A Little Corny…

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Anybody else ready for summer? Or at least the taste of it? As the never-ending winter continues, there is a need to find foods that provide comfort and a bright, sweet memory of summer.

I can’t think of a better food than corn to do this. And not the type of corn you find in a grocery store (did you know if you melted down the contents of a grocery store, 30% would be corn syrup…?!) – but real kernels of sweet corn. While there is no substitute for fresh corn on the cob, the frozen stuff will do just fine for now.

Corn comes in all different colors, and is full of antioxidants. It’s also a good source of fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C. I’d recommend going with some non-GMO corn, but perhaps you aren’t concerned with your health or the dangers to the environment….I could go on, but I won’t.

So once you’ve got your corn, you just need a few other ingredients, and you can whip up a batch of sweet cornbread – perfect for snacking, dipping into chili, or eating alongside some bbq.

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Or try some corn chowder, with a different flavor spin than you might be used to. But a coconut-y, curry taste that’s perfect for these chilly, gray days.

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Versatile Vegetables

Autumn is upon us! If you couldn’t tell from the cool mornings, crisp air and changing colors…perhaps your CSA box or local farmers market has made it clear: fall vegetables have arrived! I know I am ready for some hearty, warming dishes after a chilly morning’s work. So, I’ve been turning to root vegetables, and I hope our CSA members are too, since they’ve been getting quite a few in their share…

Recipe 920

One particularly rainy day, I decided to make potato-leek soup. Why? Well, potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. And leeks contain sulfur, vitamins A, K, C and B6, as well as magnesium, calcium and polyphenols. But also because they are in season, they taste great together, we have them in abundance!

So the night before I was serving lunch, I cooked it up – soup always seems to taste better the next day…
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Creamy Potato-Leek Soup
5 leeks
1 head celery
7 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
11 medium potatoes
Vegetable broth
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Cashew milk

1) Soak 1 c. cashews in 2 c. water for 4 hours. Blend, and use like milk. Substitute most nuts or seeds.
2) Finely chop your leeks. Saute the dark green part – the whole darn thing – in a bit of oil in a large pan. Add the white parts, then finely chopped celery and carrots. Put a lid on the pan, saute on low until the veggies start to become translucent.
3) Add in some finely chopped garlic, and some thyme. Cook until fragrant.
4) Add in roughly chopped potatoes, and vegetable broth to cover. Bring to a low boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender.
5) Puree the soup with an immersion blender, add salt & pepper to taste, and cashew milk to creaminess preference.

Serve with a few drops of cashew milk, freshly ground pepper and some parsley, or go for a lunch worthy of a hungry farm crew…

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First, I threw together a braised cabbage & apple salad. Red onion, green cabbage, tart apples, apple cider vinegar and parsley – simple, sweet accompaniment to any fall meal.

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Root veggies galore! Meanwhile, I chopped some beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and parsley root into thin strips, and roasted ’em at 375 for about a half hour. They were very lightly tossed in some coconut oil, salt and pepper. I recommended mixing them into the soup for added texture. You could also serve them as fries with ketchup.

With my oven already hot, I decided to pop some shishito peppers in there and give ’em a nice roast too. Five minutes later, they were blistering and perfect. I sprinkled them with a pinch of sea salt, and they were finger-licking good. Not too spicy, perfectly thin skinned, smoky deliciousness.

Once you go farm, you’ll never go back!!!

 

Build a Better Breakfast

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The secret is out, right? Breakfast is the greatest meal of the day. And no wonder, it can help to improve concentration & performance in tasks throughout the day, gives you strength & endurance, and can help to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.

But not all breakfasts are created equal. If you’re grabbing a Starbucks & coffee cake, or putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster and running out the door, you aren’t doing your body any favors.

I have an easy, three-step formula that fulfills my body’s nutritional requirements, is completely customizable, and tastes fantastic. And you can do all the prep work on your weekend, and enjoy breakfast with little to no preparation throughout the rest of your busy week.

The first thing you need is a whole grain. I put together a handy chart on the wonders of whole grains, both those with and without gluten. This is your carbohydrate, your lasting energy. You can cook a huge batch on Sunday, and reheat it for porridge. You can toast up or dehydrate a batch with nuts & seeds (see below), and eat it as granola. Or you can go raw, soak up some grains, and eat it as muesli.

The second addition is various nuts and seeds. These are your proteins and healthy fats. I’d recommend soaking your seeds prior to consumption, but they’re still nutritional powerhouses even if you don’t find the time.

Seeds

The final step in the well-balanced breakfast is adding in some fruit. Some people claim fruit is high in sugar, and should be avoided. This is crazy. If you only eat coffee & a banana, your blood might not be too happy. But fruit in addition to complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and healthy fats – that’s a wonderful thing. You can get so many vitamins and minerals to keep your body running at its optimal state.

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Here are just a few of my breakfast combinations…even I’m salivating a little bit remembering some of these…

Millet Porridge with Spiced Strawberry Preserves, Toasted Walnuts & Coconut

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Sprouted Buckwheat, Flax, Sunflower, & Sesame Seed Granola with Blackberry & Apple Jam DSC_0150

Raw Buckwheat & Chia Granola with Mulberries, Wineberries & Black Raspberries DSC_0129

Steel-Cut Oats with Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Coconut & Wild BlackberriesDSC_0167

The photo at the very top of this post was Cacao Granola with Pumpkin Seed, Hazelnut, Currants & Gooseberries. 

If you’re not into cereal & milk (all almond milk for me), you can also do this in smoothie form, which I’ll admit, I’ve been doing the past few weeks. It’s been summer and the field calls my name earlier and earlier. I like to get a bit of work in and drink my smoothie to power me up.

A “Quickly Appearing” Meal

Did you know that you can grow a radish from seed in under a month? It’s true, and I’ve witnessed it. In fact, the Greek name for radish – Raphanus – means quickly appearing. And as fast as these little buggers have been appearing, they’ve been showing up on my plate (if they make it there from the field…) and then quickly disappearing. A great source of Vitamin C, some B vitamins, iron and potassium, and they’re just bursting with that Spring detox energy.

We’re growing a few varieties on the farm: Rudolf, Watermelon, Pink Beauty & Easter Egg. Mild, sweet or peppery, I like ’em all. Most of the time I just rub the dirt off and pop a few as a midday snack, but sometimes I get a bit fancier. Fancy doesn’t mean it takes a long time to prepare though – I whipped up this dish in about 5 minutes!

Pea Shoots with Radish, Apple, Apricot & Walnut
Generous handful of pea shoots
4 medium radishes, julienned
1 crisp, tart apple (I used a Mutsu), julienned
1/4 c. dried apricots, sliced thin
1/4 c. toasted walnuts

Mix the radishes, apple and apricots together and dress it with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let that marinade for as long as you can stand (anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours), then mix it with some toasted walnuts and serve it atop some spring greens.

If you’ve had enough raw radishes, try them steamed or roasted! Oh man, they get this sweet, mellow flavor that goes great on a salad, with other root veggies, in a soup or on its own. And don’t just throw away those greens! Put them in your smoothie, steam them up as a side or use them to make pesto!

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The Most Wonderful Meal of the Day

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Okay, okay, I admit it: I’m obsessed with breakfast! But can you blame me? It’s an opportunity to achieve the perfect combination of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and just pure deliciousness. And you haven’t eaten for what, 10-12 hours? It sets the tone for your whole day, why not make it as amazing as possible?

Three Grain Porridge with Berries, Bananas & Almonds*
*Should have used Brazil Nuts or something to keep the alliteration going, apologies

1/2 c. quinoa
1/4 c. amaranth
1/4 c. millet
2 c. almond milk
1 cinnamon stick
handful blueberries & mulberries
handful toasted almonds
1/2 banana

Mix your grains together, and bring them to a boil in 1 1/2 c. almond milk (or water or other “milk” of your choice). Pop your cinnamon stick in, too. After they boil, turn them down to a simmer, let them bubble away for 15 min, then stir, and add in more almond milk as needed. They’ll take about 25-30 min to get cooked and creamy.
Pop your blueberries (if frozen) and mulberries, or other dried fruits into the pot and let them cook for a bit with the grains.
Add in some toasted nuts and fresh fruit, and top with any other of your favorite spices or sweeteners!

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Delicious, and nutritious, too!

“Grains” – these seeds & grains are rich in protein, iron, calcium & fiber
Mulberries – excellent source of Vitamin C and iron; great for the eyes
Blueberries – high antioxidant levels; chlorogenic acid lowers blood glucose
Almonds – vitamin E and B complex; rich in protein & mono-unsaturated fatty acids
Banana – good source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C

Nuts About Nuts (& Seeds)

You may have seen this recipe floating around the internet already, but if you haven’t, you are welcome!

This bread-like creation relies on psyllium seed husks to bind together all these wonderful nuts and seeds. Psyllium seeds are from a plant native to India, and are hydroscopic, which means they absorb water, expand and become gel-like. You can find them in a natural foods store (sometimes in the vitamins section, just ask) or online. They are extremely inexpensive! And a fantastic source of dietary fiber.

“Bread”
1 c. sunflower seeds
½ c. flax seeds
½ c. almonds
1 ½ c. rolled oats
2 T. chia seeds
4 T. psyllium seed husks (3 T. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 T. maple syrup
3 T. melted coconut oil
1 ½ c. water

In a loaf pan combine all dry ingredients. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup, add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Smooth the top, and let the “dough” hang out for a few hours.
Preheat the oven to 350, then bake your bread for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the loaf from the pan, and bake it upside down for another 30-40 minutes. It will sound hollow when it’s done.
Let it cool completely before slicing.

I’d highly recommend reading the full article from the My New Roots website. She has a great blog, and a wonderful post about her discovery of this bread and her experiments with it. This was my first attempt, and I will definitely be trying out different varieties…I’m totally satisfied with this result – delicious plain, with peanut butter for breakfast, or hummus/pesto for lunch.

Whole Grains & the Macrobiotic Diet

Maybe it was the two decades of formal schooling, but I’m a note taker. And now I’d like to share my notes with whomever wants to read them.

Here, you’ll find my thoughts on the macrobiotic diet – a healthy, holistic way of eating and striving for balance. Macrobiotics is really a lifestyle, and food is just one part of that, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Macrobiotics stresses whole grains as an essential component of the diet, so I’m also including my notes on grains for your edification. Hopefully you’ll read, learn and enjoy!

Macrobiotics

Whole Grains