Farmer’s Market Inspiration

Meet Farmer David Moreno of Moreno Farms near Scottsdale, AZ, USA.

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As i stood at his produce stand on this warm, sunny day with breezes swirling the blossom scents of the Sonoran Desert all around me- I couldn’t help but feel appreciation that Mr. Moreno loaded his big, white truck filled with crates and boxes full of all this beautiful real food and brought it to me and my community for this special food event- a Farmer’s Market.

With vibrant green grass under my faded flip flops, i walked up and down, up and down, inspecting and deciding- before making my final purchase of… just about everything he sold.

Being an appointed volunteer Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Community, you just know I couldn’t resist fresh local citrus like oranges, grapefruit and lemons or a hearty cooking ingredient like a yellow onion or the dependability of a head of garlic wrapped tightly like a present just waiting to be opened.

But then there were beautiful, healthy green beans in a basket he grew on his farm, red onions, and i still have never met a Brussel sprout that i didn’t like.  His ripe red tomatoes, plump with juice, were flirting with me and hipster kale was like, “you know you’re leaving with me.”

Then the cucumbers and cantaloupe were waving me down saying, “You’re daughter loves us!”  And i was like, “I’m so glad you are here!” LOL.

My silly random thoughts were happily interrupted when i look over to my right and see this… silly random kids eating carrots as big as their arm.  LOVE!

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So basically, i indulged.  I made the farmer’s day, and he made mine.  I made a special trip with my heavy bags to my car parked in the shade with its windows rolled down before I quickly retraced my steps for some lemon garlic orzo pasta made locally as well.

Back in my kitchen, I was inspired by the beautiful bounty, and made this colorful dish…

 Lemon Garlic Orzo w/ Farmer’s Market Veg.

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 So visit your local market this Spring and meet your farmer!

Get silly, get local, get inspired and get cooking!

 

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Cookbook, foodie love, Health, Meatless, Obesity, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Five Quick Steps for Fabulous Everyday Salads

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I spent the weekend reading about grains.

(I know, right?)

I was the last one in my family to come down with the stupid cold, when a book arrived at my door- “Amazing Grains” cookbook by author Ghillie James.  So i plopped into bed and dug in.

I wanted to share with you, what i think, is the best food tip in the whole book.  She calls it,

My “go to” quick-fix, five-step everyday salad.

1.  Cook up one or more grains- quinoa, whole grain couscous, bulgur wheat, pearl barley, brown rice, etc.

2.  Add some fruit/vegetables- just raid the fridge in search of color and crunch, she says.

3.  Throw in in a little protein- like feta, canned tuna, bacon, white beans, leftover meats, chickpeas, salami, shrimp, goat cheese, black beans, etc.

4.  Sprinkle on nuts and seeds- pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, pine nuts, flaxseed, peanuts, etc.

5.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper.

My first “go to” salad was a hit.  

Now that i have this secret formula in the back of my head, it makes being creative and eating salad for lunch a little more easy and fun… and let’s you stay in those pajamas just that much longer.

;)

 

 

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A Lovely Week of Inspirational Cooking

Did you ever realize, when you simply go through the motions of cooking, it just doesn’t taste as good?

Find your inspiration.

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(Photo: our Valentine dessert using real colors- soft & sweet strawberry Mochi colored with beet juice, tart & juicy pomegranate seeds and crunchy dried raspberries.)

I find inspiration while shopping for ingredients at a fresh food market like Whole Foods, where their love for good ingredients shines through.  A great cookbook, like The Pollan Family Cookbook, an easy to follow video clip on FoodTube or a great new app like Jamie Oliver’s step by step recipe app with beautiful photos inspires me.  A new ingredient i’ve never tried before inspires me. My fellow volunteer Ambassadors for the Food Revolution Community inspire me.  (Join the fun!)

For you, it may be completely different- maybe you want to adopt some #vegan or #gluten-free meals into your weekly menu at home, or have a family member who needs to omit a particular category of edibles.  Perhaps you just want to eat clean- no fake food- and are investigating what is in the food we eat, #FoodTruth.

Special occasions or events inspire me.  What did you cook this Valentine’s Day?  Or did you and your sweetheart dine out?  I prefer celebrating this holiday at home so i don’t feel like just another couple bobbing around The Red Sea.

This day of love inspired me to search out #realfood colors.

And i found so many!  I am a foodie who LOVES holidays and parties, and these events are heightened by who is at the table and what food were are sharing.

I’m like a kid during the holidays- i celebrate all week or month long!  So, I did some real color cooking the week before #ValentinesDay.  Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of Crunch a Color and author of The 52 New Foods Challenge, would be so proud.  I tried for the first time ever, red spinach (found later in this post) and incredibly gorgeous spiral pink watermelon radish (mother nature was showing off here) adding color and crunch to our turkey burgers- see it at the bottom?  This tall tower was also stacked with red onion, heart-shaped micro greens and sweet potato slices accompanied with pink hues from Easter radish, purple potatoes and circular red chioggia beets.

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For breakfasts in bed this week we enjoyed maple yogurt with purple blackberries, red raspberries and fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice…

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scrambled eggs (mostly whites) with spicy specks of red thanks to chili garlic sauce and cuties drizzled with sweet, local honey on the side.

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Now for dinner, on the actual day of love, we began with an amuse bouche of red pear poached in a red wine cinnamon reduction.

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Then our salad course of where we tried red spinach for the first time.

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We ate New York Strips with Black Truffle Salt in a port chocolate sauce.  Although i wanted to roast rosemary fingerling potatoes, my market didn’t have them.  My kids love potatoes they fondly refer to as “mash,” so i showed them love and made their comfort food favorite- mashed potatoes. (Find more comfort food recipes here.) 

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I served it alongside sautéed crimini mushrooms and shallots in pork confit.  I learned a #FoodEducation tip this Feb 14th- pork confit is a fancy word for bacon fat!

But i only got to eat the salad.

After spending the entire day preparing this beautiful #familymeal with heart and soul, dressing a proper table, and placing hot food onto our #familytable with my loved ones seated all around- I had to leave for work!  There were romantic hungry Valentine couples to be taught and fed!  I assist chefs and their cooking students, and tonight, i assisted

until almost midnight.

That is food education dedication.

We taught them how to make an orange and arugula salad with mint chiffonade, scallops, how to mix and thread homemade pasta and prepare it in a light garlic roasted fennel sauce, and… wait for it…wait for it…

the best dessert of my life.

Possibly better than when my husband and i enjoyed this treat over a decade ago during dsc01819springtime in Paris back when we were dating.  (See the date on these two photos?) We ordered these for dessert after witnessing for the first time, the Tour de Eiffel sparkling in all of its glory, dsc01803then ducking into a side street restaurant and flirting with…

PROFITEROLES. OMG.

Puffy, airy, eggy light dough you can fill up through the bottom, using your piping bag and tip, infusing fresh rose whipped cream and drizzled in dark chocolate ganache.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

What a great food memory to have on Valentine’s Day! It made washing dishes all day and night, missing my family, and working especially late- just a bit more satisfying.  And with the night moon high in the sky, i raised the garage door and walked into my home-  to hear the sound of my dog’s tail banging against the walls loud enough to wake the kids.  And a clean kitchen sink.  My husband did all their dishes.

Now THAT is love.

It’s been a lovely week.  So looking ahead, i am now inspired by my taste buds, #sharethelove, and #foodeducation.  I want to share this same dinner menu with my family!  My kids have never had fennel, and i KNOW they are going to love it.  (They eat leeks, so- i think i’ll be good.) I’ll save the dessert for my next special occasion perhaps my birthday later this month?

You can’t just see heaven and then pretend it doesn’t exist!!!

(wink wink)

What inspires you?

 

 

Posted in Celebrations, Cookbook, cooking videos, Education, foodie love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Rock the Love Boat

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Are you living under a rock of rock candy or have you stayed current with our children’s food system…

you know, the one that took thousands of years to make, but only about 3 generations to destroy? 

The day of love is a week away.  Love is a virtue of kindness, compassion and affection.  Buying heart candy that tastes like chalky aspirin to make your kid more popular in school isn’t love.  Love isn’t selfish or boastful.  Love is kind, remember?  You’ve heard it at just about every wedding ceremony.

Care for the health of your children’s classmates.  And don’t buy it just because it’s “cute.” Diabetes is not “cute.” Neither are colds and flus from weakened immune systems. Now of course you can have a few hearts- just not 25 boxes that you eat until the Easter bunny fills his (her?) basket.

Buying cheap dyed sugar because it’s fun to feed your kids crap- because it makes them smile, isn’t love either- that’s selfish too.  You are doing it because YOU like to see them happy and because when you were a kid it made YOU happy.  The smiles only last a short time- then their tummies hurt and they hit an energy low. And don’t do it because life is short. Well, it’s even shorter now… according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention our kids will be living shorter lifespans.

But it’s only ONE DAY you say.

Yes, and i want you to celebrate the hell out of it.  Decorate your home until Cupid himself has to come and see it.  Squeeze your sweeties so hard they break a rib or tickle them until they pee in their pants.  Or on your pants.  Ding dong ditch neighbors and leave a pair of new red socks, whatever.

OR

You could hug. Kiss. Plan a class party full of heart-healthy friendship activities. I’ll even let you bake a cake- yes!  I will!  But from scratch- no processed cake boxes.  And don’t eat the rest tomorrow, lol, and then with coffee the day after that.  Let children put raspberries on each finger.  Make hot chocolate using real cocoa- not from corn syrup solids. Have some decadent bites of good quality 70% dark chocolate! And long-stem berries… oh so beautiful.

Just leave out the cheap crap.  It makes you look bad anyways. ;)  I’m telling you this because i love you.

FYI:  This is what we are stuffing those decorated shoeboxes with- hope there aren’t any maze or fortune haters in the room, because then I’ll be the one in trouble.

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It’s not too late to return what you’ve already bought.  What are YOUR children handing out this year?

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY LOVERS!!!

Posted in Celebrations, Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Week Cooking from The Pollan Family Table Cookbook

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 “It is never to late to find your way in the kitchen.”                                                         – Authors Corky, Lori, Dana & Tracy Pollan

“What’s for dinner?”            

                                       “I’m hungry!”

                                                                       “Is there any food??”

Yes, it’s true.  If you have a family, they WILL want dinner, every… single… night.

We’ve all been there… sometimes by dinnertime, you’re just not feeling creative, energetic or inspired enough to drive to the grocery store and buy raw ingredients to put together in the form of dinner.

So you speed dial for pizza delivery in the car pick up lane at school, buy what you think is “good quality” processed food, or carry out from a “healthy” place- for a stir fry or bean burrito.

I believe that you can do better and reach higher.  

Will you join me in changing the food culture here in America?

Simply begin with one home cooked dinner a week.  Then two nights a week, then three… until pretty soon, you are actually

MEAL PLANNING.

And this cookbook can help.

We ALL need to bring the focus back to the family table and real food.  In order to do that, you might need some reference material, like a few good cookbooks.  Now is the time to further develop your children’s taste buds, and yours.

I spent this week cooking from The Pollan Family Table Cookbook.  While doing so, i had four goals.

1.)  Is it easy and helpful for me to put dinner on the table?

2.)  Do they use real food in their recipes?

3.) What is their philosophy on food & family?

4.)  Does it taste good enough for my family to eat it?  Especially my kids?

And i had a busy week, just like you:

Monday i took down holiday decorations (and i’m telling you i go ALL OUT) and moved them into storage. Whew.  And i had a “date day” planned with my husband while the kids were in school.  But i made Spaghetti Aglio E Olio and Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Chips.  (Kind of wish i had MY sisters and mom helping me flip those zucchini circles! Ha ha)  I even had time for a short run!                                               IMG_3557

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Tuesday  one daughter had a half day at school while our other daughter had a dental appointment to have three teeth pulled. Homework needed to get done. Doctors orders were “soft food.”  I found a healthy version of her favorite soup in this cookbook, so I made Creamless Broccoli Soup with Whole Roasted Garlic and Frizzled Leeks.

IMG_3599Wednesday i had a mandatory work day due to inventory.  However, i planned ahead and turned out a Citrus-Roasted Chicken with Grand Marnier, thus spoiling my husband. :)

IMG_3634Thursday after biking the kids to school, i had six glorious hours all to myself.  I first had to do my sink full of dishes from last night’s meal.  It was my turn to work, so i needed to find a meal for my family that they could reheat when they got home from jumping around with their daddy at a trampoline house.  But my husband’s car battery died and he had to take MY car to work!  No car? No problem!

Ever since i got my bike i’ve dreamed of filling my front basket with groceries. :) And now i finally got to do it!IMG_3638

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I got home and whipped up a Jalapeño, Pork, & Hominy Chili!  While making the puree of garlic, onions, jalapeños and broth, i think i breathed in for the first time that day… ahhhh.  My senses were awakened…IMG_3646

Here she is below, looking all beautiful…

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Friday, I helped prep, cook and clean all day- but not for me or my family!  About 4 months ago, out of my passion for food education, I snagged a job assisting chefs with their culinary classes! (They have the culinary degree- i do not. But i’m proud to call myself a home cook! And you should be too!) So for this day, i needed a fast dish so i could put my feet up and RELAX after the busy week.

I quickly dredged dover sole fish in milk and flour, sautéed a couple of minutes each side in butter, parsley, lemon & capers, and in no time i made a french Classic Sole Meuniere.IMG_3684

It made me remember one of my favorite dishes from my childhood that i had forgotten- Sole Amandine. (I paired it with some boiled potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.)

Is it quick and simple?  Well, if you count planning, grocery shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning up afterwards… everyday…honestly… it takes some time and energy.

But anything worth striving for usually does.

This week, my children ate zucchini, parsley, leeks, potatoes, broccoli, lots of onion, jalapeños, cilantro, lots of garlic &  more!

The more you meal plan and cook, the better you get at it.  Here are three tips:

1.)  Pick out a few recipes you think your family would like, make printed copies of them, and stick them in your purse, car, whatever.  Then when you find yourself at the store, whip them out. Viola, you are organized! I’ve been winging it like this for a while now, and it works. This year i’m going to try to take it a step further and actually pick out at least three recipes in the beginning of the week and make time sometime that week to cook them.

2.)  The second tip, is “mise en place,”  which they mention in The Pollan Family Cookbook.  It is french for everything in its place.  Before you begin cooking, do ALL the prep work.  Then, when the kiddos have a question with homework, or the dog wants food, or their pencil broke, or they need a new eraser, the phone rings, etc., you won’t break a sweat.IMG_3569

3.) It is so nice to already have the ingredients on hand, so maybe shop the day before you plan to cook to take some of the burden off- unless you are buying something like fish, then the “day of” is best! Also don’t forget to ask, gently persuade, bribe or DEMAND (LOL) help with the dishes. I should talk- i’m bad at asking for help. It’s a good thing my husband does dishes (and laundry.) (Thank you God.)

I found that this cookbook did offer my family “user-friendly’ recipes using real ingredients.  The Pollan philosophy is simply to…

COOK MORE AT HOME & EVERYONE EAT THE SAME MEAL. 

Restaurant chains, fast food joints, and other types of eateries may use more fat, salt and sugar than we would use at home, to make their food taste better.  They also may use cheaper ingredients, chemicals and fillers. Most establishments are thinking taste and profit, not health and quality.

Sharing the same meal- not short order cooking- is a goal we should strive for- unless of course allergies or diet restrictions.  There is something very communal, warm and satisfying about politely digging into the same bowl, pot or platter. It sets a certain mood or tone- satisfying the soul.

Family members, including children, in a perfect world, should be expected to pitch in to help grocery shop, set the table, help chop or clean up.  (This is what i need to work on a bit more.)

While cooking from this book, it’s nice to keep in mind that recipes are guidelines- so feel free to make adaptations to suit your family’s table.

In fact, the cookbook is so wonderful, i am

giving away one copy of The Pollan Family Cookbook

to whoever can win me over with your answer to this question…

“Why do you want to cook more home cooked meals?”

GO!!!

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Cookbook, Education, foodie love, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Up For a Family Cooking Adventure?

A package arrived at my doorstep, with my name on it.  

I tore it open, and was giddy over the fact that author Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of Crunch a Color, sent me her new book titled, “The 52 New Foods Challenge.”

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I immediately bit off one little chunk- like a 70% dark belgian chocolate bar- reading the forewood written by none other than the fabulous Chef Ann Cooper. I bit off another small, “probably should stop now” chunk- and read her “Note to the Reader,”  before folding in the sides and wrapping it up quickly and tightly indulging in one more quick quote from Mary Poppins before putting it away for now.

“In every job that must be done… there is an element of fun…you find the fun, and snap!  The job’s a game.”

I picked it up later that evening.  First thoughts?  Hmmm, well-written.  Current.  It contains some of my favorite quotes, like the one from Michael Pollan,

“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”

Ms. Jennifer reached out to all the appropriate people and organizations too for their opinions and research- like Harvard Health for example, whom i follow on Twitter.

She was honest about her struggles, her family, her kids.  She, like myself at first, had a hard time with those beginning messes that indoctrinate you when you first introduce your child(ren) to the kitchen.

I knew she had been through the battlefield.  

Not just the cooking battlefield, but the food education and nutrition one too.  Front line stuff.  I liked the way she honored her husband by giving him the inspiration credit for turning “eating healthy” into a game.

Can you introduce new real foods to your family each week in a meal you all shop, cook and eat together?  Are you up for The 52 New Foods Challenge?

I immediately baked a persimmon, LOL.  No seriously.

I ran into this nice acquaintance (who i run into all the time and we still don’t know each other’s names- we must live parallel lives) in the produce aisle and we struck up a conversation about persimmons.  I was clueless about this fruit, but she was food educated about them and we talked and talked.  I bought one.  She said for the price i will pay for one, i can get a whole pound at the Asian market!

So, lo and behold, Jennifer Tyler Lee had a recipe for a persimmon, using pantry ingredients.  So i baked it off.  Isn’t she beautiful??

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My two daughters tried it- it was a new taste for them.  I was talking to their taste buds, and their taste buds were listening- they didn’t slam the door.  It intrigued them, and they kind of liked it.  Food Education!!!

Maybe you’ll check out this new book and introduce “the fam” to a new food, and maybe even nominate three friends to try a new food this week too.

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, foodie love, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment