Let Them Eat...Better! (A Series & a Challenge)

How have you all done with the first 3 challenges? By now, we all should have eliminated most processed foods from our diets, added more fresh fruits and veggies, and made something from scratch. Hopefully, we've all significantly cut down on our preservative and artificial coloring/flavoring intake. After all, why would you want to eat something with an unnaturally long shelf-life? And why would foods need added coloring and flavoring when nature offers up plenty of color and flavor?!

So...what did you make from scratch last week that you normally would've bought at the store? I made Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins to eat for breakfast, Chocolate Syrup for my morning mochas, and today, I made a fellow blogger's Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread, which is WONDERFUL! I need to make a few minor modifications to my muffin recipe, and I had some issues with the sandwich bread, but they were directly related to things I did...not the recipe itself.

So, let's talk about the fourth challenge. This week, I want you all to make a trip to the Farmers' Market. For those of you in the Springfield/Jacksonville area, you have several options (so no excuses!):
  • Old Capitol Farmers' Market - 4th & Adams (Springfield) - Wed & Sat 8am-12:30pm
  • Illinois Products Farmers' Market - State Fairgrounds Commodities Pavilion - Thur 4pm-7pm
  • Jacksonville Main Street Farmers' Market - on the square - Wed 4pm-7pm
Your assignment at the Farmers' Market is to buy some fresh produce and cook with it. Easy, right? 

Right now at the markets in my area, the following are just a few of the items in season:
  • Potatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Eggplant
  • Summer squashes
  • Onions
  • Berries
  • Sweet corn
And the list goes on...

The point is, most of the items that are in season right now are very easy to cook with. And by buying locally grown food, you're getting more nutrient-dense, flavorful food, and you're doing (a part of) your part to support the local economy. If nothing else, Central Illinois residents, go get some sweet corn or some peaches!

Here's a super-easy idea, using several of the items on the list above, and it's perfect for grilling season and easily scalable to feed the masses. So fire up the grill, and try the following:
  • Wash enough potatoes to feed your army (about 1/4-1/2 lb per person, depending on the person and the rest of the meal). Cut the potatoes into 1" chunks and put them in a gallon size zipper bag.
  • For every 1 lb of potatoes, wash 1 bell pepper. Remove the stem and seeds, and cut it into 1" pieces and add it to the zipper bag.
  • For every 1 lb of potatoes, quarter 1 medium onion and add it to the zipper bag.
  • For every 1 lb of potatoes, add to the bag 1 T vegetable/olive oil, 1 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t black pepper. Seal the bag and shake well to coat the veggies with the oil and seasoning. 
  • Dump the veggies onto pieces of foil (leaving the pile small enough to fold the foil into a packet - you may need to make several packets, depending on the size of your army) and seal the foil into a pouch of sorts. Put the packet(s) on the grill over medium heat, carefully turning them over after about 10 minutes. (This also works well in a cast iron skillet, if you happen to have one...just be sure to turn the potatoes to prevent burning.) These will be done in about 20 minutes.
Voila! Dinner is served! And all of the produce used can currently be found at the Farmers' Market!

Mangia Bene, friends!

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