Quick farm update: We are seeing the first splash of locally grown produce, Kale Raab and Chives. This is time of year where the vegetable farmers begin to move into higher gears. For us our first crops to be planted will be Sugar Snap peas and then lettuce. This week though we are harvesting our chives. We have been nurturing our chive plants for 17 years and several hundred of you have been eating them that long, too!
I am also working with Kai at Hedlin Farms in La Conner to bring his Kale Raab to you. This is a once a year harvest. Every spring the plants get a burst of energy from the lengthening daylight and warmer weather and begin to produce seed heads. Kale Raab is harvested right at that moment before it goes into full seed production. Use the tiny flowers, the leaves, the top of the stems but not the woodier base (save those for stock). Kale is one of the most immune boosting foods we can eat, and immune boosting is definitely front and center now.
Working with What You’ve Got: Have you found yourself having to alter your meal planning during this stay-at-home season? We have a few tips we’d like to share that could help simplify healthy eating during this crazy time. As a matter of fact, we think you might even take a few of these ideas with you into the future.
Some of our favorite recipes aren’t really recipes; they’re techniques. We love things like soups, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, salads and smoothies! Once you understand the premise of creating each of these, you can alter the ingredients, use what you have on hand, and still come up with a delicious outcome!
Soups: With soup, start with a good broth or create one as your base. Decide if you’d like to make a clear soup, a cream soup or a puree. Clear soups will use the broth as the foundation and then vegetables and seasoning to taste. Cream soups often use milk, cream or even cream cheese blended with a portion of the cooked vegetables. Purees are smooth, thickened by blending things like potatoes, cauliflower, rice or beans. Use salt, pepper and your favorite seasonings to finish to your taste.
Stir-fries: Stir-fries are so versatile! We use stir-fried vegetables as a base to go with meat, beans or vegetarian meals. They’re great in wraps, over rice, with pasta or with salads. Start with dicing your vegetables small! We find that everyone eats more veggies that way. Heat oil in a heavy skillet or wok, add minced garlic, ginger, onion, and chilis (if desired). Add protein, vegetables, salt, pepper and seasoning, and sauté until cooked to your preference. Use taco seasoning for Mexican dishes, Italian seasoning for pasta dishes, Asian sauce or spice to be used over rice.
Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a favorite comfort food and so quick and simple! No recipe required, and virtually every vegetable can be cooked in this way. Root vegetables are old standbys for roasting, but you can also roast broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers and onions. Start by cutting vegetables into bite size pieces. Toss them with a mild non-hydrogenated oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning of choice. We use lots of garlic powder! Spread them on a baking sheet and give vegetable pieces lots of space. Roast at 425 degrees until veggies get a bit charred around the edges. Some vegetables are cooked much sooner than others. Start with the root vegetables and then add softer vegetables a bit after, or roast like veggies in separate baking sheets, to easily take out when finished.
I think everyone is familiar with the versatility of salads. In addition to mixing up your salad fixings, try different homemade dressings as a great way to add variety!
Smoothies: Smoothies are a super way to get a boost of extra nutrients and have so many possibilities! A kid favorite is always peanut butter-chocolate banana. We start with a big handful of spinach leaves (shhh!) blended with coconut water, then add frozen bananas, peanut butter, a high-quality chocolate protein powder, and milk. You can also add collagen, flax oil or whatever supplements that blend well and don’t over-power. Frozen strawberries, blueberries and bananas are great to have on hand and combine well with leafy green vegetables. A favorite of mine combines frozen banana, strawberries, avocado, spinach, kale, juice from hand squeezed lemon and oranges, turmeric, and ginger, blended with coconut water. Give different combinations a try.
Rest assured; you can use what you’ve got, and it’s going to be good!