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Healthy Tips For Dining Out

There are several reasons for dining out at a restaurant. Whether it’s a new hot spot you’ve had your eye on, for a social gathering, or simply a much-needed break from the kitchen, you deserve a nice night out. And while it is great to treat yourself, it does not mean you have to abandon your diet completely.

Despite hidden calories and large portions, there are ways to create a delicious and healthy restaurant dining experience.

Healthier Choices

  • Just say no to appetizers, which are usually loaded with unnecessary calories. If you want to start with an appetizer, a green salad with dressing on the side is a better option.
  • To prevent overeating, you should aim to fill half of your plate with fruit and/or vegetables (and no, potatoes do not count), and the other half with lean protein and whole grains.
  • Skip the sodium-laden soups. Instead, go for a salad, which offers less sodium and more potassium-rich veggies.
  • Restaurant portions are notorious for being oversized, so, if you can, order a lunch portion, box up half of your meal for later, or split an entrée with a friend.
  • As tempting as they may be, bypass the complimentary bread or chips. These fillers will just stuff you with unnecessary and empty calories and carbs.

Salads

  • Choose Darker Greens – Darker greens have more nutrients per serving than the popular romaine or iceberg lettuce.
  • Pick A Good Protein – Good protein choices include egg whites, egg slices, grilled tofu, tuna, beans, chicken, and seafood.
  • Cut The Cheese – You really don’t need the cheese, do you? Skip the excess calories, saturated fat, and sodium that cheese provides.
  • Smart Toppings – Instead of adding crunch from oily, refined flour (crispy wontons, croutons) and salty sodium bombs (olives, bacon), add crisp veggies and fruit to add more texture and flavor. Load up on nutrient-dense toppings such as broccoli, carrots, chickpeas, black beans, edamame, roasted peppers blueberries, mango, or strawberries.
  • Dress Better – It’s always wise to get the dressing on the side so that you can control how much or how little dressing you use. You may even be able to create your our dressing using oil and vinegar.

Sandwiches

  • Whole Wheat > White Bread – Always a better choice as it provides more nutrients. And please note that “multigrain” may mean more white flour than whole wheat.
  • Avoid Wraps – Unless they are whole grain, skip the wraps (they can have up to as many calories as white bread). Or try a lettuce wrap. You can drop refined grains for whole food. And if you’re feeling adventurous, turn your sandwich into a salad.
  • Craving a sandwich? Opt for a half sandwich, half salad combo. That way, you can get your sandwich fix while taking in more vegetables, too.
  • Smart Sides – When it comes to side dishes, opt for fresh fruit or steamed veggies over chips or bread.

Coffee

  • Choose Nonfat Milk – If you don’t particularly like nonfat, take baby steps and do half nonfat, half 2% milk.
  • Pros & Cons Of Non-Dairy Milk – Soy milk provides around 8g of protein per cup, but depending on the brand, they may have added sugar. Almond milk may have less sugar, but also less protein. Skip the coconut milk as it is low in protein and high in saturated fat.
  • Skip The Whipped Cream – Save yourself from excess calories and saturated fat.
  • Skip The Syrup – Sugar-free syrups may be made with unsafe sweeteners, but if you must, ask for a single pump of regular syrup.
  • Order Brewed Coffee and make your own modifications (one packet of sugar adds about 20 calories.

How do you stay healthy when you dine out? Share your tips with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

At the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli, we serve a variety of signature sandwiches and salads made to order. Visit us in store, online or have our food delivered via DoorDash or UberEATS. We also provide catering for business lunches, special events and parties. Call 909-596-5225 to learn more!

Freezing Your Fruits & Vegetables

National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables is coming to a close, so what better way to end it than to share tips on how to properly freeze your delicious produce to better preserve flavors and nutrients. First things first, let’s go over some basic rules.

  • Go For Ripe: Even after freezing, quality decreases over time, so it’s best to choose blemish-free produce at peak ripeness.
  • Pack It Up: Resealable freezer bags are your best bet, as they’re designed for freezing foods and are sturdier, decreasing the likeliness of tears or leaks (which causes freezer burn). If your only options are plastic wrap or standard resealable options, double up on layers or bags for extra protection.
  • Seal Out Air: Oxygen is the enemy. Consider investing in a vacuum sealer, which locks out air and potentially extends the shelf life for up to a year or longer. Alternately, you can stick a straw in a corner of the seal to suck out air before closing.
  • Mark It: To minimize food waste, be sure to list and date the contents of your bags. This helps you recognize what they are, prompting you to use the older stuff first. A good rule of thumb – You have six to twelve months to use frozen goods. If foods are covered in ice crystals or smell “off,” ditch them.

The Process
Some foods are ready to freeze, others need to be prepared first.

Ready To Go:

  • Berries – Remove any stems, then freeze whole.
  • Chili Peppers – Ideal for freezing as is. For less heat, scrape out the seeds beforehand.
  • Cherries – Some prefer to pit cherries before freezing, but it’s actually easier after. When they defrost, the flesh surrounding the pit weakens.
  • Corn – Cobs and kernels can be frozen, as long as you’ll be eating them within a month or two.
  • Figs – Freeze whole.
  • Tomatoes – Freeze whole; the skins slip right off after defrosting. If space is limited, you can chop first, then freeze in a bag.

Prep First:

  • Bell Peppers – Thinly slice or chop before freezing. For stuffed peppers, remove stems and scrape our seeds of halved bell peppers before freezing; stuff them while frozen.
  • Cucumbers – Thinly slice or chop before freezing. While the texture is compromised once frozen, but the flavor is not. Use these for drinks (DIY spa water), juicing, or smoothies.
  • Herbs – Chop herbs and divide among an empty ice cube tray. Top off each cube with olive oil so it fills the crevices and forces out any air, then freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a bag.
  • Melons – Cut melons into cubes or slices, removing the rind, then freeze on a baking sheet.
  • Stone Fruit (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums) – Slice and remove the pit. For smoothies, leave the peel on. For pies or tarts, peel and slice before freezing.
  • Bananas – Peel then freeze whole or chopped into chunks.

Cook First:
The enzymes in some fruits and veggies will continue to break down even when frozen, but heat can halt this process.

  • Eggplant – These can be sliced into rounds (eggplant parm) or cut into smaller shapes (pastas and stir-fries); roast before freezing. Cooked eggplant can also be pureed then frozen.
  • Green Beans – Prepare the pods the way you’ll most likely use them – whole or cut into bitesize pieces. Blanch then freeze. These can be added straight to soup or stir-fries without defrosting.
  • Okra – Blanch the pods whole for three to four minutes, then freeze whole or in rounds.
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini – Cut squash into rounds and blanch for three minutes. For baked goods, grate and steam for one to two minutes. Thoroughly drain, then freeze and pack for storage. For grated squash, defrost completely, and then blot away excess moisture pre-use.

Do you have any other tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Visit us for the best sandwiches made from the finest and freshest ingredients available. We are located at 105 E Arrow Hwy in Pomona (northeast corner of Garey Ave and E Arrow Hwy – next to Johnny’s) and are open weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm. You can also get our yummy sandwiches delivered via DoorDash or UberEATS!

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

The damage of Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the holiday season is still in full effect. Just because you gave into some indulgences on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you should carry on this way for the rest of the holidays. Believe it or not, there is a way to stay healthy and enjoy your favorite holiday foods. Follow these smart tips for a healthier holiday season.

Be Choosy.
Pick your battles wisely. You don’t always have to sample every holiday food you encounter. Rather than indulging in holiday treats on a random day, save them for special days or occasions such as the family dinner or a holiday party. Also, choose the foods you enjoy the most and dismiss the rest.

Stay Curious And Eat Mindfully.
Rather than going into autopilot and snacking on food that’s around, take a moment to ask yourself if you are really hungry and if you really want to be eating that food at the moment. If you are not really hungry, you should reconsider your actions. And if you really are hungry, at least you have taken a moment to acknowledge your hunger and decision to eat. Paying attention and being mindful when making food choices helps you make better, more fulfilling decisions.

Nourish Your Body.
Stay well nourished by eating regularly. Depending on your individual needs, having a regular meal or snack should occur every 3-5 hours to keep you from becoming too hungry. When you starve yourself, or go too long without eating, you become more susceptible to eating sugary, high-calorie foods, partly due to your dwindling blood-sugar levels. Keep your home stocked with healthy and nutritious foods and know where you can grab a healthful meal when you’re out and about. Healthy snacks and meals will help to improve your energy throughout the day as well.

Establish Food Boundaries.
Be polite, but stand firm with food pushers. While most food pushers have good intentions, you don’t want to end up eating food you don’t need or want. So as to not offend food pushers while declining offers, try starting with a compliment and finishing with a deflection, such as “That looks delicious. I’m not hungry right now, but I’ll have some later.” If they continue to insist, try firmly adding, “No, really… I just wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate it right now.” Rehearsing your lines in advance can help as well.

Nourish Your Emotions.
The holiday season can stir up a variety of emotions and stress. With that said, you may want to take a look at your emotional coping strategies. Some of us may find comfort in eating, but this may not be the healthiest route. If you can, avoid using food to cope with stress or emotions, you will find you might feel better. If you find peace in exercise (ex. yoga, daily walk) or simply some quiet alone time, be sure you save time for that to help keep you sane during the hectic holiday season.

Do you have your own tips on staying healthy during the holiday season? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

If you need a break from the holiday madness, join us at the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli for a yummy breakfast or lunch. We’re open weekdays from 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm. Got an upcoming meeting, event, or party and need catering? Call us at 909-596-5225 for more information!

Don’t Fear Carbohydrates

Despite the popular belief, carbs are not the enemy. Carbohydrates give us energy by providing our cells with glucose, which helps our brain and muscle power. However, the important distinction is between refined and unrefined carbohydrates. Refined carbs, like white bread and pastas, cookies and candy, are not the best choices when it comes to healthy foods. Unrefined carbs, however, are those that we consume in their healthiest, most whole forms. These will be released slowly into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and providing you with lasting sustainable energy.

Here are some healthy carbohydrates you will want to include in your balanced diet.

Potatoes
When it comes to potatoes, many see the sweet potato as the lesser of two evils. In fact, the sweet potato is lauded as a healthful, lower carb option for things like toast. But there is no reason to banish the regular potato from your diet. Potatoes provide vitamin C, potassium, protein, and with the skin on, some fiber. Try them baked or roasted and avoid covering them in cheese or sauces for a healthier option.

Whole Grains
Refined grains have been processed to remove components which house healthy benefits like fiber in order for them to be quickly digested. Unfortunately, it is these refined grains that will spike our blood sugar. Instead, opt for whole grains, like oatmeal, wheat berries, barley, farro, or millet. It is understandable to avoid these if you don’t like them, but if you fear you’ll gain weight, you’re missing out. Eating these in moderation can improve your health and provide you with the energy you need to get through the day.

Sweet Fruits
Do not fear bananas, melons, grapes, and other sweet fruits. While their sugar content may make them taste especially delicious, that does not necessarily make them bad. If you are opting for sweeter fruits, just be cautious of your servings. It is recommended that you get 1½ to 2 servings of fruit a day, but if you’re making a smoothie, beware. It is easy to overdo it with the sugars (at the end of the day, natural sugar is still sugar). Try limiting your smoothie to ½ to ¾ cup of fruit, and add a source of protein to help the sweetness digest more slowly.

Legumes
People may avoid legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans) because they think they’re high in carbs. While that may be true, they are also great sources of fiber and protein. Sprinkle them in your lunchtime salad to power through that midday slump. Or you can enjoy them in tacos, chili, casseroles, and more.

Starchy Veggies
Don’t think of corn and peas as normal vegetables. Instead, think of them as starches. Peas contain protein and corn contains fiber, therefore, they can be considered a different category than other veggies like kale and carrots (which basically means you can adjust your portions accordingly).

Which healthy carbs have you accepted into your diet? Share your favorites with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a healthy and delicious meal, visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona! We are open weekdays from 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm. Skip the line by calling ahead or ordering online.

Easy Winter Meal Prep

With colder weather and darker nights in the winter, fast food or ordering in might be more enticing option than cooking dinner after a long work day. While some may enjoy meal prep and cooking, others may feel less motivated. For the latter, here are some helpful cooking tips to make preparing meals easier and more healthful.

Steaming
Steaming is one of the easiest ways to prepare vegetables. Chop up your favorites and steam them over boiling water until tender (based on your personal preference). Save yourself some time by steaming large batches. Allow it to cool, and then refrigerate it for a week’s worth of veggies.

Rice Cooker
Aside from rice, you can also cook quinoa, oats, and other grains in this convenient kitchen tool. And most rice cookers come with a built-in steaming compartment so you can kill two birds with one stone. And, again, you can cook large batches to store in the refrigerator for the week.

Crockpot
Soup, stew, chili, oatmeal – you name it, you can probably prepare it in the beloved Crockpot. Thanks to the internet, there are countless Crockpot recipes available so you’re sure to find one that suits your fancy. And you can make large batches to enjoy during the week.

Oven
Warm up the oven and roast your veggies! Because it can handle more foods at a time, it’s easy to roast a wide variety of veggies to prepare for the week. Enjoy them as a side dish or a lovely, healthy snack.

Frozen
Because some fruits and vegetables are seasonal, they are usually picked pre-maturely in the winter (which decreases their nutritional value), stored in a dark place, and shipped from all over the world. By the time it reaches our local grocery stores and our kitchen, nutritional value is virtually diminished. On the other hand, frozen fruits and veggies are usually flash frozen within a few minutes or hours of being picked, helping to retain most of their nutritional value.

If you can obtain fruits and veggies locally and in season, go for it. But if that is not an option, frozen fruits and veggies are not that bad of an alternative. Plus, they are relatively easy to cook and re-heat.

How do you keep up your healthful habits in the winter? Share your tips with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

For a delicious meal in Pomona, stop by The Brick Your Neighborhood Deli. We offer a variety of signature hot and cold sandwiches, along with fresh green salads, soup of the day, and a variety of desserts made in-house. For more information, visit us online at BrickMarketDeli.com or call 909-596-5225.

Simple Nutrition Advice

Paleo or plant-based, or Mediterranean, oh my! Nutrition and diet advice can be quite confusing. One day, a new diet or food is good for you, the next, there are dangers associated with it. From diets that boost health and weight loss to magical superfoods, it’s hard to believe what’s best for you.

Whether you’re trying to trim your waist or improve your health, the best nutrition advice can be summed up by Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health Marion Nestle in these 14 words:

“Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits; balance calories; don’t eat too much junk food.”

Or you can take this advice from author Michael Pollan:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Or, in its simplest form, as said by writer Mark Bittman:

“Eat real food.”

For the most part, the messages are similar and seem like common sense. Eat real, natural foods and try to balance your intake with activity. While these all sound simple enough, it’s almost always easier said than done.

And confusion still remains thanks to food companies and media hype. Companies exaggerate their products to get them to sell, while the media loves to report about breakthrough studies that may not have much merit behind them. If you can drown out this noise and get down to the basics, nutrition doesn’t have to be all that confusing.

With all foods, there are advantages and disadvantages. For example, we know that junk food is processed and chock full of additives and preservatives that are bad for us and that plants usually provide us with the most nutrients. However, aside from health issues, we do not need to cut certain foods from our diet completely. Moderation and balance are key.

Eat well, eat smart, and don’t overdo it – that’s something we can all understand. If you’d like to share your own nutrition advice and tips, connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also find and follow us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

For fresh, natural, and just plain yummy food, visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona! Our sandwiches and salads are made to order with the finest and freshest ingredients available to us. We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm – hope to see you soon!

Get Out Of Your Food Rut

Are you often pressed for time or cooking with limited ingredients? Have you found yourself making the same things repeatedly out of convenience? Are you sick of your perpetual meal routine? Check out these helpful tips to get you out of your food rut.

Herbs & Spices
Experimenting with herbs and spices can transform your favorite recipes and easily pull you out of your food rut. Substituting or adding a new herb or spice is an easy and inexpensive way to change things up.

Go Global
Draw influences from the classic flavors and dishes from around the world, or take a stab at traditional ethnic food. Thanks to the Internet you can find new recipes in seconds.

Switch Grains
If rice and quinoa are the only grains you’re accustomed to, it’s no surprise you might find yourself in a food rut. Ancient grains are gaining in popularity, but there are also many other options out there. You can try amaranth, faro, teff, or millet. If you want to stick with rice, you can try different varieties such as red rice or black forbidden rice.

Something New
If you cook the same thing day in and day out, it might be time to try something new. Scope out new veggies at the farmer’s market or in the produce aisle of your grocery store and learn more about them. Find recipes in books or online and make it a point to try something new on a regular basis.

Breakfast / Dinner Swap
Breakfast food isn’t reserved for mornings only anymore. Enjoy your favorite breakfast staples for dinner instead. And that dinner you were planning on having? Save it for the morning and have it for breakfast.

Raw vs. Cooked
Instead of cooking your foods, like vegetables, try enjoying them raw. Or if you generally eat some foods raw, try cooking them for a change. Either way, you’ll get a different texture and flavor than you are used to and may be in for a delicious surprise.

Step Out Of The Box
Challenge yourself to create something unique or try a different spin on what’s popular at the moment. Get your creative juices flowing by choosing random ingredients, or working with your limited supply.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share on how to shake things up in the kitchen? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

Just don’t feel like cooking? Let us make you your favorite sandwich or salad from the Brick Market and Deli! Order online or visit us in store at 105 E. Arrow Hwy in Pomona – see you there!

Top Superfoods For You

What are superfoods? Sure, you’ve heard that term tossed around before, but do you know what it really means? Superfoods are generally known as foods that contain high levels of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Check out this list of superfoods you need to know. Some of these are well known, while others have newly emerged.

Açai
Açai is a small purple berry found in the rainforests of South Africa. Many praise the berry for its weight loss and anti-aging benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants in the form of anthocyanins help to fight cancer and heart disease. It is also one of the few fruits that contain oleic acid, the same heart-healthy fat in olive oil.

Goji Berries
Goji berries are tangy, orange-red berries that are found in Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Thanks to their high levels of vitamin C, Chinese herbalists have been using goji berries for centuries to treat visual ailments, circulation problems, and to boost the immune system. While science has yet to back these claims, it is true that these berries are high in plant-based antioxidants and compounds.

Cacao/Cocoa Powder
Cacao powder contains flavonoids (which help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart), is less than 15 calories per tablespoon, and contains almost no fat. To satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt, cacao powder is the way to go. But be sure to choose the raw or nonalkalized versions, as the others have been processed and have depleted its nutritional benefits.

Seaweed
Seaweed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, and zinc. The form of seaweed you are most familiar with is likely nori, the seaweed sheets they use for sushi. However, other varieties include dulse, arame, hijiki, wakame, and kombu.

Chia Seeds
Remember Chia Pets? Yup, these are those same seeds (however, do not consume the seeds that come with Chia pets). Found in Mexico, Chia seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. They have a crunchy, nutty flavor, and can be added to things like salads, smoothies, or stir-fries.

Mangosteens
Mostly found in Southeast Asia (and rather hard to find in the US), mangosteens are about fist-sized with a thick, purple rind, with white segments on the inside. The rind contains xanthones, which may combat cancer and inflammation. Mangosteen-juice products include xanthones and can be found in some health stores.

Maca Powder
Maca is a root grown in the Andes that is pickled, dried and ground into a powder. There have been mixed reviews about its benefits, but maca powder is generally used to boost energy, endurance, and libido. With an earthy and nutty flavor, maca powder can be sprinkled on nearly anything.

Kefir
Kefir a drink made from fermented milk that is a bit sour, usually comparable to yogurt. Originating in Russia, kefir is praised for its probiotics, which is said to boost the immune and digestive systems.

Hemp Seeds
Brace yourselves – hemp seeds are rich in protein, amino acids, omega-6 and omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium. Thanks to their mild taste, you can add hemp seeds to your favorite dish.

Nutritional Yeast
Made from deactivated yeast with no leavening powder, nutritional yeast is rich in protein and fiber and is one of the only vegan friendly sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in meat and dairy products, but nutritional yeast that is fortified with B12 is a great option for vegans and vegetarians.

Black Garlic
Black garlic is made by fermenting raw garlic with prolonged exposure to heat and humidity, which tones down and sweetens the flavor. Sulfuric compounds that help with heart health and provide anticancer benefits are just part of black garlic’s allure. Since it is fermented, they are a great source of important probiotics.

Is there a superfood that you swear by which isn’t well known yet? Share your secrets with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a light and healthy lunch, join us at the Brick Market & Deli in Pomona. We’re open Monday-Friday 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm, with online ordering available.