Published: Jan 21, 2008 05:03 PM
Modified: Jul 20, 2006 12:55 PM
A new statewide initiative called Eat Smart, Move More ... NC seeks to reverse the rising tide of obesity and chronic disease among North Carolinians by helping them to eat smart, move more and achieve a healthy weight.
The program is promoting "New Years in July." The idea is to revisit those New Year's resolutions made back in January, now that we are halfway through the year.
For me this is simple because my resolution for good health is to try to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. In the winter it's not so easy. But when summertime rolls around I have no problem. Our garden is coming in, and there are more tender green beans, ripe red tomatoes and crisp cucumbers than we can possibly eat. It's a great problem to have.
I make huge batches of ratatouille brimming with eggplant, squash, peppers and tomatoes cooked in good olive oil and seasoned with fresh basil. It's great hot, cold or in between, on pasta, on bread or straight up.
Another favorite is gazpacho, what I call salad soup. Peel and seed a big pile of tomatoes and toss them in the blender with a cucumber, pepper, and some purple onion, season with a clove of crushed garlic, oil, vinegar and fresh basil. This is quintessential summer. And for a special touch, I add some chunks of avocado or cooked shrimp.
You can put aside your craving for ice cream, too, because all the fresh fruit coming in now is unbeatable. A favorite combo is luscious juicy peaches with plump blueberries or black berries.
There is nothing more refreshing than a plate full of ice cold slices of watermelon eaten in the shade of a big tree on a hot afternoon. You can eat all you want, guilt-free.
If you don't have your own garden, you are still in luck. Orange County is fortunate to have three great farmers markets; Thursday afternoons at Southern Village, Saturday mornings in Hillsborough, and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings in Carrboro.
The Carrboro market has long been recognized as one of the very best in the Southeast, and we are lucky to have it right here in our own back yard. In addition to vegetables and fruit, you can buy fresh meats and cheeses, colorful bouquets of flowers, herbs, plants and even nuts.
One of the best reasons to shop at your farmers market is because everything is fresh. All the growers are local, and you know that whatever you buy has been picked in the past couple of days -- often in the last couple of hours. Produce you buy in the grocery store may have traveled thousands of miles over the course of many days before it arrives here, and in that time the sugars convert to starch and the just-picked sweetness and nutritious vitamins and minerals are lost. You'll never run into that problem at the farmers market.
So make one of your New Year's-in-July resolutions to buy fresh and local. Walk or bike over to your local farmers market, get your favorite foods or introduce the kids to a new fruit or vegetable. But above all, enjoy the bounty of this season. There are only a few months in the year when you can get really fresh, ripe, tomatoes, corn and peaches. That time is now.
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