

Fresh cranberries start to appear in October, bringing their tart flavor and a hefty dose of vitamin C. Whip up a homemade cranberry sauce or toss them into your morning smoothie.

5. Brussels Sprouts:

These small, cabbage-like veggies are at their best in the fall. They’re packed with nutrients and can be roasted or sautéed with a drizzle of olive oil for a delicious side dish. Kale and Brussel Casear is available in our deli cases

6. Pears:

Fall pears are a sweet and juicy treat. They’re an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. Enjoy them fresh in salads and fruit bowls or poached for an elegant dessert.

7. Nuts:

October is the season for nuts like almonds and walnuts. They provide healthy fats, protein, and a satisfying crunch. Snack on them or sprinkle them over your salads for an extra dose of nutrition. We love our almond flour baked goods and the candied nuts in our fall salad

8. Sweet Potatoes:

These vibrant tubers are a fantastic source of beta-carotene and fiber. Bake or mash them for a nutritious alternative to regular potatoes. Wedges are available daily in our vegan deli case

9. Comforting Soups:

Fall is the perfect time to indulge in comforting soups. Whether it’s a hearty vegetable soup, a butternut squash, or a classic chicken, soups are a wholesome way to stay warm and nourished. A variety of specials are always in our grab n go cooler.

By focusing on these seasonal ingredients, you can create a menu that’s not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures begin to cool off, these fall foods will keep you energized, warm, and feeling your best. So, fall in love with as many of these as possible and enjoy the healthful benefits of the season.

Eating Clean on the Beach: Healthy Picnic Ideas for a Perfect Summer Day

We love summer’s in Tampa, where days are filled with warm breezes, sparkling waters, and endless opportunities for outdoor fun. As you embark on your beach adventures, it’s essential to nourish your body with clean and nutritious foods that will keep you energized and feeling your best. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, we believe that combining the joy of the beach with mindful eating can enhance your summer experience. Join us as we explore delightful picnic ideas that not only satisfy your taste buds but also provide the essential nutrients you need to thrive under the warm Tampa sun.

Why a Beach?

Beaches are popular for a number of reasons, and believe some of those reasons can be beneficial to our overall well-being.  Here are a few advantages to consider:

Firstly, the scenic views of Tampa’s white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters create a serene and tranquil ambiance for your picnic. Immerse yourself in breathtaking natural beauty as you indulge in your beach picnic.

Secondly, a beach picnic provides an opportunity to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D from the Florida sunshine. Spending time outdoors under the sun’s rays helps your body produce this essential nutrient, promoting bone health, boosting your immune system, and supporting overall well-being. Additionally, the beach offers various recreational activities, from strolling along the shoreline to beach volleyball or swimming, encouraging physical activity and contributing to your fitness goals.

And not to be forgotten, the sunny sands provide a delightful opportunity for some much-needed stress relief, a connection with nature, and an opportunity to connect with others sharing the shoreline with you.

Finding a location

What beach is best? That’s almost an impossible question. There is certainly no shortage of beaches in our area, but here are a few of our favorite picnic spots:

  1. Clearwater Beach:
    Clearwater Beach is known for its pristine white sand, clear blue waters, and vibrant atmosphere. It offers ample picnic areas with shaded pavilions and grassy spots, perfect for setting up a picnic blanket and enjoying a meal with family and friends. The beach is well-maintained, and amenities like restrooms, showers, and nearby parking make it convenient for picnickers. The stunning views and the range of activities available, such as beach volleyball and water sports, make Clearwater Beach a top choice for a memorable beach picnic experience.
  2. Honeymoon Island State Park:
    Honeymoon Island State Park is a natural paradise located near Dunedin, just off the coast of Clearwater. This unspoiled beach destination provides a serene and picturesque setting for a beach picnic. With miles of sandy shores, nature trails, and picnic areas equipped with tables and grills, visitors can enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by the beauty of nature. The park also offers the opportunity to spot wildlife and explore the nature trails, enhancing the overall picnic experience.
  3. Fort De Soto Park:
    Fort De Soto Park, situated in St. Petersburg, is a stunning coastal park that features several pristine beaches, including North Beach, East Beach, and the historic fort area. Each beach offers picnic tables, grills, and shaded areas, making it convenient for picnickers to enjoy their meal while taking in the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. With ample space for activities like frisbee, beach games, and fishing, Fort De Soto Park provides a diverse and exciting backdrop for a beach picnic.
  4. Caladesi Island State Park:
    Caladesi Island State Park, located just off the coast of Dunedin, is a secluded and pristine beach escape accessible by boat or ferry. This untouched barrier island boasts unspoiled beaches, nature trails, and picnic pavilions surrounded by lush vegetation. The tranquil and serene atmosphere makes it an ideal location for a peaceful and intimate beach picnic. Visitors can relish the natural beauty, take leisurely walks, and enjoy a picnic with loved ones away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

What To Bring:

Aside from the obvious cooler, sunscreen, blanket and utensils, we’ve put together a list of our favorite snacks and meals to bring in your picnic basket.

  1. Fresh and Vibrant Salads
    Add a burst of freshness to your beach picnic with colorful and refreshing salads. Embrace seasonal ingredients like juicy watermelon, crisp cucumber, and a mix of vibrant greens.
    Try this Watermelon Cucumber Salad: combine diced watermelon, cucumber slices, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh mint leaves. For the dressing, whisk together lime juice, honey, and a pinch of salt for a tangy and sweet flavor.
  2. Nutrient-Packed Wraps and Sandwiches
    Wholesome wraps and sandwiches make for satisfying beach picnic options. Opt for whole-grain bread or lettuce wraps as a nutritious base. Fill them with grilled chicken, creamy avocado slices, crisp veggies, and a drizzle of tangy Greek yogurt dressing. Another idea is a Mediterranean-inspired wrap with hummus, roasted vegetables, feta cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
  3. Hydrating Fruits and Snacks
    Stay hydrated and energized with hydrating fruits and healthy snacks. Pack a refreshing assortment of berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, along with sweet grapes and segments of citrus fruits. For a snack, create a homemade trail mix using a mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
    Additionally, bring along veggie sticks like carrot and cucumber, paired with creamy hummus for a satisfying crunch. Indulge in yogurt parfaits layered with Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit for a light and nourishing treat.
  4. Thirst-Quenching Beverages
    Quench your thirst with refreshing and hydrating beverages. Infused water is a simple yet flavorful option. Combine sliced cucumber, fresh mint, and a squeeze of lemon for a revitalizing twist. Alternatively, opt for natural coconut water, packed with electrolytes to keep you hydrated under the sun.
  5. Short on time? Let us prep for you!
    Stop by and build a picnic from our selection of grab-and-go meals, snacks, and more. Don’t forget to grab a freshly made juice or smoothie to keep you hydrated and refreshed while you soak up that Florida sunshine. Some of our made-in-house favorites include our Potato Salad, Crab Dip, Whipped Feta Dip, Kale & Brussels Caesar, and our Grilled Firecracker Chicken.
  6. Need even more convenience? Call us a few days ahead of time, and we can prep a picnic for you. All you need to do is pick it up, and head to the beach to enjoy!

Food Safety Tips

When it comes to food safety during a beach picnic, take the necessary precautions. Pack perishable items in an insulated cooler with ice packs to maintain safe temperatures. Store raw meats separately to prevent cross-contamination. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling food. Promptly discard any perishable leftovers to avoid spoilage. Following these guidelines will help keep your picnic food safe and ensure a worry-free dining experience for your beach day.

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So, whether you’re a local or a visitor to Tampa, make the most of the summer season and the stunning beaches by unwinding, savoring the flavors, and creating lasting memories with loved ones while nourishing your body while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Had a beach day already and want to share? Tag us in your photos @intelligentgourmet!

 

 

 

13 Easy Ways to Get More Vegetables into Your Meals

We all know eating vegetables is essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases. But we also know that sometimes we slack a little on the veggie uptake due to busy schedules, eating out too much, or simply being in a rut with recipes at home. But incorporating more veggies into your meals doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Today we’re going to go over our favorite tips to add a little more nutritional value to your meals with whatever veggies you have on hand.

 

Buy more vegetables

Our first point may be obvious. If you have veggies available, you’re more likely to use them. Adding a bag of pre-cut carrots, a pack of spinach, or a container of cherry tomatoes to your shopping list is easy, and puts versatile veggie options within hand reach when you’re cooking throughout the week.  We’d like to think that having them and not wanting to let those veggies go to waste can help motivate you to use them, but we know that’s not always the case. Nonetheless, you can’t add veggies to your meals without having veggies to add in the first place.

Prep beforehand

If you love roasted vegetables, but don’t often have time to actually roast them, do a big batch over the weekend to have them on hand throughout the week. You can also prep veggies by pre-slicing cucumbers, chopping broccoli, rice your cauliflower, or dicing a big batch of peppers and/or onions. These veggies keep well in the fridge and doing all the prep when you have time saves you so much time when you’re in go-mode during the week.

Start with breakfast

Add vegetables to your breakfast by incorporating them into your omelets or scrambled eggs. You can also blend leafy greens, like spinach or kale, into your morning smoothies (and no this won’t make your smoothie bitter). Another option is to top your toast with sliced avocado, tomatoes, or roasted peppers.

Swap your snacks

Swap your typical snack options with vegetable-based alternatives. Instead of reaching for chips or crackers, try snacking on raw vegetables, like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers. You can also dip them in hummus or guacamole for added flavor.

Sneak them into sauces

Add finely chopped or pureed vegetables to your sauces and soups. For example, you can add pureed carrots or butternut squash to your tomato sauce, or blend broccoli or cauliflower into your soup. This is a great way to add nutritional density and play around with flavors as you explore and find combinations that suit your tastes best.

Try vegetable noodles

Swap traditional pasta with vegetable noodles, like zucchini or spaghetti squash noodles. You can also try making cauliflower rice or broccoli rice as a healthy substitute for regular rice.

Top your pizza

Add a variety of vegetables to your pizza toppings. You can include mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, egglplant, or spinach, among other options.

Mix them into your meatballs

Mix finely chopped vegetables into your meatball mixture. You can use vegetables like onion, carrot, celery, or zucchini to add extra nutrients and flavor to your meatballs.

Use them as a sandwich filling

Use sliced vegetables as a sandwich filling instead of deli meat. You can add sliced cucumber, tomato, avocado, roasted peppers, or sprouts to your sandwiches for added crunch and nutritional density.

Add them to your stir-fry

Stir fries are a great way to pack in a variety of vegetables. You can add broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and snap peas to your stir-fry for a colorful and nutritious meal.

Make vegetable-based dips

Make vegetable-based dips like guacamole, salsa, or tzatziki. You can also try making hummus using roasted red peppers or sweet potatoes for added flavor.

Get creative with salads

Get creative with your salads by adding a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. You can also add roasted vegetables or grilled vegetables to your salads for added flavor and nutrition.

Order out

Eating out is not always a healthy option, but we specifically aim to challenge that narrative by providing healthy, wholesome, and nutritionally balanced options daily in our deli case. You can find seasonal veggies, lean proteins, salads, and plenty of options for eaters on a keto, gluten-free, or vegan diet. If you don’t have time to spare, it may be worth it to pick up some prepared options to mix and match for meals throughout the week. Getting your veggies in becomes much easier when all the prep and cooking is done for you, and all you need to plate it and enjoy.

 

Incorporating more vegetables into your meals doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With these easy tips, you can sneak more vegetables into your meals and reap the health benefits without sacrificing taste or convenience. So why not try incorporating some of these ideas into your next meal? Your body will thank you!

Common Cravings and What Your Body is Really Trying to Tell You

As humans, we all experience cravings at some point in our lives. It’s the sudden desire to indulge in a specific food or drink that we may not typically consume. Whether it’s a sudden craving for chocolate or an insatiable desire for salty snacks, cravings can be difficult to ignore.

Many people often associate cravings with a lack of willpower or self-control. However, cravings can also be a way for our bodies to communicate with us about our nutritional needs. In other words, our cravings may be a signal from our bodies telling us what nutrients we may be lacking.

We want to be clear that we do not believe in demonizing any food, and that if you want cake, you have every right to eat that cake. Cutting out foods you enjoy can lead to cravings getting worse, and an unhealthy relationship with food. At our Intelligent Gourmet, we specialize in wholesome, nutritionally dense foods, and we believe in the power of listening to our bodies and understanding what our cravings may mean.

Here are some common cravings and what they may indicate about our nutritional needs:

  1. Chocolate One of the most common cravings is for chocolate. While it may be easy to dismiss this craving as a mere sweet tooth, chocolate cravings may indicate a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure control. Good sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Salty Snacks Do you often crave chips, pretzels, or other salty snacks? This may be a sign that your body needs more sodium. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance in the body, and it’s essential for proper nerve and muscle function. However, it’s important to note that most people consume too much sodium in their diets, which can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. Instead of reaching for processed, high-sodium snacks, try incorporating whole foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds, which are naturally rich in sodium.
  3. Red Meat If you find yourself craving red meat, it may indicate that your body needs more iron. Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout the body, and it’s especially important for women who are of childbearing age, as iron deficiency can lead to anemia. Good sources of iron include leafy greens, legumes, and fortified cereals.
  4. Sweet Treats Cravings for sweet treats may indicate that your body needs more glucose, which is the primary source of energy for the body. However, it’s important to note that consuming too much added sugar can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Instead of reaching for sugary snacks, try incorporating whole foods like fruits, sweet potatoes, and whole grains, which are naturally sweet and provide a host of other nutrients.

Cravings can be a way for our bodies to communicate with us about our nutritional needs. By understanding what our cravings may indicate, we can make informed choices about what foods to consume. We encourage you to reach for wholesome, nutritionally dense foods that nourish your body and satisfy your cravings in a healthy way. 

 

 

What’s in Season: 7 Spring Fruits and Vegetables and Their Nutritional Benefits

Who doesn’t love spring? Every season has its own charm, but there is something so inspiring about spring—with the fresh blooms and new life everywhere you look. One of the best ways to enjoy the season is by indulging in the fresh produce that becomes available during this time. Here are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with all the nutritional benefits they can add to your diet.

  1. Asparagus: Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, and folate, which is important for pregnant women. Asparagus is also a good source of vitamin C and is a particularly rich source of glutathione, which has been shown to have detoxifying properties and protect against certain kinds of cancer. Asparagus is delicious when steamed, sauteed, or grilled, and can make an easy side dish with minimal effort.
  2. Artichokes: Artichokes are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate your digestive system. Artichokes are also high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, and help improve liver function. Both the artichoke leaves and heart can be eaten and steaming or baking are the most popular ways to prepare them. You can also stuff artichokes for an extra special presentation.
  3. Strawberries: Strawberries are one of the most popular spring fruits. They are a good source of vitamin C, which we all know is great for your immune system.  Strawberries are also high in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation in your body. Polyphenols found in strawberries can also help improve insulin sensitivity in nondiabetic adults. Strawberries are delicious on their own, but we also love to add them to smoothies, yogurt bowls, oatmeal, or even sliced and added to water for a refreshing spring beverage.
  4. Peas: Peas are really excellent for eye health and can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. They are also high in coumestrol, which helps prevent stomach cancer, and the high fiber content is excellent for digestive health. In addition, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals found in peas can lower your risk of high blood pressure. Peas can easily be added to pasta dishes that use light sauces, added to salads or simply steamed and lightly seasoned for a quick and healthy side dish.
  5. Radishes: Radishes are crunchy and refreshing spring vegetables that can help with liver and kidney function, and the glucosinolate and isothiocyanate can help to regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes. Radishes are also excellent for overall blood and heart health because they are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. incorporate radishes into your spring meals by adding thin slices to salads for a peppery crunch, roasting them with garlic and olive oil, or making your own pickled radishes to enjoy all year long.
  6. Apricots: We generally find apricots as dried fruit, and although those are tasty, we love to enjoy fresh apricots in spring when they are in season. Apricots are sweet and juicy spring fruit that are high in vitamin A, which is important for eye health. They are also a good source of fiber, which can help regulate your digestive system. Beta carotene, also found in apricots can help make your skin more resistant to sunburn, which is super helpful for our sunny climate. Like strawberries, apricots are delicious when eaten whole and do really well in salads and smoothies. You can also make some super tasty spring desserts like apricot tarts, and apricot crisp. 
  7. Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a unique spring vegetable that is often used in desserts. Only the stalks are edible, and you’ll see the best Rhubarb become available in early April. Rhubarb is a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, and vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system. Rhubarb is also high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage and reduce inflammation. The high fiber content is of course also excellent for overall digestive health. Get your fill of rhubarb by making pies, or your own chutney that can be whipped out and added to other dishes all year long.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential for maintaining a healthy diet. During the spring season, there are many delicious and nutritious options to choose from. By incorporating these seasonal foods into your meals, you can take advantage of their health benefits and enjoy the flavors of the season. We encourage you to shop local and find these spring fruits and veggies from local farms if available.

Do you have a favorite on this list? Or a favorite recipe incorporating other spring fruits and veggies? Drop a comment below, or tag us on social media! We would love to hear what you enjoy this time of year.

 

 

Animal Protein -vs- Plant Protein

Protein. It can be a big topic and a key point for some people’s diets. Unlike other nutrients, our bodies don’t store protein the same way they store other macronutrients. So you need to include protein in your diet on a regular basis to have the building blocks for growing and repairing your cells. Although obvious sources of protein include animal meats, there are plenty of plants that provide their own form of protein too. Today we’re going to look at the differences between Animal and Plant proteins, the pros and cons of each, and our recommendations to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.

Amino Acids

To start off, we’re going to quickly recap what protein is. All proteins are made up of amino acids, or organic compounds that make up every cell. Our bodies require 22 different amino acids to function, but they can only make 13 of those by themselves, the other 9 must be consumed through our diets.

Animal proteins contain all 9 of these missing amino acids, which is why some have believed this is the better source of protein. However, there are many sources of complete proteins derived from plants. For instance:

  • Soy/tempeh/edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Spirulina
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nutritional Yeast

We’d also like to point out that your protein does not NEED to come from ‘complete’ sources. It may be convenient, but getting your protein from multiple sources may provide other benefits, like a wider variety of micronutrients among all the different protein sources.

Animal Protein

As we stated above, animal proteins give you all 9 missing amino acids and are generally higher in Iron and Vitamin B-12. The protein in animal products is also highly bioavailable, meaning the body doesn’t have to work very hard to extract the amino acids and start using them. some animal proteins such as fish contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent for cognition and brain health.

The downside? Overconsumption of animal protein can have some negative effects. Specifically, the consumption of red meat has been linked to having a shorter lifespan and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Red meats generally contain unhealthy fatty tissue, which is also not ideal in large quantities. That is not to say it should be outright avoided, studies show it may be best to consume red meats in moderation and go for lean meats like chicken or fish more often.

Plant Protein

There are many benefits to getting your protein from plants. In general, plant-based diets are linked with lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, longer life spans, lower risk of heart disease, and lower risk of strokes and cancer. These benefits come from having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet, which in turn give the body plenty of vitamins and minerals to function at its best. On top of that, plants offer a lot more fiber, which is hugely beneficial to the digestive system and overall gut health.

These benefits also come with some conditions. Although there are some complete protein sources derived from plants, the protein in those foods is less bioavailable in comparison to animal proteins. Again, eating a variety helps your body access the proteins it needs when it needs them. Plant proteins also won’t contain as much iron or B-12, so it’s important to make sure you include other foods with those vitamins in your diet as well.

We’d also like to point out that you can technically be on a plant-based diet, and still consume large amounts of processed, fried, or simply nutritionally lacking foods. Focusing more on ‘fresh’ and ‘nutritionally dense’ is better than focusing on if the foods you consume are plant-based or not.

Wrapping it up

So which one is better, animal protein or plant protein? It’s tough to say, and honestly, we don’t think there is a single answer here. We think it’s something that each person should think about while also considering any other dietary restrictions or needs. For instance, if you follow a Keto diet, it may be difficult to get all your protein needs from plant-based sources, while also staying within your carb limit for the day. In that case, we would definitely recommend including lean plant-based proteins in your diet. For others without those types of requirements, getting more of your protein from plants may be beneficial simply because of all of the other long-term benefits. The bottom line, we think it’s a personal choice, and one you should consider discussing with a nutrition expert or your doctor so you can find the best fit for you. One this is for sure though, keeping your diet balanced with a healthy mix of plant and animal proteins is generally a safe bet.

Food for Improved Cognition and Brain Health

Your command center, your noodle, your noggin, your seat of consciousness, whatever you want to call it, your brain is both a wonder of nature and a vitally important part of your ability to ‘be’. And just like every other part of our body, our brains rely on what we ingest in order to have the building blocks they need to function at their full capacity. Today we’re going to explore what key nutrients that specifically support brain health, and why they are so beneficial to our overall well-being.

Turmeric

You may already know that Turmeric can help with inflammation, but new studies show that this bright-colored spice may also benefit people with anxiety and depression by boosting serotonin and dopamine, and it’s linked to new brain cell growth, which may help delay age-related declines in mental functionality. Specifically, it is the compound Curcumin found in Turmeric that is responsible for these effects. Interestingly, this compound can cross the blood-brain barrier which means it can be easily absorbed into the brain to directly impact our brain cells.

Fatty Fish

Of course, fatty fish was bound to show up on this list due to its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are used by the brain to build brain and nerve cells. Omega-3s are essential for learning, memory, and our capacity to control decision-making and emotions. Fatty fishes include Salmon, Trout, Tuna, and Sardines.

Coffee/Tea

There are so many complex compounds in both coffee and tea, and ongoing studies have shed more light on the long-term health benefits when consumed in moderation. Obviously, too much of a good thing can still have negative effects, but a cup of coffee or tea daily can contribute to better focus, improved mood, and increased alertness. There are also a lot of antioxidants found in both drinks that are also linked to overall improved health and reduced risk of neurological diseases.

Berries

Also very high in antioxidants, berries (specifically dark berries like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) provide many benefits to overall brain health. specifically, they are linked to increased communication between cells, reduced inflammation, delayed aging and reduced risk of disease, and better learning and adaptation capacity.

Oranges

We are mentioning oranges here because they are fantastic sources of Vitamin C, which is a key nutrient in preventing mental decline from aging. Vitamin C is also a natural antioxidant, which as we’ve already mentioned, can help prevent inflammation and the development of neurological diseases. You can also find high levels of vitamin C in bell peppers, kiwi, and guava.

Leafy greens

Hearty greens like kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli have all been shown to benefit brain health. These ‘superfoods’ have earned their name from the high levels of glucosinolates, which have an antibiotic-like effect that can help prevent infection and disease. These greens also tend to be high in antioxidants that further prevent inflammation and age-related degeneration.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are another great sources of healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids, which as we mentioned before contribute to brain growth and new cell development. But on top of that, nuts and seeds are also a great source of Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that specifically helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.

Eggs

Last on our list, eggs are great for brain health specifically because of the high concentration of Choline in the yolks. Choline is a building block your body uses to develop neurotransmitters that regulate mood and memory. Eggs are also high in B6, B12, and folate, which have all been linked to a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

 

Summary

The foods on this list are good for you in more ways than one, and always we encourage you to fill your diet with variety to ensure you’re getting a well-balanced mix of nutrients from many different sources. Always consult your doctor or a nutrition professional if you have questions about a specific health concern or diet change. There is no better way to support your whole body’s health that to listen to what your body is telling you and do your best to give it what it needs to function the way it was meant to.

 

 

Our Favorite Dishes and Dips for Entertaining – Great Taste and Great for You

We all love a great get-together, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying good company. And nothing warms people’s hearts and brings us together better than good food. And when we say “good” food, we mean food that tastes great and is also great FOR you. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite dishes to serve that will be a hit at your next gathering.

1. Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo anything is always a welcome addition to most gameday spreads. We love going for buffalo cauliflower not only for the added veggie benefits, but also to make sure our spread feels inclusive for our vegetarian/vegan guests. Can’t give up the standard buffalo chicken? Serve both, and let your guest enjoy choosing for themselves.

2. Plantain Chips

A wonderful crunchy alternative to your standard potato chip, and plantains are naturally higher in Vitamin A and C. Great served with any dips or even just on their own.

3. Sweet Potato Wedges

If you’re going to do potatoes, we say opt for sweet potatoes. Although potatoes themselves are not a bad food (honestly we don’t believe any vegetable or whole food is ‘bad’), sweet potatoes do have a lower glycemic index, which means the wont cause a sugar spike and crash like other potatoes might.

4. Black Bean Dip

This dip is packed with protein and flavor, and contains zero fat. Great as a spread, or a dip, and the creamy black velvet texture can be a unique eye-catching addition to any table.

5. Babaganoush

Another fantastic and flavorful dip, and because it’s primary ingredient is eggplant, you get the nutritional benefits being high in fiber, and relatively low in calories. Babaganoush is also full of healthy fats from the olive oil and Tahini.

6. Layered Hummus Dip

Who doesn’t love hummus? Take this classic dip to the next level by layering on crumbled feta, chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olives for a fresh crunchy bite that is sure to satisfy. Start with our classic hummus and add the toppings fresh before your guests arrive.

7. Tomato Bruschetta

Another classic, we love bruschetta for the bright color and flavor of the heirloom tomatoes. Paired with some fresh arugula, balsamic reduction, and crusty bread, you’ve got a combination that won’t disappoint.

8. Spring Rolls W/Prawns

Packed with fresh veggies and protein, with a satisfying crunch, and paired with a perfectly savory Ponzu dipping sauce, these spring rolls are a great way to as flavor and color to your evenings selection.

9. Farro salad

Yes, we’ve included a salad on this list. But this isn’t just any salad. We take Italian pearled farro and mix it with sautéed mushroom and onions, roasted bell peppers, broccoli, and arugula. toss everything in a simple red wine vinaigrette, and you have a salad that’s full of good nutrients and wont leave your guests hungry ten minutes later.

10. Chicken Montanara

We think this one already starts off strong with out organic free range chicken, but it really starts to shine with the addition of bright sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes.

11. Ahi Tuna Tartar

If we had to pick a favorite on this list, this might be it. The perfect combination of marinated Ahi tuna with the fresh cucumber and green onion relish is a great way to add a touch of elegance and uniqueness to your gathering. Not to mention this dish is full of good nutrients.

12. Flank Steak Skewers

These skewers are honestly so simple, but so perfect at the same time. Beautifully marinated with fresh herbs, and paired with roasted peppers for a flavor that is full and well rounded. They key is the fresh high quality ingredients that help keep this dish flavorful and wholesome.

13. Juice Shots

Whats a celebration without a few shots? We love these for gatherings as a fun creative way to mix things up and give guest the chance to try a concentrated boost of wellness in an easy sip. Serve them on a platter in tiny shot glasses, garnishes with some edible flowers or tiny fruit skewers!

14. Peanut Butter Honey Squares

Sweet and nutty, our peanut butter honey squares are good for more than a quick afternoon snack. These hunks of goodness can provide a satisfying bite to any appetizer spread, are go well with just about anything

15. Dark Chocolate almond Stars

The dark chocolate makes these sweets balanced, and they are perfect for sharing as each bite is already individually portioned

There are many excellent ways to host a gathering and plan a menu that is as nutritious as it is delicious. We love being able to offer these options to make it easy, so no matter if you’re planning a special celebration or a casual get-together, everyone can enjoy the moment while enjoying healthy, wholesome foods.

 

 

A New Definition of “Healthy”

We are used to seeing health claims on food packaging, and there are a lot of products that use these claims to mislead or bend the truth about the nutritional benefits of their products. Despite these claims often having a significant impact on consumer choices, regulation of these health claims is relatively new. Turns out that our evolving understanding of nutritional science is making waves and on Sept 28th, 2022, The FDA published a statement that may redefine what “Healthy” means when used on food packaging. Today we’re going to quickly review the new proposed definition, and help clarify what it means for our diets and habits moving forward.

Old Definition

The previous criteria for what is considered healthy was established in 1994 and set a maximum for fat content and minimum for daily vitamin content. This started the popularity of ‘low-fat’ foods that were somehow deemed to be “Healthy” despite high levels of sugar or sodium (for example, low-fat yogurts, or overly processed breakfast cereals). This also meant that healthy fats like Olive Oil couldn’t use the “Healthy” label because the fat content was too high.

What Changed?

According to the FDA statement, the proposed change means that any food with the claim “healthy” on the package needs to:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

What This Means

  • Under the new definition, the FDA recognizes that not all fats are created equal and that foods with high levels of beneficial fats, such as Omega 3, can now use the “Healthy” label. This means that foods such as salmon and whole nuts can be labeled as “Healthy”.
  • The new definition would also force manufacturers to modify their products so they contain more whole ingredients in order to meet the new standards for “Healthy.”
    • “For example, a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars.”
  • Different food groups would also be held to different nutrient density ratios, creating a more complete picture of what “Healthy” means for different categories of food. This means that Grain-based products have a higher sugar allowance than vegetable-based products. (For more examples you can view a chart made by the FDA here: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/use-term-healthy-food-labeling)

Ultimately, this new proposal is in alignment with more modern ideas of balanced health and nutrition. For years, nutrition recommendations have focused on whole foods, nutrient-dense meals, and minimizing processed prepackaged goods that contain high levels of stabilized, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you already know we are huge supporters of fresh, high-quality, whole ingredients. We think this proposed change for what can be labeled “Healthy” is a positive step forward for consumer awareness, but ultimately it is still up to consumers to make healthy choices for themselves. Focusing on fresh whole ingredients, and knowing what works for your body and lifestyle is always going to be the most effective way to get the nutrients your body needs.

 

 

ig2go

Some of you know and some will be surprised to learn that we have given up our storefront/brick & mortar location. If you are a meal prep client there will be no disruption in your service. The only difference is that your food will be delivered instead of you picking up.

For everyone else we are working on a new online menu where you can order your favorites items. YES, we will continue to make Chicken Salad, Peanut Butter Squares and Many of your other favorites.

Delivery will be free for orders over $50.00.
A full 24 is required for all orders, and until our online ordering system has been updated  email your requests to info@intelligentgourmet.com
The Delivery Schedule is as follows:
  • S. Tampa | Harbor island | Davis Island and Downtown Monday’s and Wednesday.
  • Tuesdays Westchase | Odessa | and Oldsmar.
  • Thursday Carrollwood, & Lutz

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