You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘vegetables’ tag.

It’s always surprising to see the places my foods have been! If only plants could write their history…earth-437670_1280

 

This winter, when I shopped for some of my kitchen staples, I paid attention to how far food travels to get to my kitchen. The lemons, garlic, mushrooms, avocado, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, and assorted frozen berries now in my kitchen are renowned world travelers — visiting my home from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, oh and yes, unknown states in the USA.

While I do like to have many of these particular foods on hand for nutritional and gustatory reasons, there are many downsides to this long-distance relationship with the foods I love.

Photo by Lisa Missenda

Photo by Lisa Missenda

First, quality: To be packaged for shipping, many times these vegetables and fruits and picked before they are ripe. This is particularly true of tomatoes. At some point along the route to my table they might be sprayed with a little ethylene gas to make them appear riper. Truth is, in spite of shippers; best efforts, many fruits and vegetables do not continue to ripen once taken off the vine, out of the ground or once they stray too far away from the sun’s reach. So, when they get to my kitchen counter, they may look ripe, but they just don’t have the fresh taste of the ones I can get at the farmers’ market.

Second safety: The more food travels and the more hands it passes to get to my table – the more risk there is of food borne illness. Over the past 10 years the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has rejected numerous shipments of plant foods like green beans and mushrooms due to illegal pesticide violations, excessive filth and unsanitary conditions of the products. Luckily, the FDA is looking out for us.

ingathering-607121_1280

Strawberry Harvest Pixaby photo – Public Domain

Third – labor standards: I am never sure what the working conditions might be in the country of origin. Where children skipping out on an education to work in the fields and harvest my berries? Did a woman give birth in that same field because she was not allowed to take a day off? Where workers exposed to dangerous pesticides and fertilizers that we would not use in the USA?

While ultimately, I would love to be a locovore, eating only foods in my bioregion, I am happy these labels exist; they can be found at almost any grocery store. Consumers and non-profit groups like Food and Water Watch and National Family Farm Coalition fought hard to make the 2008 rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), for meat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and several kinds of nuts. While the law is not perfect, at least I do know more, and have a choice when I reach for lemon and start my day. Learn more about the foods you eat using Food and Water Watch’s interactive shopping cart.

Advertisements

Tabouleh – an excellent salad option for a hot summer day. It’s made with fresh herbs, tomatoes, olive oil, spices and can be eaten with pita bread, or atop romaine lettuce leaves. In the Middle East, fresh grape leaves are used as a scoop.

Tabouleh made with quinoa.

Tabouleh made with quinoa.

You can add any number of vegetables to tabouleh – according to taste; carrots, cucumbers, red or green onions are wonderful additions.

As you can see, tomatoes are a star attraction – and since they are in season right now and delicious varieties are currently available at your farmers’ market, why not pick up a few good tomatoes and try some tabouleh tonight?

Prep Time: 40-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bulghur, medium grade (can also use cooked millet or quinoa as gluten free options)
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

If using MILLET – add 1 cup of millet and a pinch of salt to 1-3/4 cup of water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir, place lid on the pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Then stir to fluff the grains and taste. It it’s still a little crunchy, add about ¼ cup of boiling water and leave over low heat so that it will steam covered for an additional 10 minutes.

If using BULGUR: place 1 cup of bulghar in a bowl and cover with 1 ½ cups of boiling water and a dash of salt. Cover bowl and set aside for 20 or 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork when all the water has been absorbed.

Combine all ingredients, adding salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil last.

Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.

Over the past couple of months I have been doing food demonstrations educating people on how to increase the benefits of particular foods through cooking techniques. So far I have averaged about one demonstration a month. Each one I put together helps me to gain the supervised hours I need to get my license to practice as a nutrition specialist in the state of Maryland.

Back in July, my classmate Maureen and I led a fermentation workshop. We were able to share what we’ve learned regarding the benefits of eating fermented foods. Participants went home with fermented kefir, sauerkraut, ketchup, and fermented fruit and vegetable drinks known as kvasses.

In August I did a cooking demonstration at the Mt Rainier’s Farmer’s Market. There I tried to emphasize quick and easy recipes that involved many of the vegetables sold at the market. There was quite a bit of interest. I am sure that had nothing to do with the free food samples. To learn more about that day – please go to my YouTube page and see the slide show

September I hosted a canning party  where we canned applesauce and some spicy salsa. Canning is a great option if you have a garden and want to enjoy the fruits of your harvest later in the year.

Just last weekend I gave a workshop at a church in Baltimore on apples – how to serve them fresh and cook them in both savory and sweet dishes. For me, the best part of the workshop was when the 5-year old boy wanted to be the first to try the green smoothie made of kale, ginger, banana and apple, and then he immediately asked for seconds!

I have been lining up engagements throughout October and November. If you know of a group that’s eager to learn, perhaps we can arrange something!

It’s that time of year when the weather outside is less than inviting and you find yourself craving all those familiar dishes you shared with your family when you were growing up. Perhaps you’ve left many of them behind because they were loaded with carbohydrates and not as healthy as eating a salad… But still, on cold winter days those cravings persist…

One way around it is to make healthier versions of the foods that you once loved. I did this last Sunday by making shepherd’s pie. I started with a recipe I found at simplyrecipes.com and switched out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes — mashed with chicken broth and butter; and using lean ground turkey rather than ground beef. Instead of including peas, I added fennel, celery, kale, and carrots; and then threw in a few cranberries, and fresh pear to give it a hint of Thanksgiving. I have to say it really did the trick – satisfying a comfort food craving – with 70% less guilt about the carb loading…

Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes (3 large potatoes, peeled & chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 6 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of chopped Anjou pear (1 good-sized pear)
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey breast
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried  savory
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (including dried oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary)Read how to make your own at: http://www.food.com/recipe/italian-seasoning-82770?oc=linkback
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2 inch chunks, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, after all vegetables are cleaned and chopped, melt 2 Tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large frying pan.
  4. Sauté mushrooms in butter and olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add carrots, celery and cook until the celery and carrots begin to soften
  5. Add ground turkey and sauté until no longer pink. Once meat has browned add spices, salt and pepper. When mixture dries, add 2 tbsp of chicken or turkey broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more broth as necessary to keep moist.
  6. When meat is cooked thoroughly, add cranberries and chopped pear and cook for another 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  7. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of broth and butter (add broth first, let the potatoes soak up the broth, then add butter and mash). Season to taste.
  8. Place turkey/vegetable mix in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
  9. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last 3-5 minutes if necessary to brown. Watch the oven to ensure that the potatoes brown, but do not blacken.

Yield: Serves four to 8 people — depending on how strong those cravings may be!

Credit: Inspired by recipe found at:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/

 

Working 40 hours a week it’s often hard to find good lunch options. Many times people head to vending machines, delis and restaurants only to spend and eat much more than they had planned to… My office is off the beaten track so even a trip to the vending machine involves leaving the building so I have taken to planning and bringing lunches from home.

Leftovers are easy – if you make supper at home cook a bit extra and bring it to work. Invest in a wide-mouth vacuum container, preferably lined with stainless steel, and pack your lunch as you clean up after dinner. If you find yourself eating out more often, bring your container with you to the restaurant. When the food comes, divide it in half (portions are usually twice as big as they need to be) and place the other half in your container for lunch the next day. Do it before you start eating – that way that extra little bit is out of site and out of mind.

Here are a few other options for lunches:

  • canned salmon (a cost effective way to get your Omega-3 fatty acids). Prepare it with a little lemon juice and a few herbs and spread it on a piece of whole grain bread, a rice cake or a few crackers.
  • Hummus and veggies – this is easy to prepare and pack – often times grocery stores sell vegetables already prepped for dipping. But in a few minutes after your evening meal you can cut up some carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumber and peppers and drop them in your container with a few cherry tomatoes for the the next day. The chickpeas in the hummus provide protein and fiber, while the vegetables offer up antioxidants.
  • Tabouleh salad is another great option served with pita bread or atop lettuce, it provides lots of antioxidants. The main ingredient, parsley, contains three times the vitamin C as oranges, twice the iron of spinach as well as folic acid, vitamins K and A.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 321 other followers