Peak of Summer Farmers Market Finds

Peak of Summer Farmers Market Finds
August at the farmers market is the best of both worlds. In the dog days of summer you’ll find plenty of zucchini and peaches. With fall just around the corner, you’ll start to see winter squash and root vegetables.

It’s always been my favorite time to go to the market but the OxyChallenge is making it even more fun! I’m getting out of my comfort zone and trying familiar vegetables in some new ways.

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Peppers are a great example. I use bell peppers and poblano peppers in frittatas and stir-frys quite often but I’ve never made a stuffed pepper. I was skeptical at first of this dish. I like my peppers but I like them diced up to add flavor, not as the main event. I was pleasantly surprised not just at how good Erin’s Stuffed Pepper recipe tasted but also how easy they were to prepare! I made them on Sunday and had two meals to take to the gym during the week. Her recipe is simply a mixture of eggs whites and veggies, poured into the pepper and baked. The peppers I found at the market were little but delicious! The weather in the Ozarks is making it hard to find this normally bountiful summer vegetable however. I talked to one farmer at Farmers Market of the Ozarks who said they are dying on the vine from the heat. Take advantage if you do find some good ones. Here’s an equally tasty option from Vegetarian Times – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.

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I’m also enjoying BIG salads. I love my spinach and kale but rarely do I eat other kinds of greens. With the Easy Salad (throwing together anything you have from her list of vegetables) appearing a lot on Erin’s meal plan I’ve been trying various mixes. I picked up a gorgeous bunch of lettuces (which I am unable to name) from the market to top with cucumber and my favorite Vegan Traditional “Egg” Salad. By topping with the egg salad I get protein (she has cottage cheese as a side on the meal plan) and I don’t have to use dressing. Next time you’re thinking of making egg, tuna or chicken salad, forget the bread and have it on a bed of greens instead. This Avocado Egg Salad from Clean Eating is another one of my favorites.

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Of course there are still plenty of potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers. You might even still find some blueberries. The biggest surprise has been the appearance of apples! I actually saw them for the first time at the end of July! What are appearing so far are tarter varieties so I haven’t indulged yet. I’ll be holding out for the Gala and Fuji.

Are you ready for winter squash, apples and sweet potatoes? Or will you miss the tomatoes and berries? How are you enjoying your farmers market bounty right now?

6 Foolproof Healthy School Lunch Ideas

 

Foolproof-Healthy-School-Lunch-Ideas

Despite the efforts of the First Lady, Jamie Oliver and our Congress, school lunches still need a lot of work. I don’t have kids but I hear tales from my sister in law and my clients. School lunch menus are available online too. Here is what the summer menu looked like for the elementary and middle school students this past June in Springfield:

Scool Lunch Calendar

I don’t know about you but all I see are a lot of starchy carbs, sugar and not enough vegetables. It looks like a fast food menu not a nutritionally balanced one. I would love to see the nutritional information to see how much sugar has been added to the baked beans, blueberries jubilee, applesauce and mixed fruit. I don’t even know what a “Breakfast Stick” is?

I understand schools are in a bind. Their budgets are way too small for the important job they have to do. I also know that they don’t want the food to go to waste so they are doing their best to mimic what kids are familiar with and like to eat. Lunch boxes are filled with the same. Lunchables, granola bars and go-gurt are popular from what I understand. So is mom showing up with McDonald’s.

I’m not judging parents either. I don’t have kids, but I was one once. I remember what a picky eater I could be. Even though we qualified for free school lunches my mom packed my lunch most days in grade school because I wouldn’t eat at least half of what was on the menu. With a limited budget and a desire to get some food in her child, my mom did the best she could with peanut butter sandwiches, juice “drink” boxes and something called banana flips from the discount bakery.

Yet I think we can all do better. A healthier lunch can be economical and tasty. It doesn’t require making your own applesauce or baking your own bread. Here are some tips and recipes for ways to make the lunch box healthier while keeping it kid friendly.

  1. Leftovers

    Emily at That’s What I Eat shares what seems like a weeks worth of her daughter’s lunch box on her blog. Leftovers work for kids too! I never thought of a cold quesadilla but it makes perfect kid friendly finger food. I love (and covet) the Hello Kitty thermos.

  2. Chia Pudding

    Mix 2 tbsp chia seeds with ½ cup coconut milk and by lunch you’ll have a lovely pudding. Pack fun add-ins like shredded coconut, raisins or cocoa dusted almonds. You can add date syrup or honey if you need a touch of sweetness. For a side, add some cheese cubs, grapes, apple slice or baby carrots.

  3. Smoothies

    Kids like fruit or chocolate smoothies. You don’t have to tell them about the protein and greens you’ve added. Throw whatever fruit you have, fresh or frozen, into a blender along with unsweetened almond milk, ice and a scoop of Vega Protein + Greens powder. Mango, blueberries and vanilla protein go great together. I love chocolate, peanut butter and banana. Pour into the thermos and whatever won’t fit becomes breakfast for you.

  4. Egg Salad

    Egg salad (or chicken salad) can provide a healthy lunch for you and the kids. I love this Avocado Egg Salad from Clean Eating Magazine. If you do eat meat, try this cranberry apple chicken salad from Ari’s Menu. Wrap it up or put in a pita, with greens if your child likes them.

  5. PB&J

    There’s nothing wrong with PB& J! Make it on whole grain bread and use natural peanut butter and low sugar jam. Try this Lunch Box Favorite Salad from Vegetarian Times as a side.

  6. Hummus

    I know for a fact kids love hummus. You can buy any variety of brands or make your own. Put it in the lunch box along with a variety of dippers – pita, carrots, cucumbers, apples, pretzel sticks- and a side treat like a Date Lady Date Snack Pack.

I would love to hear your ideas and feedback! How do you make healthier school lunches that your kids will eat AND love?

Southwest Chickpea Scramble Recipe

Southwest Chickpea Scramble Recipe

I am suspicious of any diet that tells you not to eat beans. Beans are nutritional powerhouses! Yes they have carbs, but not all carbs are created equal! Beans have heart healthy soluble fiber (the kind you want if your LDL “lousy” cholesterol is high) and are a great source of protein. Beans keep you feeling fuller longer and give you energy without a blood sugar spike. Not only should the NOT be excluded from your diet, I think they should be a staple!

As my diet has evolved from the vegetarian who didn’t eat vegetables to the clean eating personal trainer I am today, I’ve learned that beans are for more than just chili. It’s simple to toss kidney beans on top of a salad. Black beans can add moisture to brownies, muffins and pancakes or make a great burger. Ground up chickpeas can be a great stand-in for chicken in a deli style salad.

Chickpeas also make a great scramble, taking the place of eggs or tofu. The southwest scramble will give you more protein than two eggs plus 15 grams of fiber. This power combo, along with the fat in the avocado, will keep you feeling full and energetic all morning long!

Southwest Chickpea Scramble

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • ¾ cup cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup chopped zucchini
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 vegan breakfast patty
  • 2 tbsp black bean and corn salsa
  • ¼ of one avocado
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat non-stick skillet over medium low heat.
  2. Mash chickpeas in a bowl and set them aside. If using a frozen breakfast patty, defrost it and also set it aside.
  3. Heat skillet and spray with olive oil. Heat the oil then add zucchini and red onion to the skillet. Cook until the zucchini starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the chickpeas, cumin, salt and pepper and 2-4 tbsp of water. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Crumble breakfast patty into the chickpea mixture and cook until the breakfast patty warmed up, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Transfer scramble to a bowl or plate and top with salsa and avocado. You can also divide among corn tortillas for breakfast tacos. Makes one serving.

Don’t forget – scrambles aren’t just for breakfast! Use this easy and nutritious scramble anytime you need a quick meal!

Yield: 1 Scramble
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Serving: 1 Scramble

Per Serving: Calories 324; Total Fat 8g (Sat Fat 1g, Mono Fat 1g, Poly Fat 1g, Trans 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 808mg; Total Carbohydrates 48g (Fiber 15g; Sugars 12g); Protein 20g

My Fit Foodie Favorite Things in Springfield, MO

 

Fitness Favorite Things

Have you ever been a tourist in you own hometown? With all the travel that Brian and I do it’s easy to forget how much beauty we have in the Ozarks. It’s easy to overlook  great food since we don’t dine out a lot when we’re not on the road. Our lives get so busy that we don’t make time for things like the First Friday Art Walk, something we used to do every month. We hike like crazy in Hawaii but neglect all the trails just an hour or so away from home. My love of tea and being forced to walk not run due to an injury inspired me to take a fresh look at 417-land. This month, I am loving my hometown and the unique things it has to offer.

Chabom Tea + Spices

The anticipation of this shop is what inspired me to get curious about what’s new (or new to me) in Springfield. Brought to you by the owners of Café Cusco, Chabom offers has a huge variety of loose teas and spices plus tea ware, gifts and treats. I’ve been looking forward to their opening for months. (I might have been a bit overzealous with my Facebook posts, declaring my excitement.) I feel like I may have ambushed them with my excitement at their soft opening during the C-Street Stroll. I could tell it was really a soft opening for them, so I waited to really explore when I came back a couple weeks later. The fully stocked store was everything I had hoped it would be! Joe and his staff are amazingly friendly, patiently answering all my questions about what  pu-erh tea they can order and who makes their delicious selection of gluten free and vegan baked goods. Buying loose tea by the ounce is a great way to learn about new teas. Plus they’ll brew you a cup of anything on the shelf! Stop buy for a cup of Chinese jasmine and a rose spiced cookie if you want a real treat! Tell them I sent you.

The Date Lady

Born in Springfield but available in over 500 stores in the US, Date Lady products are amazing! I’ve always loved dates but The Date Lady has made my affection soar to a whole new level. We were lucky enough to have the owner and Chef Date Aficionado, Colleen Sundlie, to ourselves for a bit at the C-Street Stroll open house. Her story deserves a blog post of it’s own! She is passionate about her product, loading up the car to travel all over the US to spread her date love! I can guarantee most people have never had the quality of date she sells. Soft and caramel like, they almost melt in your mouth. I replaced honey on the baked pears I have been making with balsamic vinegar date syrup blend with delicious results. I am also absolutely in love with the date syrup! I made The Date Lady gluten free coconut macaroons and I followed her suggestion to put the date syrup on my protein pancakes. I am very inspired to work on some date recipes of my own! Even if you don’t live in SGF, you can still enjoy her treats by visiting The Date Lady online.

Legacy Bagelry

Never underestimate the power of Instagram. I’ve been following Legacy Bagelry for a while but I wasn’t inspired to actually visit their store until I saw their protein bars. These house made gems are peanut butter based, vegan and gluten free. While they didn’t have specific nutrition facts available, they didn’t taste overly sweet. I know they are sweetened with date syrup (from The Date Lady!) and come in a chocolate peanut or trail mix varieties. The staff was super helpful when I asked a million questions about the bars’ ingredients. I love their mission, which they call call their Doctrinology:
Simple. Wholesome. Fresh.
Next time I may grab a coconut chai latte to go with my bar or a bagel to share with Brian.

I have another local favorite that I plan on visiting…once my ankle heels. I ran a 5K a few weeks back and somehow injured my ankle. I was fine during the race but the next day not so much. As soon as I can run again, I am going to my local Ultra Max Sports store to get a new pair of running shoes. I have a feeling part of my problem came from running in the wrong shoe. Ultra Max fits you for the right show and, according to one of my clients, will take them back if they turn out to be the wrong shoe for you! I may end spending a little more than I might if I ordered from Amazon but to be able to return a used shoe is well worth it. In them mean time, I can walk and hike! So I am open to running shoe suggests. I’ve got flat feet with a bit of a wide toe box. I open to our suggestions as well. What running shoes do you love? What spot am I missing in SGF? Where would you take me in your hometown?

Farmers Market Finds for June: Zoodles and Berries!

Farmers-Market-Finds-for-June--Zoodles-and-Berries

Here is my best piece of farmers market advice.

Go EARLY!

Farmer's Market Zucchini

There is a big difference in the crowds at 8 am, when Farmers Market of the Ozarks officially opens, and 10:30 am. On a particularly rainy Saturday, when I arrived much later than usual, we were elbow to elbow under the pavilion. It’s harder to browse, harder to get the farmers attention to make a purchase and certainly harder to get a parking spot. If early mornings aren’t your thing you can go to Farmer Market of the Ozarks on Thursday nights but you won’t have nearly the selection. Plus you have to dodge people and their cocktails who are there more for happy hour than to pick out zucchini.

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Speaking of zucchini – it’s everywhere! I’ve been enjoying my zoodles both raw and cooked. I have a new raw salad combo that I can’t get enough of featuring zoodles and a Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing from Clean Eating magazine. I add shredded carrots to my zoodles along with fresh cilantro and basil. Then I top with a tablespoon of the dressing. I could eat it every day! I have also found zoodles to be a great way to bulk up regular pasta thanks to the Healthy Pasta cookbook. I recently made a linguine with zucchini noodles and peas from the book. I omitted the pancetta and learned a vegan cooking hack for replacing smoky meats – smoked sea salt! It helped give the base the flavor it needed and then I added a few vegetarian “bacon bits” on top.

Farmer's Market Blue Berries

Fruit lovers can also rejoice in June! Blueberries and peaches are here! I had my first peach of the season a couple of weeks ago. It had gorgeous orange and red flesh and was so juicy I had to hold the napkin under my mouth the entire time. Peaches will be around for a while as the different varieties hit their peak but blueberry season is very short. Get plenty and freeze them for use in smoothies or chia jam later in the year.

This month I also want to give a big shout out to Echigo Farm. I’ve raved about my favorite delicacy, the an-pan, in past. Now I have to let you in on my newest find – fermented chickpea hummus. Fermented foods provide a host of health benefits with their probiotic qualities but most people don’t eat them often enough. This hummus is a delicious solution to that problem. Plus the fermentation process helps the fresh made hummus last longer (if you can resist eating it all in a single weekend). Try it to liven up your veggie wrap or to dip your baby carrots and cucumber in. I also picked up another fermented food for Kimchi Fried Rice (another Clean Eating Magazine find). I love that Echigo Farms makes so many varieties of kimchi. There is bound to be something to please any palate. (Personally I go with the Vegetarian Kimchi because most traditional kimchi contains fish sauce.)

I find kimchi is either a love it or hate it kind of food. Which camp do you fall into? What’s your favorite way to eat your zoodles?

Roasted Broccoli Tofu Scramble Recipe

Roasted-Broccoli-Tofu-Scramble

Ever since discovering the deliciousness of roasted Brussels sprouts I want to roast everything! I love the taste of the roasted mushrooms and onions in the Millet and Mushroom Bowls. Roasted asparagus is almost better than grilled! When fresh broccoli started making it’s appearance at the farmers market I knew it would be the next veggie on my roasting pan.

If you’ve never roasted broccoli before it is quite easy. Simply toss with olive oil and a little salt and pepper, then put in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You can eat it just like that or add it to salad, pasta or your omelet.

roasted-broccoli

Instead of eggs, I thought I would offer up my version of a tofu scramble. This quick dish makes a hearty single serving or can be shared with some fruit or whole grain toast on the side to balance out our plate.

Roasted Broccoli Tofu Scramble

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 12 oz of silken tofu, firm
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
  • pinch of black salt.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the broccoli with 2 tsp of EVOO and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the broccoli is roasting heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp of EVOO and heat. Add tofu, mashing it in the skillet until well crumbled. Season with turmeric and black salt and let it cook about 5 minutes (longer if you want your “eggs” less runny).
  3. Add basil and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 Scramble
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Serving: 1 Scramble

Per Serving: Calories 336; Total Fat 19g (Sat Fat 2g, Poly Fat 10g, Mono Fat 2g, Trans 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 482mg; Total Carbohydrates 23g (Fiber 6g; Sugars 6g); Protein 26g