Monday, March 19, 2012

WSG 6: Produce for Productivity

Writer's Survival Guide 6: Produce for Productivity

Ambiguous title or what? I've been focusing on my health lately, and obviously, eating right plays a big part. Exercising, for me, is the easy portion of the health equation, while phasing out baked goods and replacing them with carrot sticks is harder.

I like fruit. I like vegetables.

But I'm lazy. And I'm a creature of habit. I routinely choose the path of least resistance food-wise.

Is it easier to open a bag of chips or shine an apple? I can't imagine either is considered difficult, yet, I choose the chips every time!

Last week I read The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle. What a great book! Very motivational with plenty of input from past contestants, the book emphasizes eat less, move more, and eat a wide variety of foods, limiting the processed, empty calorie ones.

When I finished it, one thing stuck out in my brain: we have to plan our health. We have to schedule exercise and actually think about our food choices before the day even starts. One of my goals this week is to schedule what fruits and vegetables I'm going to eat each day and how much and what type of exercise I will do. I'm putting the schedule on the fridge.

One way to add more fruits and vegetables is to make them grabbable. As soon as I unload the groceries, I chop celery into sticks and toss them in a Ziploc bag. I also rely on bagged salads, baby carrots, and sliced mushrooms. My family loves smoothies, so once or twice a week, I'll whip up a strawberry-banana smoothie for us.

Jill's Recipe for Strawberry-Banana Smoothie:
1 quart of strawberries with tops taken off
1 medium banana peeled
2 cups ice
1 cup milk (you could also use Soy milk or Almond milk)
1 small container yogurt, approximately 1/2 cup (I like vanilla flavored Greek yogurt, but I'll use whatever we have)
2 scoops protein powder (you can omit this, but if you have protein powder, throw some in for extra vitamins and energy)

Put everything in a blender and blend until no chunks remain. This makes a big batch and should serve 3-4 people. I don't have nutrition stats because it depends on what type of milk, yogurt, and protein powder you use, but it's a great source of fruit and calcium. Also, feel free to substitute other fruits in. We use blueberries, peaches, or more bananas. It's fun to experiment!

If you have children who turn their nose up at the idea of fruit smoothies, keep having them try it. My kids didn't jump up and down the first few times I had them try it, but they love them now. Sometimes we just have to make healthy food accessible and normal for them.

Adding more produce to our diets increases our productivity.

How? My unscientific explanation is below.

I've already been munching on more celery sticks and strawberries, and you know what? They're really good. After I eat them, I feel better about myself because I know I'm doing something positive for  my health.

When I feel better about myself, I get a surge of energy. I might use this toward my work-in-progress, and since I'm feeling great, I get more done. Or I may capitalize on the energy burst by exercising. If I walk outdoors, ideas pummel me. Again, this is fantastic for my writing.

Every drop of increased energy adds to the feeling we are capable. Capable people, or those who feel that they are for whatever reason, are more willing to take chances to get what they want.

In other words, each step we take toward improving our health adds to our confidence.

So there you have it. Eat your produce to improve your productivity!

What is your favorite healthy snack?

Have a lovely Monday!


  1. Just the effect on our mental state could be huge! So right. :)

  2. Yeah, exercising is easier for me too. Fortunately I love vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately my husband likes to bake. But since he's into baking healthy foods, I don't feel so guilty when I eat them. And fortunately they don't always taste that good, so I don't eat much of them. Now that's healthy baking. :D

  3. Nuts! I'm sure you're not surprised. :D
    ~ Wendy

  4. Red peppers!!! Too bad they're expensive. I could eat red peppers all day. Yummmm.

    Celery, not so much.

    Carrots aren't bad, but not ideal. Strawberries and purple grapes - yummy.

  5. Mmm, berries. Any kind, really, provided they're in season. In blueberry season, we all go around with purple-stained teeth constantly!

    I have a much easier time eating fruit than I do veggies. I don't actively dislike them, but they are very boring to me. Carrots are probably my favorite, but even those get dull. I'm hoping growing our own produce this summer makes all of us more prone to just snack on a veggie when hungry!

  6. This looks pretty yummy!
    I like blueberries and cantaloupe. I could eat that wonderful orange melon every day!

  7. Mmmm, you're making me hungry!! Good thing I have bananas for breakfast. :)

    I love all kinds of fruits, but especially strawberries, raspberries, and grapes! I love summer because these fruits are much cheaper.

    And good for you, Jill. I have totally found all of this to be true. I'm reminded yet again...I have to make exercise and planning my meals a priority.

  8. Sweet little grape tomatoes. Rinse them off and leave them in a bowl on the counter, and I'll pick up a couple and munch on them every time I pass through the kitchen. I love them!

  9. Good morning!

    Laura: My mental state is majorly affected by making healthy choices. Maybe I should write that down and stick it on the fridge too? Ha!

    Stina: Ha! Too funny! There's room in my life for baked goods and fresh food. I get in trouble when I phase out the fresh... :)

    Wendy: I love nuts too! We eat a lot of almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and butter toffee peanuts here. :) I've added walnuts to a few salads and they're yummy too!

    Katie: Colored peppers are so good. But I'm with you on the price. Last week they were on sale for $1.50 apiece! It just seems exhorbitant. I have three go-to recipes with red peppers, so I do splurge, though. :)

    Louise: I love blueberries. I just found a recipe for easy blueberry biscuits--hope it's a good one! Everyone in my family devours the veggies (with the exception of zucchini!) from our garden.
    Cucumbers and tomatoes taste so delicious!

    Jessica: Cantaloupe is fabulous. And I love honeydew too. Around here, you really have to get melons in season or they taste gross. Only a few more months!

    Lindsay: Raspberries--yum! I set a bowl of fresh raspberries out for dessert often. They're so good!

    Ayda: Oh, that reminds me of my mom! She does the same. I love tiny tomatoes too, but I dip them in ranch dressing. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. I like veggies dipped in hummus! Yum!

  11. Fresh pineapple, and those sweet little treats, "Cuties."

  12. This is so true! The healthier I feel, the more productive I am. As far as healthy snack, I like to prepare small containers of mixed fruit. Not only am I more apt to grab that since it's already prepared, but so are my kids.

  13. Oh my goodness. I feel so good about myself at the moment, because I had strawberry-banana smoothie for breakfast this very morning AND I just finished off a snack of baby carrots. Hehehe...seriously.

    However, it's my coworkers birthday today and I'm pretty sure I'll be eating german chocolate cake in approximately one hour, so... :)

    But seriously, I loved your tips. I think you're right - I have to plan it or it doesn't happen.

  14. I'm so there with you that it's easier to grab chips than fix an apple. And I agree that once you eat the veggies, they taste great. It's just a habit to grab the junk.

    My favorite healthy foods are raw cauliflower, carrots, gala apples, and mandarin oranges. I also love almonds with raisins.

  15. I've been working to eat healthier these days. Some of my favorite healthy snacks are raw almonds, Clementines, pippin apples.

  16. We make the smoothies almost the same. Sometimes I use frozen yogurt.

    I love apples and oranges...simple.

  17. I love the fruits of summer. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, nectarines. They're (almost) as good as dessert. And highly snackable for that mid-afternoon slump. I agree about your statement that we have to plan for our health...until it becomes habit to grab for the apple and NOT the chips. That's a habit I still need to perfect!

  18. Hi, Jill! Great post. I love to snack on red seedless grapes in the a.m., and then switch to pita chips/hummus or almonds in the afternoon. It's a challenge when your keester is in the chair!

  19. Julie: Hummus is a recent addition to my love of dips. I like the red-pepper flavored ones! Yum!

    Cynthia: Yes and yes. I love those too!

    Susan: Anything we can do to get ourselves and our kids eating more produce is good! Putting fruit in containers makes it easy--great tip!

    Melissa: You're my hero! Congrats on a healthy day! :)

    Nancy: I love all the snacks you mentioned. I don't buy mandarin oranges very often, but they're always yummy!

    Keli: I haven't tried Pippin apples. I'll look for them on my next trip! Thanks!

    Loree: Ooo, frozen yogurt would be a great addition!

    Patrice: The fruits of summer--doesn't that sound good? I'm a melon lover, especially watermelon. Can't wait for July!

    Kathy: Grapes--yum! Pita chips sound delicious too. I agree it's hard to grab healthy stuff with my buns in the chair. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  20. Two companies are finally producing lactose free yogurt. Every morning, I have a yogurt as my snack. It's low calorie and tastes delicious.

  21. What a great post! We do have to plan our exercise and food. I love hummus and veggies. I'm like you though and I want something I can grab and go, and usually that is not something healthy. I have to really plan my grocery list to include these kind of healthy snacks:)


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