Tag Archives: Farmers Markets

Summer’s Bounty

In case you didn’t already know, summer is my favorite season of the year.  Not only are the days longer and warmer, but there are beach vacations to be had, and countless hours to be spent reading by the pool.

However, the absolutely BEST part of summer is its amazing bounty. 

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This is the best time of year to visit a local Farmers Market to pick up the freshest produce available.  There are so many colors and textures to choose from.

For me, this means that I have absolutely no trouble getting my five servings of fruits and veggies a day.  🙂

It also means that dinners are light, healthy, and super easy!  

Last night’s dinner was no exception. 

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To recreate this delectable dinner at home follow these easy steps.

1. Cook your favorite pasta according to the package directions. 

2. Chop or slice your favorite fresh veggies.  I used summer squash, zucchini, onion, garlic, sliced tomatoes, and mushrooms.

2.  Heat a pan over medium heat and lightly mist the pan with olive oil spray.  No need for oil in this dish!

3.  Once the pan is hot, add the veggies and sauté for a few minutes until they are cooked through. 

4.  Season the veggies with a bit of sea salt and crushed black pepper.

5.  Mix in fresh chopped basil.

6.  Serve and enjoy!

You can add thin strips of steak or baked chicken if you want to add meat 🙂

The veggies were so flavorful and juicy that you didn’t have to add any cheese or oil. 

It was perfectly simple.

What is your favorite easy, light summer dish???

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Dinner Divine

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Last night’s dinner was a Farmer’s Market dream.  Seventy five percent of the food on my plate was grown within 20 miles of my house, and none of it ever had any preservatives, additives, or pesticides. 

It was a dinner divine.

After a quick stop at the Farmer’s Market to pick up some produce from my CSA, the wheels in my head started turning.  I knew I could throw together a quick, easy, healthy, and delicious dinner.

First up was the Swiss chard.

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I’ve never cooked Swiss chard before, but I have fallen madly in love with leafy greens, and these were especially appealing with their purple stalks and billowy edges. 

I first toasted about 2 tablespoons of pine nuts in a hot pan and set them aside to use later.  I then heated about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and added sliced onions and the Swiss chard stalks cut into inch sized pieces. 

I chopped the chard leaves into bite sized pieces and added them to the onion/stalk mixture.

Then inspiration hit me! 

Recently, I have seen many recipes where greens are cooked with raisins, or something semi-sweet.  I didn’t have any raisins, but I did have dried apricots.

I diced about 2 tablespoons of apricots and added them to the mixture. 

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I drizzled the mixture with balsamic vinegar and added a dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  

When everything was good and tender I topped the mixture with the toasted pine nuts.

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(Some pine nuts may have been a little too toasted.)

While the greens were cooking I also made some quinoa with vegetable stock instead of water to add some extra flavor.

But here comes the really cool part.  I, yes you read this correctly, I, grilled the vegetables.  Not Larry, but me!!!!  I did it! 

I had picked up a beautiful eggplant as well as zucchini, and squash from the market on Tuesday.  I also had a few left over baby bellas from the vegan enchiladas I made on Tuesday.   I sliced these babies up, threw them in a large plastic baggie with olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, and balsamic vinegar, shook the bag like crazy, and plopped them on the hot grill.

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See!  Wasn’t the eggplant pretty???

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I heart mushrooms 😉

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I was very proud of my perfectly grilled veggies 🙂

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The combination of quinoa, Swiss Chard, and grilled veggies was perfectly filling and tasty. 

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It was almost effortless, but as I was eating, it I knew that if I had ordered this meal in a restaurant, I would have been more than pleased.

It is very easy to make healthy dinners that are delicious.  Especially at this time of the year when fresh fruits and veggies are in abundance. 

I encourage everyone to think about adding fresh veggies to your dinner plate at least once a week.  And if you’ve never been to a Farmer’s Market, I highly recommend it.  There is something so amazing about produce this fresh!!! 

Here’s a link to LocalHarvest.org that can help you find your nearest Farmers Market.

What’s your favorite impromptu meal that you’ve thrown together?

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E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald had a farm. 

And I visited his market yesterday.  The Bryan Park Farmer’s Market.

I got a few goods, 🙂

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which I turned into a rather tasty dinner.

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Sautéed cabbage, lentils, and a toasted sandwich round topped with Earth Balance “butter.” 

The cabbage was the very first thing I noticed as I walked up to the vegetable stand.  I have never made cabbage before, so this was unusual for me.  As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. 

Maybe this is what they mean by intuitive eating. 

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This dinner definitely made me happy. 

To sauté the cabbage, I sprayed a large pan with olive oil spray and heated it over medium.  I sliced the cabbage into tiny sliver pieces and chopped 3 carrots into matchstick sized pieces.  I added the carrots first, because I knew they would take longer to cook.  I then added the cabbage and cooked until it was slightly caramelized.

Delish!

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Larry, who hates cabbage, said it was the best cabbage he’s ever had.  I think that’s a compliment.  😉

There was something about eating a cabbage that was pulled from the ground yesterday that made this meal extra spectacular. 

Tonight we’re having sautéed kale and mung beans (yes, I said mung!).  Larry is having reduced fat kielbasa and I’m having Tofurkey vegan kielbasa.   We may also be having not-so-very-healthy Jiffy Corn Bread 😉

Have a great night! :) 

Peace!

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Livin’ la Vida Local

I am still floating on cloud 9 this morning after my long run yesterday.  All I want to do is run, but I know that I need to give my body a little time to rest before I hit the pavement again.  I am feeling the true definition of a “runner’s high.”   

My knees are the only part of my body that is sore today.  I think I owe these limber limbs in part to following  13 Yoga Poses to Help Runners and Other Athletes.  These stretches were great, and they gave me the opportunity to sit quietly with my breath for a few.  Who wouldn’t benefit from that? 😉

Yesterday after my run I stopped by this local legend: Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market.

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Ellwood Thompson’s is a local market that carries local produce and goods for the Richmond area.  It is actually the largest independent natural/organic market in all of Virginia. 

I have lived in this area for almost 5 years now, and yesterday was the first day I visited the market.  I even used to live within walking distance!  However, seeing as how this week is the week of first evers, I thought I’d finally give it a try. 

I’m so glad I did!!!  Here’s a glimpse of my very selective purchases.

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I found chia seeds and nutritional yeast, which I have been searching for since November.  Most (as in I haven’t found a single one) chain grocery stores do not carry these, so you can only imagine how excited I was to see these products casually sitting on the shelf and in the bulk food bins.  Jackpot!     

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I also found Virginia made Twin Oaks Tofu.  You may remember that I had the pleasure of eating Twin Oaks Tofu at Balliceaux back in early March, and it was really out of this world!  I wonder if I can recreate that same delectableness in my own kitchen…  

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The pups got some all natural doggie treats for minty fresh breath.  And boy, do they need it! 

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For lunch I got a Buticha Ethiopian Garbanzo Bean Wrap, and I must try to duplicate this recipe.  It was seriously delicious! 

Anyone know how to make Buticha????   

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I also got a bottle of Annie’s All Natural Goddess Dressing, FAGE Greek Yogurt, an an avocado, because they were all on sale. 🙂

One thing I was super excited to see while at ET’s (other than the chia seeds and nutritional yeast, of course) was that a variety of their produce was supplied by Victory Farms

Last week, I was invited by a friend to share a CSA membership to Victory Farms Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Each week beginning in mid-April, we get to go to one of their stands at a local Farmer’s Market and select fresh produce that was grown less than 20 miles from our own home! 

There are so many benefits to eating and buying locally. 

    1. You’ll get exceptional taste and freshness.
      Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life.
    2. You’ll strengthen your local economy.
      Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your community. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food builds relationships based on understanding and trust, the foundation of strong communities.
    3. You’ll support endangered family farms.
      There’s never been a more critical time to support your farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer.
    4. You’ll safeguard your family’s health.
      Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations. Buy food from local farmers you trust.
    5. You’ll protect the environment.
      Local food doesn’t have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive.
    6. When you buy local food, you vote with your food dollar. This ensures that family farms in your community will continue to thrive and that healthy, flavorful, plentiful food will be available for future generations.  (SOURCE)

I for one can NOT wait to begin picking up my weekly produce.  What a great way to eat close to the source!  Just think of all the clean meals I will be able to create!  I’ve decided to to plan out a week’s meals based on the produce that I get from the Farmer’s Market.  I think this will open a whole new world of recipes for me! 

I also plan on visiting Ellwood Thompson’s more regularly for rarities such as chia seeds, nutritional yeast, local tofu, and other central Virginia goodies 🙂

Have you ever been involved in a CSA?  Do you aim to eat and purchase locally grown produce???  What are your thoughts???

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Victory Gardens

Let’s go back in time. 

Let’s go back to the time of Victory Gardens.

During the first and second World Wars, Americans were encouraged to plant gardens as a way to offset the burden of food shortages and food rations.  Over 20 million Americans planted gardens in  their backyards, on rooftops of their apartment buildings, and in vacant lots throughout cities.  Over 9-10 million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables were produced in Victory Gardens throughout America.  (Source)

When the war was over, the gardens were no longer encouraged by the government, and Americans fell into the whirlwind world of convenience.  As more women stepped into the workforce, it became necessary to find quick and easy ways to prepare meals for families. 

Over time, diet fads increased the market for fat free, low fat, low calorie, no-calorie foods, low carb (and the list goes on) foods. 

But, wait, Americans are bigger than ever!  How can that be?!!?!?

Well, to put it simply, in order to make cookies, cakes, ice cream, crackers, etc. low fat, low calorie AND convenient, the ingredients must be modified, tampered with, and processed. You no longer have a whole food that is close to the source.  You have a highly processed food that contains additives, extra “sugar” (HFCS), chemicals, and lord knows what else (I mean what exactly are “natural flavors”?).

One of the saddest consequences of this change from Victory Garden to highly processed food diets, is that our children are suffering

Take a look at this school lunch.

 

This is a typical school lunch for students at the elementary school where I work(although this picture is just one I found through Google… just goes to show that kids all across this nation are eating the same kinds of lunches).  Frozen pizza, canned and overly buttered (and often overcooked) corn, chocolate milk, and canned fruit.  I won’t even go into a sodium, sugar, and calorie count on this meal!

Is this the kind of example we want to set for our children? 

Don’t we want our children to develop healthy behaviors as habits, so they don’t have to make lifestyle changes later in life?

This is why I am so happy to see that Michelle Obama has launched a new initiative to solve the childhood obesity epidemic.  This initiative is encouraging families to Get Moving and make healthier choices. 

Mrs. Obama has planted her own Victory Garden on the White House Lawn and is setting a great example for other families in America.   

 

It is much easier to affect children’s behavior than it is to change old habits in adults. 

Let’s set an example for the children around us by changing our habits into habits that we can be proud to share!  Let’s get involved in campaigning for healthier foods for school lunches.  Let’s support programs such as Slow Food, USA, Get Moving! and Farm to School

Could you plant your own Victory Garden this spring?  Or support local farmers through farmers’ markets and Local Harvest programs? 

I’m not saying let’s change the world in a week!  Let’s take baby steps and see what kind of an impact we can have.  I wonder if Eleanor Roosevelt knew that Victory Gardens would help produce almost 10 million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables when she planted her garden on the White House Lawn??? 

 

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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