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October 2011

Back to the farmers market

Haven't been to the Plantation Farmers Market in ages, but I had been watching a Cooking Channel show on food trucks and was inspired to check out our local food sources.

Last time I went, the produce section had been joined by a few new vendors -- a hummus guy, a baker, and some plant sellers.

But, wow! Lots more to choose from today.

FM sauces

Nonna Rizzo's, a really creative lineup of sauces. I bought a puttanesca and one called Ceci della Basilicata -- made with chickpeas, plum tomatoes, garlic and rosemary.

FM picklesThere were homemade pickles (Pickled Pink, love the name), orchids, local honey, smoked fish, dog treats, even a barbecue truck. And, of course, the produce.

FM produce

See those avocados at the bottom of the photo at right? There are California ones and Florida ones. California ones are darker, smaller and higher in fat than the often football-sized Florida ones. Their texture is firmer and the fruit is sweeter, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes, like...

FM chill spot

Avocado Italian ice! That's Tessi, from The Chill Stop, scooping me out a cup of Florida avocado Italian ice. I had walked up to their cart and I must have had "OMG, avocado Italian ice!" written all over my face because her Chill Stop partner John said "wanna try a  sample of the avocado?"

It was creamy, light, sweet and not at all like frozen guacamole.

So I walked out with sauce and cookies and had avocado Italian ice and a slice of tortilla espanola for lunch.

Where were all the fresh veggies? Those had to wait until I got to The Fresh Market (I was market hopping today). The farmers market selection was a little thin -- guess it's the end of the growing season. But I did pick up some nice organic collards and Perfect Foods bars at The Fresh Market.

But it's great to chat with and buy from locals -- the honey people let me sample some very cool varieties -- avocado, local wildflower and even mangrove and palmetto honeys. There aren't any mystery ingredients, nothing's overprocessed -- it's all real food and real friendly.

And here's this week's HealthBuzz:

Orange you glad I said pumpkin?

Sausage pumpkin spinach pasta
(Last night's dinner, thanks to Roni. Thank goodness there's leftovers.)

Last December, I bought a case of organic canned pumpkin from It was crazy-cheap, and pumpkin is a weight-loss blogger's favorite food, right?

Because of that, I'm constantly on the prowl for pumpkin recipes. I dug up a fantastic pumpkin risotto recipe from an old Weight Watchers Simply the Best Italian cookbook (can't find the recipe online to link, but take my word for it, it's fantastic and the book is also crazy-cheap used on Amazon).

I was skimming the Live Well 360 website (which makes fabulous workout bags) and the company compiled a great list of 18 healthy fall recipes from various sources. Lots of pumpkin recipes there, including one from Roni Noone of Green Lite Bites (and Fitbloggin').

Pasta With Pumpkin, Sausage and Spinach -- perfect! I even had all the ingredients, but I subbed Swiss chard for the spinach because I didn't have enough spinach. I also used quinoa pasta because I'm not doing the wheat thing right now. But everything else was the same, I swear, Roni!

(Don't you hate when people comment online on recipes and say "This was great, but I subbed beef for chicken, added a can of tomatoes, changed all the spices, and used pasta instead of rice." Not the same recipe.)

It made five nice-sized servings and the creamy pumpkin-infused sauce was lovely. HERE'S the recipe on her site, which is also the source of her first cookbook, also titled Green Lite Bites.

Pumpkin is a healthy eater's best friend because it's really low in calories, full of nutrients, lasts almost forever in the pantry and can be added to sweet and savory foods. Once a can is opened, I mix it into everything -- oatmeal, pasta sauce, soup, you name it.

And while we're on the subject of pumpkin, let's talk Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, shall we? A grande with lowfat milk and whipped cream (standard issue) is 380 calories. As they say on ESPN, c'mon, man! A cuppa coffee should not be 380 calories. Make it nonfat milk and take away the whipped cream and you're still at 260 calories. Yikes.

Pumpkin-spice-coffeeBut recently, BzzAgent sent me some Green Mountain Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice coffee to try. I haven't bought flavored coffee in years, because I enjoy coffee-flavored coffee. I don't need my morning mug to taste like cheesecake or kiwis or some other ridic flavor. 


I made some Pumpkin Spice this morning and was very pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. Not overwhelming, just a hint of the spices that go into pumpkin pie. All I added was a couple tablespoons of Organic Valley soy creamer. But if I want to make a latte at home, I'll add a half cup of vanilla almond milk and the whole shebang will only be 45 calories -- far better than 400.

Tunes for Tuesday: Pumped Up Kicks, by Foster the People

My radio-listening activity tends to skew to sports talk because, frankly, South Florida radio sucks, so, I admit, the first time I heard Pumped Up Kicks was this weekend on Saturday Night Live. I had heard of the band but hadn't heard their music, so I was psyched that they were the musical guests. I'm a pop music fan and love stuff like this, perfect for a brisk walking workout (and, yes, I know how dark the lyrics are -- I was dancing to Psycho Killer in college when some of you pipsqueaks were in diapers):

I hate my guts (but not that way)

Anyone else know the joys of a hiatal hernia? Most of the time it's not an issue, but this past week it has been acting up. With that comes nausea, midsection discomfort and enough burping for a dozen truck drivers. Wearing a sports bra is torture since the band hits me right there.

OK, enough -- you get the picture.

I live on daily Nexium so at least I don't have a bubbling cauldron of acid but that doesn't fix the gaping maw in my midsection.

And yes, I did have it officially diagnosed a few years ago, with the "take a Valium, then we'll stick a camera down your nose and lower it into your stomach; it'll be fun!" procedure.

But I know what will make it feel better -- yep, losing more weight. I'm not an apple shape, which would put a lot more pressure in that area, but any excess weight will aggravate one.

Fist So this week, I'm going to eat by The Rule of the Fist: Each meal or snack should be no bigger than the size of my fist so my stomach can process the food without getting stuffed.

And then wait awhile -- no eating every two hours. I tried that yesterday and found that I felt much better when I let my system clear itself out.

Everytime I get the urge to eat when I don't really need to, I'll curl my hand into a fist and look at it -- then remember how much better I feel when I follow my rule.

Yesterday, for example, my afternoon snack was a rice cake (one of those health-food store "good ones") topped with a slice of Swiss cheese. Nice and small and filling.

Another thing that has been making me feel better -- avoiding wheat. I recently read the book Wheat Belly, by William Davis, M.D.. His contention is that the modern wheat plant and all that has come from it is what is making people sick and fat. He writes a convincing argument, so a couple weeks ago I cut out wheat. It was pretty easy to do, and, no, I didn't replace foods with gluten-free junk food. Instead I sought out non-wheat "real food" starches -- things like an occasional potato or brown rice and non-wheat cereals. But I also made sure to eat less of those, too, because too many starchy foods leaves me wanting more.

After that week, I decided to see what would happen if I added back some wheat products. And that's when the digestive woes started.

Coincidence? Dunno.

Anyway, that brings me to ...

An Attune Foods giveaway!

  Attune Foods makes lots of yummy products, and one of its product lines is Erewhon, which has many gluten-free breakfast cereals. Attune foodsI especially like the Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice cereal as a little after-dinner snack. And tiny cereals are hard to snack on because shoving your arm into the box of cereal gets messy. I pour out a serving into one of our bowls from the Post-Toddler Collection (Teletubbies!) and I'm good for the evening.

If you'd like to try Attune's products, I have three free product coupons. Just let me know, in the comments section below, what Attune product would tickle your fancy. (Check 'em out HERE.) 

Extra entries (not required but extra fun!):

Deadline for the gift card giveaway is noon ET on Halloween (Monday, Oct. 31) I'll choose three random winners and notify you then.

Disclosure: I received free coupons from Attune brand ambassador Anne-Marie Nichols for this post. Opinions expressed are my own. The giveaway is open to North American residents only.

Produce of the Month: Collard greens

(OK, it hasn't been monthly in months, but we'll give it a go again because we love fruits and veggies!)


The last time I bought collard greens they were a gigantic sandy mess, full of tough stems and big, dirty leaves -- yeesh, you'd think that they grew in dirt or something!

But recently, I've noticed these wonderfully wrapped and stacked leaves of organic collards in the grocery store so I figured I'd give them another try. What a huge difference!

The organic greens were pretty clean -- all they required was a little swishing in water. The leaves were a bit smaller, and therefore, more tender than larger, older leaves. Even the stems were worth throwing into the pan.

No ham hocks or bacon fat were harmed in the making of my collards. Instead, I heated some olive oil, browned some minced garlic, tossed in some red onion for flavor and color and then added the collards, which I sliced crosswise. I also didn't cook 'em to death so they stayed a gorgeous green.

The stats on collards

(Per 1 cup serving):

  • Calories: 49
  • Vitamin C: 58%DV
  • Vitamin K: 880%
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Calcium: 226mg (yeah!)
  • Protein: 4g

(Stats from The World's Healthiest Foods)

Here's this week's Health Buzz:

Ladies and gentlemen ... PRE. BABY. WEIGHT.

I said I would post as soon as I hit it, and this morning, after sleeping in a Ben & Jerry's tie-dyed Wavy Gravy T-shirt, I stepped on the scale and there it was:


I haven't seen that number since before I got pregnant -- 1997, to be exact. (Yes, the baby is a teenager.) In fact, it's even a half pound less than pre-baby weight.


Yes, I do believe I deserve the applause from the fancy people. This 30 pounds from the all-time high was damn hard. But I feel like I'm over a really big hump. Onward and downward.

Thank you, Bob Harper and Richard Simmons, for making my recent California trip memorable and more active.

Bob harper and me at blogher Richard and me










Thank you, also, to my Weight Shrink, who is helping me work on the most important piece of the puzzle -- the weight between my ears. (And she knows what she's talking about -- she's down more than 120 pounds and super close to her goal weight.)

Also, thanks Weight Watchers Online. I recently decided to go back to it when the scale stalled. Like the Lose It app, it also counts down my tally for the day, but I think the calorie count is a little better in line for me. Also, I can now use its awesome Android app to look foods up on the go.

To celebrate, I'm lacing up my shoes and going for a big long walk. Because I don't want the scale to jump back up. This moment has been 14 years in the making and I'm not screwing it up. Plus I still have a ways to go.