Farmer Dave’s CSA 2010 Review

(NOTE: I also wrote a review for the 2011 CSA Season with Farmer Dave’s)

I was so excited to join the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at Farmer Dave’s this season.

red leaf lettuce from the local farm's CSA

So, what is a CSA anyway? Here’s a great explanation, but in my own words, you the consumer are prepaying for a “share” of the future growing season’s bounty. You pay in the winter/spring before the season starts, and in return, each week during the spring/summer/fall, you receive a generous portion of produce. There’s no further expense unless you want to purchase extra food. Both the consumer and the farmer benefits, so it’s a win-win situation! Granted, you are definitely taking a chance. If the growing season is poor, then your share will be smaller. But on the flip-side, if the growing season prospers, so will your share!

Farmer Dave’s in Dracut, Massachusetts offers several local pickup locations for 20 weeks, starting in mid June. CSA pick up locations include Beverly, Burlington, Lanesville, Dracut, Lawrence, Tewksbury, Somerville, Putnam Investments (for Putnam employees only), Downtown Gloucester, Boston Medical Center and Jamaica Plain.

There are several share options ranging from Small Vegetable (1-2 people) to Super Family Vegetable. There are also Fruit shares, plus Winter Vegetable shares.

Continue reading “Farmer Dave’s CSA 2010 Review”

Food Rules (Michael Pollan) Book Review

Michael Pollan is one of my heroes! His book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” was a huge inspiration to me when I started on my healthy lifestyle change.

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants is his simple mantra.

Those words of wisdom define the three parts of Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Part One: What should I eat? (Eat Food)
Part Two: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly Plants)
Part Three: How should I eat? (Not Too Much)

It’s definitely an easy to read book. 140 pages, a quick afternoon read, easy to understand. I think that was the reason I never bothered to read it until now. Too simple? But I was pleasantly surprised to learn a few insights from the book, that made me slap my forehead (figuratively) and say “duh! Of course! Why didn’t I realize that before!”

So, there’s 64 basic “Food Rules”. No, you aren’t forced to follow all of them, but it’s a good idea to try to follow a good many of them.

Here are a few of my favorite rules:

  • #2 Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • #8 Avoid food products that make health claims – if it’s got a label with a printed claim, then chances are it’s probably processed!
  • #10 Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not – soy meats, butter spread, american cheese, artificial sweeteners, fake fiber. Michael Pollan mentioned in one of his lectures that he just noticed a food product called Splenda with Fiber! Now that is marketing genius! Jump on the weight-loss extra fiber bandwagon! Big food just keeps getting smarter and smarter, and Americans keep getting dumber, fatter, and more desperate!
  • #11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television – I’ve been living that advice for awhile. Big food is a HUGE BUSINESS, and if it can afford to advertise, then it’s best to stay away from that food product. Of course, this doesn’t always apply to whole foods, like nuts, beef, eggs, but at the same time, even they can be a little shady. Stay local and you won’t have to worry so much!
  • #21 It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles) – this blew my mind, because it’s something I never really thought of. Brand names are usually given to PROCESSED foods, not whole foods!
  • #24 Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cow, pigs, other mammals) – Chinese proverb
  • #26 Drink the spinach water – brilliant! Never really thought about it, but it makes great sense. Add it to soups and sauces, or even teas!
  • #33 Eat foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi – I do eat yogurt, but I need to really learn more about the benefits of sourdough bread, and making start baking some!
  • #34 Sweeten and salt your food yourself – I love this rule. Such good advice. So many processed foods start out with tons of sodium and sugar. It’s such a good idea to start with clean ingredients and season and sweeten to your own taste!
  • #39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. This rule was an eye opener. Could it really be that easy? If I want a burger, I should just cook one myself? bacon? cookies? ice cream? I think this one might have been my favorite rule!
  • #44 Pay more, eat less
  • #51 Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  • #63 Cook – A simple rule, that if followed, would alleviate so many health problems in America. Take the time to control all the ingredients in your meals, and you will be happier and healthier!

Now I know I am not a perfect eater, and I don’t live a “clean food” lifestyle 100% of the time, but darn it, I try my best! And that’s all we can do. I highly recommend this book! It’s under $5 at Amazon. How can you go wrong!?

145.8 – Yay Even Lower!

Weighed in this AM, and I’m even lower at 145.6! Crazy! It could be a temporary fluke, but either way, I’m staying within my goal weight. hmm, what is my goal weight exactly anyway? I think I feel my best at 147ish.

Especially since I have been eating more calories! My allotted daily calories are 1800 and most days I’ve been very close to the total, but since I eat when I am hungry, (and sometimes even when I am not hungry) I sometimes go over. It’s most always clean eating, so I think that is the difference! I’m not gorging on processed foods! But I am eating dark chocolate, nuts, homemade bread, etc.

This AM, I am eating toasted homemade whole wheat sunflower rosemary bread with a little bit of olive oil butter on it. For lunch, I’m planning toasted bread with 1/2 can of low sodium tuna, made with horseradish mustard & mayo. I plan on also eating a small peanut butter chocolate chip muffin and probably some cut up fruit and carrots. All delicious and nutritious!

Blackberries in Backyard

I don’t know why I never noticed these berries before this season. We’ve been living in our home for a couple of summers, but for some reason, I never really paid attention!

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I saw a few branches of green berries. I tried googling, but couldn’t decipher if they were unripened blackberries. I wasn’t sure when the season began for berries in New England; I assumed they should have been ripened by now, so I figured they were inedible.

But suddenly, yay, I noticed some of the berries were turning red, then a dark blue/black. I picked a couple and brought them inside. After carefully and gently washing them, I bravely took a bite. A little bit sour, but they were edible.

blackberries on backyard bush

I have picked three batches so far, picking every 2-3 days! It’s exciting to be able to gather fresh blackberries from my own backyard!

blackberries on backyard bush

Last time, I mixed them with sweet blueberries from the CSA farm, and yum! I love eating healthy. This has been the most food adventurous summer I have ever had! I have found such an appreciation for so many different seasonal foods. Summer is definitely my favorite season, but it’s going to be fun to come into autumn’s veggies too. It’s just so exciting! I am so inspired!

blackberries from backyard

Happy One Year Anniversary

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.”

One year ago today on July 20th 2009, my friend Mae posted those words of wisdom to her Facebook profile and it changed my life! From that moment, it clicked and I made the decision to live a healthier lifestyle.

So here I am! One year later! 50+ pounds lighter, I’m eating clean, exercising, and feeling the best I’ve felt in years! Maybe the best I’ve felt my whole life!

I am forever grateful to Mae, and also to for giving me the tools to succeed. If I can do it, anyone can!!!

yellow rose

Everything IS Better With Bacon, Isn’t It?

The challenge this week over at I Heart Cooking Club is BACON! What better way to help season my newly found Wagner cast iron 9 inch skillet!

But can bacon still be a part of a healthy clean eating diet? Sure, why not! As long as it’s in moderation, right?

Oh and of course make sure you choose an appropriate uncured (no nitrates) brand. I picked up a package of 365 organic uncured center-cut reduced sodium bacon at Whole Foods yesterday. I chose this particular brand because I liked that it was lower in fat and sodium, but there were other choices as well.

I opened the package, and sliced the whole thing in half. I figured halves would fit in the 9 inch skillet much better. I cooked up 10 halves for both of us = which calculates to 2.5 whole slices for each @ only 88 calories.

I fried the bacon on medium low heat, trying not to overcrowd the pan, turning the slices regularly. It worked very well, and I had a ton of bacon fat that I saved in a glass jar (refrigerated when cooled) – I don’t know if I will re-use the bacon fat, but I saved it anyway.

We ate BLT sandwiches with slices of my homemade whole wheat bread, CSA lettuce leaves and yummy fresh tomatoes from my deck tomato plant. It’s been a long time since I ate a BLT and I loved it! Bacon will definitely be on my menu again!

And now, to figure out what else I am going to cook using bacon. I divided the bacon into two packages for the freezer, but I kept some out so I can cook one of Mark Bittman’s recipes for the IHCC. I will find something delicious for tonight!

146.8 AM Weigh In

Wow, I weighed myself this morning again, before eating and I’m down to 146.8 pounds.

Strange. I don’t know what I am doing different, but I guess it’s good that I am still losing. I suppose it’s just a combination of a better metabolism and clean eating. I am proof that eating whole unprocessed foods is working for me. No doubt about it!

Pomegranate Season

Since I slowly started to eat clean only last July, I’m still getting to know certain foods and when they are available in stores.

The pomegranate is one fruit I am dying to try for real! I ate the seeds in the Chobani yogurt pomegranate flavor, but I want the real thing!

So it looks like September or October is the start of the season so I’ll be looking forward to that!

Divine Mint Dark Chocolate – Review

Eating clean doesn’t mean giving up rich foods like chocolate! There are some days that I just feel like I NEED chocolate, and as long as I consume in moderation, it’s all good!

And I don’t mean Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Have you read the ingredients!? Yuck! I’m talking about REAL chocolate….the “dark” variety if possible 65% or higher, although partaking in rich yummy milk chocolate every once in awhile is okay too.

I have tried several brands, and one of my favorite is Divine Mint Dark Chocolate. It’s different than some of the other mint flavors/brands because when you take a bite, you’re tasting crushed chunks of peppermint stick candy! I love that!

It’s 70% dark chocolate, which is a good amount to look for and it’s made with “fair trade” ingredients, which is very important.

Now, keep in mind, you can’t eat the whole bar in one sitting! Remember, it’s all about moderation! Break off four squares for under 100 calories. Yum! It’s a healthy afternoon snack!