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Archive for the ‘Challenge’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

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It’s Almost Bikini Season (?)

In Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Vegetables on December 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

A line I’ve heard far too many cliched times.  I’ll be in a fitness class, performing some G-d awful maneuver, and the instructor will chime in with the motivational “C’mon, it’s almost bikini season.”  Have you been there, too?  This usually starts sometime in the Spring, but I’ve heard it all year long.  The most surprising time was a few years ago in a late November or early December yoga class.  I remember thinking I wanted to Warrior 3 back-kick that teacher in the face.  Seriously?  This was smack in the middle of the season of eating (Halloween-New Years).  But you know what?  I always remember that class, and that message is so very clear and meaningful to me now.

It’s always bikini season, or at least that’s what your eating/fitness routine should reflect.  Don’t starve yourself a month before summer, or spend 3 hours at the gym everyday, then turn around and subsist on fast food and couch potato-ing the other 9 months of the year.  Balance and healthy habits are a 365 day-a-year prescription for what you seek.  Something important to remember during this current season, or any time in your life.  Which brings me to a topic I’ve been toying with discussing on this blog.  Another 9(+) month period that opens you up to the advice and opinions of even the faintest stranger.

I’m talking about pregnancy, and specifically how it affects “bikini season.”

I know this topic can strike a nerve in a lot of people, which is why I’ve been procrastinating addressing the topic.  Several people have asked me to give tips for losing the baby weight and getting back in shape.  I could have wrote a post about this over a year ago.  Honestly, if I wrote some of the things I’d been thinking in my head, I’m sure I’d get a lot of backlash.  I have lots of stories and anecdotes to add to this topic, but really the common theme is this: treat everyday like you’re prepping for bikini season.  Before, during, and after pregnancy.  What does that mean?  Eating healthfully and exercising, plain and simple.  There’s no secret or mystery plan behind it.

Okay, so that may seem like a pretty generic piece of advice.  Plus, not everyone has the same criteria for what constitutes healthful eating and physical fitness routines.  For reference, I’ll talk about some of my healthy habits, but really the bottom line is to find what works best for your body and lifestyle.  I may have been able to run 3-5 miles into my 8th month of pregnancy, but somebody else could benefit just as much from walking their dog for 30 minutes.  It doesn’t make me better, it is just what suits me best.

Recovering from pregnancy weight gain for me really started before even trying to conceive.  I had a healthy lifestyle before becoming pregnant, which set a good foundation for prenatal and postpartum maintenance.  Mind you, I was no skinny super model with “naturally fast metabolism”, nor a fanatic celebrity with a nutritionist/chef/personal trainer at my disposal.  Through trial and error, I found what worked best for me and incorporated these changes into my lifestyle.  I found exercises that I liked (running, full body dvds, yoga, bike riding) and scheduled appointments in my calendar to make sure I didn’t cancel on myself and fitness goals.  I didn’t treat my nutrition in a diet-focused manner, but rather with a holistic approach.  Basically, how do certain foods make me feel?  Do they give me energy or do they make me sluggish?  Are the ingredients naturally occurring or are they frankenfoods?  Do I need a whole plate of an indulgent food, or will just 2-3 bites satisfy my cravings?  You get the idea, but here are some of the food habits I developed and have remained unchanged:

  • Drink 10+ cups of water a day.  No soda or juice.
  • Breakfast is the biggest meal of the day, with no added sugar
  • Eating lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Maxing out at 2-3 fruits/day
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, whole wheat, etc)
  • Organic when possible (although when I prepared the foods it was 98% likely to include organic ingredients)
  • No sweets in the house (hardest by far, and not always kept)
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Avoiding GMOs, hydrogenated oils, and chemical additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and MSG
  • Minimizing convenience and processed foods (pre-made sauces, crackers, snacky type foods, etc)
  • No eating after dinner

Those are my eating guidelines.  They didn’t change when I became pregnant or after giving birth.  I’ll share one little anecdote about how important that is.  When Rocco was 6 weeks old, I was wearing him in a baby carrier while walking the dog, and I was stopped by a woman who had a 6 month old baby.  She was just being friendly and wanted to chat with another mom.  She expressed interest in walking/exercising to lose her baby weight – which was 80 pounds.  You know how that happened?  She told me that before the baby she worked out like crazy and “dieted” so much, that when she became pregnant she just wanted to eat ice cream every day.  Where did she think that ice cream was going?  What goes up must come down, and it doesn’t exit in the L&D ward.  I think that example really drives home the point about healthy habits, not dieting.  I don’t mean to point fingers at this woman, but I think it’s more common than others admit.  Before pregnancy, I wouldn’t keep ice cream in the house and would only have desserts on special occasions.  The same rules applied during pregnancy.  Okay, so one time I sent Nick out for ice cream, but it was a rare occurrence.

Maintaining my habits during pregnancy was not hard at all.  In fact, it was more motivation than fitting into a bikini, because my nutritional intake went directly into my baby’s growing body.  I was especially more careful about chemicals/gmos, etc, and while that’s all fine and hippy dippy, the positive side effect is I ended up eating a lot less junk.  That junk just goes straight in the trunk, and we all know the baby is in the front.  I also maintained my fitness routine, but just modified for pregnancy.  I biked and did personal training through the first trimester, I ran 2-3 times a week until the 8th month, and then adjusted by going for longer walks with the dog in the last few weeks.  I also increased the frequency of my yoga practice, just avoiding poses not suitable for a growing belly.  Up until 2 days before I went into labor, I was going to the yoga studio 6 days in a row that last week, which was when my monthly pass expired.  The day I went into labor, I took my dog for a 4 mile walk.  That same day was my 39 week appointment, and my weight gain was 24.5 lbs.  My healthy habits carried me through a healthy pregnancy with minimal side effects.

Then the smoking mirrors of pregnancy shattered as reality set-in.  Or so I thought.  This is specific to my experience, so I can only speak to what I know.  The next day when I gave birth, I had 15 minutes of pushing (which I like to think is all thanks to yoga).  Shortly after delivery, I had to take a shower and noticed how flat my stomach was, compared to my expectations based on what everyone was telling me to see (a 6-month-pregnant looking belly).  9 days later I was down 16.5 pounds, and I had one pair of regular size 28 jeans that I could zip and button.  3 months postpartum I was wearing 26/27 again and only 3 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight (I’d like to think those 3 pounds are lactation related).  I’m not saying I looked like the aforementioned super model/celebrity, but I looked like me, not a new mom version of me.  I’ve also definitely improved my shape since then, but having that solid foundation both physically and mentally enabled me to improve myself instead of trying to “bounce back.”

I continued with those nutritional habits in the trying weeks as a new mom, despite the exhaustion and every other excuse in the book.  The foods were the same, just more as I needed them, and also DEFINITELY more water for lactation.  I exercised as my body allowed and was safe for a postpartum recovery.  I started walking 3 days after delivery.  It started out as 15-20 minutes, but within a week I was running errands, walking the dog twice a day for 2-3 miles each time.  It was that simple.  At my 5 week checkup, I was cleared for exercise, and the next day I went to baby and me yoga.  I returned back to running, training for the NYC marathon, but only lasted a month and 14 miles.  Pregnancy taught me to know my physical and mental limits, and clocking in 30-50 miles a week on a collection of 2 hour naps throughout the day was not something I was prepared to continue.  Once the baby was sleeping for longer stretches, and finally through the night, that’s when I would wake up early to run or go to a 7 am class.  Until then, I just tried to keep moving.  I’d wear Rocco around the house as I did chores.  I’d keep going to baby and me yoga, despite time after time dealing with a screaming infant hanging from my boob.  Eventually, I’d catch a break and he’d sleep, allowing me to get in an hour of vigorous practice without paying for a baby sitter.  All of those small efforts, combined with healthful food, strongly contributed to returning to my post-baby measurements.

Like I said before, these accounts are of my personal stories.  I’m not trying to say that if somebody hasn’t accomplished those results there is something wrong with them or what they’ve done.  A healthful life can be challenging, and motherhood is even more so.  My hope is that by sharing my experience, the tips I incorporated into my life could help others to achieve a year-round healthy body, instead of struggling towards some fleeting and unrealistic goal.  Just remember that you don’t need to “diet” or hardcore exercise to achieve those results.  It’s about the journey, not the destination.  Simple, small, and lasting changes will put you on the path to 4 seasons of bikini wearing.  Even if it is still December.

Eat to Live vs. Live to Eat

In American, Challenge, Fruit, Nuts, Quick Meal, Salad, Shopping, Vegan, Vegetables on September 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Having a summer full of vacations has pulled me in polar opposite directions with my diet.  It seems that every vacation activity is planned around feedings, and the highlights of the trip are the bleu cheese stuffed olives or truffled mashed potatoes.  A whole afternoon can be spent chopping fruit for sangria, and this is considered quality relaxation time spent with my family.  Then reality hits upon crossing the threshold of my apartment:  I can’t continue to have martinis, beer, and sangria everyday, nor end every meal with a bowl of molten chocolate cake.  I do begin to crave my normal routine of salads, veggies, and the like, but I also suffer from indulgence withdrawal.  Yes, enjoying delicacies are some of the most precious moments in life, but living to a healthy old age is more of a priority in my book.  So what am I to do to achieve a balance between the two?  Eating to live, instead of living to eat.  Easier said than done, especially for this foodie.

Farmer’s market taters and tomaters.

Does anybody else every have an experience where they learn something new, and then all of the sudden that new thing is everywhere?  That’s how I feel about Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.  I remember coming across his diet philosophy on another food blog (I can’t remember which, since I tend to read 30 posts in a row on a new blog I discover), and then many times after seeing him on talk shows and PBS.  According to Dr. Fuhrman, the key to living a long, healthy, and disease-free life is to adapt a plant-based diet (ideally vegan) that focuses on 6 required food groups a day.  He created an acronym to remember these categories: “G-BOMBS”

  • Greens (Kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, etc) – 1 lb raw and 1 lb steamed
  • Berries – 1 cup
  • Onions (red, white, scallion, garlic, etc) – 1/2 cup
  • Mushrooms – 1 tbsp
  • Beans (beans, lentils, peas) – 1 cup
  • Seeds (seeds and nuts – chia, flax, almond, cashew, etc) – 1 oz

Additionally, you can eat other non-starch veggies, and should have about a cup a day of whole grains (oats, quinoa, rice, etc).  Mind you, all of this information I’ve gathered without reading the book, but it’s on my to-read list for sure.  Regardless, I really like his philosophy.  I basically eat this way anyway, but I really had to up my veggie intake to meet the greens requirement.  Do you know how much a lb of greens is?  A lot.  Basically, 2 huge salads a day.  And that’s just the raw requirement.

Inspired by this eat to live mentality, I made a trip to the farmer’s market a few weeks ago in between 2 vacations.  I kid you not when I tell you I spent 60 dollars.  The mushrooms were pricy, and cukes/tomatoes/zucchini were on major sale, so I really took advantage of the plethora of options.  Besides, 60 bux for 2 people’s grocery budget is pretty low, especially for organics.

Not even half of my bounty.

About 20% of the zucchini.

Not included in the pictures above are chives, shallots, mushrooms, lettuce, kale, cauliflower, basil, and cucumbers.  I made lots of salads and had veggies juithies every day.  I made a really delicious dressing, but didn’t take any pictures.  Kind of a take of Green Goddess dressing, only non-dairy.

Green Tahini Dressing

1/2 bunch chives
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2 tbsp tahini paste
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

I blended everything in my Vitamix, which was really quick.   This dressing lasted me about 5-6 salads worth, and sometimes I squeezed a lil lemon juice to freshen it up.  It’s REALLY oniony and garlicky, so just be forewarned, but it’s super delicious.

With all the zucchini and tomatoes (including heirloom!) I opted to do a raw dinner one night.  I had this huge bunch of basil, so what else to make with it except pesto? It wasn’t a traditional version with tons of oil or parm.  Just basil, pine nuts, and 1 tbsp evoo.

Instead of wheat pasta, I used my veggie peeler to peel some zucchini ribbons, and topped the dish with sliced heirloom tomato, salt, and pepper.

Those are some of the raw veggie ideas.  I’ll talk about some cooked ideas in my next post.  In the meantime, I am still readjusting to this new philosophy, so I’ll be coming up with some new kinds of recipes.  Pretty soon, by eating to live, living to eat will be in pursuit of the former.  That’s what I call a win-win.

When the CSA Just ISN’T Enough…

In Challenge, CSA, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Nick and I have mixed feelings about our CSA membership.  I am more than satisfied with the variety and quality, whereas he is only happy if every item matches his most-liked-veggie list.  Unfortunately, that only happens once or twice a season.  I try my best to reserve unwanted items for my lunches and smoothies, but sometimes it’s extremely frustrating trying to distribute the items throughout the week and make it work for the both of us.  Also, sometimes I get sick of eating leafy greens 3 times a day and only getting to enjoy half a zucchini with dinner.

This past Saturday, the CSA haul was rather large.

  • 1 yellow and 1 green zucchini
  • 1 head lettuce (I chose red romaine)
  • 1/4 lb mesclun greens
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 onion with greens
  • 1 bunch beets and greens
  • 1 bulb kohlrabi
  • 1 quart fresh peas in pods
  • 3 pints blueberries (again, very happy!)

Basically, Nick will eat all of that, minus any root’s greens.  He will try kohlrabi, but not his fave.  He also only likes blueberries in muffins or pancakes; that means he doesn’t get any.

Romaine is Nick’s favorite type of lettuce, so I made sure to make a salad as soon as I got home!  Romaine and cucumber from this week, beets and red onion from last week, plus some olives, chickpeas, and balsamic vinegar.

I thought I was doing a solid by choosing romaine over green leafy.  Boy was I wrong.  Red romaine is bitter.  I can tolerate bitter; Nick will not.  He also admitted that he is deathly afraid of beets now because of beeturia.  This caused a huge fight.  The resolution: Nick will shut up and eat what I feed him; I will stop being cheap and spend an extra 50 bucks a month to buy romaine, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and colored peppers if they are not in our share.  The next day, I went to the Carroll Gardens farmer’s market and got some lettuce, green pepper, and eggplant.  I also purchased the previously mentioned must-have items at the grocery store, plus made a TJ’s trip.

Monday rolled around, and I thought about all this excess produce in my fridge.  I’ve been force-feeding myself salads to make sure the lettuce doesn’t go bad, and adding all sorts of beet and broccoli greens to smoothies.  I also had some radish left from last week, and kohlrabi this week, so I needed to figure out a way to use them before expiring.  I’ve seen that a lot of people pickle these sort of vegetables, so I opted to do the same.  I found a recipe from Bon Appétit, and used that as my base.

Pickled Radish and Kohlrabi

Adapted from Bon Appétit

4 radishes, quartered
1 bulb kohlrabi, peeled and cut into strips
10 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1.5 cups white wine vinegar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (because I only had 1.5 cups of the white kind left)
1 tsp course sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar

I didn’t have a quart size jar, but I did have 2 pint sized ones.  I cut everything up, and added it to a resealable container to get everything mixed.

Then I divided it between the two jars.

These won’t be ready for 3 days, but will let you know how they are!  The water is already starting to turn pink…:)

Now that all that is out of the way, on to some more positivity.  Pizza Positivity.

Seriously, who doesn’t love pizza?  Even Celiacs love it!  That’s why they make all those G-free crusts.  It’s really easy to get carried away when you order from the local pizzeria – tons of cheese, added oil, sauteed veggies and meats.  Plus, if you order a thicker slice like Sicilian, you are eating tons of extra dough.  When I really want to treat my hubby well, I make pizza at home.  I’ve made a pseudo version using pita bread, but using real dough is the best.  This time I used TJ’s whole wheat dough, just like the one I used for Thanksgiving Pizza, only a little more traditional.  In Italy, there are pretty standard and simple pizzas with few toppings.  Pizza Vegetariana is like a regular margarita pizza, but with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, pepper, and tomato.  Sometimes there is added onion, but not usually.  I never saw one made with whole wheat dough, but there were some places that made pastas with whole grains (Integrale).  Here’s a fusion of the two styles.

Pizza Vegetariana Integrale (Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza)

Makes 1 thin traditional sized Italian pizza (serves 2)

8 oz (half lb) whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 cup good marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 cup each of zucchini, eggplant, pepper, tomato, and onion; thinly sliced

I preheated the oven to 425º, and kept my pizza stone in there to warm up.  During that time, I sliced up all the veggies.  Since I was already slicing, I chopped double the amount; I used the chunks to saute and added balsamic vinegar to create a side dish for during the week.

Thinly sliced items on the right reserved for pizza.

I started to roll out the dough on my floured counter.  When I tried to transfer it to the pizza stone, it started to pull apart and crisp on the bottom.  This was not what I expected.  I had to let the stone cool down, and then re-roll the dough directly onto the stone.  It finally worked, and then I put on some sauce.

Then I arranged the cheeses and spread out the veggies.

The dough package directions suggested 6-8 minutes; it really took double that, and included a rotation halfway through.

While the pizza baked, I assembled a salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, olives, and lemon juice.

Normally, Indy would be under my feet during preparing.  However, he was sufficiently comfortable on the couch watching at eye-level.

We ate salad while the pizza cooled.  Then I sliced it up into eighths.  It was very thin.

Nick’s first batch – 2 slices (which is really like 1 slice).

I had 1 slice (so half a thin slice) with some of the balsamic veggie ragu.

Very, very tasty.  Roughly 125 calories for that lil slice, so don’t feel bad about going for seconds.

The only item from the CSA was the zucchini, and the rest were a combo of farmer’s market and grocery store.  I know it’s important to use what I have, and to eat locally, etc.  However, having a happy hubby is sometimes more important.

Give Beets a Chance

In Challenge, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I think beets are one of the most underrated vegetables.  That’s probably because people are reminded of the Del Monte canned variety, and shudder at its preservedness.  However, beets can not only be delicious, but also super good for you.  There’s a reason juice bars include beets as a main base in most juices.  Beets have an incredible detoxifying affect on both your liver and urinary tract.  But enough hippy hullabaloo, let’s move on to delishifying these babies.

There are many ways to prepare beats, but most people are familiar with the roasted version.  The flavor is sweet and concentrated this way, which pairs perfectly with goat cheese, nuts, and fruit in a salad.

Another common method is boiling.  I’ve never tried that myself, but if I were to make some borscht I’d certainly have to.

Perusing through other food blogs, I came across a post of mixed root vegetable chips that included beets.  I can’t seem to locate it now, but I thought that was an excellent beet preparation method!  Hey, they sell Kale chips for 8 bux a pop and I can make those at home, why not create my own beet chips?  I tried some out this week, and I think they came out pretty tasty (0r at least the ones that didn’t burn).

I think I need to invest in a mandolin to perfect these chips.  Here’s what I did….

Baked Curry Beet Chip

1 bunch red beets (about 5-6)
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

I had to do this in batches.  My first batch I tried at 350º.  I sliced up the roots as uniformly as I could, but to no avail.  I added them to a resealable bag with the oil, and shook them up til all the chips were coated.  Then I lined a roasting tray with the chips.

I baked them for about 30 minutes until most of them were crispy.  While they baked I mixed the curry powder with the other spices.

This was the first batch outcome.

The more orangy colored ones are crispier.

I sprinkled them right away with the seasoning.

Then I transferred the chips to a paper towel lined plate to cool off.  Let’s say I ate only half of them.

Hard to tell, but that was one of the winners!

Some of the pieces were crispy; others were soft.  I decided to raise the temp to 400º and set my timer for 20 minutes.  At that point, they looked almost ready.  Five minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp.  No photo because I am so embarrassed :(.

The ones that were crispy and not burned were really tasty!  I great alternative to potato chips.

Surprisingly, my new favorite way to enjoy beets is raw in a slaw!  I’ve made one before, and I am constantly experimenting with new recipes.  On July 4th, I used half a bunch of raw beets, some broccoli stems, and red onion for a slaw.

I had a little bit of dill mayo left from making potato salad, so I added that plus some extra mustard and vinegar.  I served the slaw with some grilled zucchini blossoms, and copped out with a veggie burger and salad.

Raw zucchini blossoms cut in half lengthwise.

Grilled to perfection!

Slaw, grilled veggies, can’t go wrong.

I love using the left over slaw for breakfast!  I know that sounds weird, but it’s nice to have on the side with an omelet.  Plus, you get in an extra serving of veggies early in the AM.  Woot woot!

I’ve also mentioned before that beet leaves are edible.  Don’t throw them away!  I eat them raw in salad, but you can easily saute them with garlic and olive oil.

Beet greens with French radish, red onion, avocado, and orange. Paired with cheesy brown rice and leftover grilled squash blossoms.

Any of these ideas peak your interest?  I certainly hope so!  If not, I’ve seen baking with beets (think red velvet cupcakes).  Now that’s one I’ve never tried, but who am I to keep someone from enjoying beets anyway seen fit?

Carroll Gardens Farmer’s Market

In American, Challenge, Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Potato, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This past weekend was another by-week for my CSA share.  I still had a few things left (snap peas, bok choy, escarole, and a lil’ chard), but knew I’d have no time during the week to pick up more veggies once I ran out.  I spent all day Saturday shopping at the local boutiques (hooray for summer sales!) and ended with dinner and a movie.  Then came Sunday, and I made me way over to my neighborhood farmer’s market.  It’s funny how rarely I go there, even though it is only a 5 minute walk away.  After breakfast, I went with Nick at about 11:00 AM.  I love when he comes with me, because I get direct feedback from my primary consumer!  It was so hot, though, that it felt like being in a green house every time we went under one of the tents.  His feedback ended up being short and to the point.

I really need a better camera, because my flash is either super bright or non-existent.

There were so many options, it was hard to edit myself!  I bought veggies from 4 different vendors, as well as honey to help with Nick’s allergies.  I’ve heard that having a little bit really helps with outdoor allergies, so when I saw it was from Red Hook, I jumped on it!  The joke was on me, though, because Red Hook is also a town upstate, not just in Brooklyn.  Doh!

Here’s the list of veggies:

2 bunches beets (they were on sale 2/$5)
1 head green leafy lettuce ($3)
3 lbs small potatoes ($6)
4 small eggplant (About 1/5th of a lb – wish there were more, but they sold out!) ($1)
1 bunch French radishes (only $1.50)
6 green house tomatoes ($4.10)
3 zucchini
1 striped zucchini
4 small bunches broccoli ($4.80 for all the zucchini and broccoli)
1 box zucchini blossoms ($7)

About $32.50 for all of that!  Much more than I’d normally spend, but I intended using the potatoes for a BBQ, and the zucchini blossoms are a treat.  I am determined to make them without breading and/or deep frying, but we will see…

I got home and washed everything up, fit in a workout, and then headed out to a friend’s birthday brunch.  It was so hot in there!  Their AC was non-existent, and the thermostat read 95 degrees!  We were all ready to leave once the plates were cleared.  Nick and I went to visit some friends after, and they were making some zucchini for their dinner.  I decided when we got home to do the same, so I sauteed 3 zucchini with sundried tomato, the rest of the swiss chard, some garlic, and sprinkled in some truffled pecorino.

I added it to some whole wheat penne.

I had also made a salad with the lettuce from the market, some tomato, chopped olives, feta, and balsamic vinegar (no picture).  Super yummy as well!

The next day was nice and cool, so I decided to get a lot of cooking in!  I made Ina Garten’s Dill Potato salad for an upcoming BBQ.  It’s really delicious, but I only make it to bring out to other places, lest my hubby and I eat 3 whole lbs of potatoes in one sitting!

Dill Potato Salad

Adapted from Ina Garten

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tsp vinegar with 1/4 cup-3/4 tsp of skim milk)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery (I used 1 full cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used 1 full cup)

I cut up the potatoes before boiling, although the recipe says to cut them after cooking.  I brought the pot to a boil, then simmered for 10 minutes.  While boiling, I combined everything else except the celery and onion for the dressing.

After 10 minutes, I drained the potatoes into a colander, then placed the colander over the hot pot and covered with a kitchen towel to steam for 20 minutes.  I also chopped up the onion and celery.

I combined the potatoes, dressing, and celery/onion.  They are currently marinating in my fridge, so I don’t have a photo yet.

Later for dinner, I made a salad with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and carrot ginger dressing.

 

I also made a stir fry.  I used Bok Choy, striped zucchini, baby eggplant, snow peas, broccoli, scallion, onion, and ginger.

I made my own sauce using low sodium soy, mirin, red chili paste, vegetable broth, and corn starch.

I made some brown rice and mirin chicken to go with it.

I wanted to make myself seitan, but mine had expired.  Boo!!!!

I still have a bunch of stuff left for the week, but I’m glad I do because all my stuff from last week is gone (except the escarole, which I may end up throwing out)!  So far I used half the broccoli, all the zucchini, eggplant and potatoes, and almost all of the tomatoes and lettuce.  Very excited with all my beets, and those zucchini blossoms will be an exciting challenge.  Hope you all have a great Independence Day!  I plan on celebrating by making anything BUT American food.

One Huge Zucchini; 2 [Healthy] Ways to Use It

In American, Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Challenge, Dessert, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on June 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Zucchini next to a marker for size comparison.

I usually don’t complain about getting too much zucchini.  It’s one of those veggies my hubby will always eat, and that’s definitely a bonus.  For those who know me, I tend to enjoy my veggies as close to natural as possible.  I don’t usually fry/bread them, nor do I smother in butter or stuff them in puff pastry.  This week, however, I made a slight exception.  In our share this week, we got 2 kinds of zucchini: 2 smaller yellow kind (yes, there is a difference between yellow summer squash and yellow zucchini), and either 1 HUGE green zucchini or large patty cake squash.  Of course, I chose the zucchini.  This guy in front of me in line said his family is not really into zucchini, so he chose the patty cake squash.  We got into a bit of a conversion about how we were going to prepare each of our choices, and I said “this is going into a zucchini bread!”

For some magical reason, I thought you needed a lot of zucchini for a zucchini bread.  I also thought the larger and juicier, the better.  I didn’t have a recipe, so before searching the web I messaged my mother-in-law for hers, knowing that it was Nick-approved.  When she sent it over, she did warn me that it is basically a cake.  I made a few adjustments to lower both the sugar and fat, and also bumped up the fiber by using some whole wheat pastry flour.  Here’s my version.  P.S. this is also a vegan recipe!

Low-Fat [Mostly] Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 loaves, or 24 muffins

1.5 ripe bananas, smashed or thinly sliced
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup oil (I used unrefined extra virgin coconut oil)
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (less than half of my huge one!)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup blackstrap molases (or just double the agave)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fine sea salt
t tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Just as an FYI, the first 2 ingredients are swaps.  The original recipe calls for 1 cup oil and 3 eggs, but you can replace half the oil for apple sauce, and half a banana for every egg.

In a large bowl, I mixed the bananas, apple sauce and oil with a hand mixer.  For coconut oil, it needs to be warmed to liquify, so just heat on a stovetop or microwave for a few seconds.

Once everything is blended, it’s time to add all the other ingredients, and then you can just mix by hand with a spoon for a minute until everything is incorporated.

The batter! Since there are no eggs, very easy to lick the bowl :).

I divided the mixture as best as a cold between two loaf pans; they probably weren’t 100% even.  Then I set them in the oven to bake, up to 60 minutes.  I started checking at 45, and took mine out at 55 (although there was such a marginal difference in those 10 minutes).

These loaves didn’t rise as high as I expected; but then again, I admit I am not a baker.  They were, however, moist and delicious.  Not too sweet, and perfect for a snack or breakfast.

I had mine with a lil peanut butter; Nick liked his with chocolate peanut butter.

I took the liberty of calculating the nutrition for both the original and my low-fat version.

Original Zucchini Bread 
(Includes 1 cup oil, 2.5 cups sugar, eggs, and bleached flour)

Per slice (1/24th of recipe):

Calories: 231.61
Fat: 9.91
Carb: 33.86
Fiber: 1
Sugar: 21.22
Protein: 2.73

Not awful; but my version is a bit more figure-friendly.

Low-Fat [Mostly] Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread 
(Uses half the oil, subs banana and apple sauce, and uses only 2/3 cup sweetener)

Per slice (1/24th of recipe):

Calories: 132.92
Fat: 5.08
Carb:  21.12
Fiber: 2.34
Sugar: 7.66
Protein: 2.08

My version is 100 calories less, and has about half the fat.  It also skims off nearly 14 grams of sugar, and doubles the fiber!  Now I don’t feel so bad about having a second slice :).

I baked these loaves while making dinner one night (that recipe will follow in another post).  I still had more than half of that huge zucchini left!  I decided the next night I’d make a soup out of the remains.  It was also a great vessel for using up all that extra cilantro.  It’s a really simple recipe, and it packs a lot of flavor!  I haven’t tried yet, but I’d assume it would be great served chilled as well!

Pureed Zucchini and Cilantro Soup

Makes about 11-12 cups (just guestimating based on what was served and leftover)

1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
4 cups chopped zucchini (I’d say 3-4 normal sized ones)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup packed tightly)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the broth and water over high heat until they boil.  While waiting to boil, chop up he zucchini and onion.

Add the veggies and chickpeas to the pot with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to a rolling boil, and cover slightly to cook for 15 minutes.  While that’s happening, remove all the stems from the cilantro; you just want to use the leaves.  If you’re making this recipe just to use up the cilantro you have from another recipe, don’t worry about needing the whole bunch.  If you use half or 3/4 I’m sure it will still taste great!  Make sure to reserve a couple of stems with leaves for garnish.

Super Green! That’s what happens when you wash and prep properly.

All the stems removed.  Took about 8-10 minutes to do, but well worth it!

After 15 minutes, add the cilantro.

 

Then, if you have it, whip out your emersion blender and get to work!  If you don’t, just ladle   the soup in batches into a regular blender.

 

Let the newly mixed soup cook for 5 minutes more, then it’s time to serve!
At first, I was nervous about using so much cilantro, but it was surprisingly really
complementary to the zucchini.  It gave the soup a fresh layer, as well as some zing and spice.  It also helped me to use up all my cilantro!  Hooray!
There you have it: two healthy ways to use zucchini.  Both required some innovation, but were certainly worth it.  I’m sure if you have a garden and your zucchini is overflowing, you’ll want to add these recipes to your repertoire.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In Breakfast, Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Pasta, Quick Meal, Salad, Vegetables on June 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Even though greens are good for you, it’s also important to diversify your plate with a rainbow of colors.  Saturday was my second CSA pickup of the season, and of course there were still tons of green veggies!  I tried my best to pick colors when possible, but I still had SIX fully green items (and one mostly green with some yellow).

Here’s what I came home with.  Let’s start with all the Greens:

  • Escarole
  • Bok Choy
  • Mixed peas (snow and snap)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 HUMONGOUS zucchini
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (yellow, but mostly green)

As for other colors:

  • Red leafy lettuce
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 3 pints blueberries!!!!!

Before I continue on any other topic, I have to go on a blueberry tangent.  I love blueberries.  They are by far my favorite fruit.  In oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, or just straight up, I can’t get enough.  When I was a wee young’n, I was the blueberry connoisseur.  I would sit on a lounge chair at my grandparents pool club, individually inspecting every berry by hand, and determined whether it reached my high standards of edibility.  Needless to say, I was very happy about the 3 pints worth this week.  I froze half for smoothies, and kept the other half to eat with oatmeal and yogurt.

Back to everything else…I got home and made some breakfast while starting to clean, prep, and store this week’s bounty.  I still had a squash from the farmer’s market, so I diced that up with some red scallions for an omelet.   I also had blueberries with my oatmeal :).

While preparing the new items, I thought about what was left from my market trips.  I still had some kale left, which is great for smoothies, so that wasn’t a big deal.  However, I also had a whole bunch of cilantro and half a bunch of dill!  The dill is fine to work with, but now I had TWO bunches of cilantro.  I made sure to label both with dates, that way I use up the older batch first.  I also kept the older items in the front of the veggie drawer.

I was also very excited about this HUGE zucchini.  It was perfect for some zucchini bread, which I have yet to make because I tend to have so few pieces that I ration them off for Nick-approved dinners.  Trust me, this zucchini could make 12 loaves of bread.

Zucchini next to a marker for size comparison.

We had a wedding out of town on Saturday, so we packed the car and left shortly after finishing veggie prep.  When we came home on Sunday, I was pretty exhausted, so I made a quick dinner!  I made a salad using the red leafy lettuce, the single cucumber, a red scallion, and some dill with balsamic vinegar (I guess I forgot to take a photo).  I also made a pasta dish – Whole wheat penne with yellow squash and swiss chard.  I cheated by using jarred tomato sauce (Rao’s Marinara – amazing).  I heated the sauce up in a pan with half of the chard and both small squash from Saturday, and let them steam up covered while the pasta cooked.  Then I added the cooked pasta and a smidge pasta water.

Of course, there was parm for topping!  It was pretty fast, delish, and we already got 1/3 lettuce, 1/2 chard, and all yellow squash out of the way.  My biggest challenges this week are 1) using all the cilantro and 2) finding a use for escarole.  I know I’ve said there’s no veggie I hate, but let’s just say escarole isn’t exactly my fave.  Wish me luck!

Two Farmer’s Markets, Two New Finds

In Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Soup, Vegetables on June 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

Since I was such a good girl last week, using up everything from my first CSA distribution, I was left to brave the markets for an in between week.  At first, I was super excited because I could choose what I want, and in what quantity.  However, I have definitely taken for granted the no-fuss convenience of NOT having to decide!  Especially when the pickings are slim – such as they were this weekend.

It was really nice on Saturday, so I wanted to bike to the market (which also ensures I only buy what I can carry in my tote bag).  There are two options on Saturdays near me in Brooklyn – the Borough Hall Market in downtown Brooklyn, or Grand Army Plaza Market in Prospect Park.  I chose the former, because 1) it is closer, 2) there are fewer visitors, and 3) it is only a slight incline to bike there.  There’s a reason Park Slope warrants its name, and biking up that hill definitely proves it.

Unfortunately, the advantage of fewer shoppers at a markets leads to fewer farmers and varieties being present, and thus a vicious cycle of supply/demand.  I always remember there being so many vendors at Borough Hall, but for some reason this was not the case this time.  Maybe it was because I got there towards the end of the day?  There was one super huge farmer, one medium sized, and one small.  Plus the bakers, fish stand, cheese, flowers, etc.  I was really looking for some veggies and fruit, so the farmers were my target.  The larger farmer, as it turns out, is a conventional farmer that sprays the bejubus out of all of its crops.  Yet, they charge organic prices.  Why would I pay $5 for a pint of strawberries that are enriched with pesticides, or $3.50 for collards?  These are slightly more expensive than organic produce at the local grocery.  I know that you should support local farmers, and that the majority of produce in the stores is flown in, but really?  I decided to patronize the smallest farmer, who is not certified as organic, but uses all organic soil, no pesticides, no GMOs, etc, except for 2/3rds of their apple orchards.  I know this because I asked and they answered.  That larger farmer didn’t want to give me a straight answer!

There wasn’t much to choose from, but I got:

  • 1 bunch beets (plus the greens – which is a twofer)
  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard
  • 1 small Poc Choi – that’s the newbie!  It’s like Bok Choi, only it has some purple in it.
  • 2 quarts strawberries

I also went to the cheese stand and chose a pecorino infused with truffles, and a soft lightly smoked Gouda style cheese.  Needless to say, my bounty would not cover me for the week!  I cleaned everything up, and figured I’d pick up some stuff midweek if I found time.

Beet greens and stems, perfect for salad or saute.

Beautiful rainbow chard.

Chopped up Poc Choi, for Miso soup or stirfry.

Strawberries! Half cleaned and frozen for smoothies, the other half for oatmeal and snacking.

Packed and labeled!

On Monday, I found some time to make my way to the Union Square Market.  That is the premier NYC Greenmarket, for those who don’t know.  Go on a Saturday if you can, that’s when EVERYONE is there.  Mondays are slower, and fewer vendors.  I biked, again, over the meadow and through the woods.  AKA over the Manhattan Bridge and through China Town.  After surveying the options, I found there was one organic vegetable farmer, and one that used no spray, describing all of their methods on a sheet of paper.  I thought that was really nice, to educate the consumers about what your practices are.  I ended up choosing the organic farmer, and here’s what I got!  No photo of all the bounty because I was in a rush to get home for yoga.  I’ll be sure to include more photos when I write about the ingredients in future posts.

  • Tuscan Kale
  • Wild Purple Kale – newbie!!
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 small cucumbers (I think Persian, not kirby)
  • Purple scallions
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bag bargain lettuce (basically on its last limb, so it was only $1)

I also bought some hard pretzels from a market vendor – some regular, some whole wheat.  Grand total, excluding pretzels, was $21 on vegetables.  That’s a few dollars less than my CSA, so I figured I did good :).

So far, this is what I’ve used:

  • Half the wild kale for a smoothie
  • 3/4 of the berries for oatmeal and smoothies
  • Beets (and greens) for salad
  • Half the Poc Choi for udon soup
  • Rainbow chard (recipe to be posted)
  • 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash in the chard dish
  • Half the purple scallions (for almost everything!)
  • All the lettuce for a salad
  • About 1/3 of the dill (recipes to be posted)

Stay tuned for all the recipes!

End of Week Recap, Ruby Rhubarb Relish, and What NOT to do with an Avocado

In Breakfast, Challenge, Chinese, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Seitan on June 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Oh, rhubarb…that reddish celery looking crop that pops up in the late spring at farmer’s markets.  I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve ever had rhubarb was combined with strawberries in a pie, a crisp, or over vanilla ice cream.  As a result, I never knew exactly HOW it tastes on its own.  I’m all for sweets and desserts, but I’d rather waste my calories on chocolate than a vegetable.  Hence, my mission to create a savory rhubarb recipe!  Knowing that rhubarb is biologically a vegetable, and that it is also very tart, wasn’t enough information for me, so last Thursday, I braced myself to taste some raw.  The best way to describe it: celery marinated in lemon/parsley juice.  I know that sounds so weird, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I decided I’d make a relish/salsa kind of deal, since I had some tomatoes and onion.  My other plan was to make a chilled avocado soup as a base to be topped with the relish.  Let’s just say don’t try THAT at home.

Ruby Rhubarb Relish

2 stalks rhubarb, leaves and ends trimmed, diced
3/4-1 bunch radishes, diced
1/4-1/2 red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

This was a great way to use up the rest of this week’s veggies.  I diced up all the veggies, the same way I’d do for a gazpacho.

Rhubarb

Radish

Red onion. Wow, a lot of red AND R words!

Tomatoes

After combining all the ingredients, I squeezed the citrus juices, and combined with salt and pepper.

Then I took half (about 1.5 cups) and blended in my Vitamix.

I combined the juice with the rest of the solid veggies, and let them chill overnight.

I tried to remember a recipe for chilled avocado soup, but my mind went blank.  Instead of looking one up, I experimented.  I combined 1 avocado with 1/2 cup each Greek yogurt,  1% milk, and water.  I also added the juice of one lime, some salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander.

It turned more into a mouse than a soup.

I let it also chill overnight, thinking maybe the consistency would change, but to no avail.  For some reason I thought adding more water would fix it, but that made it disgusting.  Next time I will actually use a recipe.

What the mixture was good for was as a dip for crackers or tortilla chips.  I also had a dollop on my omelet.  I used some of the radish greens, the avocado mouse, and the rhubarb relish.  It was tasty.

I’d definitely recommend making this relish.  If you have cilantro, it would make an excellent addition!

I am also happy to report I used EVERYTHING in my share this week!  Here’s a recap:

Veggies

Fruit