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Roasted Stuffed Butternut Squash

Yield: 8 Servings | Time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Source:



Veggies and Quinoa

  • 3/4 cups rawquinoa
  • 1Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
  • 3cups shiitake mushrooms,sliced
  • 2Tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
  • 2cloves garlic, minced
  • 2cups chopped kale
  • 1/2cup chopped walnuts (or other nut)



  • 1large butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1Tbsp avocado or melted coconut oil
  • 2Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

For Serving

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar (reduced down on stovetop)
  • 2 medium cipollini onions or shallots, sautéed



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set out a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Prepare quinoa by adding quinoa and water to medium saucepan and bringing to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the water is absorbed. Remove lid and let cool completely (uncovered) on the stovetop.
  3. Halve the squash lengthwise (tip and stem). Scoop out seeds, then brush with oil and sprinkle with coconut sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Place cut-side downon a lined baking sheet or baking pan.
  4. Bake squash for 15 minutes, then flip the squash over to cut-side up. Bake for another 30-45 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the squash.
  5. In the meantime, prepare your balsamic reduction by adding balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bringing to a low boil over medium high heat. Once bubbling, reduce heat to a healthy simmer and cook for about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. It will thicken as it cools.
  6. Once your quinoa is cooked and cooled, heat a large rimmed metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add oil or water and quinoa. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy and browned. Season with half the coconut aminos for flavor. Then remove from skillet and set aside.
  7. To the still hot skillet add the mushrooms and the other half of the coconut aminos. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until browned and reduced in size. Then add garlic and kale and walnuts (optional) and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add quinoa back to the pan and toss to coat (see photo). Set aside.
  8. Once your squash is roasted, place cut-side up on the baking sheet or dish and fill to the brim with quinoa filling. Then place back in the oven to roast another 5 minutes.
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Fear Pushes and Vision Pulls

I was listening to Ocean Robbins on a podcast with the folks from Mastering Diabetes last week, and he said something that I had never heard. He said that “fear pushes, and vision pulls.” I believe that, and I live that, but I have never heard it said quite like that. Fear pushes and vision pulls. I like it.

Everyone tends to be driven by some fear, and we react out of fear sometimes. But what if we could be so comfortable in our own skin that we could be ourselves and not be afraid? There are lots of areas where people walk in fear. Of course, Ocean was talking about lifestyle choices, food in particular. I couldn’t help but be saddened by all the superficial things we do as people. The way we dress, where we buy our coffee, what gym we belong to (but rarely attend, or attend because we want to be seen there). Who eats Kale salads because you don’t want to get cancer, or stopped eating Mangos because you have Diabetes?

Fear, Fear, Fear. It pushes us to buy every last gallon of water in the grocery stores, and every comfort food because it is going to snow. Advertisers use fear all the time. Many of us are afraid to put down our phones, because we might miss something that someone just posted. But we are apparently not afraid to miss out on a conversation with the person in the same room with us.

There are no magic bullets, and no magic pills or diets, and the pursuit of them can lead to burnout and despair. Fear pushes us and vision pulls us. What if we decided to put down our cell phones and turn off our media? What if we just chose Kale because it was better for us?

What would a better world look like to you? What would a better you look like to you? Instead of wishing you won’t get cancer, heart disease, or diabetes…. or wishing you would lose 20 lbs. Think about how much fun it will be playing tag with your grandkids or climb Mount Pilchuck every year till your 80.  If you wanted to do those two things or pick another amazing thing that being healthy would allow you to do and use that vision to pull you to the tops of mountains, to not only out smart your grand kids (or kids) but out run them too!

What changes would you make today? Some of you are thinking, I could have done that 20 years ago or 20lbs ago or I never could do that, and you are probably right, but the goal isn’t to do the seemingly impossible today. The goal is to start to do the seemingly impossible thing today, based on your vision for the life you want to live and the legacy you want to leave. Small steps can equal miles of satisfaction and joy, step into a plan based on vision and enjoy this life even more.

Change is hard, but change is possible!


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Spring, Not So Fast

Oh My! 

It has been a little chilly in Michigan! Michigan is where my oldest son and his wife live. My advice: “try and stay warm, son!” And as much as I miss him, I am not really interested in visiting anytime soon. However, we have been a little on the chilly side in the mornings and a little on the warm side after lunch around here.

As a farmer, I am asked about the weather quite frequently, especially now that we have had such a mild winter. For the record, there will be no “working the soil” ‘til it’s time. It is so difficult to fix a muddy mess that I have learned to be patient and wait for the soil to “speak” to me. There is a certain look to the land, a feel in the air, and an activity in flora and fauna that announces the Spring and the time to farm. 

Of course, I am referring to working outside and not in the greenhouses. For the greenhouses we try and anticipate an earlier or later Spring so we can time the plantings of our lettuce transplants. There have been years where we have planted 3 or 4 successions at once, and others where we have had to compost a couple thousand plants because the ground was too wet to plant. And no reasonable weather opportunity to plant was coming, either. Those plants made for some expensive compost! 

One year, I ordered a small planting of 4 trays for an early February planting in the greenhouse. Imagine my surprise when I received 40 trays. That was an expensive “0” to have added to my order. Thankfully, we had a funky February and we were able to work the ground and literally mud them in. We had the earliest lettuce of anyone that year. Let’s just say there is a reason that vegetable farmers don’t plant lettuce in February, unless it is in the greenhouse! 

We have learned that there is a time for everything, sowing and harvesting included. We will wait, maybe push the envelope a little earlier this year, but not much.  

We have just about finished pruning the fruit trees, and good thing, because they might wake up early this year. And our greenhouse is full of garlic greens, which we will be harvesting in the near future. Think green onions, only they are garlic. I will share more about the impetus behind that crop at a later date. 

We are here to serve you.

Your Farmer and Health Activist,


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Zuppa Toscana Creamy Potato & Kale Soup with Italian Sausage

Yield: 6 Servings | Source:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Lb Italian sausage (or veggies, canned beans, etc.)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 small russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.
  2. Brown the sausage until no longer pink.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onions a translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, and kale.
  5. Bring the broth to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat, stir in the cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.
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Count, Curb, and Confess

The other day I was listening to a Bible devotion on the Youversion app from Your Time of Grace. I really like their devotions. This one was about tackling sin in our lives and how to get victory over it. 

As I was thinking about the concept of Count, Curb, and Confess, I thought about the last 4 or 5 newsletters and how I have been sharing strategies to win with food. Food isn’t a sin, but our attitudes towards food can certainly manifest in addictive ways, prideful ways, shameful ways.  

Disclaimer: I have only 500 words to share each week in this format and will never be able to fully unpack any of the concepts that I introduce or am writing about. There isn’t enough space in this newsletter to go very deep.  

For people who are addicted to anything, getting/trying to get back to “normal” is why they use harmful drugs. From the research I have read, many addicts do drugs, alcohol, sugar; not to escape, but to feel normal. The book “Brightline Eating” does a really good job of explaining this. Having a good relationship with food is important because we don’t want the pursuit of food to be consuming our lives, we want to consume food to help us pursue life and health and happiness.  

Getting back to Count, Curb, and Confess. The pastor encouraged the listener to Count the sin and how many times a day they were engaged in it (swearing, or drinking excessively, watching bad movies, …) and then Curb the inappropriate action or attitude, and lastly Confess it. What I wanted to share with you is that changing habits is hard, and taking a real honest look at ourselves is hard and humbling. But I believe people can change and win, but sometimes we don’t really know how big the problem is. That is why the pastor said “Count it” so you could know how big the problem is. How many hours did I spend on Social media today? How many sugar laden foods did I eat today? Personally, I am not a calorie counter. I don’t like to count calories, but I could surely count how many unnecessary treats I ate or look on my iPhone to check my screen time.

Once you have a good understanding of how big or small the problem is, you can Curb it, and finally, Confess it. This is the hardest step for a lot of people. If you are addicted to anything or wanting to change something, you are going to need accountability. You are going to need someone in your life that will hold you accountable. That person has to love you enough to be honest with you, and you have to love yourself enough to be honest with that person. You might even have to switch friend groups.  

I would like to look at this idea of Count it, Curb it, and Confess it inversely. Instead of counting things/habits we want to change from a negative perspective, count them in a positive perspective. First of all, change is possible. You can make change, don’t let anything/anyone dissuade you. Is change easy? No. Instead of counting sugary treats or sugary drinks or calories from sugar, try counting servings of fruits or vegetables you eat in a day. Did I eat a piece of fruit, have vegetables, cook a meal with vegetables?  

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruit and vegetables. 10 percent! That is unacceptable. Use a Medium size apple (1 cup) as your guideline when thinking about servings and try to get to 10 every day. That is not a lot, but almost no one gets there. Your homework this week is, once you have read this newsletter, to think back one day and count all the servings of fruit and vegetables you ate yesterday, and your family ate yesterday. Then, if you believe that fruit and vegetables are important, make getting 10 servings a day your goal.

Your Farmer and Health Activist,


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Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup

Yield: 6 Servings | Prep Time: 40min | Source:


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped fine)
  • 3 med. potatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 knob of celery root (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme, marjoram, or basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley, dill, or chervil for garnish


  1. In large 4 or 5-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, leek and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped potatoes, celery root and bay leaf.
  4. Stir the vegetables, and then add the stock.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender.
  6. Add the thyme, sea salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Remove bay leaf, and puree soup with a vertical blender.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.
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Parsnip and Shiitake Lettuce Cups

Yield: 8 Servings | Source:


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot minced (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. parsnips, peeled and cut into very small dice
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, w/o stems, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco®
  • 8 large lettuce leaves (iceberg)


  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. When hot add oil, shallot, and garlic. Stir gently for 90 seconds and add the parsnips and shiitakes.
  3. Cook over medium high heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until parsnips and mushrooms are tender and browned.
  4. Increase heat to high and add ¼ cup of water, soy sauce and Tabasco. Stir constantly until all excess liquid has all evaporated.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. Divide among lettuce leaves and fold or roll to make wraps.
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Exercising is Important

The most important kind of exercise is one in which you exercise self-control! 1 pound of fat equals 3500 Calories. Which means if a person would like to lose 1 pound of fat, they would need to eat 500 calories less a day (7 days x 500 calories = 3500). For those of us who would like to lose 10 pounds over 10 weeks, we would need to eat 500 calories less a day for 70 days or eat 35,000 calories less over those 10 weeks.

That is crazy?!??? But that is just the math. Shedding 500 calories a day is not as difficult as one would think. A Cliff Bar or Lara Bar each have 200 calories packed into those healthy “cookies”. A Grande Latte averages 200 calories. Snacking on nuts, even a small handful = 180 calories. And who can eat just one handful of nuts?

Exercising a little dietary discretion can really jump start your diet and health goals. Just losing the extra weight improves your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers. America could sure use a course correction in the world of healthy numbers!

If a person did nothing else but cut out some “treats” or all treats and didn’t add anything to replace them, it would be enough to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. What happens if you add walking one mile a day? A 150 lb. person burns 80 calories/mile. The pace is important but not that important.

The trap here is that most people “reward” themselves when they do something healthy with a treat! Don’t buy the lie! Just do the math! For a 150 lb. person to burn off one latte or Cliff Bar or a small handful of nuts, they would have to walk 2+ miles a day to ZERO out that treat. Do we have to mention ice cream as a reward???? The deck is figuratively stacked against healthy choices and healthy gains.

What can a person do? I believe that eating mostly whole plant-based foods and exercising are critical steps to losing weight and being healthier in the long run. But exercising only accounts for 10% to 15% of calories being burned. It is important for heart health and strength, but not as important for weight loss. If a person would like to lose weight the biggest factor is eating better and eating less. Our bodies burn 70% of their calories just by doing body things: thinking, breathing, digestion, pumping blood, etc.

Adding exercise to your regimen is great but exercising self-control over what you eat will have the biggest impact at the scale. For me, the real goal is to live as healthy a life as I can for as long as I can. Which means that today, tonight, and tomorrow I get to make another healthy food choice for a healthier me, and you get to make the same choice for a healthier you.

I believe in you, cheers to a healthier you in 2019!

Your Farmer and Health Advocate,



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Roasted Red Cabbage Soup

Yield: 4-6 Servings | Prep Time: 1hr 5min | Source:


  • 5 cups large-chopped red cabbage (1/2 large head)
  • 2 cups large-chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper seeds removed
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper seeds removed
  • 1 rounded cup chopped pink or yellow apple
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped winter squash
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 tablespoon high-temp cooking oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fresh dill sprigs optional garnish
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dry squash seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic lemon salt


  1. For the soup, preheat oven to 400F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place cabbage, tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, apple, squash, and garlic onto baking sheet, drizzle with oil and toss to evenly coat.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring veggies around halfway through. Once tender, with lightly-browned edges, transfer baking sheet contents to a large soup pot. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth to pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, adjust heat to medium-low, cover with lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Next, in a blender or food processor, carefully puree roughly 1/2 of the fruits/veggies. You can also use an immersion blender, though it may take longer, and not be as smooth.
  4. Return pureed mixture to the pot, and stir in paprika, marjoram, and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 minutes, while prepping squash seeds. After 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. For the toasted squash seeds, warm oil in a small pan over medium heat. Once hot, add squash seeds to pan and toast them until golden brown, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. In the last minute, add garlic lemon salt, and stir to coat seeds evenly.
  6. Once ready to serve soup, garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, fresh dill, and 1 tbsp. toasted squash seeds.
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Have To and Get To

Motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar had a lot of great quotes, and the two ideas that always come to mind from Zig are “No Stinking Thinking” and “You don’t have to, you get to!” For Zig everything was a positive, the glass was never empty, never half full – it was always full.

To make changes to anything (diet, working out, not swearing, showing up to work on time, cutting down on social media… you pick it) you have to have a “can-do attitude.” All of us have a list a few blocks long that we would like to work on. So much to accomplish and so little will power to do it.

But starting with the right attitude is the first step in making changes. Let’s assume you already are wanting to make changes. Wanting to change is a good place to start but wanting is not starting. So, if we are going to turn a want into a start, we have to start. And the best time and place to start is now and where you are. Don’t let time hold you back, don’t let where you are hold you back, and for sure don’t let the past hold you back.

Last week I shared that it is best to pick one goal/lifestyle change and get after it. When you pick one new goal it will require a lot of will power to change and at any given time you only have 15-minutes’ worth of will power to use. 15 minutes is not very much and saying no to any temptation (donuts, cookies, mochas) takes effort and a plan. That is why I recommend only 1 change at a time. I know, you are thinking “I have so many things I want to change.” I hear you – me too!

But if you commit to one meaningful change and develop a strategy to help you “conquer” that goal you will end up winning in other areas of your life. I have seen it happen over and over. Someone cuts out sugar and loses weight? The reason is because when you cut out sugar, you cut out a lot of high fat and high sugar foods. And cutting out those two categories sheds pounds like nothing else.

However, you are going to have to commit to “no stinking thinking!” The reason you are making the change is because you want a healthier version of you. That is a great reason, don’t let any negative thoughts change your mind. You can do it.

The other thing that you have to train your mind away from “I have to do this” to “I get to do this”! Yes, you do get to do it. Other people have done it, which means you can do it too.

I know you can do it,

Your Farmer and Health Activist,