Healthy Harvest Meals by Charlyn Fargo

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healthy meals

Charlyn Fargo Ware, is a Registered Dietitian at HyVee grocery store in Springfield, Illinois. Although Mother Nature has been playing tricks on us fall harvest will be coming soon. Charlyn offered tips on healthy meals for farming during the busy harvest season.

Charlyn knows the farm

“I grew up on a farm near Rochester, Illinois,”Charlyn shared. “It was a corn and soybean farm. I showed short-horn cattle and was a member of the FFA and 4H.

Today Charlyn lives in town and works as a dietitian for HyVee sharing her knowledge with customers!

Planning Ahead for healthy meals

“Mom was good at planning ahead. Map out what you are going to need, think ahead,” Charlyn advised when thinking about meals for the fall.

Whether talking about a full out dinner or just a snack, Charlyn said it is important to make sure you have all the ingredients for healthy meals on hand before you get started trying to put a meal together. At HyVee they have fully stocked shelves and it is easy to find anything you need.

Take a few minutes for a healthy meal

“Farmers need to stop and take ten or fifteen minutes for a meal,”Charlyn added. While my farmer always wants to eat on the go and keep the combine rolling Charlyn disagreed with this concept.

“What difference will a few minutes make?” she said. “Farmers think they are just sitting, (when they are in the combine or tractor) but their bodies are on high alert,” she warned. “It is important to stop and take a breath.”

National Family Meals Month

September is National Family Meals Month.” Families that eat together do better,” Charlyn added.

It is so important for families to take time to eat healthy meals together. When possible taking the family to the fields for a portable meal is a great way to connect everyone and keep the father figure intact during the busy harvest time.

Besides, Charlyn and I know both agreed that farmers get lonely in the fields all day long. Harvest hours are long ones. Family meals are conversation times and may be the only times that family interactions occur!

Snacks and Water

“Dad would always take an apple and water and ice in his big round thermos,” Charlyn remembered fondly. She recalled coming home from college from the University of Illinois during fall harvest to ride in the combine with him.

She said that water is so important to make sure to keep hydrated while in the field.

During harvest she added, “Any fruit is a great snack.”

She also recommended string cheese, almonds, any nut mix and a protein and carb mix. While a cookie is fine too, these healthy snacks help keep the body fueled and the mind sharp during the long harvest days and evenings to come.

Veggies are also a good snack as well. My son will eat carrots so I try to keep them on hand for almost every meal during field time.

What’s for dinner?

Charlyn said there are healthy meals “beyond the sandwich”. She said there is nothing wrong with a burger and fries, but this should not be the mainstay day after day. Charlyn pointed out that you can make something healthy but still portable.

“In the morning, you might try a smoothie, then try a salad in a mason jar. Shake it up then pour it out on a plate and add the dressing. A burrito bowl is also a good choice,” Charlyn added.

Below Charlyn provided her very own “Chopped Salad in a Jar” recipe to try in the fields this fall!

Chopped Salad in a Jar – by Charlyn Fargo of HyVee!

1 pound grilled chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing (or use fresh lemon juice, olive oil and a spot of honey)

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup shredded Parmesean cheese

4 cups arugula chopped (or other hearty lettuce)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or raisins (or dried cranberries or dried cherries)

1/4 cup roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds

Instructions: Layer the following ingredients among four 16-ounce jars, starting from the bottom up: 4 ounces grilled chicken breast, 1/4 cup quinoa, 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1 tablespoon pomegranates and 1 tablespoon pepitas. Cover with lid and refrigerate. When ready to eat, shake sealed jar to combine. Serves 4.

What a healthy way to eat in the field, thank you Charlyn and thank you HyVee!

Healthy options

Tonight we tried out the burrito bowl of which there are several variations. We tried the version that Charlyn shared. This version required cooking chicken breasts with onions and peppers in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. While cooling top them with salsa. Cut the chicken breasts and onions and peppers up, then layered with brown rice, black beans, corn and avocados. Only I took the easy (and less healthy route) of already made guacamole! I tried this out on the grand kids and it was a success all around!

Try out these tips and I hope they help out this fall! Stay safe during fall harvest!