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This is the third year of the Berkshire Mayor's Fitness Challenge. It began with North Adams and a logo of Mayor Richard Alcombright running, and has grown to include Pittsfield, along with a logo of Mayor Linda Tyer, hiking stick in hand.

The challenge started this week and involves logging points for every healthy thing you do via an online form. You are supposed to stay hydrated, exercise, eat a lot of veggies and log all your points. At the end, all the people participating are mildly healthier. I'm signed up on a team, and, obviously, we're in it to not just win it, but absolutely crush it. Watch out, North Adams!

That is one reason why the recipe I am sharing with you today is a salad — I wanted to make something healthy and still filling and interesting. I also wanted to earn three extra points. I have no idea what you get if you win, and I don't care. I'm in it for point quantity only.

This is a versatile salad; you can substitute almost any vegetable, except the peppers. The peppers, stuffed with chorizo and roasted in the oven until they're silky and marinated, provide a nice protein focal point, and you get some cheese with your roughage. Happy fitness-ing.


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There's a local angle here, too — the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market opens this Saturday, and it's salad season. The Great Barrington Farmers Market is already open. (North Adams opens June 11.) Now is the time to get beautiful salad greens, asparagus and more — it's not too early to go and get fresh produce. Fitness challenge teams, you also get three points for trying a new fruit or a new vegetable.

Salad with smoked paprika vegetables and chorizo-stuffed pepper

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

½ package chorizo sausage (I much, much prefer the kind that is soft and malleable and comes in a plastic tube over the kind that is a seasoned sausage. It's way easier for stuffing.)

8-12 small sweet peppers

½ package mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 small zucchini, chopped

2 cups spinach

A little salt and olive oil

2-3 cups shredded lettuce of any kind

½ cup chunks of complimentary cheese (anything—something smoky or really creamy is nice, like gouda or goat cheese)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Cut tops off peppers and stuff with chorizo, taking care not to split any peppers down the middle. Bake 25-30 minutes, until peppers are soft and oily.

While peppers are cooking, saute mushrooms and zucchini on medium with olive oil, smoked paprika and salt. Toss together spinach and lettuce, and top with cheese. Top salads with vegetables and chorizo peppers. Have a beer, because you totally can without worrying too much about caloric intake.