Friday, November 23, 2007

Farm to Work

"Farm to Work is a Texas Department of State Health Services employee wellness program that provides employees with the opportunity to receive a fresh basket of local produce delivered to the worksite every week. Each basket contains 10-12 items of the freshest produce from a local farm." (Taken from this website.) The current price of this program is $25 per basket.

The program started about three weeks ago, and two weeks ago I participated in it for the first time, not knowing exactly what to expect. The main reason why I decided to try it was to see what types of new produce I would be forced to test that I usually would not incorporate into my diet. In essence, I wanted to "shock" my body with different nutrients it may not be getting all that much of (besides the multi-vitamin).

In my basket I got (those with an * are ones I don't routinely eat):
1 eggplant*
1 large container of okra*
5 zucchini
5 baby cucumbers
3 sweet potatoes*
4 red potatoes*
1 container of cherry tomatoes
3 turnips*
1 bunch of greens*
5 jalepeno peppers
2 green peppers
3 sweet onions

Luckily, when you order a basket and many people don't know what to do with some of the items, the program e-mails you a few recipes you could try. So what did I do with all this produce? I made "Crushed Red Potatoes with Winter Greens," "Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Turnips," "Shrimp Stir-Fry," and "Baked Breaded Eggplant and Zucchini with Spaghetti." I'm not a huge fan of the Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Turnips because of the horseradish sauce (never tried it before), so I'm probably going to mix it up with some jalepenos to get rid of that taste.

I have had a decent number of conversations lately about my "diet." Nothing is really off-limits to me, but I try to stick with fresh produce, whole-grain products, and lean protein. As I have read elsewhere, I am a typical "perimeter" shopper at the grocery store, barely going into any aisle unless I'm restocking specific products in my cabinets. Never heard of perimeter shopping? Think about your local grocery store and how it's set up. For me, meats and dairy are at the back of store. The big center aisle is produce, the far right is juices/soda (bunch of added calories...), and at the front - bread. The healthiest items can be found in these aisles: lean meat, light dairy, fresh produce, and whole grain bread. I only dip into the aisles when I need albacore tuna (no salt added), whole grain pasta/rice, spaghetti sauce, and canned veggies (no salt added). I believe that is aisle 3 and 4 in my grocery store.

My total daily calorie allowance is 1,700 +/- 100. I'm supposed to eat at least five times per day, and my trainer requests that I eat in equal calories (meaning I should be eating five 340 calorie "meals." WELL...typically I have three 400 calories and two smaller snacks. Shhhhh...don't tell Matt. Actually, I have found that some typical meals I make, I'm getting more "meals" out of. to explain that one. For instance, the shrimp stir fry: I have the same ingredients for the most part and the same amount of food. I used to get only three meals out of it, but now I get five. Very soon it'll be six. This reduces the number of calories I'm consuming at that meal, meaning I need more meals throughout the day. Got that one? Good. ;)

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