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Eat Green, Be Healthy

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How to Eat Green

Sara Snow was born to be eco. The host of Get Fresh with Sara Snow for the Discovery Network was raised in a solar-energy-heated house in Michigan eating fresh, locally grown produce (much of it from her family's organic vegetable garden) way before it became trendy to do so. "My father was one of the pioneers of the natural-foods movement, so eating healthy, clean food was a way of life growing up," says Sara, 32. Which explains why she is now a huge advocate of shopping at the local farmers' market. "Chances are, a tomato at your supermarket was picked long before it was ripe so it wouldn't turn to mush during the 1,500-mile trip from the farm to the store," she explains. A tomato at a farm stand was likely picked that morning. "The food you get there tastes better, and you can talk to the person who grew it," Sara says.

A few questions to ask: "Do you spray chemicals on your crops?" (Many farms don't apply for organic certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of the amount of red tape involved. But if they avoid pesticides, their produce is basically organically grown.) "Is your beef grass-fed, or do you feed your cows a grain mix?" (Research suggests that meat from grass-fed cows is higher in good-for-you omega-3 fats than that from corn-fed cows.) "As you get to know your local farmers, there will be a few whose food you appreciate and enjoy," Sara says. "Once you've found them, buy all that you can!"

No-Stress Pasta Recipe

Makes: 7 servings

1 pound whole wheat pasta

4 garlic cloves, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup Greek olives, pitted and sliced

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 pound fresh spinach

Salt and pepper or crushed red pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but don't rinse. Saute garlic in olive oil. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano, and basil; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Toss in spinach at the last minute so that it wilts but doesn't cook through. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and toss with sauce. Season with salt and pepper or crushed red pepper. Serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 340 calories, 12g protein, 56g carbohydrate, 10g fat (1g saturated), 8g fiber.

Market-Fresh Stir-Fry Recipe

Makes: 7 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 carrots, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered

3 small zucchini, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 small head broccoli, chopped

1 small head bok choy, cut into strips

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Whole-grain brown rice (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan. Add chicken; cook through. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Cook until onion is tender. Add veggies, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened. Add chicken; cook for 2 minutes. Serve over a bed of whole-grain rice (if using).

Nutrition facts per serving: 184 calories, 22g protein, 14g carbohydrate, 5g fat (1g saturated), 5g fiber.

Potato and Chickpea Salad Recipe

Makes: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds baby or new potatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 scallions, minced

1 small red pepper, diced

Cut potatoes into quarters and cook in salted, boiling water until softened. Drain and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together wine, olive oil, mustard, salt, and thyme. Transfer cooked potatoes to a large bowl. Add chickpeas and pour dressing over the top. Toss to coat. Stir in scallions and red pepper.

Nutrition facts per serving: 190 calories, 5g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 4g fat (<1g saturated), 5g fiber.

Lemon Cake Recipe

Makes: 12 servings

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups milk

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 9- to 10-inch round springform pan. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and sugar. Add oil, milk, and lemon juice and zest; beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add dry mixture to wet and beat until just combined; pour into pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove cake and let cool completely.

Nutrition facts per serving: 405 calories, 5g protein, 50g carbohydrate, 21g fat (4g saturated), 3g fiber.

Southwest Polenta and Vegetables Recipe

Makes: 7 servings

1 medium onion

1/2 pound button mushrooms

3 small zucchini

1 red pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cups corn (frozen or fresh)

14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

18-ounce packaged polenta "log"

2 cups shredded Romano cheese

Cooked spinach (optional)

Chop onion, mushrooms, zucchini and pepper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a large pan.

Saute onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt for about 2 minutes, or until just soft. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and red pepper; saute for 3 minutes.

Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, thyme, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and remaining salt; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. While the vegetables cook, lightly oil the bottom of a casserole dish. Slice polenta into 1/2-inch rounds and arrange across the bottom of the dish. When vegetables are cooked but not soft, spoon across top of polenta. Top with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Serve plain or on a bed of spinach.

Nutrition facts per serving: 342 calories, 23g protein, 38g carbohydrate, 13g fat (7g saturated), 7g fiber.

How to Buy Local, Eat Fresh

Shop a Farmers' Market

To find one near you, go to nrdc.org/health/foodmiles. Plug in your state and the time of year, and the site will also tell you which fruits and veggies are currently in season.

Find a farmers' market near you

Become a Member of a Food Co-op

Co-op members pool their resources to purchase produce and other natural products at a lower price. To find a co-op in your area, go to localharvest.org.

Find a co-op in your area

Connect with Farmers

Go to www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/localfood_dir.php and click on your state, and this site will pull up a list of local farms, farm stands, orchards, and even wineries.

Find farms, orchards, and wineries near you

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2008.

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