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Thoughts & Tips from The Doctor of Fitness: Fitness Trainer, Nutrition Expert, & Sports Medicine Physician

We write informally on topics we're passionate at Doctor Of Fitness - fitness, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, sports medicine, and edge fitness and nutrition news. If you'd like to reach us directly, you can contact us here. For more information, you're invited to read Dr. Mancini's C.V. and informal bio.

What's the Best Apple for Apple Pie?

on Tuesday, 19 October 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

There are over 7,000 varieties of apples worldwide, and over 2,500 varieties grown in the U.S. Fortunately you don’t have to be an apple expert to decide which apples to buy for your apple pie—most orchards will tell you. Many produce sections at the grocery store have signs indicating what their apples are best used for, as well. 

While it’s easy enough to purchase a ready-made pie, there’s a certain satisfaction to baking your own. And it’s pretty easy once you know the basics. You can mix different varieties of apples. You just want to make sure they are all have similar textures and are cut in roughly the same size pieces. Don’t cut them too small or you’ll have applesauce pie. Peeling the apples is a personal preference. Tapioca, cornstarch or flour will most likely be needed to thicken your filling, so look for that in a recipe. 

On to the apples!

Granny Smiths are easy to find year-round and have the perfect tartness and firmness for pies. Be sure to team them up with a sweeter apple, or even a pear!

Golden Delicious apples are very popular and because they’re a little on the sweet side, feel free to reduce any added sugar.

Galas are another sweet apple but are a little firmer than Golden Delicious. 

Jonathan apples have a tart and tangy flavor. You might prefer Jonagolds, which are a mix of Jonathans and Golden Delicious—they’re a little sweeter.

Honey Crisp apples are sweet and are firm enough to keep your pies from getting too juicy.

Pink Lady apples are perfectly suited for pies, with that crisp texture and sweet-tart flavor.

McIntosh can be crisp when first harvested but will get mushy quickly—be sure to mix them with firmer apples.

Happy baking!

Picking Apples and Easy Applesauce Cake Recipes

on Tuesday, 12 October 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Are you ready to grab your sweater and head for the nearest apple orchard? Before you get in the car, you might want to make a few preparations first.

Planning the perfect apple picking day trip means you’ll need to either contact your local orchard or look at their website. You will want to know their days and hours of operation, their costs, and whether they take cards or are cash only. Do you have to pre-pay or buy tickets online? Is there a calendar of events? You may want to attend (or avoid) festivals and other activities. Will you need to bring bags or baskets?

Depending on your location, prime apple picking season is Labor Day through Halloween. Be sure to plan for any weather contingency—bring bug spray and sunscreen, dress in layers, and bring water to keep hydrated. Don’t forget to bring hand sanitizer, food if you’re planning to picnic, and a camera to capture those wonderful memories.

Below are some recipes for that fall favorite, applesauce cake. Some ways to take the apple flavor up a notch? Add ½ to ¾ cup of chopped apples to the cake batter or slice some apples and layer on top before baking.

Instant Pot Applesauce Cake

5-Ingredient Applesauce Cake

Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake

Apple picking is an age-old tradition. It can be a fun time for the whole family, and make us feel connected to the earth. And the best part… with these great recipes, the fun doesn’t end when you get home. 

Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter

on Tuesday, 05 October 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Beautiful yards and abundant gardens are something we all look forward to when the weather gets warm, but when winter is approaching there are still chores we need to do to prepare the plants, the earth, and ourselves for next spring’s gardening season. Here are some of those tasks:

Clean and sharpen garden tools. Remove dirt and rust with steel wool, then lightly apply oil to the metal blades AND the wooden handles. Refer to these videos if you need help.

Prune or cut back. You will probably have to do some research on your particular plants, but generally you want to wait until after a few frosts so that you aren’t encouraging new growth. And if you have any diseases or pest problems, don’t add those cuttings to your compost pile!

Fertilize—but no later than October. Once again, you don’t want to encourage new growth only to have the frosts kill it.

Mulch. Mulching helps insulate your plants root system, so cover your soil in a layer 1-3 inches thick. You can use grass clippings, hay or straw, wood chips, or leaf mulch.

Plant. Garlic and flower bulbs need to go in before the ground is frozen.

Enjoy the cool. Take advantage of the cooler weather and fix broken shed doors, repair a trellis, build new raised garden beds, plant trees or shrubs, etc.

Start a gardening notebook. The content is up to you, but some ideas would be keeping track of pest problems and solutions, diagrams of your garden areas, planting and harvesting dates, and garden maintenance.

These tips are bound to help you keep your gardens happy and healthy over the winter.

Wax Paper Leaf Decorations

on Tuesday, 28 September 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Want to take part in a traditional craft that is practically bound to give you beautiful results?  Want to help your favorite kids make art? Preserving leaves in wax paper is a time-honored way to keep the multi-colored treasures from fading. If this sounds like just the project for you, then here are the steps:

  • Place a leaf between two pieces of wax paper.
  • Place a thin towel or thick piece of paper over the wax paper.
  • Press on the towel or paper with a warm iron for 2-5 minutes to seal the two pieces of wax paper. (Damp leaves may take longer.) Flip the wax paper over to press the other side.
  • Once cooled, you can trim around the leaf with scissors, taking care to leave some margin of wax paper around the leaf to keep sealed. Some people prefer to peel the paper off the leaf, leaving a wax coating to preserve it. Use whichever method works best for you. 

So now that you have preserved the leaves, what can you do with them? 

  • String them and make garlands or mobiles
  • Lay them on tables or in bowls for decoration.
  • Hang them singly or tape them into wreath shapes as lovely sun catchers.
  • Glue them outside paper bags, fill with sand and add candles for fall-themed luminaries. Or glue the leaves outside glass jars and add a tea light.
  • Use them as materials for other crafts—leaves can make great skirts or wings for paper dolls, for example.

Children and adults alike can enjoy this craft—be sure to add it to your list of yearly fall traditions.

Foliage, anyone?

on Tuesday, 21 September 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.” — Shira Tamir

Another year has passed, and it’s time for the leaf peepers to make their yearly pilgrimages to see the lovely fall colors. What are some new ways you might enjoy this year’s leaf-viewing expedition?

Photography fun

  • Experiment with settings and filters on your smartphone.
  • Take pictures of a single glorious leaf on the ground.
  • Look straight up into the trees to emphasize their height.
  • Take photos with and without the sky.

Fall and food

  • When traveling to see the fall foliage, be sure to look for food festivals or restaurants specializing in foods native to the states you’re visiting.
  • Take advantage of autumn weather and eat outside, while soaking in the lovely views.
  • When buying baked goods, look for any that have incorporated leaves as inspiration such as leaf-shaped cookies.

Share the love

  • Be sure to post photos on your social media.
  • Create poetry to share with your friends and family.
  • If you know people who live in areas that don’t experience the delightful leaves in their colors of reds and golds, take time to bundle some up and mail them!

One of the things that makes fall special is how fleeting it is. Take time to savor the moment. It won’t last long. 

Skip the Sugar

on Tuesday, 14 September 2021. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you need a quick boost, it may be tempting to reach for a something sweet like a soft drink or a candy bar. Thanks to people’s sweet tooth, not to mention a generous helping hand from the sugar industry, sugary snacks are cheap and readily available.  

The problem is that these drinks and snacks are not only bad for you, but they’re also an inefficient way to get through your day. These types of foods are good for quick energy, but they’re processed quickly and once they’re gone, you’re left feeling shaky and empty. Any excess calories you consume goes straight to fat cells, which does little to help your waistline. 

Sugary drinks like cola are particularly insidious because they turn off the body’s natural appetite control since liquid calories aren’t as satisfying to the body as solid food. If that weren’t enough, sugar is also bad for your heart and your liver. Your liver processes sugar in a similar way to alcohol, converting dietary carbs to fat. Over time it can lead to fatty liver disease, which contributes to diabetes and in turn raises your risk of heart disease. It’s a snowball effect you can do without.

Speaking of heart disease, sugar affects the heart in various ways. Consuming too much sugar can increase blood pressure and chronic inflammation. 

Because sugar is so common, it’s also hard to avoid. Reading the labels on the food you eat is one of the best ways to avoid it. Sugar comes in many varieties. Look out for labels that contain words like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, malt sugar and molasses. 

Avoiding sugar altogether may be tricky, but if you plan ahead and make sure you have access to healthier protein snacks, you can save your waistline and your health. The sugar industry may not thank you, but your body will.

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