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Eat the Alphabet and Geocache Exploring

Leigh Pujado Holding Vegetables
How many of the fruits and vegetables
Leigh is holding have you eaten...or can
even identify?

Sometimes the best way to make lasting change in our lives is by trying something completely new. Not just a single task, but rather a healthy mission that takes a few weeks or even months to complete. If you've been trying to lose weight and live healthier, here are a couple of my favorite missions to try.

The alphabet mission. Every week eat a vegetable that starts with a different letter of the alphabet. For the letter "A" you could try arugula or asparagus. "B" might be beets or broccoli.

Take a picture of each one in its raw state and then again after it's cooked. Make an album that includes all the recipes and what you liked or didn't like about them. Then get some support by posting your experiences online and sharing them with your friends.

If you do only one letter a week, you'll finish all 26 in six months. At the end of the alphabet mission, you'll have discovered a whole list of new healthy foods to eat and ways to prepare them. Following is an alphabetical list if you're having trouble coming up with ideas. Click on the picture for the complete recipe.

  Asparagus Arugula
Marinated Asparagus Salad   Marinated Asparagus Salad
  Brussels Sprouts Broccoli
Roasted Shallots and Brussels Sprouts   Roasted Shallots and Brussels Sprouts
Broccoli Tots   Broccoli Tots
  Cauliflower Cabbage
Cauliflower, Couscous and Currant   Cauliflower, Couscous and Currant
Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage   Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage
  Daikon (White Radish) Dandelion
  Eggplant Endive
Eggplant and Cauliflower Stew - Indian Spiced   Eggplant and Cauliflower Stew - Indian Spiced
  Fennel Fiddlehead Fern
Roasted Chickena and Vegetables   Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Fennel
  Green Beans Garlic
Green Beans and Feta Cheese   Green Beans and Feta Cheese
  Haricot (White Navy Bean) Huauzontle
Navy Bean Soup   (Haricot) White Navy Bean Soup
  Iceberg Lettuce Ivy Gourd
  Jalapeno Peppers Jerusalem Artichoke
  Kidney Beans Kale
Bean and Chicken Salad   Kidney Bean and Chicken Salad
  Leek Lima Bean
Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes   Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes
Kentucky Burgoo - Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)   Kentucky Burgoo - Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)
  Mushrooms Maca Root
Mushroom Martini   Mushroom Martini
  Napa Cabbage Nori
  Olive Okra
  Peas Potatoes
Split Pea Soup   Split Pea Soup
Potato Salad   Potato Salad
Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf Cups   Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf Cups
  Rice Rutabaga
Wild Rice, Barley and Pomegranate Seeds   Wild Rice, Barley and Pomegranate Seeds
  Squash Spinach
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pork   Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pork
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna - (Crock Pot) - Slow Cooker   Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna - (Crock Pot) - Slow Cooker
  Tomato Turnip
Baked Parmesan Tomatoes   Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
  Ulluco Urad Bean
  Vidalia Onion Velvetleaf
  Watercress Winter Purselane
  Xigua (Technically a fruit because we couldn't find any vegetables that start with the letter X.)
  Yams Yucca Plant
Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes   Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
Tomato-Zucchini Frittata   Tomato-Zucchini Frittata

The geocache mission. Geocaching is like a treasure hunting game. Someone starts by hiding a "treasure" and then they post clues online, including the approximate coordinates in latitude and longitude telling people how to find it. You use a phone that has a GPS (Global Positioning System) in it to find the "treasure."

The challenge isn't finding the location you're going to, since you start out knowing your final destination. The difficulty may be that you have to hike off-road, take a bike path, climb a hill or use a boat. Then there's the challenge of finding the cache or "treasure" once you arrive.

There are all sorts of caches. It might be a piece of paper to sign, a playing card to make the best poker hand or a spot you have to stand to re-create a particular picture posted online. There are even caches where you race against other teams anywhere in the world to capture a virtual "flag."

Your mission is to find and identify all the geocaches within a specific geographic location. To get the most out of each hunt, try setting a radius of 5 or 10 miles around your home or workplace and resolve to get to each location without the use of motorized vehicles.

When you're looking at the list of caches, most sites will give them a difficulty rating of 1 (for the easiest) to 5 (for the most difficult). Start with some of the easier ones to understand how the GPS functions and work your way up to the 5-star options. Remember that the difficulty level is only limited by the treasure hider's imagination.

It's easy to find caches in your neighborhood, just type in your zip code. To give you an example, there are over 250 caches in Key West at the southernmost tip of Florida. At the opposite end of the country, there are over 100 caches hidden in and around North Pole, Alaska. The bigger the city, the greater your options. There are bound to be plenty of caches to find wherever you may live.

The more popular sites you can use to start your geocaching mission are earthcache.org, geochaching.com and navicache.com. Click the links below to visit their websites.


Now you've got two missions. One exposes you to new foods and the other helps you discover the world around you. Which will you choose?

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 10/10/2021