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Category: Recipes

To CSA or Not to CSA…

Have you ever tried a CSA?  You may not even know what a CSA is.  I’ve always wanted to try one and this year, I got my chance!  A CSA is a community-supported agriculture.  Basically, it’s buying straight from your local farmer.  Depending on the CSA, you get a selection of produce that’s grown on the farm each week (or every other week) and the best part is that it’s all fresh.

So how do you decide if joining a CSA is right for you?  If you have been trying to get more fresh produce in your diet, you have a couple of options – shop at the local market, you could grow your own or you could join a CSA.

  • Option 1 is probably the easiest, but to me, it’s the most complicated.  If you’re looking for fresh produce, and I mean really fresh with no pesticides or GMOs, you may not necessarily know where the food is grown or how the vendors treat their farms.  You can research the vendors, but that could take time.  And you don’t necessarily know how long the food has sat on the shelves.
  • Option 2 is to grow your own veggies.  Now if you’re anything like me, you aspire to be a gardener or farmer, but don’t necessarily have the time, the patience or the green thumb.  Growing your own food can definitely take a lot of work.  Currently, I have seeds sitting on my dining room table and at this point, it’s too late in the season to plant them.  I’ll be holding them until next year, for sure.
  • Option 3 is to join the CSA.  Many communities have them now and a quick internet search will help you find one near you.  Once you join one, you have access to many varieties of produce that may be new to you, and the farmer is on-hand to help you learn how to use them.  Even pick up is an easy process and can be much less stressful than going to the market.

Now that you know your options, maybe you’re leaning on joining the CSA.  This year, I was able to join a CSA and was so excited Friday when I picked up my share.  Here’s what I got:

  • Lettuce Head
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Scallions
  • Asian Greens
  • Parsley
  • Young Chinese Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Basil
  • Choi

I was sooooo excited!  The most exciting thing to me, was the bok choi.  Although we have’t had it in awhile, bok choi made with coconut milk and caramelized onions is one of our favorite dishes!  That’s one thing that will be on the menu this week.  Friday’s dinner will be homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil.  Mmmmm, sounds good, right?

But what if you don’t know what to do with some of the items?  It’s ok, the CSA typically will have recipes that can be shared and ideas for how to try the produce.   The CSA I participated in this year even has a Facebook page where other members share the recipes they’re making.  The most fun part is the experimentation with the foods you’re getting.

I’ve already received the newsletter for Week 2 at my CSA and I’m even more excited for what’s to come.  If you’re still unsure about trying a CSA, research your local farms and get an idea of what they grow, how they grow their produce and what the logistics would be.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Peanut Butter Blondies – A Healthy Dessert in Disguise

Have you ever been invited to a party and immediately said “Yes, I’d love to come!  What can I bring?”  And then the host asks you to bring a dessert, but you cringe inside because you know you’re on your journey to a healthy, happy life.  Yup, I’ve been there too.  But guess what…desserts do not have to derail you completely!  There are alternatives.

To avoid the sudden onset of the dessert impact, I find a healthy recipe and make it seem like it’s a sweet treat.  Recently I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Blondies and I thought there was no way that these could be somewhat healthy.  Well, surprise!  They are…and they’re delicious too!

I brought them to the party and didn’t say anything at first.  People tried them and thought they were good.  Then I started to share how they were made.  People were shocked!  And for all of you out there that think you can’t cook, trust me, I am no professional chef.  I just followed the recipe and BOOM…Peanut Butter Blondies.

Here’s the recipe for those out there that want to give it a go.  Sneak these into your next barbecue, potluck dinner or birthday party and see what people think.  I bet they’ll love them!

Ingredients:

One 15oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup powdered peanut butter

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup egg whites (about two large eggs)

3 tbsp. Truvia spoonable calorie-free sweetener

2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. canned pure pumpkin

1.5 tbsp. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. mini (or chopped) semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Spray an 8″x8″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor.  Puree until completely smooth and uniform.

Gently fold in 1/2 tbsp. chocolate chips.

Spread mixture into the baking pan and smooth out the top.  Evenly top with remaining 1.5 tbsp. chocolate chips and lightly press into the batter.

Bake until a toothpick (or knife) inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, roughly 25-30 minutes.

Let cool. complete, about one hour.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Southwestern Meatless Taco

 

Ingredients:

1/4 medium avocado, mashed

2 tbsp. fresh salsa or pico de gallo

3/4 cup of cooked black beans

3/4 cup of cooked brown rice

1/4 cup of cooked corn

1/4 cup of diced tomato

1/4 cup of diced onion

1 6″ corn torilla

 

Combine mashed avocado and fresh salsa in a small bow; mix well.  Set aside.

Place black beans, rice and corn on one half of tortilla and fold.

Serve with avocado and salsa mixture.

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

 

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium cucumer, partially peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp. chopped red onion

1 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tbsp. chopped basil leaves

Himalayan salt, to taste (optional)

Herbal seasoning, to taste (optional)

 

Combine red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and oil in a small bow; mix well.  Set aside.

Combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, basil, salt (if desired) and seasoning blend (if desired) in a large bow; mix well.

Drizzle dressing over cucumber mixture; toss gently to blend.

Farina with Walnuts, Apples & Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of water

3 tbsp. farina cereal

1/2 medium green apple, diced

3 tbsp. chopped walnuts

1 tbsp. pure maple syrup

 

Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add farina; cook, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place farina in a small bowl.  Top with apples, walnuts and pure maple syrup.

Enjoy!

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