Thursday, April 11, 2013

Throwing Dinner Together...

This is the same frustrating conversation between my husband and I every afternoon: 
Me - "What do you want for dinner?"
Keith - "I don't care."
Me - "Really?"
Keith - "It's whatever you say." 
Me - "How about __________?" 
Keith - *sighs* "K" 

Really? Thanks for the help. 

And this is where I found myself yesterday at the end of my work day... contemplating for the billionth time what the heck I was going to cook for dinner. It had to be healthy and low-carb due to the current dieting situation. I started out by checking to see what I could do in the way of local food. No farmers markets today.... No road-side stands on my hour drive home... So here's what I figured out.... 

All produce coming from a farm in North Carolina has a green and yellow label that says "Got to be NC products." Food Lion, which I pass on my way home, claims to partner with local farms. Also, I checked which fruits and vegetables are currently in season in NC at Now I was ready to hit the grocery store and do the best I could to eat local in the middle of April at the end of an exceptionally cold winter (meaning the seasons will all be delayed). 

April in NC offers leafy greens, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Strawberries are supposed to be on their way, but the cold has held them off for a little longer. Unfortunately, the only thing I could find with an NC label on it was sweet potatoes... I had to settle for "Grown in the USA" broccoli, but because it is in season, maybe there's a better chance it's from somewhere close. One can only hope at this point. The lesson: Hit the farmers market when it's open and plan from there. You can't rely on grocery chains. Ever. 

I scoured the internet for recipes and this is what I came up with based on those veggies and the contents of my pantry/freezer:

Pan-Seared Ribeye

Does anyone have any seasonal April recipes to share?


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feeding the Hulk

Lots of people have special diets and picky eaters to feed... I have The Hulk.

My husband is a bodybuilder which basically means two things: 1. When he's eating on his nutrition plan, his diet is based on the specific ounces of lean protein, veggies and carbs his body needs to build muscle, stay lean and get that big body through each day; and 2. When he's off his diet, he eats A LOT and he wants meat, meat, meat. There is not a lot of budge when it comes to feeding Keith.

When Keith and I started dating and I started having him over for dinner, he loved my food habits. What I saw as the leftover habits and bare-bones efforts of my failed farmers market experiment, he saw as "clean eating" - a food goal of fitness nutrition. While I was trying to stay away from processed foods to avoid the creepy ingredients and the evil powers who make them, Keith was shunning extra sodium and empty calories and looking for the most quality nutritional value. We have different reasons for chasing the same thing - REAL FOOD. 

As Keith and I continued to get to know each other, we learned of another food ideal we share - LOCAL FARMS. Keith grew up taking agriculture classes in school and working part-time picking tomatoes for a small farmer just minutes from his home. Keith is a true country boy, growing up in a community full of farms big and small, with lots of family farms and at-home gardeners. He knows that eating the food grown by his neighbors supports his community, that he pays for quality not for quantity when he buys from a small local farm, and that knowing where his food comes from is the only way to steer clear of pesticides and chemicals. My country boy and his kin are one of the few breeds left whose common sense tells them that food off the farm tastes better than food thats been in a warehouse and on a truck for who knows how long. 

It didn't take long for Keith and I to fall madly in love, and soon I was cooking for my Hulk full-time. 

Certainly, making huge changes in the food you cook and eat is much easier when the people you eat with are on board. Keith is all about local eating, but that doesn't mean I can clear out our pantry and implement Meatless Mondays. Part of doing this realistically is being honest about what I can and can't get away with. Meatless will never happen in our home... maybe Less Meat, but only for me and the little ones. 

Luckily, Keith found Stagecoach Market (1015 West Stagecoach Trail, Lawndale NC). You pay one price for a set number of "slots" of meat and you pick how you want to fill each slot. For example, 1 lb Ribeyes is one slot, or 1.5 lbs sirloin tip steak is one slot. Keith actually volunteers to do the shopping when it comes to this man-cave of a grocery store. The con: the meat is not necessarily local, though it is all from the United States. The pro: at least if we have to buy non-local, our food dollars are supporting a small, local business and not some huge corporation. 

I'm sure this will not be the last we've heard from my country boy... 
Until Then... 

                   *My Country Boy*

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shame on Me...

Well, it's a good thing I don't blog for a living! I can't believe it's been this long and I still have the nerve to show my face on here again...

Can I be perfectly honest with you? I failed. Miserably. But only as far as the rules of the challenge are concerned. As for life in general, I feel like I've hit the jackpot! At my last post, many farmers market seasons ago, I had just gone through a divorce. I had "fallen off the bandwagon" as far as my challenge goes and though I had every intention of getting back on, life just had other plans for me. I got very busy with life stuff... I started working full time, met the love of my life (who happens to be a bodybuilder with a very specific diet), got married, gained a bonus-son (only 4 days older than my own), moved 45 minutes into the country and got pregnant with another boy due this July.

I went from being "The Hippest Housewife" to being "The Hippest Mom-to-2-Boys, Full-Time Teacher, Prom Coordinator, Dance Ensemble Director, Bodybuilding Wife and Pregnant Monster." Suddenly I find myself on the same boat as the readers who emailed me with worries of "I just don't think I have the time" or "I don't know if my family could do this." I'm right there with ya!

Here's the good news: This challenge was self-imposed. Aside from feeling like a total jerk/loser for failing in front of whatever smaller readership I have/had, there are no serious consequences for getting distracted. And there's nothing saying I can't modify the challenge into a realistic shift in lifestyle and try again. In fact, the changes I made in habits since I started this blog led me to lose 53 pounds before this pregnancy and they are helping me keep the baby weight gain within healthy limits. Yay! It wasn't an epic fail after all!

So here's my new situation:
*I've got two 4-year-old boys to feed, plus a baby on the way.
*As everyone knows, pregnancy comes with its own unique set of eating needs and challenges.
*My husband, Keith, requires a very strict diet for his bodybuilding (more on that later) and his protein needs are much higher than normal eaters.
*Our new life is in the country, further from farmers markets and impossibly far from whole foods type stores, but closer to the farms and farm stands themselves. In fact, the house we are currently trying to buy (fingers crossed) is so far out in the country, our neighbors are farms of various sizes and we would have plenty of land ourselves to plant a large garden.

Let's keep keepin' it real, shall we? I make no promises. I can only leave you with me sincere intentions to do better, to make what small difference I can, and to be honest about both my failures and my achievements.

Hope everyone is happy, healthy, and doing good things!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's my long over-due confession...

I fell off the bandwagon! Not because I got lazy, or it got too hard... but because the rest of my life sort of fell apart. But you know what? It's okay... This is real life and crap happens. I've found myself in a happier, healthier place and ready to start over! The good news is that even though I wasn't shopping only at farmer's markets, the healthy habits I had started during my challenge stuck and I've lost 30 pounds and 3 pants sizes! I still can't believe it! If that's not motivation to keep it up, I don't know what is!

So here goes nothing... starting all over with a new life and a new body... and I promise not to go AWOL again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Did you know...

... there are tons of cool locavore apps for your cell phone? I just got one called (shockingly) Locavore that tells you whats in season in your area, shows you local farmers markets, and gives you seasonal recipes. So cool! I also found a ton of free Kindle books about gardening and old-fashioned seasonal cooking. Free! Just search under Popular Classics for Free.

Just thought I'd share the tip! As always, feel free to share yours too! I'm just started reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which was a recommendation from you guys! Already loving it... Thanks a ton!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Whew! If I'm not traveling, I'm hosting travelers in my own home! My best friends and 5 of their family members came to stay a couple days this weekend. They have been on board and in love with this farmers market idea since day one, but it was nice to feel their support face to face, while they were loving every bite of homemade wheat bread and fresh blackberries and peaches for breakfast this morning.

I was thinking it would be more difficult to cook for 10 people with our new shopping habits, but who needs to cook?! I threw the bread together in the bread machine last night, and this morning before anyone else even woke up, Eric was at the Gastonia Farmers Market getting super affordable, yet super large quantities of fresh fruit. And the best part is that everyone was happy! The only complaint was that they wanted to try the homemade blueberry syrup they've read about... Guess what's for breakfast in the morning!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Problem with Traveling...

Happy Summer! For us, that means traveling. I was officially done with school on June 14th and already I've been to New York City, Boston and Denver. Very cool, but super shady when it comes to our farmers market challenge! When you are away from home or staying with someone else, you just do what you can. 

Does anyone have any ideas or tips about how they eat when they are away from home?