Archive for the ‘Local Food News’ Category

A Veggie Carb is a Healthy Carb

Friday, November 13th, 2015

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Eat healthy carbs. This advice is often given to athletes and couch potatoes alike, but sometimes it is hard to know which carbohydrates to choose. Fall is a great time to enjoy your healthy carbs in the form of roasted vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Popular and nutritious vegetables for roasting include:

  • Beets – good source of folate
  • Brussels sprouts – good source of vitamins C and K
  • Carrots – good source of vitamins A and C
  • Onions – contain bioflavonoid anti-oxidants and allicin (anti-tumor compound)
  • Parsnips – good source of Vitamins C and K and fiber
  • Potatoes (skin on) – good source of vitamins B, C, folate, and niacin and potassium
  • Rutabagas – good source of vitamin C
  • Sweet potatoes – good source of vitamins A,B6 and C and potassium
  • Turnips – contain vitamin C
  • Winter squash – good source of vitamin A

The roasted vegetables in the photo include beets, parsnips, turnips, onions, butternut squash, and carrots. They were seasoned with olive oil and dried herbs and roasted at 425° until soft. Simply in Season, a cookbook that celebrates local foods, suggests a ratio of 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp dried herbs (or 3 tbsp fresh) to 6-8 cups cut up vegetables. They suggests varying the vegetables used, but including at least one sweet vegetable (carrot, sweet potato or parsnip) and one stronger flavored vegetable such as turnip or rutabaga.

Have fun experimenting and be sure to share what works well for you!

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

An apple a day…

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

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In my recipe box is a mimeographed recipe attached with yellowed tape to a file card. It is the first recipe that was “mine,” and it comes from my seventh grade home economics class way back in 1967! When the ripe apples arrive each fall, this Apple Crisp recipe still gets the call to spice up our meals.

Apples are a consumer friendly fruit. They are convenient to carry around for snacks and lunches. In the refrigerator they store and keep well, and they will even stay fresh for a day or so in a fruit bowl at room temperature. A wide variety of preparations are possible from salads to desserts to side dishes.

Two of the ways I like to use apples as a side dish are:

  • Waldorf salad – cut up apples, halved red grapes, chopped celery, chopped walnuts or pecans, and some dressing (I use mayonnaise thinned with a little milk and lightly sweetened)
  • Sautéed apples – sliced apples sautéed in a little butter, lightly sweetened with maple syrup and seasoned with a sprinkle of cinnamon

The health benefits of apples are amazing, and support the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A 2004 review from Cornell University looked at how the phytochemicals (natural plant based chemicals) in apples affect disease risk. Apple intake was associated with decreased risk for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, asthma, and type II diabetes. In one study of overweight, middle-aged women in Brazil apples were even associated with weight loss. Apples are a good source of fiber (about 4 grams per apple), including soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels.

The phytochemicals in apples (called flavonoids) are concentrated in the peel, so whenever possible include the peels in your preparation, as in the examples above. The concentration of beneficial phytochemicals differs among types of apples. Fuji and Red Delicious apples are two varieties with the highest levels.

Now, back to my treasured childhood recipe. Recently I have been substituting Quaker oats for the flour, and if I slice the apples thinly, I can leave the peels on. I also often add some chopped nuts to the topping. Please share any variations that you try!

Apple Crisp

Peel and slice: 2 apples
Season with: 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Work with pastry blender into crumbs:

¼ c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. light brown sugar (packed)
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. cinnamon

Place the sliced apples into 6” pie tin. Spread crumbs over apples evenly. Bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes or until tender.
Serve hot or cold, plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Tomato Canning Time

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Tomato canning time is one of my favorite times of year. Growing up, I remember hot summer nights with the Cincinnati Reds on the radio and the luscious smell of boiling tomatoes as emblematic of “full summer”…but also a pre-cursor of “back-to-school.” Now I live in Northern New England and tomato canning time comes a few weeks later. Now it’s cool late summer nights and the Red Sox on the HDTV, but the tomatoes still smell the same and a new school year is on the way!

Yesterday I transformed 25 pounds of tomatoes from Meadowstone Farminto a cupboard full of pint jars of cut up tomatoes. These will make their tasty way into our winter pasta sauces, chilis, and other casseroles.

Canning tomaotes is an end of summer ritual that I love, but it has to be done with care to ensure a safe product. Agriculture has given us lower acid tomatoes, so today’s tomatoes need to be processed in a pressure canner or with added acid. (I use lemon juice.) My guidebook for home canning has always been Putting Food By by Janet Greene. You can also check with your local county extension service for up to date advice on home canning. (To find your local office search “county extension office” along with your state’s name.)

Cooked tomatoes can also be frozen, and the acidity level is not important for freezing. I like to cook the tomatoes, cool them, and then pack them into quart or 1/2 gallon freezer bags. (Label the bags before filling.) You can lay these flat in the freezer and just pop them out to use as needed during the winter. I sometimes make some nice sauce while the fresh tomatoes, onions, and basil are in season and freeze for later use. The best sauce I ever made happened by accident! Our indoor cat, Callie, escaped outside while I was cooking down some sauce. While we were looking for her the sauce scorched  on the bottom of the pan. I stirred it all together, scorched bits and all, and that winter we all agreed that “Callie’s Smoky Tomato Sauce” made the best pasta dishes ever!

Hope you enjoy “putting food by” this summer and fall, and enjoy savoring your work during winter’s cold months.

Go local!

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

My book club just enjoyed a local food snack feast in honor of our July book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracleby Barbara Kingsolver. We enjoyed a lively discussion of this story of one family’s attempts to eat locally for one year and also sampled the local foods each member brought. We toasted each other with wine from a local vineyard.  Then we tasted fresh radishes in red, white, and purple from a local farm stand. We had homemade rhubarb crisp and raspberries (and slivers of fresh raspberry pie!) from one member’s own garden. From another local farm we had dill chevre (goat cheese) and fresh carrots and cauliflower. The best treat was the dilly beans (like dill pickles made with green beans) that were grown AND canned by one of our group!
Now I am vacationing in North Carolina and we are going crazy with the great local foods. The peaches are the stars – juicy and sweet in a sumptuous way that New Englanders seldom get to taste. We, of course, are enjoying local fish and seafood for our entrees. We have also been eating our fill of local corn, cantaloupes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and blueberries. We have found some local farm stands and smaller markets that carry items from nearby.
For your next summer party why not consider a local foods theme? This is the ideal season! And, as you travel this summer and fall, keep your eyes open for local farm stands and signs for farmers’ markets. It’s a flavorful (and nutritious!) way to absorb some local color!
Check out http://www.localharvest.org/ to find sources for delicious local foods.

Spring’s First Crops

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

What an exciting time for local food enthusiasts! Spring is here, it’s time to plant, and farmers’ markets are opening for the season’s business! One of spring’s first offerings is rhubarb. The reddish stalks of the rhubarb plant are delicious when sweetened and made into pies, crisps, or sauces. The tannins and oxalates in rhubarb give it a characteristic tart, “puckery” flavor. Try making a simple rhubarb sauce. Cut stalks into 1″ pieces and place in a sauce pan. Add water to cover most of the pieces – enough to keep them from burning. Heat to boiling and then cut back to simmer until soft and mushy. Add sugar or artificial sweetener to taste. Good with breakfast, anywhere you would use applesauce, or as a topping for ice cream. Visit www.ediblewhitemountains.com for recipes using rhubarb in a variety of sweet and savory foods.

Garlic scapes are another early spring offering from local farmers. Scapes are the stems from hard-necked varieties of garlic, and they are removed in order to encourage good bulb growth. They have a garlicky flavor and can be chopped and used in potato salads, stir-fries, or mashed potatoes. You can also make a garlic pesto by using the scapes in place of basil.

Reference: Freeman, Barbara. “Rhubarb’s Versatility.” and Garcia, Lisa. “Savor the Spring Scapes of Garlic.” Edible White Mountains, Spring 2010, Issue 4; Simply in Season (see “Favorites” page)