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Not impressed with the farmer's markets

August 3rd, 2009 at 07:18 am

A new farmer's market recently started on Tuesday afternoons near my son's preschool, and I decided to check it out. I was not impressed to say the least. First of all, half of the market wasn't even food -- just junky impulse purchase stuff, tupperware, etc. The next quarter was food booths -- gyros, crepes, etc. Only the last quarter had actual produce, and it didn't appear to me to be much cheaper than the supermarket, nor was the quality noticibly better. I picked up some tomatoes, but they certainly didn't match the home-grown taste I was hoping for.

This is the 4th farmers market I've checked out, and they all seem pretty much the same. Maybe I live just too deep in surburbia to get really good quality stuff at a market.

Veggie Side-Dishes

April 22nd, 2007 at 09:56 pm

I've been wanting to make a list of vegetables and quick side-dishes featuring each that my husband will eat. With luck, 18-month old DS will eventually learn to eat most of them as well. It's not exactly financial, but why not keep it in my blog? This is definitely a work-in-progress, and I hope to come back and update it whenever I a new dish is a hit. I started with a list of vegetables from Wikipedia, and shortened it somewhat by deleting ones I didn't think I'd find in the local and ethnic grocery stores.

Western cabbage family
Broccoli -- steamed, add Lee Kum Kee stir fry sauce
Brussels sprout
Cabbage -- TBD, looking for a healthy cole slaw recipe
Cauliflower -- TBD, need something cheesy
Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) -- TBD, maybe wilted with oyster sauce
Red cabbage

Asian cabbage family
Bok choy
Mizuna greens
Oriental mustard

Leafy and salad vegetables
Iceplant -- It's all over the place as a groundcover in southern CA. I had no idea the fruits are edible!
Lettuce -- salad with balsalmic dressing
New Zealand Spinach
Orache (French Spinach)
Swiss chard
Water spinach

Fruiting and flowering vegetables
Armenian cucumber (Snake cucumber)
Avocado -- homemade guacomole
Bitter melon
Chayote (Choko)
Chile pepper
Globe Artichoke
Luffa (Chinese Okra)
Sweetcorn -- boiled corn-on-the-cob style
Sweet pepper (Bell pepper)
Summer squash -- see list below
Tomato -- bruschetta, homemade pasta sauce
Winter melon (Fuzzy melon)
Winter squash -- see list below

Summer squashes
Button squash
Yellow crookneck squash
Zucchini -- Sesame Parmesean Zucchini (see recipe:

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Winter squashes
Butternut -- soup
Delicata -- soup
Spaghetti squash -- microwave and serve with marinara sauce from TJ's

Podded vegetables
Black-eyed pea
Black lentil (Urad bean)
Chickpea -- store-bought hummus
Fava bean
Green bean -- steamed in microwave and tossed with balsalmic vinegarette
Lima bean
Moth bean
Mung dal
Navy bean
Runner bean
Yardlong bean (snake bean)

Bulb and stem vegetables
Asparagus -- steamed in microwave and tossed with balsalmic vinegarette
Florence fennel
Leek -- soup
Wild leek

Root and tuberous vegetables
Bamboo shoot
Chinese artichoke
Daikon radish
Jerusalem artichoke
Water chestnut
Yam (sweet potato) -- buy sliced "fries", bake, season with BBQ or cajun spice

My healthy eating plan

April 22nd, 2007 at 12:25 am

I've been reading up on nutrition lately, and am working on improving my family's eating habits. This post is my attempt to get a plan down in writing.

Here are a couple of the books I've read and would recommend: What to Eat (excellent book by a nutritionist but LONG!), The Healtiest Kid in the Neighborhood (good info although a little preachy), and YOU: On a Diet (good background on how the body works, the actual chapter on the healthy diet is good for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, but flimsy on dinner).

I'd say our diet is currently better than average, but there's definitely room for improvement in regards to eating more fruits and vegetables. I eat a high-fiber, high-protein ceral with berries and fat free milk for breakfast. We make dinner at home most nights, usually using a lean meat (turkey, chicken, or pork), and cook with olive oil. We cut out most bread, pasta, rice, and chips during a stint on South Beach, although we still eat tortillas quite a bit. DH does eat lunch at a restaurant most days, while I do once or twice a week and have leftovers on other days.

Here are the areas I'm going to concentrate on:

1. Eating mostly from the "perimeter" of the grocery store -- fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy -- and minimizing packaged foods such as crackers and chips.
2. Read labels on all pre-packaged food. Avoid foods with "enriched flour", "high fructose corn syrup", "sugar" (and its synonyms), or "hydrogenated oil" in the first 5 ingredents. Avoid foods high in saturated fat or with any trans fat.
3. Eating more whole grains. When we do buy breads, cereals, etc., choose ones with "whole wheat" or "whole grain" as the first ingredient.
4. Concentrate on getting 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
5. Eat fish at least once a week.
6. Eat more nuts, beans, and lentils.
7. Cut down on artificial sweeteners.
8. Enjoy a glass of red wine a few nights a week.

So far, the reading labels part is going pretty well. I wanted some bread to make toast for my toddler, and I was really disappointed to find that my favorite whole wheat bread contains high fructose corn syrup. It seems like it's in EVERYTHING! I finally found a loaf made by Miltons that I like ok. I'm not sure whether to make an exception for the BBQ and Asian sauces my husband likes to cook with -- they all seem to have corn syrup and sugar in them.

Eating more fruit, veggies, and beans/lentils seems to be the toughest change to make. My husband is actively resisting the veggie campaign, so I'm trying to come up with a list of sauces, etc., to make them more appealing.

For drinks, I'm planning to switch to homemade lemonade and sun tea. (Currently we drink a lot of diet soda.)

Here's my plan to eat 5 a day:
1. Banana or berries on my cereal.
2. Apple, pear, orange, or plum, etc with lunch.
3. Crunchy vegetable (carrot, bell pepper, or sugar snap peas) with dip (hummus or homemade guacomole) and a handful of nuts for my afternoon snack.
4. Salad with dinner.
5. Side vegetable with dinner.

I'd love to hear your suggestions on how to make specific vegetables taste good even to a veggie hater!