Sneezing, aching, nose-running, snot-forming, cough coming on – yep that was my life over the latter part of last week and through the weekend. I’m sure many of you can relate. Tis’ the cold and flu season. There are many nourishing whole foods, however, that we can turn our focus toward this time of year. In fact, in case you missed it, the culinary education team at 21 Acres just provided a cooking class centered around this very topic. Rebecca Sorenson, a naturopathic doctoral student at Bastyr University, provided extremely useful information on how and why whole foods can provide us with germ fighting defenses. I was impressed with the knowledge and “work-ability” of the suggestions Rebecca presented and I thought it would be worth everyone’s while if I share similar information here. I can also attest to the effectiveness of the ingredients listed below and the recipes that follow. After 2 large bowls of the ginger chicken soup and a good dose of onion syrup that Rebecca graciously shared, my cold was well on its way to being history. (more…)
Man it was dark today, mostly due to the low clouds and fog I believe. I guess winter has officially started. As the dark days slowly welcome back the light, there are a handful of mood-boosting foods to include with your meals or snacks – especially if you’re prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s no secret that some foods just plain ‘ole make us feel better. Foods such as chocolate, creamy casseroles, fresh baked bread, warm saucy pasta, or mashed potatoes all have key nutrients that give our mood a boost. Let’s look at some specific examples.
Chocolate is rich in magnesium, which according to recent research out of Norway, a country cloaked in darkness six months out of the year, has been associated with lower incidences of depression. Keep in mind that the higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the greater amount of magnesium and the lower amount of sugar. (For many of my clients sugar increases feelings of depression and anxiety.) A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 70-80% cocoa content in your one or two ounce chocolate treat. While 21 Acres recognizes that chocolate in not locally produced, the kitchen and culinary education team do on occasion work with local chocolate companies whose values are in line with 21 Acres in terms of economic and environmental sustainability. Our culinary classes and kitchen source chocolate from Seattle based Theo Chocolates as needed. (more…)
Seriously, who can believe it’s the holidays yet again? Perhaps it’s the frantic traffic, the very focused shoppers who nearly run into you as they check their lists twice, or maybe it’s the shops, streets, and homes a glow with bright colored lights that remind us ’tis the season! Another frequent reminder is the “holiday foods” that appear at family gatherings, office break rooms, and seasonal parties galore. ‘Tis the season for indulgence! But what if we took a break from all the craziness that the holiday season often presents, especially in regards to food? What if we created a new holiday tradition that allowed for more mindfulness around food and our eating environments?
This time of year is perfect for thinking more about how we source our ingredients for those special holiday meals. When we choose high quality, locally produced, pesticide-free ingredients we not only heighten the flavor and nutritional content of our favorite family recipes, we also end up supporting our local economy and reducing the carbon footprint (aka travel miles, petroleum-free growing practices) of our meals. Speaking of flavors, let’s take a closer look at some flavor profiles, which are more likely to be enhanced by choosing higher quality ingredients. (more…)
As I pedal my bike down the Sammamish Trail toward work, it’s all I can do to avoid squashing squirrels as they dart back and forth across the trail, scurrying to gather nuts and seeds to store for winter nibbling. Perhaps we should take advice from these furry friends: Scientific evidence continues to support the many health benefits of nuts and seeds as a part of a well-rounded diet.
An important plant-based protein source, nuts and seeds also contain valuable amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are especially rich in plant sterols and healthy fats – particularly mono- and polyunsaturated varieties. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts) as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. The combination of fiber, protein, and fat (roughly 4 grams of saturated fat for a 1.5 ounce serving) provided satiety to meals and snacks. This can be especially helpful during the holiday season when we’re often busy and on the go. While nuts are healthy, they are also calorically dense. Nuts range from 160-200 calories per ounce. A great option in order to not over spend your daily caloric bank account on a small snack is to substitute nuts and seeds for other foods in your diet, especially for foods higher in saturated fat. While nuts and seeds can easily be lumped into one category, each variety has its own unique nutrition benefits and delicious-ness. (more…)
Its time to ditch that tired green bean casserole! I wanted to create a side dish for Thanksgiving that uses local, seasonal ingredients. The oven and stove top are in high demand, a cold Shaved Brussels Sprouts salad that can be assembled in advance, dressed just before service, fits the bill perfectly.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts
24 clean, trimmed and drip drying Brussels Sprouts
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I used Golden Glen Creamery
1/4 cup Honey Infused Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/2 -1 tsp 21 Acres Honey Dijon Mustard
salt and pepper
optional: Handful dried cranberries
The idea is to shave the Brussels thinly; you can use a mandolin or #2 blade on the food processor. In a large bowl, add shaved sprouts, parmesan, walnuts, cranberries (if using), and a pinch of salt. Combine honey vinegar, oil, Dijon (to taste) salt and pepper in a jar. Shake until fully combined. Pour dressing over Brussels just before serving. Toss together and share.
I hope you enjoy this worthy side. Happy Thanksgiving!
See you in the Market, — Meghan
Our regular customers know Jen, Meghan and I are familiar faces in the Farm Market. We work hard to source quality produce and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what is in season, where it was grown and how it can be the highlight of your dinner tonight. Fewer of you may know we are privileged to spend a few hours each month working alongside our farmers here at 21 Acres. During our time on the farm next to John, Mary and Pepe, we inevitably learn heaps about the seasonal challenges facing our farm, tricks of the trade to organically manage pests and humility in the face of growing food sustainably. This July all three of us ladies helped out with the copious amount of weeding taking place in the fields and refined our definition of “weeds.”
In and among the 150+ crops grown on the 21 Acres Farm grow a variety of weeds constantly in need of a pulling. However, for those who know what to look for, several of these “weeds” have long shown up on the plate at mealtime. All three of us had the chance to try or cook with one in particular: purslane.
Purslane is a common plant found widely throughout the world and is all too often classified as a weed. Having tried purslane in several different recipes, we Market gals advocate eradicating this “weed” by eating it! A member of the succulent family, purslane is crunchy, tart like a lemon and has high levels of pectin, which make it great for thickening soups and stews. (Check out Chef Asako’s soup recipe below).
Not only a delicious and versatile ingredient, purslane is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. It is high in vitamin E, (six times more than spinach), and a huge source of omega-3 fatty acid. Purslane is also a wonderful source of vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. Amanda Bullat, the 21 Acres Sustainable Food and Nutrition Education Coordinator, adds, “the nutrition content of wild or “weedy” greens is well above our more cultivated greens. As mentioned above, the high content of omega-3 fatty acids coupled with the vitamin E and C as anti-oxidants also make purslane a great anti-inflammatory food. Help for those who suffer from chronic join pain, muscles soreness/stiffness, skin conditions, and many autoimmune conditions.”
Have I enticed you to give purslane a try? First, check your garden. You may very well find it growing in your own yard. If you need an Organic source, stop by the 21 Acres Market. We are harvesting most days the Market is open (Wednesday-Friday, 11-6, and Saturday, 10-4).
Thanks to our staff and wonderful customers we have a starter list of recipe suggestions for purslane. Check them out and let us know if you find a favorite. Here are some beginning ideas for giving purslane a try and see the recipe below for a tasty soup:
- Toss fresh into salads for a crisp tart addition to your greens.
- For an Asian flavor, chop and sauté purslane with a bit of soy sauce.
- Pepe recommends using purslane instead of spinach in a flank steak dish he makes. Start by sautéing seasoned flank steak. Then simmer in blended pepper, tomato, garlic and onion. Roughly chop and toss in the purslane for the final 2-3 minutes.
- The high water content is great for a low fat pesto. Cut the oil in half and substitute purslane for ½ the herb in your recipe. I tried this with our 21 Acres lemon basil…my oh my!
- Toss with your morning eggs or stuff in your omelet.
- Thicken soups or stews naturally – a delicious recipe that showed up on the 21 Acres Deli menu is shared below
RECIPE: Purslane and Grain Soup – From the 21 Acres Kitchen
(Serves 3 to 4)
Purslane –1.5lbs (become about 1# after cleaning)
Onion — 1 each
Garlic — 1 clove
Tomato — 3 each (about 1 lbs)
Tomato paste (optional) 1TBS
Grain (Barley, Spelt, Rice…) (Cooked) — 1 cup
Salt — 1tsp
Red pepper flakes
Chicken/Vegetable stock 3 cups
- Clean and cut off bottom of the purslane. (Cut the harder root and stems off and use the only soft part of purslane).
- Small dice onions and garlic. Peel tomatoes by poaching and roughly chop them.
- In a soup pot, fry garlic and onions. Add purslane and fry them for a minute.
- Add tomato and tomato paste.
- Add grains, stock, and salt. Cook until it thickens a little.
- Season with salt and pepper to adjust flavor. Sprinkle with red pepper if you like spicy.