Kaidy’s Post: Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts!

Brussels Sprouts are part of the Brassicaceae family along with kale, cauliflower, broccoli and mustard greens. They are also referred to as a cruciferous vegetable.  This vegetable resembles mini cabbages and are usually loved or hated for their bitter taste. Brussel sprouts are in season in the seacoast area from the beginning of October through the end of December.

Brussel sprouts contain 28 calories and 2 grams of fiber per half cup serving. They also contain 137% vitamin K, 81% vitamin C, 12% vitamin A, 12% folate and 9% manganese of the daily recommended values. Brussel sprouts are also extremely high in antioxidants, especially the antioxidant kaemperfol, which has been shown to reduce cancer cell growth, ease inflammation and be beneficial for heart health. They are also high in fiber which promotes a healthy digestive track and regularity.

There are many ways to eat brussels sprouts from boiling, sautéing, steaming and my personal favorite: roasting. If you aren’t a fan of these bitter sprouts, roasting caramelizes the outside making their taste not as harsh. Adding seasonings like garlic, salt, olive oil and even a little parmesan cheese can also neutralize the taste of this cruciferous vegetable.  Below is one of my favorite recipes for roasted brussels sprouts!

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups quartered Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  •  ¼ cup reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  •  ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 8 dried Chinese red chilis
  • ½-¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast until tender and slightly crisp, about 25 minutes.
  4. While the sprouts are cooking, whisk together the scallions, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, water and corn starch in a small bowl.
  5. Right before the sprouts are done cooking, heat a wok (or fry pan) over medium-high heat.
  6. Add in the chilis, ½ teaspoon red pepper and black pepper and cook until slightly toasted, stirring often.
  7.  Add in the peanuts and cook another minute until toasted.
  8.  Reduce heat to medium and add in the garlic and ginger and cook another minute.
  9. Add in the corn starch mixture.
  10.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add in the cooked Brussels sprouts and toss until hot and coated with the sauce.

Sofia’s Post: Acorn Squash!

Acorn squash is a small squash that looks like an acorn- how cute! Acorn squash are most commonly found in dark green variety (you can also find orange and white) with an orange flesh that is nutrient dense. The best time to buy acorn squash is at winter markets as it is in season in North America from fall through winter. Acorn squash, which is typically considered a winter squash, is actually part of the summer squash family and is related to zucchini.  Acorn squash pairs well flavors such as apples, sausage, bacon, garlic, sage and nutmeg.

Nutrient information:

Acorn squash contains vitamin A, niacin, folate, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and vitamin C. To keep the high amounts of vitamin C, steaming or baking the squash is more efficient instead of boiling. Each serving of acorn squash contains high amounts of potassium and magnesium along with small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. Winter squash is one of the best sources of the antioxidants, which can lower risk of cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In order to get the most nutrients out of your acorn squash, it is recommended to eat the vegetable 3-4 days after purchase and cut right before cooking.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

  • 3 small acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • 1 lb. of ground sausage
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil (split)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2 cups of spinach, chopped
  • Herbs to taste: rosemary and thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Bake the squashes face down (seeds removed) for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat and add all onions, stirring every 5 minutes for 25 minutes.
  4. In a different pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on low; add garlic and sausage, cook for 8 minutes or until browned. Add apples and herbs and cook until softened. Add spinach, salt and pepper. Mix in the caramelized onions.
  5. Stuff the cooked acorn squashes and put in the oven on broil for 5 minutes.

 

Sources:

HealthyeatingSF gate.com

paleorunningmomma.com

Erika’s Post: Meal Planning and Easy Crockpot Recipes

With the cold weather likely impacting your motivation, it can be hard to get up the energy to cook during the week. Meal planning can be an easy and time saving solution. What better time of year to put that crock pot to use for some warm comforting meals!

So how do you plan for fresh meals during the winter months when local in-season produce doesn’t feel as accessible? Head to your local winter farmers market and see what you can find! Be open to trying new things and looking for recipes based off what is available.
Think about what you might like to try and cook with. There are many things that you may not have liked in the past but are maybe open to trying in a different way now. Hate horseradish? Try a creamy cauliflower and horseradish soup. Ever heard of salsify (or oyster plant)? It was popular with the victorians but fell out of fashion in the 20th century. Would you be open to trying different spices? Spices are a great way to add flavor and complexity to a dish.
You may wonder if it will be expensive to buy in bulk and make meals ahead of time. The good news is that it is usually easier to buy items in bulk at the market, especially when they are in season. Also, the great thing about crockpot meals is that you can make a lot of food at once and refrigerate or freeze to eat later on in the week, saving money by not buying take-out at the last minute.
Think of a day in the week that you may be able to set aside some time to prep and cook meals ahead so that you can come home from work and not have to worry about cooking a meal. You can simply reheat the meal that you have already prepped in advance!
Here are some crockpot meals you can make with some produce available in the winter time to give you some inspiration:

Kaidy’s Post: It’s Still Cranberry Season!

Cranberries are one of the few fruits that are native to North America. The 5 states that grow the majority of cranberries in the United States are Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Cranberries often get a bad reputation because it assumed they have a high sugar content. They are actually naturally low in sugar, however due to their bitter taste sugar is usually added in the processing of cranberry products. Cranberries are typically in season from October until December in the seacoast area.

Fresh cranberries are composed of 90% water. In 100 grams there are only 46 calories and 12.2 grams of carbohydrates with 4 of those grams coming from sugar and the another 4 grams coming from fiber. Cranberries are also rich in the micronutrients vitamin C, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K and copper. The skin of cranberries contain a high level of antioxidants, including vitamin E, vitamin C, quercetin, and, myricetin. These antioxidants can help prevent urinary tract infections. However, these antioxidants can be lost in the processing of cranberry products, such as cranberry juice, dried cranberries or cranberry sauce. So, you’re best bet is to buy fresh cranberries to reap these benefits. Cranberries have also been shown to prevent stomach ulcers and gastric cancer, as well as lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Cranberry sauce is a staple in any Thanksgiving meal, but there is often tons leftover. Eating cranberry sauce on its own can become boring quickly. Cranberry sauce can also be used as a jam for toast, heated up to act as a fruit sauce for pancakes or simply used as a side dish for dinner. Below is a fun winter-time smoothie recipe using cranberries and apples, which are both still available locally.

Festive Cranberry-Apple Smoothie
Ingredients:
*   6 cubes of frozen cranberry sauce, or ½ cup fresh
*   1 apple cored and chopped
*   ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
*   ½ cup Greek yogurt
*   ½ cup milk

Directions:
1.  Place all ingredients into a blender or food process. Blend until smooth.

Sofia’s Post: Thankful for Leftovers!

Thanksgiving dinner is one meal that we look forward to all year long. I am so happy that the day has finally arrived! I may be getting ahead of myself for already thinking of what to make with Thanksgiving leftovers. A classic Thanksgiving leftover meal is the overstuffed “Gobbler” sandwich full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. This sandwich is delicious but it will get boring sooner than later.

 

This year I am going to try some new leftover recipes, and I encourage you to do the same! I will be making the most of my leftovers with these recipes:

  1. Thanksgiving nachos: 
  • Grab a bag of tortilla chips and scatter leftover turkey, butternut squash, onions and brussels sprouts (or any other leftovers) over the chips. Top with shredded cheese and bake in oven at 400 degrees until cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).
  1. Thanksgiving frittata:
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, green beans and cooked stuffing (or any leftovers) for 3-5 minutes. Add cooked leftover turkey until warmed. Add beaten eggs. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Top with shredded cheese and put it in the oven broiler for 3 minutes.
  1. Thanksgiving fried rice:
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Stir-fry chopped green beans, potatoes, carrots, onions (or any other leftover veggies) then add cooked rice and toss until warm. Fold in leftover turkey or ham. Add in 2 scrambled eggs. Serve with soy sauce.
  1. Thanksgiving salad: Mix up these ingredients with your leftover turkey and make into a sandwich or serve on a bed of salad greens.
  1. 3 Cups Leftover Turkey, shredded
  2. ¾ Cup Celery, finely chopped
  3. ¼ Cup Red Onion, finely chopped
  4. 1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
  5. 1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds
  6. ¾ Cup Mayonnaise
  7. 2 Teaspoons Whole Grain Mustard
  8. Salt and Pepper

Source: Foodnetwork.com

Kaidy’s Post: Food Safety Around the Holidays

As the holidays role around, lots of families and friends are coming together to enjoy large Thanksgiving feasts. During this time, food-borne illness also becomes of larger concern. Families are prepping, cooking and baking copious amounts of food for their guests allowing for more places for food-borne pathogens to arise.

The farmer’s market is a wonderful place to buy fresh produce, meats, and cheeses for your holiday meals. Buying food directly from the source limits the steps between the fruit or vegetable being picked to it being bought by you. This helps to prevent possible contamination that could cause a food-borne illness. Similarly, if an outbreak were to occur, it would be much simpler to find the source of the food-borne illness, compared to when food is bought in large grocery stores with hundreds of suppliers.

However, preventing food-borne illness is not only the farmer and supplier’s responsibility. And, some bacteria cannot be prevented from contaminating food even with safe farming practices. Once you bring the food into your home it is important that you practice safe handling, cooking and storing methods to keep your food free of pathogens.

Clean: Wash your hands, cooking surfaces and utensils often. Make sure you are washing your hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom. When your first bring home your fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, give them a good wash and scrub. This helps to remove any bacteria on the surface of the produce. You should even be rinsing off fruits and vegetables that you peel the skin off of, since when you begin to cut into the produce the bacteria on the skin’s surface can make its way into the portion you eat. DO NOT wash your meat and poultry items. The splashes of water can contaminate your cooking and prepping surfaces.

Separate: Do not cross contaminate surfaces and cookware. This means you should be using a separate cutting board for fresh produce and raw meats. If you do choose to use the same cutting board, make sure you give the board a scrub with hot water and dish soap in between uses. The same rules apply to using the same cooking utensils for raw meat and fresh produce.

Cook: Make sure you are cooking all raw meats, poultry and eggs to the proper temperature. Temperatures from 40°F -140°F are considered the danger zone for foods that are intended to be refrigerated or kept hot. So, when you are thawing out that large turkey in the days leading up to Thanksgiving you should not leave it out on the counter or outside. The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is to leave it in the refrigerator. Turkeys should also be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, with the oven set to a temperature of 325°F or higher. The best way to determine this is using a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the turkey, typically one of the thighs. There are also time guidelines for cooking turkeys based on their size.

Weight (pounds): Hours

  • 8 to 12 pounds: 3.00 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3.00 to 3.75 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 3.75 to 4.25 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4.25 to 4.50 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4.50 to 5.00 hours

Chill: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftover food should not be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. This length or time is shortened even more in hot and humid weather. All leftovers should also be eaten within 4 days from when they were cooked. If you do not think you will be able to eat the food within 4 days, freezing some your leftover is a good idea to prevent unnecessary food waste.

I hope you all have a happy and food-safe Thanksgiving!

 

Sources – http://www.fightbac.org/

Erika’s Post: 10 Quick and Easy Recipes using Preserved Foods

Just in time for Thanksgiving! Want to go all out for Thanksgiving main course, but take it easy with the sides? you can use your frozen or canned foods that you got from your farmers market! Did you can or freeze those green beans? Everyone will love slow cooker green bean casserole. Did you stock up on jam this summer? You may want a tasty breakfast or dessert with sweet orange marmalade cinnamon rolls!
Preserving foods from a farmers market is easier than most people think. It all depends on how acidic the food is on whether you need a pressure canner or not. Usually with most fruits, jams, and vinegar pickles (higher in acidity) can be canned by a boiling water bath! With most pickles you can ferment them naturally and they don’t need to be canned. This is called lacto-fermenting.
Typically you’d want to use a pressure canner for more alkaline or lower acidity foods including all plain vegetables (in water) and all meats. We use a pressure canner (very high heat that kills the bad stuff) or vinegar to preserve because botulism can’t survive in an acidic or too high of temperature environment.
Check out more information on canning and preserving here from our website.
Now that it is the biggest food holiday of the year, you can use up a lot of your preserved foods for some delicious recipes everyone will love. Without further ado, here are 10 recipes, 5 from frozen foods, and 5 from canned foods. Many of the food items can be interchanged for either canned or frozen! Enjoy!
Frozen Food Recipes:

Canned Food Recipes:

Sofia’s Post: Butternut Squash!

Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables in season right now! Butternut squash is technically a fruit because it contains seeds. They come in all shapes and sizes with a pale hard skin and bright orange flesh. At the Winter Farmer’s Market last week, I bought the cutest little butternut squash that was the perfect size for cooking for one person. This gourd is the perfect addition to a fall meal and can go a long way!

Health Benefits:

Butternut squash is low in fat, high in dietary fiber and a great source of potassium and foliate. The bright orange color signals that it is full of nutrients such as carotenoids, which protects against heart disease. With only a one-cup serving, you will be taking in about half your daily dose of Vitamin C.

How to buy/store:

Most winter squash is available late into the fall. Storing the squash in a cool, dry place could keep the squash good for a couple months. I like to cut up my squash so they are easy to cook, chopped squash can keep fresh for a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Butternut squash provides a cook with endless culinary opportunities. You could remove the skin and cut into chunks for roasting, steaming or sautéing. Add the butternut squash chunks to your favorite salad or mash it. Once mashed, you can add it to your favorite rice or pasta dish!

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta  

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 ounces of your favorite pasta
  • 1 cup of water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the diced squash for about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the squash from water and put pasta in the boiling water until cooked.
  3. Place the cooked squash in a large food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Add water or broth until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  4. Sautee onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the pureed squash and pasta and combine everything together. Top with Parmesan cheese.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.wholeliving.com/134734/power-foods-butternut-squash

https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/creamy-butternut-squash-pasta/

Erika’s Post: 4 Tips on How to Shop Smart at Your Farmers Market

When you’re headed to the farmers market, you want to shop local, sustainable, and smart, right? You know you can find sales at the grocery store or use all the coupons you’ve saved, but how do you find the best deals at your farmers market?
It’s a common misconception to think that food from the farmers market is more expensive, but you can actually get a better deal since the food is coming right from the farmer, is of high quality and you’re avoiding any additional fees it may take for the food to get into the grocery store. In addition, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, what better time to find fresh items at the farmers market for the tastiest recipes! Read on to find out how to find the best deals at your farmers market and save on Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Shop in season: Do your research before you go to see what is in season.  Cranberries are a wonderful cold weather fruit for making homemade cranberry sauce and chutneys and they store very well in your refrigerator for up to a month; or you can also freeze them for up to three months. Carrots, apples, root vegetables and squash are also plentiful this time of year.
2. Bring cash: It may be tempting to buy all the fresh, bright colored things, but bring smaller bills and cap your budget so you don’t spend over what you brought and you won’t have too much crowding in your refrigerator.
3. Take a loop: Walk through the entire market and take inventory of what everyone has. Sometimes if you stop at the first spot you see there is often a cheaper price at a different tent or a sale going on with a specific vendor. Compare prices before you buy to save. Taking a loop through the market will also help you create a mental shopping list and make choices between products if needed so that you can stay on budget.
4. Buy in bulk: Buying bulk can help you save big if you have the storage for it. If you have an extra freezer think about buying meats and vegetables in bulk to save. Larger sizes of items like honey or maple syrup are often a better purchase than smaller-sized containers. Often times farms will offer a bulk discount or package deal for items that can logically be bought this way.
Something else to think about when it comes to shopping for the holidays is keeping an open mind when you are going to the farmers market. Instead of going in for something specific, create a recipe based off of what you find to mix things up and try something new that your family will love!
Next time you go to the farmers market, make it a point to talk to your farmer. Ask about their produce and growing practices. Tell them about yourself and why it is important that you have fresh produce and continue to build those relationships.
Thanksgiving Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 lb Fresh Cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
Crockpot method – Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low or until berries start to pop. To freeze and cook in crockpot later – combine all ingredients and put in gallon sized freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw bag in water or overnight in refrigerator. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.
On stove: Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir often (reduce heat to medium-low if needed to maintain gentle simmer). Cool completely at room temperature and place in airtight container and refrigerate. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Recipe adapted from Food Network and The Family Freezer blog

Kaidy’s Post: All About that Beet

Beets are part of the Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiace family, along with swiss chard and other root vegetables. Most of beets you find in the grocery are red in color. However, they can range in color from pink to red to yellow. Beets are well known for their sweet and earthy flavor, which many people have a strong liking or disliking to. Beets are in season in the seacoast area from end of June through the end of October. However, they are often available at the farmers markets through December.

In a 3.5 ounce serving of beets there are 44 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 20% fiber, 16% manganese, 9% potassium, 6% vitamin C, 6% magnesium and 4% iron of the daily recommended values. Beets contain high levels of organic nitrates, which have been shown to lower and stabilize blood pressure levels. The nitrates in beets have also been shown to improve athletic performance by improving the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, therefore improving oxygen use and decreasing the amount of time it takes to get to exhaustion. Beets also contain the pigment betalains, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Below is one of my favorite ways to incorporate beets into my diet, beet hummus! The taste of beets is more subtle in this dish, so it is perfect for people who are just beginning to eat beets. I usually pair this hummus with chopped vegetables, like carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers, or with pretzels!

Beet Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drain and rinsed
  • ¾ TSP. salt
  • ½ TSP ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup sliced beets
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Wash and trim beetroot. Place beetroot in a large saucepan and cover with 2cm of water.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low heat, cover and simmer until tender (30-40 minutes)
  3. Drain and let beetroot cool. Peel and cut into slices.
  4. Pour rinsed chickpeas onto half a kitchen town. Fold the other half of the towel on top of the chickpeas and rub them so that the skins begin to peel off.
  5. Place the peeled chickpeas into a food processor, with salt, cumin, garlic and beets. Turn the food processor on to break up the mixture.
  6. With the food processor running, pour in lemon juice and olive oil. Let the processor run until the mixture is smooth.

Pro Tip: When you are washing and trimming you beetroot, trim off the leafy green tops. They are edible and a great substitute for spinach or swiss chard!