Monthly Archives: October 2013

Bok Choy and Broccoli Beef

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Alternatively titled, “What you cook when chicken is poison and you only have a few things in the house.”

So I hate factory farmed meat, but sometimes it’s the only budget friendly option. I had quite a few bags of a particular brand of chicken that was not officially recalled, but was essentially poison.

Ok, that was dramatic.

The chicken was supposedly fine if you cooked it well, but if you didn’t  you might end up with a drug-resistant strain of salmonella in your body.

I wasn’t taking chances. Every time I looked in the freezer, my brain so a big, red “X” over the bags. A germ-a-phobe just can’t help it. Truth? I’m a little bit food safety paranoid.

I live an hour away from the nearest [decent] grocery store, so I had to use up what I had, which was several packages of organic ground beef from Costco. It’s not only what I had, it’s what I had in abundance. I have used ground beef in a million ways in the last week.

I ordered bok choy in my CSA box this week with the intention of making a bok choy/chicken stir-fry. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work.

It was so pretty though, it had to be used somehow.

bokchoy

Because the cooking time of the stalks and leaves are different, I washed then separated the leaves from the stalks and chopped them both coarsely. I then set them aside while I cooked the ground beef.

bokchoyseparated

Once the ground beef was browned, I added a bit of high heat sunflower oil and threw in my broccoli. I don’t have a wok, so I cooked it all up in my coated cast iron pot. A wok is better, but whatevs. My broccoli is frozen because I can’t find broccoli fresh around here yet. I was wishing I had more gai lan from my last farmer’s trip, but I was out. It would have been perfect.

beefand broc

While that was cooking, I prepared my sauce.

In one bowl, I whisked together:

2 TBSP cornstarch

2 TBSP water

and 1 tsp garlic powder.

In a separate bowl, I combined:

1/3 cup bragg’s liquid aminos (free samples on their website!)

2 TBSP coconut sugar

and 2 tsp ground ginger.

Set aside.

Once broccoli was beginning to thaw, I added the chopped bok choy stalks.

I added about 2 tablespoons of water to the pot and put the lid on, steaming the veggies for about 2-3 minutes. I like my veggies tender. If you like yours crisp, skip this step.

Once veggies were tender, I added the bok choy leaves and cooked another 2 minutes or so until they were wilted.

Once all veggies were at the desired tenderness, I whisked my cornstarch mix into the bragg’s mix and then added to the pot, stirring constantly until it thickened, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately. The kids had rice. We ate ours without. 🙂

bokchoybrocbeefdone

Super yummy, and the leftovers were even better the next day. It came together quickly, had tons of veggies and protein, and did just fine standing on it’s own without its old buddy, Rice.

The best part? It screamed “resourcefulness” and didn’t require any fancy ingredients. I was able to make it from what I had on hand without involving the “Red X” chicken.

Not exactly a conventional use for ground beef, but a tasty alternative to paranoia. 😉

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Dill Hummus (Or, Hiccup Prevention Dip.)

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When you think of dill, what comes to mind?

Pickles?

Maybe a garnish on fish?

Dill can be so much more! And it’s so good for you. I found this graphic that outlines some of the health benefits of dill. There are so many great reasons to eat dill, but I’m pretty sure my favorite is unusual:

Health-Benefits-of-Dill

 

“Can halt the hiccups.”

Seriously? Amazing. I HATE the hiccups. And I can’t ever just get them once. As soon as my body opens the door to hiccups, they just come on in as they please, off and on, all.day.long.

So, I got dill (aka hiccup ninja herb) in my CSA box this week.

I wanted it to be more than a sprinkling on a hard boiled egg.

SOOO, I made dill hummus. Wanna make some? It’s pretty simple:

2 cans organic garbanzo beans, drained.

1/4 cups plain yogurt 

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

4 tablespoons freshly chopped dill leaves, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 teaspoons hot paprika, plus extra for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pulse all in a food processor until smooth. Serve with veggies, pita chips or a SPOON.

Get more from your food.

Take that parsley and make it the focus of your dish, not just an accessory.

Make your cilantro the star.

Turn that butternut squash into the main course, not just a side.

Get creative, think outside the box, and (in some cases)  enjoy the hiccup-free benefits.

 

Celebrating Cilantro

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Ok, so I have an herb obsession.

I have been collecting dried herbs from KMK Farms via The Farmer’s Daughter CSA for weeks, and discovered this morning that I have quite a stash.

herbs

The mason jar is FULL of dried mint. Makes the best tea ever. One of the bags lost its label, so I call it my “mystery herb”. One day I will remember what it was I’m sure. The plant? It’s a basil tree. Yeah. Tree. Lives inside or out (depending on season) and will live for at least five years. Leaves look like thyme but smell and taste like a mild basil. Kind of amazing. Not “frankenfood” by the way, just grafted. Kind of a fun “bonzai” type hobby plant too. I got distracted, sorry.

As much as I love to have dried herbs around, there is just nothing like fresh.

My favorite? Cilantro. Hands down. I LOVE the stuff. I use is instead of lettuce on tacos, chop it up into a spicy chicken salad, and have even juiced it with fruits and veggies. No matter how much I eat, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

I opened my CSA box this week and saw the most gorgeous cilantro ever. It was so full and beautiful… and the smell. OMG.

Really, though, the results of Farmer’s last week were just gorgeous all the way around:

csabox2

Cilantro on the right. I mean, just look at that. ❤

Want to make a fun sauce for tacos or dressing for a cilantro salad? It’s easy-peasy.

Take 1/2 of a  bundle of cilantro, chopped, and pop it in a blender or food processor.

Puree with:

1 cup of sour cream

2 jalapeno peppers

a heavy pinch of salt

Two peeled avocados

Once smooth, squeeze the juice of one lime in and puree until combined. If its too thick, add a bit more sour cream.

SOOO delicious, especially on fish tacos or over a mixed green salad w/chicken, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and some good quality corn chips crushed over it.  Simple and delicious!

Cilantro is loaded with good-for-you goodness. I went through a detox at the beginning of the year and cilantro was an important part of my cleansing process. It leaches heavy metals out of your body, which may result in a headache when eaten in large quantities, but I stuck it out, figuring it was doing its job! Here’s more info on this wondrous herb:

cilantro

Cilantro season doesn’t last nearly as long as I want it to, so I’m eatin’ it up while I can. I’m also apparently stock piling any and all other herbs available.

Even mystery ones.

What’s Your Story?

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once upon a time

 

Check out this awesome project launched by an awesome woman, Brigitte Theriault.

I would encourage you to click her “share your story” link and share yours.

We all have a story, one we add to every day.

Mine is a [self] love story, because that’s what I decided it should be.

Brigitte’s story is raw and vulnerable. It is also beautiful and inspiring.

Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

 

Rad(ishes)

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My grandmother loved radishes. She didn’t call them “radishes”, though. She called them “RADeeshes.”

She would slice the greens off, scrub them up, put them in a tupperware bowl filled with water and stick them in the fridge for future snacking. I didn’t understand why she did that (it is done to help them keep their crunch) but I always thought they looked really pretty floating around the container. Radishes were beautiful, I thought. Too bad they tasted like dirt.

Fast forward 20 or so years, which is how long it took me to try radishes again. The only reason I tried them? I grew them. The only reason I grew them? Because I heard they were easy to grow and dang it, nothing else was coming up. I discovered that I was not only able to grow radishes, but I was able to grow them REALLY WELL. I had TONS of them. Red radishes, french breakfast, daikon…I had them all. The rabbits I was raising at the time were thrilled. I wasn’t sure I liked radishes THAT much.  The point of all this? They taste better when they aren’t from your grocery store. They don’t taste like dirt. They taste a bit spicy and sometimes a bit sweet and sort of …earthy? How is that for a terrible description? It also depends on your variety, so, yeah…go taste some for yourself. Do not rely on my poor use of adjectives and (sort of) descriptive phrases.

I ordered English Breakfast radishes last week in my CSA box. I’m no longer growing radishes and hadn’t had one in a while. I received this darling bundle:

radishes1

They have been eaten raw, juiced, sliced on salads, served with tacos, and admired for their beauty.

Especially when they are floating in water.

This week I am ordering red radishes AND daikon and will be trying my hand and roasting them into “radish chips”. If it is a successful venture, I will post the recipe. 🙂

While we wait for the results on that, take a look at reasons to eat radishes. There are many:

Health-Benefits-of-Radishes (1)

 

Don’t be afraid to revisit the foods that you thought you hated. It may taste surprisingly good to you now. All the more reason to check out your local Farmer’s Market…where food tastes like its supposed to. 😉

 

Ants on a Log, Deconstructed

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Call me juvenile, but when I think of raisins, I think of “Ants on a Log”.

You know, celery, filled with peanut butter, topped with raisins (aka “ants”)?

ants on a log

When I ordered raisins in my CSA box last week, primarily for my middle child who is pretty sure the world revolves around raisins, I of course thought about Ants on a Log…which is really the only recipe I use raisins for.

As a kid I wouldn’t eat them. I hated celery, peanut butter belonged on sandwiches, and raisins were just grapes that’d had the life sucked out of them.

As an adult, I recently discovered I like celery, peanut butter can’t go on sandwiches because I’m not supposed to eat BREAD, and raisins? Yeah, they may still be grapes that have had the life sucked out of them…but they aren’t so bad considering what they’ve been through. 😉

Now, no matter what your cooking experience level is, I wouldn’t dare assume that you need a recipe for Ants on a Log. In fact, this post is less about cooking, and more about eating.  Let me show you what I mean:

shoppers_guide

In case you’ve never heard of it, “The DIrty Dozen” is a list of vegetables and fruits that, if at all possible, should be purchased organically grown. I am fully aware that organic foods can be very expensive (which is part of the reason why I am such a huge advocate for CSA and Farmer’s Market shopping…much cheaper!) But this list gives you a guideline for what items should be purchased organic if you can budget some, but not all.

Notice number ONE.

CELERY.

Which, by the way, is the LOG. (Ok, so maybe this blog is a little bit about the log.)

Where I live, celery is not in season right now, but you bettah believe I’m buying it organic. It is maybe a dollar more than conventional, and I am HAPPY to spend it.

While I’m on the subject of what’s in season, I’d like to point out that where I live (and I realize it varies around the country), apples, spinach, kale, collard green, potatoes, and raisins (aka GRAPES) are all readily available right now. My CSA has most of those items available right now, which means, most of them are in my fridge….except the potatoes. Those are in the pantry. 😛

Ok, so we have established we need organic celery.

On to peanut butter.

Remember when we were kids, and we were told which brand choosy mom’s choose?

Let me show you the ingredients label:

JifPB

This is the part where I try really hard not to dissect every ingredient. Let’s focus on this: It contains “fully hydrogenated vegetable oils” (which makes it so they can label it “No Partially Hydrogenated Oils!”) What does this mean? It means that Jif is poisoning their peanuts with disgusting oils that were heated to 400* then pumped with extra hydrogen atoms. The result? A smooth, creamy peanut butter that doesn’t separate. Oh, and the oil turns rancid, toxifying your system. It’s foreign to your body, so instead of using it, your body has to work harder to essentially fight it off as as free radical (which is a known cancer causing problem.)  These oils are usually (and I only say “usually” to cover my back side) made from GMO ingredients as well.

Choosy moms boycott JIF.

Alternative? Many stores offer fresh ground peanut butter (Sprouts, Winco, Whole Foods) that you grind yourself. You can choose (in most cases) between plain (aka, no sugar or salt) or honey roasted (my favorite!)  Another good option if you have a costco card, is “Brad’s Organic” peanut butter.

peanutbutter

Ingredients? Organic Peanuts”. The end.  I will add local, raw, organic honey to mine. 🙂

Always look for an organic peanut butter, and READ THE LABELS guys!

The last stop on our Ants on a Log journey? The “Ants”.

Organic raisins, or dried grapes, are remarkably good for you. They are rich in boron, iron, potassium calcium and the B vitamins, and are a good source of fiber. They are great for your eyes, can protect against gum disease and cavities, and are really high in resveratrol, the good stuff in wine. 🙂

Conventional raisins, however, not so much. In tests done on raisins grown on conventional farms, up to 26 pesticide residues have been found. Want a better understanding of what that means to YOU?

8 were known or probable carcinogens (aka cancer-causing)

11 were suspected hormone disruptors

5 were Neurotoxins

5 were developmental or reproductive toxins

and

9 were honeybee toxins, which is a serious problem…unless you don’t mind losing the majority of our fresh produce from the planet.

The solution? Organic Raisins. It’s not just what all the cool kids are doing, guys. This is a real, scientific issue, in so many ways.

As I said, this post wasn’t about teaching you how to make a favorite childhood snack. it’s about deconstructing that snack (and perhaps our current food system) in an effort to encourage you to treat yourself and your body better. As a result, you will be contributing to a far superior, sustainable, privately owned food system.

In short? We could change the world.

One raisin at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grain Free Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

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Although I do not always stick to a grain free diet,  I try. I shoot for 60-70% success and call it good. I have found that there are some things that  I just can’t give up, and have to have on rare occasion:  My mom’s chicken dijon over rice. The occasional bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Red Vines.

One thing that was also on my list for a while? Pizza. It has been so great since I discovered I could make a pretty decent cracker-type crust without any grains! The possibilities are endless, but the other day I made my fave pizza ever. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Arugula pizza. YUM. For added flair, I added some lemon balm leaves that were calling to me from my CSA box. SO yum. Here’s how I did it.

For the crust, you will need:

1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/3 cup raw shredded parm cheese (I love TJ’s)

4 TBSP of refined coconut oil or other high-heat oil such as high-oleic sunflower

1 TBSP water

1 organic egg

Combine all ingredients. It will be sticky and kind of gummy.

Prepare 2 pieces of parchment paper the same size as your pizza pan ( you can trim the edges later)

BRUSH BOTH PIECES OF PARCHMENT WITH OLIVE OIL. IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS, YOU WILL END UP WITH A STICKY MESS.

Scrape the batter/ dough onto the first piece of parchment (on the greased side.) Now lay the other piece, greased side down, onto the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the crust out into a circle.

Peel the top piece of parchment off and discard. Put the crust, parchment and all, onto your pizza pan.

Next up, TOPPINGS. This is where you can do whatever you want. One suggestion? Don’t use anything too wet, like fresh mozz. It will make your dough gummy. I also find that while a good thick tomato based sauce works, a dense pesto does better. This recipe only calls for olive oil drizzled over it first, but a thick fig butter or would have been amazing.

For this recipe:

Drizzle the dough with olive oil, and brush to spread evenly.

Top with slices of mozz cheese (NOT the fresh one…too much water)

Top with prosciutto slices and bits of lemon balm (and then take a poorly lit crappy cell phone pic of it):

pizza1

 

Pop it in the oven. Bake at 400* for about 15-20 minutes. You want the crust nice and golden.

Once it comes out, top with the fresh arugula. I mixed mine with a bit of mesculin greens and some more lemon balm. 🙂 Some peeled, sliced fresh pears would have been awesome too, but I thought about it after the fact.

pizza2

 

Crispy, spicy, flavorful and satisfying. I think, for me,  “satisfying” is the most important aspect here, as sometimes, my meals are anything but.  I also feel a certain sense of satisfaction when I am using foods in the height of their freshness…bought locally, purchased in season, and used shortly after buying them.  I guarantee the fresh arugula I brought home, fresh out of the ground, is a million times tastier than the one at the store in July. You just can’t beat in-season, organic, local produce. That said, bagged arugula is better than *no* arugula. Work with what you’ve got around you, just make sure you’re eatin’ the good stuff.

Your beautiful self is worth it.