Last September, my fellow Health Promotion Coordinator Meredith Stewart wrote a wonderful blog entitled “What Is CTG?”. In that blog, she introduced the work that the Chatham County Public Health Department is currently doing as part of the state-wide Community Transformation Project (CTG). In that blog, Meredith did a great job explaining the who, what, when, where and why of CTG, so if you’re new to CTG or need a refresher, I highly recommend giving it a read. (Here.)
So, today I’m not going to repeat what Meredith said, instead I’m writing to update you on our progress. In the past six months, we’ve made a lot of great strides in the three CTG target areas: healthy eating, active living, and tobacco-free living. Read on about our CTG efforts!
It’s the time of year for farm fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and other locally made goods! Chatham County’s farmers markets are beginning to open this month into May. Chatham now has six farmers markets located across the county, with two new ones at Chatham Mills in Pittsboro and downtown Goldston. Click the links on the list of farmers markets below for more details on when they operate.
As the weather starts to cool, our latest CHEF recipe provides a great way to enjoy and celebrate those last locally grown tomatoes of the season. Panzanella salad is a hearty summer salad that features fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. During the summer, when these items are in season and at the peak of their flavor, they can be found at a really good price at local farmers markets. When we prepared the dish, we chose to substitute half of the regular tomatoes in the recipe with “sun-gold” sweet yellow cherry tomatoes. These are like the candy of tomatoes, and available from many local growers, making them a special local summer treat, and a healthy one at that! For this recipe, we bought our produce from our local farmers market, the Pittsboro Farmers Market in Chatham County, NC.
The CHEF break-down:
Cheap: We made this Panzanella Salad for $8.88, using produce from our local farmers market, and you can easily serve 4-6 people for this price.
Healthy: This recipe features beans, which are low-fat, a great source of fiber, and when paired with bread, give you a complete protein source.
Easy: No cooking necessary for this recipe! Just chopping and mixing!
Fast: Canned beans are a quick way to add some protein to your meal. This recipe should take under a half-hour to prepare.
(adapted from the recipe found in Simple Suppers from the Moosewood Collective)
1 small-medium loaf of crusty bread, 3-4 cups once cubed (try to get whole wheat, if you can)
4 medium-large tomatoes, or substitute 2 of the tomatoes with a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 medium-sized cucumber
1 can of great northern or cannellini beans (sometimes companies add lots of salt to their canned beans-check the label and if you can, try to get a brand with a lower sodium content)
2 stems of basil or 10-20 basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
If you have time to plan ahead, cut the bread into 1-2 inch cubes and leave it out over night, lightly covered with a clean dish towel, to dry out. If not, heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the bread cubes for 5-10 minutes on a cookie sheet.
Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into approximately ½ inch cubes and place them in your serving bowl. Roughly chop the basil and add it to the bowl as well.
Open the can of beans, strain and rinse them and add them to the serving bowl.
Roughly chop the garlic. Put the olive oil into a small microwave safe bowl (preferably, not plastic), mix in the garlic, and microwave for 10-15 seconds. This will mellow the garlic flavor and quickly infuse the oil with garlic flavor.
Let the oil mixture cool a bit, then whisk in the vinegar and pour this simple vinaigrette over the tomato mixture in the bowl.
Add the bread cubes to the bowl and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and let stand for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld.
From this foundation, you can dress this salad up in lots of ways:
Add chopped fresh mozzarella or cubes of reduced fat cheddar cheese
Add chicken, canned tuna, or chopped hard-boiled egg for an alternate protein source
Add onion or other chopped fresh herbs such as oregano for more robust flavor
If this dish is split 4 ways, each serving contains approximately
National Farmers Market Week was last
week, August 1st-7th. We may have missed the observance, but it’s never too late to discuss how farmers markets add value to the community!
Farmers Markets offer many benefits. For one, they make fresh, healthy, affordable produce available to local neighborhoods and communities. Here are additional Farmers Markets benefits from the USDA National Farmers Market Week Proclamation:
Produce is sold directly from the farm in its freshest possible state,
Access to fresh fruits and vegetables for children and families is increased,
Local and regional food systems are helped in development, and
Consumers have the opportunity to interact with farmers.
Luckily, Chatham County is home to many Farmers Markets. Information about each of them can be found on their websites.
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