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After thanksgiving and being in two weddings in the past 3 weeks, I’m getting back to my healthy. That means more soups/gumbos and salads to combat the wonderful indulgences that the holidays and weddings provide. 

Since I knew what was coming, I had already planted my winter crops and am excited to cook my first mustard green harvest. I’ve also already stocked my freezer with different soups and stews over the past several months, so the work is already done.

My salad crops of arugula, mixed greens and mustards are also nearing harvest. Growing is pretty easy and you can pretty much harvest any young greens for quick salads. 

I’ve been trying my hand at growing everything from tomatoes and peppers this spring and summer to now garlic and turmeric. If you are interested in growing some of your own food, I’d encourage you to start with herbs or indoor micro greens. Both were great starts for me and after conversations with my local farmers, I’ve since expanded to other things and built simple boxes for my crops. Growing can be work depending on how much you are doing, but it’s been so rewarding to eat things I’ve grown myself.

To prepare these greens, I just rinsed, chopped and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic for 5 minutes; simple and tasty.

I’m considering a short spring growing series. What do you think? 🙂

Thanksgiving Sides

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Thanksgiving brings together family with food and fun and also brings the opportunity to share gratitude. In addition to time with family we all look forward to our favorite dishes for the Thanksgiving holiday. While I am certainly looking forward to mirliton dressing, I will also prepare a healthy side to share my gratitude for health in this season. 

I fell in love with the oyster mushrooms from the Red Stick Farmers Market and wanted to share this tasty idea a side option. With multiple varieties of kale in season, I selected the tender Dino kale  and sautéed them with garlic and the mushrooms for a quick and easy side dish. You can always substitute any other mushroom of choice. Check out the recipe below.

In addition to this recipe, the savory sweet potato dishes in my last post would also make great seasonal sides. I challenge you to make a healthy dish and add it to the mix this Thanksgiving. Be sure to share your creations!

Sautéed Kale and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 cups of Kale

2 cups of oyster mushrooms diced

6-8 cloves of garlic minced

1 tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1 tsp. Red pepper flakes or cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse kale and slice leaves in half longwise before chopping. 
  2. Heat oil over medium heat. Peel and mince garlic  and add to oil. Add red pepper flakes.
  3. Chop mushrooms and add to garlic. Add in kale and stir well for one minute.
  4. Add water, top and reduce heat to low for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Seasonal Sweet Potatoes

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Every fall, we are lucky to have the delicious sweet potato crop produce in abundance. Sweet potatoes, like all potatoes, have their share of nutrients and vitamins such as high fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins (energy) and Vitamin C (immune boost). Of course by name alone, this starchy vegetable lends itself more to desserts; however sweet potatoes are a great addition to many savory creations. After purchasing a couple of sweet potatoes from the Chenier Farm at my local farmers market, I used the potatoes to make two sides: rosemary and garlic chive roasted vegetable medley and savory mashed sweet potato. These are great side dishes for any protein of choice. If you want to keep things simple, bake chicken, which you can season 2 to 3 ways on one baking sheet, and steam the leafy green veggie of your choice. Check out the recipes below.

 

Mashed Sweet Potato

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet Potato (2 -2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. butter

½ cup of milk

3 tbsp. green onion

½ tbsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse and peel sweet potato.  Cut in half then slice.
  3. Boil for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Strain water. Add butter and mash potatoes with a fork.
  5. Add milk, green onion and seasoning. Mix well.
  6. Enjoy.

 

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (2 cups)

6 medium turnips (2-2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. avocado or olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary

2 tbsp. garlic or regular chives

½ tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and peel potatoes and turnips.
  3. Cut off both ends of turnips but leave stems to stabilize the root while cutting. Cut it in half, then slices. Dice the sliced turnips. Repeat with second half, remaining turnips and potatoes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and chop herbs.
  5. Add vegetables, oil, herbs and seasoning and mix until evenly coated with your hands or a spoon.
  6. Spread vegetables into an even layer on parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (Test with a fork. Fork should slide easily into and out of the diced veggies.)
  7. Enjoy.

 

 

Easy Meal Prep

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Prepping ahead goes a long way toward helping you stay on budget and curbing the need for take out under the notion of “I don’t have any thing easy to cook at home.” It’s helpful to always keep a couple of quick cook options stocked in the freezer whether leftovers from a large batch of beans or meat sauce, or pre chopped veggies and seasoning that can be added to your protein of choice. Seasonal vegetables like squash, zucchini and potato can last for several months in the freezer and make an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner meal in a pinch. I’ve added sausage and have also smothered it with onion and garlic to go with chicken. It can also be seasoned a variety of ways to keep things interesting.

A quart size bag makes 2 to 3 servings and a gallon would make roughly 6-8 servings. It’s best to chop and freeze it in your preferred quantity. You can always add bell pepper and/or onion (green, white or yellow) to your mix for added flavor. Personally I prefer a higher ratio of the squash and zucchini to the potato for a higher fiber, lower card ratio.

After thoroughly rinsing the veggies, I chopped roughly a cup to 1 1/4 of squash and zucchini and a 1/2 cup of potato. when adding the onion and bell pepper, add only a cup of the first two veggies to make sure the quart size bag has space.

As some of you may have seen last week, I am attempting to add a videos to support these post. That will be a work in progress :). Please share your thoughts and happy prepping!

Fall Harvest Stew

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There is something to be said about roasted vegetables. Add in some sausage and spice and it’s a win win! Check out this tasty win from today’s demo at the Red Stick Farmers Market!

Ingredients:

2 cups large diced eggplant

2 cups large diced squash 

2 cups large diced zucchini

1 cup chopped bell pepper

1 cup diced green onion 

1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

1 lb. Italian sausage (optional or sausage of choice)

1 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce

2 1/2 cups of water

1 tbsp. Sunny herb blend (Red Stick Spice) or Italian seasoning

1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 tsp salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse vegetables. Cut ends off of zucchini, then cut in half and halve each half. Cut into strips, then dice. Repeat with squash and add to baking sheet.
  3. Cut ends off eggplant, the cut in half. Cut a half in half horizontally, but only midway through to stabilize it. Slice into strips then dice, repeating with remaining eggplant. Add to baking sheet.
  4. Coat in oil and mix well. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Rinse and dice bell pepper and onion. In a large pot, brown the sausage with the peppers and onion for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat.
  6. Once roasted veggies are done, add to the pot, then open and add the can of tomato sauce. Add one and a half cans of water to the pot. Reduce heat.
  7. Add seasoning, stir well and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Enjoy! (Can be served with rice or quinoa).

 

A New Take on Salmon

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While I enjoy a nice tuna or  salmon fillet, I’ve been itching to try the canned and pouched varieties with an inspired twist. Both varieties of fish are great sources of omega 3s and vitamins such as the B complex, selenium and magnesium which means they are great sources of antioxidants which fight oxidative stress in the body and helps defend the body from chronic disease. Fish is recommended to be consumed at least twice a week to get the best benefits from these powerful sources of nutrients and lean proteins.  I started with salmon cakes, as an alternative to the traditional crab cakes and served it on a bed of arugula and mixed kale greens and cucumber from my local farmers market. Of course I was proud to add a few tomatoes from my own back yard. J To top things off I used a little lemon juice and black currant balsamic vinegar, though any preferred variety will work with this dish. Check out the recipe below. Please l note that no salt was used because of the wonderful addition of capers and Kalamata olives in the salmon cakes; however if you are not as fond of them as I am and prefer salt, a small pinch will do. Share your thoughts and enjoy!

 

Salmon Cakes

Serves 2

 

Ingredients:

1 5oz can of boneless skinless pink salmon

2 tsp capers

5 kalamata olives chopped

2 tbsp. green onion chopped

½ tbsp. flour of choice

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp olive oil

2 cups of salad greens (mixed or preferred choice)

1 cup of sliced cucumber

½  cup tomato

1 tbsp. dressing of choice

1 lemon juiced

 

Directions:

  1. Open and strain liquid from the can. Add to a small bowl.
  2. Rinse and chop green onion. Chop pitted Kalamata olives. Add both to bowl
  3. Add capers and pepper to the bowl and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well. Add flour and mix well.
  4. Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
  5. While it heats, form two patties and once hot add to oil. Cook for 2 minutes or until it starts to brown then flip and repeat on the other side. Turn off heat. (It may break and if so, the other browned side will help bind the patty back together.)
  6. Rinse salad greens, cucumber and tomato. Slice cucumber and tomato and add to plates. Add cakes then a drizzle of lemon juice and dressing.
  7. Enjoy!

Not Your Average Pasta Salad

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I’ve been exploring gluten free dishes and pastas to better support friends and family with gluten sensitivities. Simple is best and adding great flavor is what makes it great. Pasta is a simple dish that can be dressed up many different ways and for this dish I went Greek with a dash of North African flavor. I was also excited to use some produce from my own backyard. I have been growing sweet peppers, tomatoes and of course fresh herbs such as rosemary and green onion. This was easy to pair with baked chicken that I seasoned two ways (lemon rosemary and garlic and herb) for some variation this week. Check out the recipe below and be sure to share your thoughts.

Gluten Free Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup of dry gluten free elbow pasta

1 cup sliced tomato

1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers

1/4 cup green onion

2 tbsp. harissa

2 tbsp. chopped kalamata olives

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

1 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. 
  2. Rinse vegetables and herbs. Slice tomato; cut peppers in half and remove seeds before slicing thinly. Chop rosemary.
  3. Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Chop whole olives or used canned, by straining liquid.
  4. Once boiled, add to a bowl, then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Mix well and enjoy.