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At 35 weeks pregnant, I’ve now gone back and forth for the last 20 or so weeks over how I should write this, or if I should write it at all. You see, it’s personal, and the internet, well, it’s public. But what kind of person would I be if I couldn’t share my mistakes with you all, who also care so much about health and wellness? In the end I’ve decided that this is the right thing to do. Although it means admitting I messed up, it was a humbling experience, and one that I’m fairly certain many of us have gone through or will go through, as we ladies deal with pregnancy. I also want others to realize that these struggles happen to everyone, even trainers with specializations in nutrition. I now feel better equipped to help people that may run into these issues, having now experienced them first-hand.

If you read my Life Changes post, you know a little bit about my mental state upon learning I was pregnant. Excited, nervous, scared, stressed, stressed and a little bit stressed. All of a sudden I found myself questioning my own knowledge. Not being a dairy-eater, I found myself craving cheese and wondering if it was because I wasn’t getting sufficient calcium? Am I missing other nutrients because I don’t consume meat? Is my baby okay? I found myself stressed, nauseous and consuming foods I hadn’t eaten in years. I got numerous comments from friends, family, clients and gym members “oh you’re going to be the cutest pregnant person ever” which added a level of stress I can’t really describe. I felt like everyone had unrealistic expectations of me. “Why am I going to be cute, because I’m a trainer? Because I’m supposed to be thin, cute, happy and pregnant?” I was stressed and unable to eat any sort of vegetable without gagging. This was going to be a long pregnancy.

Several weeks later, I found myself feeling awful from a less-than-ideal diet, still nauseous and packing on pounds at a rate faster than the typical pregnant woman should. I had to have a serious conversation with myself about what I was doing. Although we’ve acknowledged that I was scared, stressed and nauseous, causing me to consume foods I wouldn’t normally even consider putting in my body, I think I also thought I was immune to the science of nutrition. You know the “since I’ve been so healthy for so long, I can eat whatever I want and it won’t affect me” kind of mentality. Not sure what was happening upstairs, but this is definitely NOT true. I’m human just like the rest of the world, trainer or not. And when I started eating pasta, bagels, cookies and crackers instead of spinach, vegetables, fruits, lentils, etc., my mental and physical state declined rather rapidly.

It was at about the 15 week mark that I realized I needed to get my head out of my “you know what” and pull myself together. Whether or not I could stomach a vegetable no longer mattered. My baby NEEDS proper nutrition and it’s up to me to provide that. I also realized that I could either live the remaining 25 weeks like this—miserable—or I could make a change.

I emailed my nutritionist in a panic saying something to the extent of “I messed up. How much damage have I done and can I fix it?” You might be thinking “man, she’s really overreacting about a little pizza and some cookies”…but I really wasn’t. Every part of me knows how crucial good nutrition really is, so when I realized that I’ve been slacking at the most important time of my (and my little one’s life), I was pretty upset with myself. The emails we exchanged are actually quite humorous in hindsight. My messages to him are long, drawn-out confessions about how much shame and embarrassment I’m feeling, that I “know better” and how could I let this happen…and his to me are comforting and reassuring with words like “it’s not too late, and yes, you can fix it.”

With that, I got myself back on track. And wouldn’t you know it—soon I started to feel MUCH better! The next 15+ weeks were much improved. I still had some food issues but not nearly as bad as the first 15 weeks. I was juicing vegetables (and still am) to ensure I was getting them in my diet (still can’t choke those things down without throwing them in the juicer), started drinking my Amazing Meal smoothies again, and life was looking up.

I’m due with our sweet baby in 5 weeks. I never really regained my appetite for clean eating, or an appetite at all really, but have definitely been making healthier decisions. As nauseous as I am today, eating healthier has allowed me to feel better physically and mentally. Pregnancy is a funny thing—I’ve decided that you can only be so hard on yourself for the crazy things your body is enduring, but it’s also important to not let yourself go off the rails. There are two people relying on you for the proper nutrients, so cookies for dinner is not acceptable. Nor is two or three bagels in one day…yikes, glad that’s in the past!

So if you’re pregnant, or might become pregnant, I hope you can learn from this post. If you eat crappy food, you’re going to feel crappy. This is actually ALWAYS true, pregnancy doesn’t really matter here. But when you ARE pregnant, and you already feel crappy, it can be hard to make nutritious choices. Employ your spouse or partner to help get healthy food in your body, for both you and the baby. If you’re at that point where nothing is staying down and you’re reading this cursing me—I get it. Just remember that you can only eat so many crackers, and your body would really rather prefer non-processed food choices. Try some brown rice and bananas. 🙂

Oh, and it turns out, all that second-guessing about my pescetarian, dairy-free diet was a waste of energy. Much needed energy, at that! It is perfectly okay to be a pescetarian, vegetarian, etc., you just need to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients in sufficient amounts through other food sources. Find a good, natural pre-natal vitamin, do your research, involve your health care provider and employ a good support system and you will be just fine. Oh, and if your health care provider tells you otherwise about not eating meat, dairy, etc., it’s probably time to find a new one!

Good luck to all the mommas-to-be out there!

Peace, love and proper nutrition,

Melissa

Note: I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. If you have questions about your vitamin and nutrient intake, please consult a qualified nutritionist or medical practitioner.

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet

I came across this quote while waiting to pick up take-out from my favorite neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant. The final line of the quote struck something so deep in my heart that I found myself tearing up then nudged my mom standing beside me and pointed to the framed quote. Once she finished reading she looked over at me and we both smiled and choked back unexpected tears.

Such a simple and beautiful statement about the choices we have in life. It reminded me that every day we are fortunate enough to live our lives and have the opportunity not only to impact ourselves and how we feel, but also those around us.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Helping those around you make healthier lifestyle choices, such as going for walks with a friend who might not have the motivation to do it on their own, or bringing fresh vegetables or fruit into the office instead of the usual baked goods or sweets are simple ways to show kindness and love for those around you.

With the coming holidays, there will be several opportunities to show kindness to your fellow human beings. You can make a positive difference by contributing nutritional dishes and snacks and taking the time to be active with friends and family.

“Let me not defer nor neglect it (kindness) for I shall not pass this way again.”

 

Happy Holiday Choices,

Holly Alexander

Fifteen weeks ago, I started training for the Miami Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe that the day I’ve trained so hard for is almost here! I started training for this race very early. In fact, I was concerned I was starting a bit too early, but was just too excited to wait any longer. This being my third rodeo, I was anxious to start working on implementing the changes I made after trainings 1 & 2. To recap: In my first half, I was probably running 1-2 times per week and maxed at 11 miles. Considering I am not a distance runner and I have a laundry list of injuries, finishing 13  miles that day (a year and a half ago) was a sheer miracle by my standards. Looking back, my time was nothing to write home about, but that didn’t concern me. I was just happy to finish! For my second race, I trained a bit differently. I ran 2-3 times per week, and maxed at 12 miles. I hated every bit of those long runs, but had a goal time I wanted to crush. Come race day, I beat my goal time by 2 minutes, crushing last year’s race time by more than 9 minutes. So I’m on a roll, right? I mean, I must have this training all figured out! Unfortunately, this is not the case. After both races, I got incredibly sick. The first time with exercise-associated hyponatremia, the second time with severe dehydration. Both of these instances caused incredible cramping and abdominal pain that I just can’t put into words, (nor would you want me to try), both times lasting a full 8 hours. Something has got to change.

So this time, I have a new goal(s). First—have a good, strong race and feel amazing the whole way through. Second—not get sick after the race! I looked up several running plans, this time settling on Nike Running’s Race Coach Programs. I downloaded all three Half Marathon Training Programs: Level 1: Finish a Race, Level 2: Set a New PR (Personal Record) and Level 3: Lead From the Front. After reviewing all three plans, I decided I would base my training programs off of a combination of Levels 1 & 2, taking my teaching schedule into account (11 classes/week). I printed out blank calendars from August through November, and wrote down the low and high ends of the mileage for each week. I figured I would at a minimum follow Level 1’s program, and if I could, I would try to get as close as possible to Level 2.

As it turns out, I was able to stick almost perfectly to the Level 2 program, which means I maxed at 35 miles weekly and a 14 mile long run. That is the furthest I’ve ever run! Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. There were SEVERAL weeks where I just really, truly did not want to go and could have justified not doing that long run. Knowing that I could get away with maxing at 11 miles and still have a good race made it difficult to keep on pushing. But, if training were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it! I ran in the rain and the cold (if you know me you know I despise cold weather), replaying the same phrases in my head that I tell my clients and group exercise classes —

“When you’re tired—this is where the training starts.”

That was key for me this training. My training STARTED at 11 miles because know I can do 11 miles. I needed to push myself PAST those boundaries. I wavered back and forth about whether or not I was

going to hit that 14-miler. But when it came down to the day to do it, I realized I had not worked this hard to give up now! So I did it. I felt great during the run, but ended up in an ice bath and very sick shortly after. I was devastated. The reason I have been training so hard was to avoid this sickness! What was I doing wrong?! After much research and with the help of my Doctor, we’ve so far concluded that it’s tied to my chronic thirst. I tend to avoid sodium but it is also an essential electrolyte. After realizing just how little sodium my diet actually contains, I think we may have found the answer!

RNR Miami Half Marathon

I eat an incredibly clean diet, but this lack of sodium proves just how important proper nutrition is. I’ve spent the last week and half consciously consuming increased amounts of sodium, with great pleasure I might add. I can finally eat salted pistachios without guilt! I hope this makes a difference come race day, but no matter what, I’m going into it knowing that I’ve done everything possible to prepare myself for this race, and that’s a fantastic feeling! I trained hard, I trained smart, I ate right, I rested well and got the proper care for my body when needed. Now fifteen weeks of training all comes down to one. single. race. Or does it?

In all honesty, I accomplished things in this training that I never thought I could. I ran 3-6 times per week with a schedule some can’t fathom having to deal with. I ran 12 miles several times, I ran 13 miles and I ran 14 miles. I got sick, I got better, I got smarter. Whatever happens on Sunday, November 18th, it’s okay—because I feel like a winner already! (But I wouldn’t mind if y’all sent me some good runner vibes from about 5:45am CST to 7:45am CST)!

Here’s to a strong, happy, fabulous race! Cheers! (I’ll drink to that…after the race of course!)

Peace, love and lots of electrolytes,

Melissa

Growing up I witnessed my mom struggle through numerous fad diets – Cabbage Soup Diet, No Carbs Diet, Fat-Free Foods Diet, etc. I also noticed that although she may have reached a goal weight utilizing these fad diet methods, but she could never maintain it.

90-95% of the people that go on a diet will add more weight than what they started with.” – Hungry For Change

However, no matter what fad diet my mom was trying, she and my dad continued to prepare healthy, balanced meals for the rest of the family that included vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy starches. For that, I can’t thank my parents enough. They helped me learn the importance of including a variety of foods and nutrients into my every day eating.

The struggle that my mom, and millions of men and woman across the country have encountered, is keeping the weight off while maintaining a normal lifestyle. The origins of the word diet comes from the Greek word díaita, which means, “way of living.” We have to re-train ourselves to make good food choices on a daily basis, which means buying and cooking whole, nutrient-rich foods as part of our lifestyle.

Another pitfall that my mom and many others face when it comes to eating well consistently is treating food as a reward. I grew-up thinking I could eat as much as I wanted as long as I stayed active and “worked it off.” To an extent, I believe this is true. Your body definitely needs sufficient fuel stores to perform strenuous physical activity, however, the kind of calories you are putting into your body is what matters most.

Healthy eating is a never-ending journey and should be viewed as a continuous education. The more you learn the better off you will be to make informed choices and do what’s best for your body. As I’ve stated before, I love food. I do not enjoy eating strictly as a means to fuel my body, but rather as an opportunity to indulge in nature’s most delicious offerings. Let fresh, whole foods be your reward and be sure to balance your díaita with activity and movement.

Happy Eating!

Holly

This weekend, a miserable cold front blew through Dallas, keeping me inside for most of the weekend. What can I say, I hate the cold. Fortunately, it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to catch up on several “indoor” things I needed to get done and also forced me to spend some time de-stressing. I was able to watch two health/food documentaries I’ve been dying to see, Food Matters and Hungry For Change. Although they were both awesome, I’m going to focus on Hungry For Change in this post.

Let me start by saying this is a must-see! I know, I say that about all these food documentaries but this time I REALLY mean it. In this film are some of the most influential advocates for health and wellness, ones that I follow closely, like Dr. Alejandro Junger (author of CLEAN), Dr. Joseph Mercola (author of one of the most popular online health newsletters) and David Wolfe. I feel like I’m friends with these guys. For instance, I just found out that Dr. Mercola practices in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, where I grew up and Dr. Junger himself has commented on my blog posts in the past. I mean, come on, we go way back!

As I review the pages of notes I took while watching this fabulous documentary, I’m realizing that I have far too information to discuss in just one 700-1400 word post. So keep in mind this is a short synopsis of what this film covers.

One of the most important things that is discussed is that diets don’t work. Amen! Really, anything with the word “diet” associated with it—I want no part of. The word “diet” should refer to how you eat on a daily basis, in terms of your lifestyle, not a temporary shift in eating in order to lose weight.

Up to two-thirds of those who are on a diet regain more weight than when they started. – University of California, Los Angeles

We, as Americans, are starving. We are starving on a nutritional basis. We could eat 10,000 calories a day and still feel hungry. Let’s break it down—when your body needs nourishment, the brain sends out hunger signals, prompting you to eat. When your body has received the proper nutrients, the hunger signals will shut off. However, if you eat processed foods that lack nutrients, your body will not turn off those hunger signals. You could eat 10,000 calories worth of junk food and still be hungry!

Man-made foods like bread, sugar and table salt trick your body into thinking you’re getting those specific nutrients but your cells aren’t getting nourished. Now you’re starving at a cellular level. – Jon Gabriel

Americans are not eating food anymore, they’re eating food-like products. That’s what we try to drive home with Live Whole Be Free. Eating whole food, that nourishes your body, will allow you to break free from fad diets and other miserable habits and allow you the joy to truly just live!

Some additional things that are discussed in Hungry For Change:

  • The food industry’s role in creating and feeding your food addiction
  • The risks of consuming artificial sweeteners (aspartame) and chemicals (propylene glycol)
  • How sugar, fluffy carbs (white bread, pastries, cereal, pasta, potatoes) and high fructose corn syrup make you fat
  • What are good detoxifying foods for your body
  • The benefits of juicing
  • How stress and lack of sleep contribute to weight gain
  • How to use visualization to help lose weight
  • Why loving yourself is important for a healthy life

Hopefully this is enough to convince you to watch this film. Although I’ve discussed many, if there’s only one you watch, let this be the one! It is available for download from iTunes. Also, stay tuned as I cover more of the specifics in future posts!

Peace, love and healthy lifestyles,

Melissa

 

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free and vegetarian.

When shopping at my favorite local farm in Austin, I picked up a few baby eggplants and asked one of the farmers for recommendations on the best way to cook these beautiful little gems. She suggested to not cook them at all, but to slice them raw into thin slices to best enjoy they’re sweet, light flavor. Wanting to balance the sweetness of the eggplant, I paired them with quick-pickled onions and arugula for a slightly sour and spicy contrast.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 baby eggplants, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, pickled (see Quick-Pickling recipe below)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 10 oz. washed arugula
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Quick-Pickling Recipe

  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 allspice berries (or ¼ tsp. ground allspice)
  • 5 whole cloves (or ¼ tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 small, dried chile pepper

Directions for Pickling

  1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.
  2. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. Transfer onions and liquid into a far and refrigerate until ready to use.

seasonal summer salad eggplantDirections for Salad

  1. Rinse quinoa and cook according to directions. Let cool.
  2. Toss arugula, eggplant, pickled onion (along with 1 tsp. pickling liquid), quinoa and oil in a bowl.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.

I made this salad part of a satisfying meal by serving it alongside baked sweet potato fries. For an extra flavor and protein boost, add shavings of parmesan cheese before serving the salad. Using local, seasonal ingredients like eggplant and arugula are a great way to ensure your getting the most nutrition and flavor from your produce, not to mention the environmental advantages of buying local!

If you like this recipe, try our Grilled Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad.

Happy Eating!

Holly

This recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free and dairy-free.

This recipe is one of my favorites from CLEAN by Dr. Alejandro Junger. The halibut is light but filling and the zucchini, lemons, olives and rosemary add a unique and refreshing touch! And best of all, it’s EASY to make!

Notes

  • Recipe yields: 2 servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (5-ounce) portions of halibut
  • ¼ cup of pitted, halved kalamata olives
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary (or thyme if you prefer)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced in discs (skin on)
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Parchment paper cut into two 12-inch circles (if you do not have parchment paper, use a covered ovenproof dish)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Brush each parchment sheet with olive oil.
  3. Place one piece of halibut in the middle of each sheet and season with sea salt.
  4. On top of the fish, first place three slices of lemon, then three slices of zucchini, then top with a sprig of rosemary.
  5. Sprinkle the olives over the top and drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Pull the sides of the parchment together like a calzone. Fold paper over and crinkle together to seal.
  7. Place each package on a baking tray and place in the lower third of the oven.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The paper will puff up and brown lightly.
  9. Remove from oven and place on plates to serve. Open packages at the table and enjoy!

 

I decided to change the way I eat about five months ago and incorporate a mostly plant-based diet. After watching the movie Forks Over Knives (as well as other influential books and movies), I was not only inspired, but also a little shocked to discover such a different point of view when it comes to the “healthy” food I thought I had been eating all these years (i.e. low-fat dairy and lean meats).

Once I realized that I didn’t have to have all of my protein and nutrients come from animal-based products, I began my search for plant-based recipes and foods. It was exciting and fun for the first few months. I felt challenged to create new dishes and staple meals that incorporated all of the nutrients and ingredients needed to be a healthy Vegan.

However, a few weeks ago I hit a food slump. I love food and using fresh, simple ingredients in my cooking, and I realized that I was no longer cooking for love, I was cooking for fuel.

Being 100% Vegan takes a lot of dedication and time, especially if you try to avoid things like soy.  Then there are the really hard-core Vegans that don’t even use honey or oil (with the exception of coconut oil)! Anyway, it was starting to frustrate and exhaust me. The ingredients lists were getting longer and longer just to create a variety of meals that were not only delicious, but that also included the nutritional value I needed.

Then I read Melissa’s bio again and her words really hit home, “…the more “whole” I try to live, the less stressed and more “free” I feel.”

Bingo – that’s it! I’m striving to make good, well-informed decisions every day, starting with what I put into my body to spending time with family and friends, and that is what really matters when all is said and done. For me, that means incorporating a mostly plant-based diet, but also enjoying some of the simple, non-Vegan foods and flavors that I love so much. If and when I do stray from plant-based foods, I make sure that I am still eating responsibly and ethically – a smattering of fresh, creamy goat cheese from my neighborhood farm spread over a piece of warm, crusty whole wheat artisanal bread topped with the sweet, complex flavors of sliced purple, green and red heirloom tomatoes.

Now that’s a compromise I can live whole and be free with.

If you’re like me, long-term meal planning is typically something reserved for party planning only. Although I make my weekly shopping list, which may even include some specialty items from a recipe I’ve wanted to try, I tend to go for the same staple items and whatever is in season at the Farmer’s Market. By the end of the week I find myself standing in front of an open pantry, searching for inspiration to utilize the remaining produce in my fridge.

At this point I am always grateful for the following “must-have” pantry items. With these items on-hand, delicious and healthy meal options are only minutes away. No need call in take-out or dig out that frozen pizza in the back of your freezer.

Here’s a list of pantry necessities that can lead to a multitude of yummy, healthful family meals.

Dried Cranberry HeartDried fruits

Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Blueberries, Apricots, etc.

Keep a stash of any one or more of these dried fruits in your pantry to add to salads, rice dishes, homemade trail-mix/energy bars/recovery bars, chicken salad and more.


Health Benefits: Great sources of fiber and vitamins.

AlmondsNuts & Seeds

Almonds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Flaxseed, etc.

As with dried fruits, nuts and seeds add texture and flavor to salads, grain dishes, and snacks. They’re also great additions to sweet treats and desserts, like Raw Brownies!

Health Benefits: Excellent source of protein and nutrients as well as providing heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

QuinoaWhole Grains

Quinoa, Brown Rice, Steel-Cut Oats, etc

Whole grains provide a filling and delicious base to any meal. Cook grains in large batches and use throughout the week in salads, soups and side dishes such as this Quinoa and Green Bean Salad.

Health Benefits: Whole grains are made up of complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates give our bodies the FUEL we need, the energy that most of our body systems need to function.

Black Beans
Beans & Legumes

Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, etc.

I like to buy these items in bulk (dried) and prepare large batches at the beginning of the week. They can be an excellent side or as part of any main dish. Beans and lentils lend themselves to a variety of flavors and uses—Get creative and see how other cultures utilize these power foods! Beans and legumes are must-have items for vegans, who rely more heavily on them for adequate daily protein intake. Check out our featured recipe for Lentil Dal.

Health Benefits: Loaded with protein, fiber and minerals.

Cocoa NibsOrganic Dark Chocolate Chips or Organic Raw Cocoa Nibs

These little morsels of rich, deliciousness have saved me from over-indulging my sweet-tooth many a time. When purchasing the chocolate chips, be sure they are organic with NO added sugar. As a satisfying addition to trail-mix, or melted to make these yummy Chocolate Apricot Nut-Bars, dark chocolate chips are a crave-curing go-to. For an even healthier alternative, try using organic raw cocoa nibs. This superfood can be used just as chocolate chips are!

Health Benefits: Rich in antioxidants, organic dark chocolate helps protect and repair your cells from damage by free radicals. Organic raw cocoa nibs are full of antioxidants as well as flavonoids, amino acids and magnesium helping improve mood, reduce anxiety, increase energy levels and reduce symptoms of PMS.

 

These are the absolute essentials that I keep my pantry stocked with regularly.  When you’re either feeling creative, or just desperate, having a well stocked pantry can make all the difference in the world.

For more advice on Building a Natural Foods Pantry, 101Cookbooks.com has some great tips.

I eat organic—no big deal. What is a big deal—spending a pretty penny to do so. I’m serious about my health and I won’t sacrifice eating conventional produce covered in pesticides to save a few bucks. Well, that and I won’t eat conventional because it tastes like crap… but that’s another blog post. The point is—I’ve recently come to the realization that I spend far too much money on groceries.

You may or may not have heard of the whole “co-op produce” phenomenon. I was actually introduced to it just a few short weeks ago. A few friends mentioned going to pick up their “co-op vegetables”. Meanwhile, I stood  there—vegetable-less—wondering what in the world they were talking about. I needed to find out.

Enter Urban Acres.

At Urban Acres, our goal is to provide our community with the very best local and organic foods while supporting Texas farm families and artisans.

After inquiring about these co-op vegetables, it didn’t take me long to sign up for my membership online! Heck, I’ll try anything once! But this actually seemed like a pretty good deal. I signed up for a half share, which means every two weeks I get 15 lbs. of fresh, local, organic and sustainable produce for $30. Did I mention it is local AND organic?! Music to my ears. There’s nothing  I love more than supporting local farmers and businesses. Besides eating organic… but I already covered that. There’s also a yearly membership fee of $50 and a one-time service fee of $14. Cool, I can handle that.

Co-Op Produce
Co-op produce from Urban Acres

Saturday morning I picked up my very first share of co-op produce. It was exciting and I felt proud to be supporting local farmers. I was also thrilled to be saving some hard-earned cash! There are several pick-up locations in the DFW metroplex. My pick-up location is actually about a mile from my house—so close! I signed in, got my bin full of produce as well as an enormous watermelon! The contents of the bin change each pick-up, but in today’s produce included: watermelon, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, figs, onions, zucchini, romaine lettuce, swiss and rainbow chard and arugula. Wow, that’s a ton of produce! Although I don’t have experience with all of these wonderful items, the Urban Acres website provides some great recipe ideas! I can’t wait to try them out!

So far, my experience with co-op produce has been an exciting one! I will keep you posted as my life as a co-op-er continues. Is that a word… “co-op-er”…? Well, it is now! On another note, I encourage you to check your area for co-op produce! Eating healthy is a necessity, but you shouldn’t break the bank in order to do so! Are you paying too much for produce?

Peace, love and organic produce,

Melissa