By: Leanne Ely
There are two types of grocery store shoppers in the world. There are those who navigate the exterior of the market, list in hand, confidently reaching for fresh ripe produce, organic meats, probiotic dairy items and other healthy exotic ingredients. They stand at the check out, proud of the items they’ve selected, ignoring the strategically placed candy bars next to the magazines.
Then, there are the shoppers who spend a great deal of time in the freezer section, focusing on convenience and price over nutrition. Those carts are full of packaged foods, “fat-free” this and “sugar-free” that . . . foods full of GMOs and empty calories. There might be some apples, carrots or potatoes, but above that, these carts are generally sparse of produce.
When convenience shoppers find themselves behind healthy shoppers at the check out, they may have shopping cart envy. They might wish they knew what half of those healthy items are and what they would do with them if they had the courage to buy them. They may also be aware that their own cart is being quietly judged by the healthy shopper in line behind them.
Yes, there are generally two types of shoppers, though they may be at various extremes of this convenience vs. healthy spectrum. If you find yourself suffering from cart envy and are trying to get yourself closer to being that healthy shopper, first of all, hats off to you. You should be proud of yourself for wanting to buy healthier foods for you and your family because you recognize that the convenience foods are not contributing to your well being.
If you want to be the one making other shoppers envious of your cart, just go ahead and make the decision to cut out the packages. When you commit to preparing your family’s meals from scratch, you naturally have to bulk up on fresh ingredients because you will no longer be able to rely on those processed foods.
We make eating like this EASY with our brand new Dinner Answers. (Lucky for you, our Dinner Answers membership is on sale right now!) Everyone in the store will be envying your shopping cart!
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
Unless you have grown a fruit or vegetable yourself, in your own organic veggie patch, I would hope that you’re giving your produce a good thorough wash before eating it.
There are a couple of good reasons why you should be washing your fruits and vegetables- even organic produce.
First of all, you really don’t know where that food has been. There can be nasty little bacteria critters in the soil that grows your food, the water that is used to hydrate the plants, on the hands of the people who harvest your food, on the hands of the super market workers who put the foods out to be sold, in the grocery cart you place the foods in, on your hands when you take the foods out of their bags and so on and so forth. Ingesting this bacteria could quite possibly lead to food poisoning and nobody wants that.
Then there are the chemicals. If you’re buying foods that are not organic, you definitely need to clean them well before putting them in your mouth. And I don’t mean just giving a quick rinse under the tap. You need to give that food a seriously good scrub.
How to properly wash fruits and vegetables
The folks at the FDA suggest that running water over your fruits and veggies, and using a brush to scrub cucumbers and melons and other tougher skinned foods is all you need to do to prepare your produce. But I think we need to go a tad further than that by cleaning our produce with a simple homemade fruit and veggie wash.
All you need is a solution of water and white vinegar – equal parts – and a regular old spray bottle.
For soft skinned veggies and fruits, soak them in the solution of vinegar and water for a couple of minutes and then give them a good rinse. For hard-skinned veggies and fruits, spritz them with the solution of vinegar and water, rub that solution in with a scrub brush, and rinse.
This combo of vinegar and water works to dissolve any pesticides and/or waxy residue from the skins of your produce.
You can find commercial products that will do the same thing, but I personally like to just mix up my own fruit and veggie wash.
After you wash all that produce, choose a recipe from our new Dinner Answers and make something delicious tonight!
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Isn’t that great?
Today’s focus is on: CAULIFLOWER
Also known as Cabbage Flower, cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family of veggies, well-known for their cancer fighting capabilities. Mon petit chou means (in French, chou is pronounced “shoe”) “my little cauliflower” and is a term of endearment! How do you like that?
Here’s today’s TRICK:
Take the stem off your cauliflower and keep it in an opened plastic bag in the fridge. It will last a good week, maybe longer!
And here’s a TIP:
To tone down the smell of cauliflower cooking, add a few celery seeds or some celery leaves to your cooking water. It won’t pick up the celery’s flavor, but it will certainly tame the smell!
And your RECIPE:
Bacon and Cauliflower Stir-Fry
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large shallot, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 large avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups baby spinach
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until dark brown and very crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, shallot, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly tender. In a large bowl, combine bacon, cauliflower mixture and avocados.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice and olive oil; pour mixture over bacon/cauliflower stir-fry. Serve stir-fry over a bed of baby spinach.
Want more great recipes like this one? (you know you do!) check out our new Dinner Answers here!
By: Leanne Ely
I just love this time of year when those tender green leaves start shooting from the earth. There’s nothing like walking out to the garden with a pair of scissors and bringing in everything you need to make a fabulous salad for dinner.
If you’ve made the decision to plant your own organic vegetable garden this spring, I truly applaud you! If you have children, they are learning an unbelievably valuable lesson by seeing how much work it takes to get a tiny seed to grow into an edible plant.
Believe it or not, gardening isn’t as hard as you might think. Once you have a couple of basics under your belt, it really isn’t very hard. It takes a lot of work to tend to your garden, I won’t lie to you, but it’s well worth the effort (scout’s honor!).
Plus, growing your own organic vegetables is also a very economical way to feed your family the absolute highest quality food that you can and stretch your grocery dollar.
Here are the basic tricks and tips you need to start your own organic garden.
1. Gather your tools. You’re going to need a hoe, a pitch fork, a spade, a weeding tool and a trowel in order to plant your garden. You’ll also need a watering can and supplies to build a frame if you are going to do a raised bed rather than digging up the earth.
2. Buy organic seeds. Make sure you have a good quality source for organic seeds. This is especially important when it comes to corn, beets, soy beans, zucchini, yellow squash and alfalfa, which are some of the crops that are legally allowed to be genetically modified in the United States.
3. Start in organic soil. If you’re starting some of your seeds indoors (which should be done for herbs and some crops like tomatoes, peppers and leeks), use an organic starting mix to get the best start possible for your seeds. (Your seed packets will tell you which plants need to be started early.)
4. Make a bed. Three weeks before you’re ready to put your seeds in the ground, you’ll want to make your garden bed. The soil should be good and workable. The earth should be dry enough that it crumbles in your hand rather than clumps together. Dig your garden patch about 12 inches deep. Remove stones and weeds. Rake the soil on a regular basis over the next three weeks—this will help any weeds that want to make their way up do so before you plant your seeds. If you don’t want to dig a bed, you can make a raised garden. Measure the area of land you want to dedicate to your garden and put a layer of newspaper or cardboard down to prevent weeds from coming through the grass. Build a simple frame about 12 inches high around your garden, and fill that with soil.
5. Add compost. Add a good layer of organic compost to the top of your garden and rake it into the soil. You can buy organic compost from a local organic farmer, purchase it from a garden store or make your own out of kitchen scraps,. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer, and it’s very beneficial for the soil.
6. Grid or rows. Decide if you want to plant in trench style (which requires a hoe to make long furrows to plant in) or in a grid pattern. There’s no rule here. You can be as organized as you want to be.
7. Add water. Lightly moisten the soil before you plant your seeds. You don’t want the seeds to get swamped with water.
8. Plant. Read your seed packets to find out how to space your seeds and how deep to plant. Cover the seeds with a small amount of soil.
Until your seeds sprout, sprinkle water over the surface of your garden whenever it looks dry. A spray bottle is great for this, or a watering can will work but remember to only add a small amount of water.
Gardening vegetables is so rewarding and such a great thing to do with the kids. There’s something very primal about eating food you’ve grown with your very own hands.
Our New Dinner Answers will help you use all your produce, wherever it came from! Click here to read more!
By: Leanne Ely
Now that I have everyone talking Paleo, I thought the timing would be just right to talk about all of the delicious foods you can find in the wild, or right in your own backyard!
We have our ancestors to thank for figuring out that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, but the stalks are a wonderful source of fiber. That the flowers of a dandelion are too bitter to stomach, but their leaves are delicious. It took a lot of trial and error to discover that sweet, edible meat contained inside that ugly oyster shell and which mushrooms were safe for human consumption. They didn’t have a choice since food didn’t just appear in the grocery store like it does for us!
Food is easy for us to find nowadays, but with this huge Paleo movement sweeping the country, foraging for food has actually become rather trendy.
With spring finally here, this is the time to look for edible wild greens and mushrooms.
DISCLAIMER: Do your homework to find out what’s available and edible (i.e., non toxic) in your own neck of the woods. Please don’t rely on this blog post to identify what’s safe to eat and what is not. There are dozens of varieties of plants and mushrooms around Canada and the US and I don’t claim to be an expert on them all, so do your research!
Wild spring edibles
Here are some different types of edible foods you may find in the spring. This list will vary depending on where you live:
• Watercress. Find it in early spring right until late fall in marshy areas near streams and rivers. Can be eaten raw in salads.
• Morels. Find them in fields and forests. Black morels are found in early spring and white morels are found later in the season. Enjoy grilled or sauteed.
• Chanterelles. These beautiful golden mushrooms grow in the woods all summer long. Enjoy them sauteed in butter.
• Fiddleheads. Look for these alongside streams and forests. They are delicious sauteed in a frittata or just served as a side dish with some fresh fish.
• Wild leek. Found in woodlands early in spring and late in fall. Use them in soups and salads.
• Asparagus. Wild asparagus can be found in open fields, mid-spring until early summer.
• Dandelion greens. You can find dandelion greens just about anywhere! Read more about the nutritional value of dandelion greens and about how to enjoy them.
• Stinging nettle. You can find stinging nettle throughout the spring. Harvest them before their flowers appear. Nettle can be used as an herb or eaten as greens.
• Oxeye daisy. Did you know you can eat the unopened flower buds of the ordinary old daisy? Sauteed with some wild garlic and other wild edibles, they make an interesting side dish.
• Wild garlic. You can find wild garlic growing in damp woodlands. It looks like lily of the valley, but when you smell the edible leaves of the plant, you’ll know you have garlic on your hands. Literally! Eat the leaves raw or cooked.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to catch trout from a nearby stream, collect dulse or kelp from the sea shore or gather wild strawberries from the roadside.
There’s a free grocery store right outside your door!
Remember to only harvest these edibles from places you’re confident have not been treated with pesticides. Even then, when you feel the food is safe to eat, give everything a very good wash.
Okay, UNCLE!! We listened! And yes, we’ve extended our sale on our New Dinner Answers! Forage away! 😉 Click here for details!