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JESSIKA: Start Off the New Year Right

Hey, Jets Fans!

2011 has gone by so fast! It's hard to accept that this season has come to an end but I am so thankful for everything that I have experienced and been a part of.

With that said, it's never a good time to let the holidays come between you and your health. I am Puerto Rican and Colombian so it can be very difficult to cut my cultural food habits. I believe that being in good shape is 70% of what you eat. I have put together a few tips that keep me healthy and happy.

Items I have available for me in the kitchen:

Fresh Produce: Apples, banana, carrots, avocado, celery, oranges, lemons, lime, berries, pears, peaches, plum, peppers, onions, garlic, corn

Fresh Greens: Romaine, arugula, iceberg, cabbage, spinach, collards, broccoli, peas, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower

Seafood & Meats: All white meat ground turkey, lean ground beef, chicken (skinless thighs, breast, whole chicken), salmon, cod, trout, cold cuts (no nitrates added — turkey & roast beef)

Condiments: Raw sugar, honey, vegan mayo, sea salt, low sodium soy sauce, oil, vinegar, basil, oregano, rosemary, black peppercorn

Deli/Cheese/Dairy: Eggs, Greek yogurt, milk (organic, 2%, soy, almond), hummus, butter, part skim mozzarella, ricotta

Beverages: Tea, 100% orange juice, sparkling water, seltzer, vitamin water, cranberry juice, coconut water

Grains/Pasta/Cereals: Oatmeal, whole grain cereals, brown rice, 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread, 100% whole wheat pasta

Beans/Soy: Edamame, chickpeas, lentils

Snacks: Nuts, dried fruit, popcorn, veggie chips, protein bars (no more than 5 grams of added sugar), frozen fruit popsicles

It is very important to stick with what you like so create your own list. I am always on the go so I like to keep some healthy snacks with me all the time. Anytime I am hungry, I avoid looking for the first place to stop to eat. We are surrounded by fast-food restaurants and it has become a social habit to go out for dinner or lunch. So just be aware that eating a salad at a restaurant may not always be as healthy as you think.

I confess; I do cheat every now and then. That brings me to my next tip. If you want to go out and eat, here are some good places I like to go to:

■ Muscle Maker Grill

■ Organic Grill

■ Angelica Kitchen

■ Spring Street Natural Restaurant

■ Gobo

■ Smoothie King

■ Planet Smoothie

■ 4food

So remember, JETS fans, it's never too late to change your menu! I love the way I feel after a good workout and I wouldn't feel that way without eating healthy. It's a new year, so let's start it off right.

  • Go Gang Green *

—Love, Jessika V.

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