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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 9/3/17)

StarKrimson Pears:

They are delicious just raw and out of the box, but if you are looking for something different, try sautéing them in butter with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey and serve them over almond butter toast. Or try adding them (thinly sliced) to a grilled cheese sandwich or your panini!

Patty Pan Squash:
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until it foams up, usually 1 to 2 minutes. Sauté 1 small onion (diced) in the olive oil-butter until tender and translucent. Add sliced squash and garlic; season with lemon pepper. Sauté until squash is easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 6 minutes.

Green Beans:
You can enjoy raw or cooked, in salads, soups or by themselves. My go-to meals are anything stir-fry. They are quick to make, simple, and healthy. Green beans make a delicious stir-fry, check out the recipe, below!

Chicken – Green Bean Stir Fry – by Peruvian Chick


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil, divided
6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
12 ounces green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise (about 4 cups) OR 1 lb. Patty Pan Squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
Steamed white rice and sesame seeds (for serving; optional)

1. Prep all of your ingredients and have them ready and handy to use. Toss chicken, cornstarch, a pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce in a medium bowl.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing until scallions are browned and softened, usually about 2 minutes. Add green beans and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until green beans are crisp, but still tender, usually about 4 minutes. Transfer green bean mixture to another bowl.
3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil in same pan over high. When oil is shimmering again, add chicken mixture and arrange slices in a single layer. Cook, until chicken is browned and caramelized on the first side. Toss and continue to cook until it is completely cooked through, usually about a minute or two longer. Pour in the soy-sauce & honey mixture along with the green bean mixture, and cook, tossing briskly until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, usually about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and taste, rectify seasoning and serve with white rice. Enjoy!

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My Cooking Identity Crisis

Interesting title, huh? Well, bear with me. Most of you know me as Peruvian Chick from Instagram or Facebook, the Peruvian Gal that loves to cook, post recipes, loves traveling and cherishes time with friends, family and dogs. What many of you don’t know is that as much as I love cooking, I love business. I first earned an engineering degree before I went on to earn a master’s degree in international business management. I currently run a successful business consulting and branding agency which I co-founded over 12 years ago and guess what? I LOVE cooking just as much!

When my parents discovered this new passion of mine was taking such a pivotal role in my life, the occasional “Oh my, all that money invested in education and all you want to do is cook?” would find its way into conversations. But then they tasted my food, started sharing my recipes and then told their friends that I was famous on “The Facebook.”

If we’re honest, the world at large still tends to be judgmental about women who don’t cook. But society can also be judgmental about women who do cook. Have you ever heard someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post: “Who has time for that?” or “I wish I had time to cook, I work.”

These types of comments took me to the unconscious (and unreal) conclusion that these two passions were mutually exclusive. For the past few years I have been living a double-life being a self-proclaimed Business Consultant by day and Peruvian Chef by night. Depending on the crowd, I would either wear my chef’s hat or my consultant hat. At times, I was embarrassed to admit I loved to cook out of fear it would make me look weak in the business world. Other times I was embarrassed to admit that I am an excellent business strategist out of fear people would not find me relatable anymore. Let’s face it, that was not only silly, it was arrogant of me.

I’ve come to believe that business, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with the culinary world. Cooking is my love language and keeps me connected to my roots. It gives me satisfaction to know where my food comes from and is my form of meditation. On the other hand, business fulfills my insatiable need for research and learning. I love doing a deep dive into a business, begin the problem-solving process and then create the strategies that lead to growth. Both cooking and business feed my creative soul. Getting seasonal fresh produce excites me as much as presenting a new marketing strategy for a client. Have you ever tried to make a meal for 12 stretch into a meal for 30? You do the math. It’s about getting the right ingredients, at the right temperature, at the right time. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences.

Ultimately, cooking or not-cooking is a choice for both men and women. There’s no right or wrong and I am not here to judge. If for any reason, (out of fear that others will think you are bragging you have hesitated to post a homemade meal you made from scratch after a hard day of work, or a full day of home-schooling and watching the kids; believe me, you are not. You are just living your truth and that is your business!


With love and gratitude,


Sara Balcazar-Greene

(a.k.a. Peruvian Chick)



P.S. As I write this article my thoughts and prayers go to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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Tacos 101


Gabe’s grandfather has repeatedly encouraged me to write the cookbook, 101 Tacos. When we see him which unfortunately isn’t often enough as he lives in northern Mexico, he always has more ideas for tacos. “Shrimp tacos, beef tacos, tacos de fish, chicken tacos…” He’s relentless in this idea and honestly, I totally get it because if there is one thing I can eat on repeat its tacos. And now, as I’m working on my second cookbook I’m realizing that we do indeed eat quite a few tacos. In my opinion, they are quite possibly the best solution for quick weeknight meals. My 15 minute steak tacos never disappoint and my latest favorite, asparagus tacos, have me really reconsidering that 101 Tacos book idea.

Summer is the perfect season for minimal prep for quick easy cooking. The ingredients available to us right now overwhelm me in the best sort of way. To capture the maximum nutrition and flavor very little cooking is needed as the warmth of the sun has done the hard work for us. These Swiss chard tacos, like so many other tacos, quickly became a staple in our house the moment I found the idea in one of Rick Bayless’ books. While greens aren’t necessarily a favorite at the dinner table for my three children when you wrap them around a tortilla suddenly they get devoured.

The Swiss chard gets a quick and simple sauté with caramelized onions and then topped with store-bought or homemade salsa and then creamy queso fresco. If you’re out of Swiss chard, spinach makes a fine substitute. Throw in some other roasted vegetables for variety and extra nutritional heft.

For quick summer meals that give you more time outside and less time in the kitchen, learn from me and always keep tortillas at the ready along with a good salsa, and crumbly, salty cheese. A quick roast of whatever you have lingering in your vegetable crisper and you have yourself a taco that would make Gabe’s grandfather proud.

For Ashley‘s Recipe for Swiss Chard Tacos, click here.




Ashley Rodriguez is a NW Mom, Food Blogger at and author of Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship

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Mother's Day

I love that we set aside a whole day to honor and celebrate the women who raised us. My mom is an amazing mother who dedicates her life to her four kids. She is selfless, strong, and the most energetic woman I’ve ever met.

Every year as Mother’s Day gets close, I get a little nostalgic that we are not closer (geographically) but then I am quickly reminded that we are close in our hearts. Being 3000 miles away is not always easy. Those are the moments I am most thankful for the technology that brings us together. I always think of the things we would be doing if were celebrating together. This holiday has so much room for thoughtfulness and personalization; making a meaningful and memorable Mother’s Day is an attainable task.


* Giving the gift of your time can be more valuable than any material item. As we get older, our lives get busier. Plan something with mom that gives you both some quality time together.

* Brunch Basics ~ Take her to brunch at her favorite restaurant (make reservations ahead of time), or if you’re handy in the kitchen, give her the gift of a home-cooked meal.

* Live far away from your mom? Really treat her and fly her out to visit you for a few days; show her around your city!

* Can’t be there in person? Plan a video-chat dinner date with mom and share a virtual “toast” together!


* Set your mom up on Facebook or Instagram (and patiently give her a quick tutorial). It will let her peek into your daily life and see the moments that are special to her.

* If your mom isn’t super tech-savvy, put together a small album of your favorite photos over the past year. If she’s not online, chances are she hasn’t seen those day-to-day photos of what’s going on in your life.


* Make a greeting card from scratch! The handwritten note is becoming a lost art, and it shows that you care enough to write something in your own words. Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a poet. Simply expressing a few things about what you’re thankful for will mean the world to her.


* Let your mom have a day to herself to relax, rest, and recharge. Give her a gift of bath salts (homemade if you have the time), and a good book. Then leave her alone while you take on some of her errands, prep dinner or do the dishes. (Mom’s should never do dishes on Mother’s Day!)

These are just a few ideas, but make it your own. Have fun with it, keep it thoughtful, and it will be a day she’ll remember for years to come!

If you are a mother too, I hope you feel loved and celebrated this Mother’s Day. And no matter what season you find yourself in, just know that you are loved and appreciated.

With love and gratitude,

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)

Peruvian Food Ambassador

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Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.


Ashley Rodriguez

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

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Organic. Time is Personal

I have not always been a strict organic consumer. About 6-7 years ago I started with organic eggs, mainly because they taste better. When I discovered how much better the eggs were, I figured the chicken would be too. That began my journey to slowly transitioning into more organic items, and within 2-3 years, 50% of what I was consuming was organic.

A short time later at a routine doctor’s visit, swollen lymph nodes were discovered under my arms and other parts of my body. After asking the doctor how to get them back to their normal state, I remember vividly the technician saying, “there’s nothing really you can do about them, other than just monitor them”; an answer that didn’t quite sit right with me. It was then that I began heavily researching and learning more about the organic movement, and the more I learned, the more compelled I felt to switch to an all organic diet. Everything from the extra hormones added, to the animal products available in the market, and the pesticides and chemicals added to the produce; the genetically modified foods we put in our bodies and the chemicals we put on our skin, all have an effect on us.

Switching to a 75% organic diet has been one of the best things I could have ever done. I consume hormone-free, organic eggs, meats and produce. My fridge is usually packed with organic goodness every Monday, and practically empty every Saturday…aka time to get more organic groceries. My lymphs nodes where back to normal a year later. Ironically, I had my check-up with the same technician. I brought up the fact that the swelling was gone as she was scanning my test and she repeatedly said: “it must have been an error, they just don’t go away”. Well, they did.

It’s often said that people decide to make drastic changes once they are faced with big challenges (wake up calls). I am thankful mine was not as challenging as many other people face, and equally thankful for the swollen lymph nodes. I am still not 100% organic, not because I don’t want to be, but because sometimes it’s simply not possible due to accessibility. Life happens, and I don’t beat myself up for it. But when the option is there, organic is always my first choice.

These days the word “organic” is seen everywhere. More and more menus are offering “organic greens served with organic baker’s bread and organic spread”, but one thing we have in our favor is that that the word organic (unlike other feel-good descriptions of food like “natural”), actually means something. Certification procedures in the United States and many other countries are strict. In the US, organic food must meet standards ensuring that genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, sewage and irradiation were not used in the food’s production; and that makes it a tad easier for us!

With love and gratitude,

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)

Peruvian Food Ambassador

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Thoughts With Ashley

“So I’m thinking about ordering a pre-cooked turkey.” A friend texted me two days before Thanksgiving. It’s this time of year when the texts from friends and family are less about “how are you doing?” and more closely resemble a conversation with the Butterball helpline. I love it. I consider it an absolute pleasure to be able to speak for hours about all butter crusts, to par-bake or not to par-bake and brining – wet, dry, is it really needed (yes, salt and pepper the day before)? My ease and joy in the kitchen is a gift and one that I absolutely am delighted to share.

“Should I order a pre-cooked turkey? Should I be scared about cooking a turkey?” My friend continued. Even through my iPhone screen I could feel the tension. He was kicking himself for not thinking about all of this sooner and feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the turkey cooking task. “First of all roasting a turkey is not hard.” I started “but don’t let the turkey cooking overshadow the point of the holiday. If a pre-cooked turkey will help you focus on the actual thanks-giving and the company of friends and family then that’s the way to go.”

I love spending hours in the kitchen slowly simmering homemade stock for the purpose of creating a luscious and deeply flavored gravy. Pie crusts and bread doughs relax in the fridge days before the main event. Weeks before I’m scouring blogs, magazines and cookbooks trying to craft the perfect menu although I don’t usually iron out all of the details until the day before. But I realize that not everyone is like me.

And while the table will be mightily set with a half a dozen dishes including caramelized squash with feta and onion, a crisp Brussels sprouts salad with smoky bacon and tart cranberries and a pumpkin pie with a thick sugar cap, the sink will also be piled high with dishes, there will be socks scattered around the house that the dog has chewed and I’ll be lucky if the kids have brushed their hair. But I’m happy and giving thanks for a bustling kitchen and a house filled with people I love.

This time of year is so busy, the endless tasks can so easily choke out the joy and quite frankly the purpose of all the celebrating in the first place. I hope for all of us that the moment we start to feel overwhelmed we’ll order a pre-cooked turkey, or whatever that may look like for all of us. I’ll forgive myself for the lack of Christmas garnish around the house or unmade beds if it means that I’m digging deeper into the peace, hope, and joy that this season seeks to bring us.

Ashley Rodriguez

Food Blogger,

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Summer, we taste you near!

In a true bit of parenting hypocrisy, I’m encouraging, rather, pleading with my children to finish the school year strong while I’m staying up with the sun, ditching work to feel its warmth on my skin, and sneaking away to tuck into the raspberry bushes to taste what to me is summer boiled down into one sweet, tart bite.

“Only one more week of school!” I tell them, hoping that that’ll be the boost they need to finish with a smile on their faces, rather than the moans and groans I hear as I attempt to motivate them out of bed. Meanwhile, I’m still in bed with the lingering scent of smoke from the fire we sat around while staying up far too late on a school night the evening before.

Summer, what we’re saying is, we are so ready for you. We’re ready for your long days, your leisurely activities, and the way you manage to change our priorities so that much of our day can be spent outside. I’m ready for the garden you help me grow, the camping trips you inspire, and the food that sweetens and softens in your heat. I always romanticize you when you first appear. Of course I do know that shortly, with three kids at home, there will be the “I’m boooooored” chorus singing its familiar tune, but I’m choosing to ignore that reality and live in the delight of a new season.

The newness of the nearly summer days have all of us delighted by what’s growing. The kids, without prompting, headed to the garden to pluck the first of the raspberries off the vines, with plans of raspberry ice cream. Their plans never made it to the freezer, as we (mostly me) ate the whole bowl. With the few leftover berries I found this morning, I made my girl what I proclaimed to be the best sandwich of her life – mascarpone slathered between two pieces of seedy bread, and studded with fresh raspberries that practically turned to jam under the weight of its top cover. It was my little way of saying, “Summer is nearly here. Finish strong.” I’m telling myself that too.

Ashley Rodriguez
Award-winning food blogger
Author of Date Night In
Recipe: Fresh Raspberry Scones

This recipe has been made no fewer than a hundred times in our house. These shortcakes are our scones, the cobbler on top of our baked fruit, and sometimes, with the addition of herbs or cheese, savory biscuits to accompany dinner.

The trick here is not to overwork the dough. It’s a very crumbly mass once it comes out of the bowl, but that’s why the finished texture is so light and tender. Don’t knead the dough together, but rather press it until it just holds. This dough can be made by hand, in a food processor, as it is written, or in a stand mixer.

Makes 8 shortcakes

Adapted from Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez


2 cups / 270 g all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)

1⁄2 cup / 115 g unsalted butter, diced into 1⁄2-inch cubes, chilled

1 cup / 240 ml plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided

1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons Turbinado or granulated sugar


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, if using. Pulse a few times to combine and break up any clumps.

2. Add the butter, scattering it over the flour. Pulse 15 times to break up the butter. The mixture will look sandy, with some larger pieces of butter throughout.

3. Pour 1 cup / 240 ml cream over the dough and pulse an additional 20 times. Add the raspberries and pulse just a couple more times to combine. The dough will look crumbly and dry.

4. Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface and use the palm of your hand to work the dough just until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, as this can make it tough. Gather the dough together into a 6- to 8-inch round (for making wedge-shaped scones) or a rectangle (for cutting out round biscuits).

5. Use a brush or your fingers to spread the remaining 2 tablespoons cream in an even layer on top. Sprinkle the extra sugar, if using, on top of the cream. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

7. Cut the dough into the desired shapes and then place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden along the edges.

8. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

9. These are best served the day they are baked. Unbaked dough can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Note: Often I make these by hand and simply grate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients with a cheese grater. From there I toss the butter and dry ingredients together, breaking up any large clumps with my hands, and then stir in the cream.

For extra flaky layers, give this dough 1 or 2 turns as you do in the Quick Puff Pastry recipe (page 19 of Date Night In).

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Pacific Northwest Salmon

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest it would seem that a love of salmon would be in my DNA, but unfortunately I didn’t fall for the Omega-3-filled fish until adulthood. Now I look forward to its bright pink flesh and eagerly hope that an appreciation for our region’s mascot will become engrained in my children.

Why? Well, because first (and this is always my priority when it comes to food) it’s delicious, delicate in flavor, far less “fishy” tasting than other fish, and lends itself to a wide variety of ingredients (like my Thai take on Salmon Chowder in this issue’s recipe). Also, it’s incredibly nutritious, particularly if you enjoy wild salmon, which is lower in fat and calories than farmed salmon and is higher in iron, potassium, and zinc.rowing up in the Pacific Northwest it would seem that a love of salmon would be in my DNA, but unfortunately I didn’t fall for the Omega-3-filled fish until adulthood. Now I look forward to its bright pink flesh and eagerly hope that an appreciation for our region’s mascot will become engrained in my children.

In the summertime, when the grill is always at the ready, I love to slather my salmon with mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt, and a good bit of lemon. Now, I realize that that sort of treatment may negate all the health benefits of salmon, but those concerns melt away as the sugar caramelizes, the lemon brightens and the mayonnaise creates a rich sauce, coating the perfectly flaked salmon. This time of the year salmon makes a healthful addition to a hearty and warming soup.

Chowder isn’t often thought of as health food, but this version uses coconut milk as its base instead of cream and is scented with lemongrass, ginger, and lime leaves (lime zest works in a pinch if lime leaves are too hard to find). To put this soup over the top, we finish with a piece of salmon skin crisped in a hot skillet and seasoned with salt. The perfect crunch to this satisfying soup.

No matter the season, salmon is a great place to start for a simple, healthful, and delicious weeknight meal.

by Ashley Rodriquez
Chef, food blogger, & full-time mom



Serves 4 to 6


2 tablespoons oil

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, large dice

2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed and cut into 3-inch pieces

10 kaffir lime leaves

1 quart chicken stock

1 can ( 13.5 ounces) coconut milk

8 ounces salmon, skin removed (but save for later), cut in 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

For serving: Cilantro Lime wedges Crisped salmon skin


Set a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.

Sauté the mushrooms until deeply bronzed, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Stir in the tomato, bell pepper, lime leaves and lemongrass. Cook until the tomatoes soften and release their juice and the bell peppers start to wilt.

Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring the whole pot to a simmer. Reduce the heat to keep a steady simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the salmon, fish sauce and lime juice and cook for just a minute or two, until the salmon is just cooked. It will continue to cook with the residual heat so be mindful of that.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. I tend to like the soup very bright and sour so you may want to start with a bit less fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. To crisp up the salmon skin add a small splash of oil to a large cast iron pan or skillet. Add the salmon skin to the pan set over medium high heat and cook until the sizzling steadies and decreases. Flip and do the same to the other side, about 3 minutes per side. Add a small pinch of salt to the skin. Cook until crisp.

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Meat – The Way It Was Meant To Be

A few years ago, I was invited by the director, Robert Kenner, to attend a screening of Food, Inc., in Los Angeles. This invitation was all thanks for my brother who filmed much of the movie. I jumped at the opportunity to see the film.

What struck me the most while viewing the film is that food works best if we let it do what it was created to do. Tomatoes left to ripen on the vine are sweeter, have a much greater nutritional value and a flavor that cannot even compare to the tomatoes that were plucked while still green and left to ripen on the truck while in transit. The same goes for cows.

Cows were created to eat grass. Their digestive systems were designed to consume grass and yet lately, due to ease, cost and control, many cows are being fed grain. Now we all know that grain, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but when cows start eating something other than grass things start to go wrong.

As things have started to go wrong for cows because of their unnatural diet, science has solved the problem by creating antibiotics that combat the diseases that arise. Rather than solving the problem by changing their diet, which would eliminate the need for antibiotics, we are now consuming meat from “cows that are essentially being kept alive by drugs” (

So now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the benefits of grass-fed beef. For me the most important part is that it just plain tastes better. Richer, meatier and more complex in flavor. But there are other reasons as well. “The animal itself thrives because it is getting the food it was designed to eat and it converts that food to muscle and fat that is higher in minerals, vitamins, CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in cholesterol and fat” ( Even though grass-fed beef isn’t injected with antibiotics you have a much lower risk of getting diseases associated with beef such as E-Coli and Mad Cow Disease.

To learn more about this and in general where our food comes from, I can’t recommend the film Food, Inc. enough. Also, any of Michael Pollen’s best-selling books, like the Omnivores Dilemma, provide a very thorough look into the world behind the food on our plate.

In the meantime, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity to purchase and enjoy grass-fed beef. Not only can you eat it in good conscience but you will be thrilled with the wonderful taste that comes from cows that eat a diet they were created for.

by Ashley Rodriquez, Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.

You can read more of her writings at