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BIGGEST LOSER: Contestants treated to healthy-cooking demonstration
 
FLORENCE, S.C. – The conference room at the McLeod Health and Fitness Center was filled with delicious smells during a cooking demonstration Monday night.

The demonstration, which was part of the 2018 Florence’s Biggest Loser competition, featured three healthy and nutritious recipes prepared for the competition’s contestants by registered dietitian and nutritionist Lindsay Fraser. The recipes Fraser selected were vegetarian-friendly and included a kale salad with a homemade dressing, a vegetable soup and a make-your-own yogurt bar.

“I decided to pick vegetarian dishes, because I think it’s important to show that vegetables can taste good,” Fraser said. “You can go meatless and still get protein and tasty food. I also think it opens people up to different ways to add more vegetables to meals they already prepare.”

Many of the vegetables used in the recipes were fresh. Local vegetables provided by Ovis Hill Farm. Ovis Hill Farm is a family-owned livestock and certified organic vegetable farm in Lake Swamp. Along with organic vegetables and fruits, it also offers dairy products and pasture-raised, grass-fed chicken, beef, lamb and eggs. For more information, you can visit its website at ovishillfarm.com or visit its markets from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at Naturally Outdoors and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the Florence City Center Farmers Market.

After Fraser was done preparing each dish, contestants were able to sample the salad and soup to see how each one tasted. They were also each given a cup of plain yogurt and asked to create their own healthy dessert by selecting from a variety of toppings such as fruit, crushed graham crackers and dark chocolate chips. Overall, the contestants were pleasantly surprised by how much they liked each dish.

“I usually eat a lot of meat, and I never thought I could eat a meal without meat,” contestant Kym Rush said. “But all of these are just so good. It has definitely changed my mind.”

This is the last nutrition event of the competition for the contestants. The competition will conclude on March 29th with a finale party at the Leatherman Senior Center.

Refreshing Kale Salad
Ingredients:
>> 1 bunch kale, washed, stems trimmed (or package of pre-trimmed kale)
>> 2-3 whole carrots, washed, with first layer peeled away
>> ¼-½ cup raisins

Dressing:
>> 1 lemon (for juice)
>> 2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard (per taste)
>> ½ cup sunflower or safflower oil

Instructions:
>> 1. Prepare the kale by washing and trimming access stems. If you do not care for the hard rib (or stem) backbone, you can simply trim away the leaves for eating. Place kale in large bowl.
>> 2. With a peeler, peel the carrots over the kale, leaving you with nice long carrot peels (or shavings). Add raisins. Mix together.
>> 3. For the dressing: Combine oil and Dijon mustard in a small mixing bowl. For a tangier dressing, add more mustard; for a milder dressing, try less. Squeeze half of the lemon into the mixture. Whisk together. Add more lemon juice or mustard, per taste. Pour over salad and mix together. Serve and enjoy.

 
Swamp Soup
(Adapted from Budget Bytes blog)
Prep time: 10 minutes*
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
>> 2 tablespoons olive oil
>> 3 cloves garlic, minced
>> 3 stalks celery, diced
>> 4 medium carrots, diced
>> 1 medium- large onion, diced
>> 1 tablespoon dried oregano
>> 1 tablespoon dried basil
>> 28 oz. tomato sauce, low salt
>> 45 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added (or three 15 oz. cans)
>> 1½ teaspoons vegetable or chicken bouillon plus 1½ cup water (or you could use 1½ cups vegetable or chicken broth, low salt)
>> Two 16 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
>> 10 oz. package frozen spinach
>> 14 oz. bag frozen corn
>> 6-8 oz. Swiss cheese
*Save yourself prep time by dicing the celery, carrots and onions ahead of time and refrigerating or freezing for quick use.

Instructions:
>> 1. Clean and chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in the basil and oregano and cook for one more minute.
>> 2. Pour in the cans of diced tomatoes (do not drain) and tomato sauce. Add 1½ cups broth (or 1½ cups water plus 1.5 teaspoons bouillon). Add the chickpeas, frozen corn, and the brick of frozen spinach. Allow the mixture to heat through, stirring occasionally to break up the spinach as it melts (about 10 minutes). You could even heat the spinach in the microwave for 2 minutes to partially de-thaw before adding to mixture.
>> 3. Once the soup is completely heated through, dice the Swiss cheese. Reduce the heat to low or turn the heat off completely. Drop in the Swiss cheese and stir it in. The cheese will melt and become gooey but remain in clumps. If the heat is left on high, the cheese will melt too much and dissolve in. Alternatively, you can add the cheese to each bowl of soup after serving.


Make Your Own Yogurt Cup
Ingredients:
>> Plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
>> Possible topping ideas:
* Almond Slices
* Crushed Walnuts
* Dark Chocolate Chips
* Strawberries
* Bananas
* Kiwi
* Craisins
* Crushed graham crackers

Instructions:
>> 1. Separate your toppings into bowls and place a serving spoon or tongs in each bowl.
>> 2. Give each person a bowl or cup of the yogurt and then have them go down the line of toppings and select what they would like for their yogurt.
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