Happy Holidays!

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you sent us after our first issue of Chicz hit the stands in October! We knew we loved the magazine, but we were thrilled to learn that you loved it too! Not only did you send us your appreciation, but you also sent us your fabulous ideas to feature in upcoming issues.

A few of you even got so caught up with the new magazine that you sent us articles, and we’re happy to say, we printed them! A special welcome to contributing writer Amanda Herzog, a 7th grader who felt she had something to offer the “young chicz” in the area.

We’re already at work on your winter issue and would love your input. Please send us a note about what you think of Chicz or share your ideas with us.

In the meantime, enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Don’t get so caught up in the “to do’s” that you miss out on the real joys of the season – time with loved ones. My wish for you is that this time is unhurried, unharried and heartwarming.

Merry Christmas!
Tara Bitzan
Chicz Editor 

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Valentine’s Day: Not just for couples

By Jessica Sly

Calling all single gals! That dreaded day (for some) is coming. The day of traded cards, excessive hand-holding and movie watching, with heart patterns applied to absolutely everything possible. Yep. It’s Valentine’s Day.
So you’re single, huh? Don’t think you can celebrate the day of love? Well, why not? There’s much to love in the world, and it doesn’t have to be a significant other. So embrace your singleness and go have some fun.

Make it a group date. Grab some of your other single girl friends and spend a night out on the town. Get a mani/pedi, go shopping, go bowling, eat at a fancy restaurant, take a whack at some karaoke.
Give furry friends some love. Everyone needs love, even the four-legged kind. Visit an animal shelter to cuddle a kitty or take a dog for a walk.

Work out. Speaking of taking a walk, why don’t you stop by the gym to beat your personal best on the treadmill or take a fitness class such as Zumba?
Have a movie marathon. Order a pizza, maybe invite some girl friends, and then watch your favorite action flicks, TV shows, or have a marathon of movies starring your celeb crush.

Volunteer. It’s a day centered around love, so why not give some to others? Help at a food shelf, visit with residents at a senior home, or stop by your favorite charity and ask how you can help. You could also make valentines and hand them out to friends and family.

Keep it quiet. In this crazy world, it’s hard to remember to slow down. Read that book you’ve been wanting to or take a nap to catch up on some zzzz’s.

Try your luck in the kitchen. Do you love to cook? Perhaps not so much? Either way, challenge yourself with an elaborate meal. Turn up your music and go wild experimenting with recipes.

Same old. That’s right. Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar. Instead of dwelling on the fact that it’s a “special day,” hold your head high and go about your daily routine.

Jessica Sly of Alexandria is a writer/proofreader and has a passion for art of all kinds, whether it be music, writing, drawing or

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As seen on TV: Bare Minerals Foundation

By Jamie Kakach

Bare Minerals Foundation

Claim: Lightweight mineral makeup that is so good for your skin – you can sleep in it!

Grade: A+

If you are like me, you have tried numerous different foundations in search of the “perfect” one. I had seen the commercials for Bare Minerals but wasn’t sure if it was for me, especially since the price was more than I have ever paid for foundation in the past. Well, from day one I was in love with this makeup!
It is lightweight, easy to apply, and long lasting with buildable coverage. For me it is the perfect foundation. It doesn’t rub off on my clothes or get streaky if I start to perspire. If you are looking to try a new lightweight foundation – try this one!

Jamie Kakach loves making crafts and trying out new products. She lives in Alexandria with her husband, Brian.

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Great reads

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a Jodi Picoult novel, but I am so glad I decided to read her latest, Leaving Time. For anyone who loves a good missing person mystery, some detective work by a jaded private investigator and a disgraced psychic with a lot of fascinating animal behavior science thrown in, this book has it all! We get to know the missing person, Alice Metcalf, through her journal entries as she works as an elephant researcher in South Africa and then later with her husband, Thomas, at an elephant rescue sanctuary in New Hampshire. The story is told from several different characters’ perspectives, the main one being Alice’s now 13-year-old daughter, Jenna, who is desperately searching for the reason behind her mother’s disappearance when Jenna was only 3 years old. The Boston Globe calls this Picoult’s most affecting novel yet, and unlike anything she has written before.
Picoult clearly did a lot of research about elephant behavior, particularly about the mourning exhibited at the death of a matriarch or baby elephant in the herd. I’ve always found this kind of information extremely interesting and enjoyed it even more so since I visited South Africa (in 2013) and observed elephants in the wild. She gets it right! It’s the kind of book where you get hooked by the story and will stay up late into the night reading, and also one where you can feel like you have learned a lot about something amazing that may be completely new to you. I can only tell you that there is a surprising twist at the end of the book that you will never guess until you’re almost done.
Libby McGuire, executive VP at Random House (Jodi’s publisher), feels this is probably the strongest book of Jodi’s career so far and is likely not only to please her former readers but to earn her many new followers as well. She says Jodi continually challenges herself to create ever more powerful and original stories and she has certainly done that with Leaving Time. The book has earned outstanding reviews from many sources and is described as deeply moving, gripping and an intelligent page-turner. Publisher’s Weekly says, “Picoult’s novel explores grief, memory and motherhood through the unlikely lens of elephant behavior. The pachyderms are as complex as the humans, making the journey memorable and poignant.” It’s a truly engaging read and I recommend it highly for Picoult fans and those who have not read her books before; It’s a great choice for book clubs too!

Kathleen Pohlig is owner of Cherry Street Books in Alexandria.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
by Jan-Phillip Sendkar

This is a love story between a boy named Tin Win and a girl named Mi Mi. Tin Win is a successful New York lawyer who disappears without a trace. His wife and daughter Julia have no clue to his disappearance until they discover a love letter written years ago to a Burmese woman. Julia, intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, travels to a village in Burma, her father’s homeland. There she uncovers a tale of love, passion, hardships and resilience.
It is written with wonderfully descriptive language. I found myself lost in the small village of Burma. The theme of hearts and heartbeats are frequent images in the novel and it is told in such a way that I was perhaps more anxious than the character listening to the story to discover how it would unfold. This is a book I would recommend and it’s a fast, easy read.

Paddy Shelden of Alexandria is a sign language interpreter, wife and mother of three girls.

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

Blood Brothers, the brothers being the Arab and the Israeli, shows us a side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is seldom told. Father Elias Chacour tells of being part of the exiled Palestinians, forced off their land to create the new nation of Israel in 1948.
The story begins through the eyes of a Palestinian boy in the turmoil of the Zionist takeover in Israel, in his village of Biram in northern Galilee where Christianity had its birth shortly after the time of Jesus.
Chacour finds God’s calling through the words which Jesus spoke on the Mt. of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. “Blessed are the peace-makers” has been his calling as he works to reconcile the Jews and Arabs, one heart at a time.
I read this before my trip to the Holy Land in 2013 and again recently. Traveling to Gish, Nazareth and the Mt. of Beatitudes in Galilee and seeing the plight of displaced Palestinians in the West Bank made the book even more poignant.

Becky Worley and her husband, Chris, live in Alexandria.

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

This is a story of survival for Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner. The story begs the question of “does the end justify the means?”
Charbonneau winds up in the wilderness in a stranger’s cabin; she doesn’t know if her captor is a kidnapper or romantic rescuer. The police are looking for her. They suspect her “cheating” husband of ill-doing. Her clinic colleagues set up a ransom and before you know it you wonder who is sincere?
Mean Streak is a compelling novel about love, deceit and the choices we must make in order to survive.
Sandra Brown is one of my favorite authors. I don’t like to struggle to get into a book and she has succeeded again in getting me hooked in the first chapter. This book is a nail-biter. I highly recommend it!

Jody Hanson of Brandon is a wife, mother, grandmother and publisher of the Echo Press and Osakis Review.

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10 uses for coconut oil

By Lori Mork

The number of ways in which coconut oil can be used are seemingly limitless. Here are just 10:

1. Cooking oil substitute. Coconut oil is 90 percent saturated fat, but it’s a medium-chain fatty acid, meaning it will burn quickly in your body. So next time you cook up a batch of sweet potato fries or a pan of brownies, substitute regular cooking oil with this. Some oils are not safe to cook with at high temperatures, so coconut oil is a great alternative

2. Insect repellent. Try a mixture of coconut oil and peppermint, tea tree or rosemary essential oils instead of DEET-filled insect repellents.

3. Deodorant. If you’re looking for an alternative to deodorants containing aluminum, try rubbing a small amount of coconut oil into your underarms, it’s just another one of the many uses for coconut oil.

4. Aromatherapy. Coconut oil creates a soothing aroma to help with relaxation.

5. Dandruff relief. Massage one or two tablespoons of coconut oil into your scalp to help with dandruff problems. Leave for 15-20 minutes, then rinse.

6. Makeup remover. Use a damp cloth or face pad and a dime-sized amount of coconut oil to remove the day’s makeup from your face. It can even take off waterproof mascara.

7. Toothpaste. Equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda mixed together makes a great whitening toothpaste.

8Lip balm. A small amount of coconut oil rubbed on to your lips will moisturize for a long time.

9. Coffee creamer. Use coconut oil in your morning coffee to give it a rich, creamy flavor. Just one or two teaspoons will suffice.

10. Thyroid support. Regular consumption of coconut oil has been shown to support healthy thyroid function.

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The single Chic: Living a healthy life independently

By Annie Harman

Living on your own for the first time can be a frightening adjustment. During this strange transition, you have to learn how to keep yourself alive without completely depending on your parents for support.
I found this to be extremely challenging when it came to keeping myself healthy. While living with my parents, I was pretty blessed with the easy set up I had in regards to nutrition and exercise. I picked up random shifts at my dad’s work, which allowed me to use their gym equipment for free, while my mom was an expert healthy-living cook. So long as I washed a dish every once in a while, I was in the clear and eating great.
Now, as I embark on my journey toward independence, my healthy lifestyle has been turned upside-down.
The first obstacle I had to tackle was feeding myself. I. Don’t. Cook. Ever. At all. Not only do I not know how, but I absolutely do not enjoy it, but I feel that now it can’t be avoided.
Considering both my budget and my thighs wouldn’t last long with constantly eating out, I realized fast that I had to remedy this. Ramen and Spaghetti-O’s may have been the easy college solution, but I’m supposed to be a professional adult now. Forcing myself to learn the trade of the kitchen seemed to be my only option.
The second obstacle knocking on my door was getting in regular exercise. Exciting, right? Boo! Who really likes jacking their heart rate up, sweating through their clothes and gasping for breath?
I am absolutely not an attractive exerciser and I am very well aware of it. Being in front of people, in front of strangers nonetheless, while I’m certain I may be dying just isn’t my idea of a good time. But again, I know it needs to be done.

To avoid exercising in a facility full of people and to save me a couple bucks, I figured workout videos were my calling. If Jillian Michaels can get people to drop 200 pounds on TV, surely she can help me stay healthy. I quickly learned, however, that my shoebox apartment allows me little to no room to do a single movement the tapes demand from me. So I had to suck it up and get a gym membership.
It’s been a year of me living on my own and I still live mostly off of plain chicken, boiled pasta, scrambled eggs, and good ol’ sandwiches. You know, the essentials. I also have yet to move past the “I’ll start working out tomorrow” phase.
Basically, it’s all still a work in progress.

Annie Harman of Alexandria is a free-spirited writer who believes in dreams, laughing and champagne.

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Six best tips for a healthy dog

By Dr. Florian Ledermann

We all desire to have a long healthy life. Here are some tips that can improve your dog’s health as well.

1. Exercise your dog at least once a day. Walking your dog or providing an exercise lot for your pet is a wonderful way to achieve a long and healthy life. Playing games with them like fetching or hide and seek can make a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy and be healthy.

2. Feed your dog only the amount he or she needs, of either a high quality commercial food or a balanced meal that you prepare. Obesity in animals is a real problem in pets also, mostly from overfeeding or unbalanced diets. Animal nutritionists and veterinarians can provide you with guidelines for your dog’s specific needs at its current life stage.

3. Do behavior training early in your dog’s life. More dogs are lost to unhealthy behavior than any other cause. Get educated on behavior training, hire a trainer or take classes with your dog early…in some cases as early as six weeks. Remember, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks!
4. Set up a preventive health plan with your veterinarian that includes annual check-ups, immunization and dental care. Research shows huge benefits for animals when on a good preventive plan rather than waiting until problems have developed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

5. When it’s time for a new pet, do some research on inherited health problems with various breeds or crosses. Generally, “Heinz 57” dogs may have fewer problems but not always. Buy only from reputable breeders or people you can trust. Humane societies are another source that can provide health history on adoptable pets so you have an idea of health risks.

6 Give your dog or pet the love and attention they deserve. Most animals give us unconditional love…the best kind! But we need to love in return if we want our animal friends to be healthy, well behaved, secure and lovable.

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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Real chicz of Douglas County: A lifetime of feeling good

Exercise and good nutrition
make life easier

By Tara Bitzan

Tammy Welle of Alexandria learned at a young age that she simply felt better if she was physically active.
That realization led her to a career of motivating others to feel good through exercise and good nutrition.
Welle grew up on a dairy farm near Deer Creek. She married Tom Welle in 1994 and moved to Alexandria where they currently live with their three children: Alyssa, 18; Eric, 16, and Nicolas, 11.

When did you first get interested in physical fitness/wellness?
In high school I realized I could burn off stress by moving and exercising. I have always enjoyed being active. I was in sports as a child and I liked to be on the move. I grew up riding bike and always knew I would stay active as an adult.
I went to Alexandria Technical College and took supervisory management and dietary manager. I focused on senior nutrition and really enjoyed working with seniors.
When did you decide to make physical fitness/wellness your career focus?
I met Janet Fischer in 1995 at the Alexandria Athletic Club. Together we created a nutrition program to help people create a healthy eating plan for themselves and their family. I worked out of the athletic club and realized personal training was also something I could do to help people. I would be able to help people with their nutrition goals as well as their fitness goals.

What type of jobs have you had in this field since then?
I started working with Natalie Heckert [owner of NATS - Nutrition and Aerobic Training Service] in 2000. I started personal training, working with clients on their fitness and nutrition goals. I started working with seniors by teaching SilverSneakers classes at Lakes Area Recreation in 2006. I am currently in both positions.

What is it about physical fitness/wellness that energizes you?
I feel so much better when I am moving and feel strong. Life is so much easier when you have energy and muscle to be able to perform regular tasks during the day.
I truly enjoy helping people and it feels so good to help someone feel stronger, reach their nutrition goals and continue on their healthy lifestyle.
Some of my favorite things are when a person shares their successes, whether it is weight loss or getting rid of a cane or having a better golf game.

Do you ever find it easy to teach others but not so easy to follow yourself, or do you always live what you teach?
I try to have balanced meals but also feel like it is okay to have a small treat every day. Everything in moderation, as healthy living is for life rather than a quick fix.

How do you encourage your family to “be well?”
“Did you have a fruit and a vegetable?” is a common question asked at most dinners. We often talk about healthy eating as well as staying active, but the main thing is staying active as a family.


We all have different strengths and I feel like the best kind of exercise is something you enjoy doing – riding bike, walking, swimming, running, any activity when you are moving. It doesn’t have to be planned or programmed.

What’s more important – good nutrition or regular exercise?
Nutrition and exercise are equally important. If your goal is to lose weight, you have to monitor your food intake. Even if you have an excellent exercise program you can still take in too many calories, even if they are “healthy calories.”
You need to make muscle by exercising to raise your metabolism to burn the calories you are eating. I have met a few “skinny, fat people.” Meaning they look thin on the outside but they have a higher body fat because they have little muscle.
Anything positive you do for your body, is positive. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Everything counts – every work-out, every healthy meal – just stick with it.
I believe in eating foods closest to nature rather than processed foods. We are fortunate enough to have many fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from as well as fresh frozen in the off seasons. We have lean meats to choose from as well.
Find an exercise you enjoy doing, find a friend to exercise with, put it on your calendar and plan your meals.

What advice would you give someone who simply wants to start living healthier?
Start by making one to two healthier choices at a time. If you are new to exercise, start by doing something you enjoy and preferably with people you enjoy being around.
Try not to do everything at once, as it is harder to stick with. You might want to focus on eating fruits and vegetables every day and then move on to portion control, eating lower sodium, drinking more water, etc.

Tara Bitzan of Farwell loves writing, organizing and trying to keep up with her teenage daughters.

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He sez…she sez: I miss bachelor food…

Brandon: I’ve had time to daydream lately and take a few trips down memory lane. One long-gone memory that recently popped into my head was “bachelor food.” The Chef Boyardee line of cuisine comes to mind. I think the reason for me dreaming about some of these foods is that I have recently realized Amy is slowly sneaking healthy, twig-and-berry foods into my meals.

Amy: After years of white bread and braunschweiger sandwiches, I understand healthy eating may certainly become an acquired taste. However, you’re 41 years old and as often as you drive me bonkers, I’d like to keep you around. In the meantime, my attempts to do so require covert ops. You leave me no choice.

Brandon: I mean Amy’s tradecraft skill on how she is able to sneak this food into my life more frequently is quite frightening. She is patient like a CIA special operative and has acted at a speed like that of a glacier. She’s super sneaky!

Amy: That may be true, but it all goes out the window when you’re on your own for a weekend. Isn’t that right, my little Cheez Wiz hubby?

Brandon: True. I normally get my bachelor food fix when Amy is not going to be home for a weekend. I prefer the weekend bachelor food binge because I can then group the meals together and have a glorious bachelor food festival. I usually turn to a few things… toasted bagels topped with cream cheese and olive loaf lunchmeat accompanied by yellow corn tortilla chips and some cheese and hot sauce dips. I have also been known to go with Spaghetti-O’s with sliced hot dogs. Most things microwave will do and then there are the various new wave TV dinners to choose from. Or my all-time favorite: the frozen pizza.

Amy: (Insert eye-rolling here.)

Brandon: All I can say is do you remember the “burger” patty incident? What was that thing made of? Was it beans or tofu? Heck, I can’t remember what it was. It certainly wasn’t made of beef! I can tell you that for sure!
Amy: It was my attempt at passing a black bean burger by you… admittedly, it totally flopped. You looked at me as though I took away your birthday balloon. You were like, “Honey, I’m a man. I need meat.” Good grief.

Brandon: It gets worse. There is stuff like quinoa, edamame, goat cheese and then there are all the fruits and veggies, too! Don’t get me wrong, I have always tried these (some of them anyway) and they’re great and nutritious foods but I also would like to eat my bachelor food more often than I do now. I miss you, Manwich.

Amy: Well, my little petunia, you’re 41 years old; it’s time to start eating like a grown up. The lunchmeat bagels and chips have been replaced with salmon burgers and a mixed greens salad. The Spaghetti-O’s have been replaced with brown rice and a veggie stir fry. The frozen pizzas have been replaced with tilapia and acorn squash. The nacho-flavored Combos have been replaced with olive tapenade on baguette slices.

Brandon: See what I mean, guys? I just know there’s a tofurkey on the horizon…

Amy: When you’re gone for a weekend, I eat like a bird! It’s mostly sporadic episodes of “chick food” – things like cheese and crackers, chips and homemade salsa, coffee and a banana, or a divine salad of arugula, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, capers, English cucumber and goat cheese with Caesar vinaigrette. It’s like the ultimate weight loss opportunity – no man around to feed means big meals and big calories are the furthest thing from my mind. Hmmm… Maybe you should do more weekend hunting and fishing trips, dear.

Brandon: I could really go for a bologna sandwich with a side of cheesy poofs.

Amy: Or pita chips and hummus.

Brandon: Maybe with a side of ding dongs! Until next time, keep the faith, fellas!

Brandon and Amy Chaffins of Alexandria have been married 11 years – long enough to have learned to live with each other’s “quirks.”

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Start saving for Christmas now, your wallet will thank you!

By Jennifer Guderjahn

The holidays have come and passed and though we have fond memories of the time spent with family and friends, it’s likely we all feel the hit our checking accounts took to celebrate this joyous time. If only money weren’t an object! There are ways, however, to counteract extra spending for the holidays by preparing for it ahead of time with a Christmas Club bank account – and you should get one started soon!

Christmas Club Accounts
Though Christmas Club accounts can be found at many financial institutions, they’re not always a well-known product or overly advertised. A Christmas Club account is a type of savings account designed to help you tuck away money throughout the year to save up for buying Christmas presents, or to treat yourself to some other gift (travel, entertainment, etc.).
There are a couple of features about Christmas Club accounts that make them more beneficial than an average savings account. First, there may be a higher interest rate offered with a Christmas Club account so you can get a little more bang for your buck without contributing anything extra. Second, because a Christmas Club is designed to help you save money, there are generally restrictions on withdrawing from the account before a certain date (don’t worry – usually funds are released before Black Friday!).
For those of us who feel money burning holes in our wallets, this is a great feature! If an unplanned expense or emergency arises, you can withdraw your money ahead of time; however, you may forfeit the interest accrued or pay a fee.
This isn’t a complex idea, but we sometimes forget how money can add up (whether we are spending or saving). Take a look at the table. This is assuming you open up a Christmas Club account at the beginning of the year and deposit into it every week (besides the week of Christmas).
Without even adding interest, you can see how a little commitment each week can make a big difference by the holiday season. Start saving now. Ask your local financial institution about a Christmas Club account and take advantage of all that saving money has to offer.

Jennifer Guderjahn is a personal banker at Glenwood State Bank in Alexandria.

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Simplify your life with seasonal cooking

By Sylvia Luetmer

Good cooking doesn’t have to mean buying expensive ingredients that you store in your cupboard and rarely use again. Try eating seasonally this year and give your family the opportunity to look forward to and enjoy the flavors that are fresh with each new season.
Enjoy the experience of cooking with fewer ingredients using the changing flavors of the season. Even in the dead of winter in Minnesota, locally grown squash, root vegetables, potatoes, onions, eggs, meats and preserves are available.
Eating seasonally encourages change and creativity in the kitchen. So this year, get out of the rut of cooking the same things over and over and taste the difference fresh and local makes.
Soon, spring will offer us a whole new array of local produce and you will be ready to put those root vegetables to bed for a few months.
When you support businesses that work to provide you with locally grown and produced foods, you are supporting our local economy as well as the health and wellbeing of our community.


Melted coconut oil, butter or olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
Beets, potatoes, carrots, onions
Honey or maple syrup (optional)
Caerphilly or other hard cheese
Small whole mushrooms (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together 1-2 finely chopped cloves of garlic and melted coconut oil, olive oil or butter. Add honey or maple syrup, if desired.
Peel beets and potatoes and cut into quarters. Scrub unpeeled carrots and cut into large chunks or thick slices. Peel off the outer paper layers of an onion and cut into large chunks. Place all ingredients in bowl.
Coat all the ingredients with the oil mixture and transfer to cast iron Dutch oven, roasting pan or casserole dish.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until all vegetables are fork tender but not mushy. If desired, stir in optional mushrooms 20 minutes into the roasting process.
Remove from oven and top with grated cheese. Return to oven until cheese melts.
Optional: top with raw spinach, Swiss chard or kale.
Breakfast leftovers: Reheat roasted vegetables in frying pan and serve topped with fried farm fresh egg. Serve with whole grain bread and local preserves.

Sylvia Luetmer is a fresh food lover and active volunteer for Local Harvest Market CO of Alexandria.

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