In an effort to support my friends and my husband in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions, I’m showcasing a few healthy choices we’ve made together.
Charlottesville is definitely zeroed into the organic, local, farm-to-table trend.
I first noticed this last semester when I was searching for a grocery delivery service, as I was used to subscribing to Peapod in Chicagoland. Relay Foods is instead available here, focusing on sustainable options. (It also helps to know that the company’s founder is a Darden alumnus.)
Another venue for obtaining similar products while also getting to meet the farmers, bakers, chefs and artisans who created these items is the Charlottesville City Market. I missed my opportunity for this farmer’s market during the summer and fall, but a friend in the DPA blogged about her experience earlier this school year, so now I’m anticipating trying it out some day.
However, in the dead of winter, I have found an indoor version of the farmer’s market in Cville. A couple weekends ago, I went on a shopping spree and bought free range meat like ground beef, bacon and pork sausage from Free Union Grass Farm, along with cage free eggs and fresh cilantro from Hawk Hollow Farm. I was excited to see such quality products at an affordable cost and so close to home. Although this market is smaller and inevitably has less to offer than the city market during the warmer months, it’s at least an option through the off-season.
When I spontaneously purchase a bunch of random ingredients such as the list above, I tend to Google a recipe or search on Pinterest with the list. The night after I visited this market, my husband and I made black bean meatballs with cilantro yogurt sauce as well as the Paleo version of Scotch eggs for a date night. Both dishes highlighted the tender, flavorful meat very well and didn’t leave us feeling heavy.
Focusing on fitness
One of my favorite pastimes with my husband (other than eating yummy food) is hiking, especially in this area. We’ve enjoyed hiking Humpback Rocks in the summer and Old Rag Mountain in the fall. And because we’re now living in a location that is far enough away from the Polar Vortex, we can luckily hike in the winter.
Based on a Darden SY suggestion, we did the 8-mile hike up to Bear Church Rock. As a Midwest native, it was incredible to see areas so warm from the sun (e.g. near the Rapidan River, in certain open areas in the woods) where both snow and greenery co-exist on the path.
We enjoyed this beautiful, changing, somewhat unpredictable scenery. The most scenic part of the hike was the Canopy of Mountain Laurel: I loved walking under the arch, shaded by the overhanging trees, and over the snow-covered trail with its slight incline.
This was also the quietest and most peaceful hike we’ve done in the Charlottesville area, in stark contrast to Old Rag in the fall: We only saw a handful people during the four hours that we were walking.
Beware: This is a strenuous, long stretch of hiking that made my legs sore for three days after.
If you’d rather stay inside, another fun fitness idea is to do indoor rock climbing. I bought a LivingSocial deal with a group of DPA members to try out Rocky Top near the Downtown Mall of Charlottesville.
It was a bit of a tight space compared to my prior experience in Ann Arbor, Mich. at Planet Rock with my husband and in-laws. But we were able to squeeze in with our reserved lessons for a Friday night, which I recommend doing if you are with a big group during a similar busy time.
Not only was our official instructor was patient, but my two expert climber friends helped me out with tips they’ve gathered over the years. (They were bouldering on their own, while novices like me and a couple others got our lessons.) I’ve actually built enough confidence to consider venturing outside for some authentic rock climbing when the weather gets nicer.
Other ideas on where to find healthy food or unique workouts in the area? Please share!