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Natural, Healthy Foods in the Neighborhood

Here are some places to find and learn about lean cooking.

The weather is erratically becoming warmer and sunnier. This creates prime opportunities for grilling outdoors, and might create the motivation to go the extra mile, ironically, to buy locally.

You can contemplate places to buy and learn about local foods, and to find interesting, healthy ways to cook them. Opportunities to buy fresh produce abound.

You could check-out the selection at Brookhaven Marketplace for grilling and, perhaps, eating outdoors. This could include peppers, tomatoes and lean hamburger meat for the grill, and berries that are available on the cheap for appetizers or smoothies.

Brookhaven also has recipes and cooking tips available on its web site. There are many other healthy cooking ideas available online, too, including information from healthy cooking and Food Revolution guru Jamie Oliver, 101 Cookbooks, with recipes focused on natural, whole foods and ingredients; and Heart Healthy Living ideas from Better Homes and Gardens.

There are also other options opening up in the area in the near future.

The 2011 Burr Ridge Farmers Market will begin again on June 16, and will run every Thursday through Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This shopping option will be a great place to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local sources.

Buying from the farmers market will both reduce the carbon emissions from transportation that are one of the hidden costs of food, and help to support your nearby farmers. This is sometimes a way to obtain food made and sold with fewer pesticides.

Another place to learn about healthy eating and cooking is the Chefs For A Day cooking school that will probably be opening later this month. Chef Laura Valcour, the Burr Ridge Farmers Market manager, and her longtime best friend and business partner, Ruby Melliza, will open their new location in Willowbrook Plaza, on the northeast corner of Route 83 and 75th Street.

The co-owners are emphasizing being environmentally friendly, partially by having the Twin Garden Farms located in Harvard, IL, provide the produce for the school, states Valcour. In addition, they will be selling eco-friendly gadgets.

The school will also offer hands-on demonstrations and healthy living interactive classes for adults, Valcour adds.

Melliza and Valcour are planning a kickoff event called the Sizzling Summer Sampler, with food and wine pairings, Valcour says. It will cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Register for the event here, or register your child for a summer cooking camp run by the school online.

Keeping in mind some of these fun, healthy ways to eat better this summer is a great way to improve your health and enjoy some fresh, local foods.

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