Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The ABCs of CSAs

Spring is almost here and that means we will once again be able to get organic fresh produce directly from some of our local farms! I'm sure most of you are familiar with farmer's markets, but have you heard of CSAs?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a fun way to get a variety of very fresh fruits and vegetables (and sometimes meat and dairy) from your local farmer. Essentially you buy a "share" of the farm and each week you get a box full of the produce that was just picked. It's a great way to support a local farm and also introduce your family to a larger variety of fruits and vegetables. 

At our home, each week is like an adventure when we unpack our box and explore the variety of fruits and vegetables we have for the week. Annie loves to pick the first thing we eat! It's fun to get kids excited by showing them the variety of colors in the box and encouraging them to try the new veggies they have not seen before. Some farms also offer tours... this is an awesome way to teach kids where their food comes from. What kid doesn't like to visit a farm?

If you're thinking about joining a CSA, many of the farms have local drop off locations near large cities. Here in Chicago, farms have drop off locations all over the city and suburbs. For those of you near me, I'm actually participating as a produce drop off site for Grass is Greener Gardens out of Monroe, Wisconsin. I can send you more info if you're interested. The Local Beet also has a full list of local farms offering CSAs. 

Most CSAs start deliveries in June, but now is a great time to sign up and reserve your spot! 

I know in our family, we are looking forward to spring and new adventures in organic local produce!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Red Lentils- Super Easy and Healthy!

Here’s a quick, inexpensive and very healthy vegetarian recipe we made earlier this week. In all honesty, I gave it to the kids “deconstructed” with the lentils on the side and the rice by itself. You can even leave out the spinach from the recipe if you want to keep it even simpler.

Red lentils are a great staple to have available in your pantry. They have a mild flavor, cook fast and are full of fiber, folate and iron. 

1 cup dried red lentils (can use canned too- just skip the lentil cooking part below)
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of chopped organic tomatoes
1 cup chopped frozen organic spinach (defrosted)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs turmeric
Splash of red wine vinegar

1. Cook the lentils over medium heat with 2 cups of water for about 10-15 minutes.
2. While lentils are cooking, sauté the garlic in the olive oil on low heat.
3. When lentils are just tender, add them to the oil and garlic. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach and spices. Let simmer for a few minutes until heated through. Stir in the splash of vinegar right before serving.
4. Serve over brown rice, whole wheat cous cous or quinoa.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Google Recipes... Another Awesome Update from Google

Google had done it again. They have launched another update to make all of our lives just that much easier. I'm particularly fond of this one because it has to do with food. 

It's a customized recipe search in Google! When you type a recipe in, you now can see a new section in the left column that gives you filter options for ingredients, cook time and calories. Want to make grilled salmon in 15 minutes or less with no butter, no problem! Just filter and go!

Google, you're awesome! Now if you could only come over and cook for us too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Rainbow Game

I think the number one question I get about kid’s nutrition is “How do I get my kids to eat more fruits or vegetables?” Well here’s an idea to get your picky little ones eating more pretty produce… play the rainbow game!

There are many variations, but the basics go like this… make a chart you can hang on the refrigerator. On the left hand side going down label the days of the week. On the top going across, label the colors of rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple). The object of the game is to have the kids try one or two new veggies each day. So on Monday when your little one tries something red, put a sticker on the chart where red and Monday meet and make a note of the new item… ie. “Raspberries”.  The object is to get the whole chart filled up and when that’s done, you can offer a little prize (like a little matchbox car etc…). You may want to combine blue and purple to make that category a little easier.

The kids will have fun filling in the chart and will enjoy it even more if you let them help pick the fruits and veggies in the store. The whole game becomes an adventure!

Here are some starter ideas for the colors:

Red: Apples, raspberries, cherries, red peppers, beets, cranberries, pomegranates, red potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, rhubarb, red cabbage
Orange: Apricots, peaches, pumpkin, other winter squash, mangos, carrots, sweet potato, papaya
Yellow: pineapple, yellow peppers, banana, yellow apples, lemons, pears, corn, yellow watermelon
Green: artichokes, broccoli, honeydew, zucchini, green onions, peas, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, asparagus
Blue: blueberries, blackberries, black currants
Purple: grapes, eggplant, purple heirloom potatoes

Plus there are so many more in the store and farmer’s markets. Be adventurous and have fun!