Whole Foods Lifestyle - Healthy Food is Exciting!

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09-20-2010, 02:30 AM
I read a lot of posts here about "boring" diet food. This week, I hit up my farmer's market and we're in that golden period where the end-of-summer bounty is still going strong, but fall stuff is starting to trickle in too. And I'm really, REALLY excited about the food I have planned for this week! I thought we could share our menus as proof that healthy food CAN be exciting, delicious food! And the best part was that the farmer's market produce is not only fresh and organic, but also only cost me $30.

Today for lunch, I had homemade baked falafel patties with a spicy mint yogurt sauce and a side of baby carrots. So good! Falafel are so easy and, when baked, SO healthy.

Then for dinner I made chicken and dumplings from the leftovers of last night's roast chicken - stripped the remaining meat, then used the bones to make stock with garlic, onion, celery, carrots, and fresh dill. Once the stock was made and the fat skimmed, I sauteed up leek, fresh tarragon, carrots, parsnips, garlic, celery, and the remaining chicken - added in the fresh stock, simmered until done, then topped with low fat, whole wheat buttermilk dumpling dough speckled with fresh chives. And it was SO good. Yum.

My plans for the rest of the week (we use our dinner leftovers for lunch the next day) are:

Tomorrow - Barbecue pork tenderloin, grilled corn, and grilled zucchini. The corn has been really great this year, and even though the summer temps have pretty much gone away, this is a little bit of a farewell to summer.

Tuesday - Turkey chili, cooked in the slowcooker with ground turkey, red beans, lots of zucchini, jalapeno, and bell pepper. A little reduced fat cheddar and a little fat free sour cream, and a lot of delicious.

Wednesday - One of my favorite veggies I hadn't known about until the farmer's market, long beans, are still in season (getting toward the end...boo). I'm going to make a chicken and long bean stirfry, over brown and wild rice, with a spicy hoisin ginger sauce.

Thursday - A quickie meal because we have some errands - pizzas on flatout breads with lowfat mozzarella, grilled chicken, olives, broccoli, and pineapple, with big salads on the side.

Friday - A great bargain at the market this morning - a grocery bag full of tomatoes for 3 dollars. So sometime early in the week, I'm going to make a big pot of tomato sauce - fresh rosemary and oregano from the garden, lots of garlic, onion, a splash of red wine, and all of those lovely fresh tomatoes. Then I'll freeze some and set aside enough for Friday dinner - FiberGourmet spaghetti, the homemade sauce with added browned turkey, and a heap of roasted veggies (bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant, and onion). A nice grate of fresh parmesan on top.

And the fruit out right now is just INCREDIBLE! I got a watermelon, gorgeous red flame grapes, some amazing plums, apples, and peaches, all to keep me fueled snack-wise for the week. And I'm planning on having french toast made with whole wheat bread and farm fresh eggs for breakfast this week, so I can use some of that wonderful fruit as a topper.

So - are you EXCITED about your healthy food? Share your plan for the week or any exciting meal you've had lately. I want all of 3FC to know that "healthy" food can also be delicious, exciting food that you look forward to eating.

09-20-2010, 02:40 AM
That sounds absolutely wonderful! I'm excited to head to the market tomorrow and see what's out :)

09-20-2010, 11:54 AM
I used some tomatoes from my friend's garden to make a pico de gallo (tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeno). I used it when I made migas this weekend, and then I use it with baked tortilla wedges for "chips."

I also use thick slices on bread with ham and mustard, or on a toasted English muffin with some melted cheese and ground pepper.

Mandalinn, your meals sound wonderful!!

09-20-2010, 02:47 PM
YES! I'm excited about healthy food, too. Though I cannot claim a place on the whole foods train (I do not eat whole all of the time), I can tell of my experience at working healthier, unprocessed foods into my and my family's diets.

We eat lots more fresh fruits and veggies, more fish and leaner proteins (ground turkey instead of ground beef) and much, much less processed food than in the past. 99% of the time I get no complaints from my family. (My younger son asked recently if we could back off on the grilled chicken and fish, but otherwise no huge problems.) My older son actually got excited when he saw me steaming snow pea pods the other evening to go with our dinner!

I recently "treated" myself to Taco Bell....and I use that term very loosely. I don't know if they have changed their recipes or if my palate has really changed that much. It didn't taste satisfying at all to me and I used to LOVE their food. I don't feel as good when I eat fast or processed foods and I am loving it!

I often pack a healthy lunch for my younger son to take to school and I feel better that he isn't eating the terrible food they serve there, at least not every single day.

I truly enjoy reading all of the tips and recipes given on our board. It has helped me to make these changes and realize I can keep it up, even when I get to goal.

Love this place and all of the wonderful friends I've made here!

09-20-2010, 03:09 PM
Amanda, I want to hire you as my cook! :D I've been flying by the seat of my pants lately and haven't planned past tonight in a LONG time! It always works though. Last night was BBQ baked chicken, steamed broccoli and...um...mac and cheese. :o Blame the kids! We haven't had it in months!

I always get excited when winter squash hits Aldi. I love butternut and spaghetti squash and also sweet potatoes. Those are my favorite Fall/Winter starches.

I'm going to revisit this thread and maybe menu plan off it for a change! (I used to do that pre-healthy days.)

09-20-2010, 04:18 PM
Great topic Mandalinn! WHen I was working in an office my assistant was constantly asking what I was heating up for lunch and how interesting my food was. I would usually make her a little sampler bowl and she was so happy.

I too find that produce is the cornerstone of fun in my kitchen. I tend to do a lot of cooking on one day and then reheat combinations during the week. I also REFUSE to let produce get yucky and need to be thrown out, or to let anything rot in my vegetable garden. That leads me sometimes to cooking a vegetable dish even when I have already prepared dishes. It does not need to be eaten that day and often can be frozen for 'mergencies.

The current dishes on offer are:
- cooked spicy shrimp
- trimmed lean top round that is cut in bite size bits marinating in a Korean type mix and justs needs to be popped into a pan and tucked under the broiler for a few minutes
- the last of my green beans, summer squash and eggplant plus some farmstand corn in a light coconut curry
- corn bread loaded with herbs from the garden
- cabbage, onion, apple and plain shirataki noodles (not the tofu ones) sauteed with a very lean pork garlic sausage (apple from my tree)
- swiss chard from a neighbor cooked with lots of onion and hot peppers from the garden
- a huge bowl of juicy tomatoes from my Abe Lincoln heirloom
- a bowl of sliced farmstand cucumbersand onions marinated with rice vinegar, lots of black pepper and a touch of Splenda
- an SE Asian style cabbage slaw with another of my apples, onion, cuke

09-26-2010, 12:38 AM
Great topic! I was really excited to see greens in the market this morning, since most of them won't grow in Missouri during the heat of the summer. And gorgeous greens they were, too, mixed baby oriental greens. The farmer made me taste one of the greens while I was standing there -- it was a daikon radish leaf. Remarkably good!

We made Chicken and Greens (http://www.3fatchicks.com/diet-blogs/gardenerjoy/2009/08/16/chicken-and-greens-recipe/)with them tonight.

Another farmer offered a taste of apples. I hadn't had a good one yet this year. The flavor's been fine but the texture hasn't been good. So all of the apples I bought so far went into applesauce. But this one was lovely -- an organic Enterprise. Very crisp and fairly tart but with enough sweetness to make it a good eating apple. I love that organic apples are often a little smaller than the conventional ones -- a more appropriate size for a snack.

09-26-2010, 10:12 AM
Good thread!

I planted parsnips this year and a few of them actually grew! One day this week I'm going to roast some in olive oil and garlic!

09-26-2010, 08:38 PM
So many exciting things coming out of our kitchens!

Another trip to the farmer's market this morning, with a basket full of goodies to stock our fridge.

Our meal plan for this week (we're trying to force it into Fall, even though it's still in the 90's here):

Tonight - A big salad with grilled chicken, English peas, zucchini, carrots, lemon cucumber.

Tomorrow - Pork chops from a local organic meat company rubbed with curry, ginger, and cumin, sauteed green cabbage, whole wheat couscous with a few chopped golden raisins

Tuesday - Chili with red beans and tons of veggies

Wednesday - Soup w/ greens, carrot, zucchini, and fresh cranberry beans.

Thursday - Beef stew with carrots, potatoes, and celery - Stew meat from Lucky Dog ranch in Woodland

Friday - That spaghetti with roasted vegetables was so good, we're going to do it again!

We've made the decision to go to local-farmed meat for 2 meals per week, and meatless for a third. We will still go to our local butcher (which is not grass fed but is humanely slaughtered) for the rest.

09-27-2010, 06:40 PM
Through facebook, I've found a butcher shop that has local meats! And a lovely variety

10-10-2010, 04:06 PM
LOL! I just caught this thread and i have to say, Manda...I am excited about YOUR diet food. you put a lot of planning and caring and effort into what you fix, and it's obvious. I wish we had that same kinds of produce availablity here, but we do what we can.

Thank you for once again being such an inspiration!


Lisa Shanken
10-11-2010, 09:33 PM
The thread reminded me to go to the organic market and buy greens and those red, plump tomatoes that are good for salads. My family enjoys raw food and now reaping the rewards of healthy eating.

10-11-2010, 11:40 PM
Our market still has good tomatoes, in abundance - so much that I've been buying a big bag every week (it only costs me 3 dollars for a plastic grocery bag full), throwing them in the crockpot with salt, pepper, diced onion, garlic, and rosemary/oregano from the garden), and cooking...12 hours on low overnight, puree with the immersion blender, then cook another 5 hours or so on high with the lid off. Now I have a freezer full of sauce for the first few months of winter.

The menu:

Monday: Pork tenderloin, roasted butternut squash "fries", and cabbage sauteed with apple and onion.
Tueday: Curried butternut squash soup, grilled pastrami and cheese sandwiches on sourdough with goat's milk gouda and arugula.
Wednesday: Long bean and pork stirfry, brown and wild rice
Thursday: Beef stew w/ grass fed Lucky Dog beef, carrot, parsnip, a bit of potato, celery, onion, and garlic
Friday: Spaghetti with roasted veggies, homemade sauce.

10-12-2010, 12:53 PM

We are having the rest of the pumpkin soup tonight. It has chicken, pumpkin, tomatoes, black beans and spinach.

Wed.-Thurs. Mexicana Pumpkin Chili

Fri.-Mon. Provencal Bean Soup

I must've been thinking fall when I did the menu, LOL!


p.s. the cabbage sauteed with apple and onion sounds delish...might have to make that next week!

10-25-2010, 10:28 PM
mandalinn82: Wow, your menu sounds amazing!

Hyacinth: I am NUTS for pica di gallo. Seriously. That stuff is awesome. :)

I've never been to the farmer's market where I live (Dickson, TN). Does anyone know the kinds of prices I could expect? I use food stamps, but I know that they don't take them. However, if the prices were really cheap I could take some of our regular money and buy some.

Oh, we had a church dinner the Sunday before last, and I made this really yummy stir fry dish that my mom raved about. I used:
1 cup of red quinoa,
2 tofurkey sausage links chopped,
2 roma tomatoes diced,
1 clove of garlic diced,
1 bag of frozen mixed bell peppers and onions,
4 tsp of olive oil.

I cooked the quinoa first, then I heated up the oil, and combined the sausage, tomatoes, and garlic. Once they were heated nicely, I threw in the bag of peppers and onions which I had let thaw. Once they are done I combined it in a casserole dish with the quinoa.

First, I didn't think anyone really liked it, but last Sunday one of the women asked me if I made it, because they said that they liked it so much that they were wondering who had made it. Made my night. :)

10-25-2010, 11:35 PM
There are a lot of ways to enjoy healthy foods. Just be open for new ideas. There are a lot of fruits and vegetables, fiber cereals, eggs and walnuts and even chocolate that are beneficial to your diet and health. :D

10-26-2010, 12:40 AM
I've never been to the farmer's market where I live (Dickson, TN). Does anyone know the kinds of prices I could expect? I use food stamps, but I know that they don't take them.

Farmers' markets may not "take" foodstamps (I don't know that for sure), but I do know that there is a federal "voucher" system. Until recently the voucher was only for $20 per year, but Stimulus funds raised the farmers market voucher from twenty dollars per year to eighty dollars.

I don't know how you get or use the voucher, but if you go back to the same office where you applied for the foodstamps, they should have information on how to get and how to use the vouchers.

I can't help you with regional prices, but I have a couple of tips that have worked well for me in all of the places I've lived.

Going early means you get more selection, however going late or on days when the weather is unusually yucky, can win you some bargains. If your area has multiple markets on multiple days, try as many as you can. You may find one day has better prices or a better selection.

If the market is small enough, do a walk-through before buying anything. Sometimes the vendors closest to the parking charge the highest prices (but not always). Browsing before buying lets you see who has the best looking produce at the best price.

Some vendors are open to haggling, some aren't, but if you're going to haggle - don't insult the merchandise or the pricing. I've found it easier to haggle when you're not asking them to reduce the price for one item, but rather are asking for a bulk discount. "I notice these are $2 each, would you take $5 for 3?"

Be friendly and outgoing and praise your favorite vendors (tell them how much you liked what you got from them last time. It reminds them that you're a repeat customer). Be curious, and ask about fruits and vegetables you're not familiar with. Hubby and I have found that being friendy and curious is not only fun, it can also get you a lot of free stuff. We aren't being nice in order to get free stuff, but it comes as a nice side benefit. Our regular vendors will often throw in extra of stuff they know we like, or will throw in stuff for us to try.

There are perks to being recognized as loyal customers. My husband and I love "pea potatoes," red or yukon gold potatoes that are harvested when they're between the size of grapes and peas. Our favorite vendor actually sets some aside for us (which is nice, because we usually do arrive late).

Be memorable. Hubby and I are very fat and very outgoing. We're easy to recognize. If you're shy, and fall into the average height/weight/coloring, it can be hard to make an impression on vendors who see hundreds of customers (which is why you may want to remind vendors that you're a repeat customer by praising food you've bought from them in the past). Or carry or wear something that can be a "signature" piece that makes you easy to recognize. For example we know one customer who seems to be there almost every time we shop - she carries a large fuchsia totebag. We've never talked to her, and don't know her name, but we remember her because of that bag - and no doubt her favorite vendors do too.

Know your grocery store produce prices. Some things are much cheaper. Other things are a little more expensive, but make up for the difference in taste or hardiness. I've found that farmers' market produce lasts at least three times as long as grocery store produce (and some items even longer - like apples if you refrigerate them).

If you go every week, you'll start to know your "seasons." Most produce in the farmers' markets (and often in the grocery store too) are most expensive at the beginning and end of the season. You pay a premium for being first and last.

Some veggies at their peak are so abundant that home gardeners and farmers' market vendors will practically give you as much as you want, just to get rid of them (especially if you buy something a little more pricey first).

Advertise on Craig's list or Freecycle that you're interested in tomatoes, cucumbers or zucchini (in the midwest) during their peak season, and you'll have more than you know what to do with.If you let a vendor (or a gardening neighbor for that matter) know that you have a use for overgrown zucchini, they'll practically give them away.

10-26-2010, 01:05 AM
I garden, and we have a farmers market here, in season, I just wish we had more variety.

I so miss starfruit, it's great stuff. Ours is so basic, tomatoes, cukes, green beans, radishes, peppers, zucchinni, yellow squash, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love these general veggies, but I would love some new stuff. Which is why I'm researching and hopefully will grow it. There is a ton of stuff that will grow here, that no one grows. Paw paw, kiwi, figs, artichokes, jerusalem something or other, garlic, herbs, the list is endless.

10-26-2010, 08:50 AM
I guess kaplods knows more about farmer's markets and government programs than I but there is a farmer's market near me that was surprised that I was paying with cash. I guess most of their customers use the vouchers but they asked me about food stamps so I assumed people were using food stamps to buy the fruits/veggies.

This past weekend we made a trek to the local squash farm and spent $40 in apples and squash. It sounds like a lot but we got a lot of squash that will last us a while and winter squash can be stored for months.

A couple months ago, I also bought a squash and had a pot I used for growing tomatoes in the summer so I planted the seeds and now I have little squashes growing on my deck. Not sure if it'll work well but it cost me nothing so I'm hoping for the best.

10-26-2010, 10:23 AM
Actually I worded my post wrong (and went back and corrected it), because I don't know that farmers markets don't take food stamps.

And the voucher system I only learned of after I googled "farmers market food stamps" in response to Serval87's post because I remembered something I saw on tv about using foodstamps at farmers markets. It was years ago, and I knew that it was possible, but I didn't know how it worked. When I googled, I saw a couple of websites that discussed the voucher system and that "Stimulus funds" increasing the voucher to $80 this year, up from $20.

10-27-2010, 03:38 AM
Thanks so much kaplods! I didn't know that about the voucher system. I'm going to call my human services about it soon, and query. I do know that the farmers market here doesn't take food stamps, because I emailed them about it. Thanks for the tips. I'm pretty recognizable, because I have VERY long hair and am very short. But I am shy, so that is something I will have to get over. I can't wait to go now. :)

10-27-2010, 01:48 PM
I think whether foods stamps are accepted at farmer's markets varies considerably by state. I know that here in Massachusetts, many of the farmer's markets have been equipped to accept Electronic Benefits Cards (food stamp debit cards). I think the state had some sort of grant program that allowed the markets to purchase the card swipers, so that they could take food stamps. It's a great step in the right direction since many of the farmer's markets in the inner city, where obesity is a huge problem and there is a shortage of grocery stores, now take the EBT cards, but there's still the issue of getting people to use them at the farmer's markets. Many of the inner city folk here are unfamiliar with the offerings at the markets and are understandably intimidated, so there's still a bit of a barrier.