Eat Me!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Tonight I’m posting one of my all-time FAVORITE recipes. It’s super-versatile, healthy, and oh-so-delicious…even cold.

Who You Callin’ Shrimp, Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 lb raw shrimp (pre-cooked are yucky…trust me); cleaned and deveined
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon; juiced (c’mon, use a real lemon!)
2 cloves of garlic; crushed
1/2 tsp each salt ‘n peppa (whatta man, whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man…sorry, sidetracked)
1/2 pint (or more, if you like…I like) cherry tomatoes; halved
3/4-1 cup Kalamata olives; halved (splurge on these–it’s not the same w/o them)
1 green bell pepper; chopped (I’ve experimented w/ the other colors–green’s the best!)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley; chopped
3 oz (approx) crumbled feta cheese
1 box quinoa, cooked in broth–not beef broth, not water
  • Place shrimp, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/4 tsp EACH salt n’ peppa in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Grab a big serving bowl–combine tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, parsley, feta, and remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt ‘n peppa.

Before the quinoa was added

  • Add cooked quinoa, and mix well.
  • Heat a pan over med-high heat. Place the shrimp in a SINGLE LAYER!!! and cook 2 minutes/side–enough to get a nice crust.
  • Mix shrimp into quinoa mixture.Eat your heart out!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It’s gluten-free and can also be adapted to fit any vegetarian or vegan lifestyle–obviously just by omitting the shrimp and feta. Hope you try it and love it as much as I do!

Cheers!

Vegin’ Out, Watchin’ a Movie

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Saturday night I was fortunate enough to see an advance screening of Forks Over Knives. It is a film about how nutrition affects our health. More specifically, it is a film about how consuming animal protein affects our health. Here is the trailer:

I have flirted with a vegan lifestyle in the past, but I’ve never truly made the commitment. It’s time to take the plunge. As of September 6th, 2010, I will be a 21-day vegan with the help of my friends at 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

I’m really excited to see what changes, if any, I will notice in my health, body, and mind. Twenty-one days is no big deal, right? Did I mention my husband and I just bought a side of grass-fed beef? I’m partial to eggs for breakfast? Am I crazy? Witness the insanity right here, as I’ll be documenting my every meal. And please mark your calendars for March 11, 2011–the official release date of Forks Over Knives.

Save Money; Eat Well

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Eating well on a budget isn’t always easy. More often than not, those 10 for $10 deals at the grocery stores are only advertising processed junk, and the coupons in the Sunday circulars are just as bad. What is the health-conscious, on-a-budget shopper to do? Here are some tips to help you save some money on your favorite eats:

  • Write (or email) the company. Do you have a favorite brand of organics? Is there something you’ve always wanted to buy, but feel guilty spending the money? Go to the company’s website, and click on “Contact Us.” Fill out the form, or mail a hand-written letter, telling them how much you love their products and would greatly appreciate some coupons! You will be amazed at the generosity of most companies. I’ve receive whole BOOKS with dollar off coupons inside.  Earthbound Farms and Amy’s Kitchen both send a bunch–and fast!
  • Trade in a bad habit. Do you smoke too much? Drink too much? Buy sugary cereals, candy, soda, or chips? Try swapping a weekly purchase of one of those for something healthy instead. Add up how much these vices cost per week–this number is usually surprising!
  • Shop seasonally. In case you missed my last post, you can save a great deal of money just by buying items that are in season. There is a reason strawberries and tomatoes are always on sale in the summer, squash and apples are always on sale in the fall, oranges in the winter, etc. Out-of-season foods cost more because of the cost of transportation to bring them in from other states, countries, and continents!
  • Shop locally. Not only does this give your local economy a boost (which is reason enough in itself to support a local farmer), but the prices of local produce are usually lower than the prices at the store–and for higher quality goods! Next time you see a little stand on the side of the road stop in, and see what kind of deals you can find!
  • Buy in bulk. When something is on sale, buy a bunch! Many farm stands will be happy to sell you a big box of “seconds” at a discounted price. I especially love doing this with apples and peaches. They may have a few bruises, but I just cut them out and they’re perfect for freezing or turning into sauce and preserving.

  • Grow your own! One of the best, and most satisfying, ways to save money on healthy foods is to plant a garden. Seeds cost next to nothing, and whether you have a patio or an average lot, there’s always room to grow! Even in the winter months I have had success growing herbs in a sunny window. If you’re planting a large garden, be sure that you know how to preserve your harvest; there’s nothing better than home-grown goodies available year round.

  • Make friends with a farmer. If you can’t grow your own food, buddy up to someone who can. Maybe you could volunteer at the farm for a weekly box of goodies. Bartering benefits both parties, and it’s an excellent way to form lasting relationships.

I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful. Just because the economy is suffering, doesn’t mean your health has to. There’s room to eat consciously in EVERY budget–find something that works for you!

The Seasonal Chef

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Most people take for granted the awesome variety of fruits and vegetables that are available almost any time of year at the grocery store. Very few people, however, realize the many benefits of buying locally grown, seasonal food items.

In-season food tastes better; it’s fresh, crisp, and colorful. The better something looks, the more likely we are to eat it. And the less passage of time between garden/field to plate, the more nutritious the meal.

In-season foods are environmentally friendly. Consider the fuel cost associated with the transportation of “ripe” fruits and vegetables to the colder climates in the winter months. Any item that has traveled thousands of miles to get to your table was picked too early and gassed to ripen. Like an airbrushed photo, it’s false advertising. Ever taste a tomato or strawberry in winter? Blech.

Cost is another benefit of seasonal cooking. When crops mature, there is an abundance of perishable food heading to markets. No one wants waste, especially the farmers who worked so hard to produce the food. The prices reflect this. Farmers’ Markets are excellent venues to find some deals!

To make things easy for you, epicurious.com offers this peak season map. Just click on your state to see what’s in season any time of the year–great for planning your shopping list!

What about those mid-winter months when NOTHING is in season? Eat stored items from fall–root vegetables, apples, and pears all store wonderfully. I think I could live on those for a few months; don’t you?

Summer is about to wind down in my neck of the woods. While I’ll certainly miss the fresh corn salsa, strawberries and cream, and Catawba Island peaches, I am looking forward to the hearty stews, stuffed squash, and of course Catawba Island apples. 🙂 Now that’s a delicious outlook!

Schools Sweeten the Deal–Don’t Bite!

Posted in Kids & Nutrition with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Dad is heading out the door. Mom just got out of the shower. The kids are still asleep, despite their ringing alarm clocks. Everyone has to be up, dressed, groomed, and fed within the hour. Time for school.

Does this sound familiar? The hurried frenzy of school mornings leaves many parents feeling panicked. Will the kids catch the bus? Is their homework completed? What about breakfast?

Well, parents, it just might be your lucky day. If your school district, like mine, has decided to serve up breakfast, your morning checklist could have one item crossed off–permanently! And while this may sound like a giant weight has been lifted, chances are you might have a change of heart when you see the offerings.

As I was looking through our mail, I noticed we had received our second grade daughter’s back-to-school packet from our district (even though we are homeschooling this year). In it was the usual calendar, lunch menu, bus schedule, emergency contact form, and orientation information. But this year there was something new–the school breakfast menu! This is what it said:

Welcome to Breakfast

Breakfast will be available to everyone before the start of the school day. Fuel up for a great day! The above menu will be available for the entire school year. Students receiving free or reduced benefits for lunch will also receive free or reduced benefits for breakfast. Breakfast charges will be deducted from the lunch account. Students will only be allowed 3 charges for any meals. Cereals are reduced sugar and the juice is 100% fruit juice. White 1% milk will be offered.

This is the actual menu:

School Breakfast Menu

I’m no expert, but I do have quite a bit of knowledge on the subjects of health and nutrition. This is what I know:

  • Sugar + Sugar + Sugar ≠ Fuel for a Great Day
  • Eating the above menu 5 days/week for 36 weeks will have no positive impact on a child’s health, and keep in mind, bad habits are hard to break.
  • Whether these cereals are reduced sugar or not makes no difference; the calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and other nutrients are almost the same as their full-sugar counterparts. It’s all about marketing.

I feel great concern for the kids receiving free or reduced benefits. The meals they eat at school are oftentimes the most nutritious meals of their entire day, if not their ONLY meals. Shouldn’t they at least have SOME nutritional value? What’s wrong with serving scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast? Cheerios with fresh fruit? Oatmeal with fruit? Breakfast burritos? Don’t get me wrong, I do not place blame on the district. I realize that there are many regulations regarding school meals; I’ve watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I realize money is tight and there is a budget to follow. But what about the health and welfare of our children?

Interestingly, this statement is taken directly from the 2010-2011 elementary student handbook:

Packed lunches should be a balanced lunch (ex. sandwich or cheese and crackers, vegetable, fruit, or cookie.) No soda pop should be packed in lunches. Beverages should be milk, fruit juice, or bottled water.

These are very reasonable expectations that they place on parents. Shouldn’t we, as parents, place the same expectations on those we trust with our kids every day? Think about why you send your children to school–to LEARN. They’re learning that sugary stuff is what they should eat at breakfast time; greasy starches and cheese is what they should eat at lunch; candy, chips, and cupcakes are acceptable mid-day snacks.  Is there any wonder we, as a nation, are raising fat kids?

I would love to hear your input on this subject, and while your school system may not have the same welcoming ears, drop them a line while you’re at it!

Welcome to Small Town Health

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Welcome friends and interested strangers. If you’re here, chances are you’re either:

  1. interested in health and nutrition, or
  2. eager to argue my points.

Either way, I hope we can all agree that Smart Ones are not really smart, and Healthy Choice entrees are not necessarily a healthy choice.  Whole foods, not factory foods, should be the staples of the human diet. Dare I say eat the butter, skip the margarine? Eat honey, skip the Splenda? Eat a burger (grass-fed, hormone & antibiotic free), skip the Boca? Oh, I dare!

I look forward to sharing ideas, recipes, and conversation with you.

Cheers!

Ps. Please bear with me while I tweak this infant blog!