What the heck is a root vegetable, and why did my pee turn pink?!

OK, lets just get this out of the way…not all vegetables grow above ground.  I know, you are shocked!  Really though, it’s true.  Carrots, Potatoes, Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Onions, Parsnips, and many others are roots…yup, and you eat them!  Beware of the dirt…it’s dirty…and your food comes from there…ooooooo…it’s like a Halloween nightmare!!!

Ok, seriously though, this stuff is delicious and you should try them.  I promise it’s not scary!  There are many ways to cook them, but my favorite is to roast them because they get just soft enough on the inside, but not mushy.  I also leave all of the skins on because they hold valuable nutrients, and there is really no point in removing them if you are buying chemical free and you rinse the dirt off.

This is probably a good time to give you my beet disclaimer: Beets are sweet and delicious and totally worth it, but be careful because they are red and they will stain everything, including clothes, cutting boards, your other ingredients, and your skin, so rinse your hands often when you are chopping them, or you will be pink!  Also, don’t freak out the day after you eat them…what goes in pink comes out pink…you are not having a medical emergency and doctors WILL laugh at you if you make an appointment for beet pee!

Here is a basic recipe to get you started, but you can experiment with other seasonings and vegetables and see what you like.  There will be many more recipes to come as we are entering the fall/winter market season!

Roasted Root Vegetables & Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1-2 large beets
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 large carrots
  • 12 brussels sprouts cut in half (not a root vegetable, but delicious, no matter what the other kids tell you!)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cube your vegetables to your liking, but keep them all about the same size so that they cook evenly.  I usually just cut the brussels sprouts in half.
  3. Toss the veggies with enough olive oil to lightly coat them and then toss in your herbs and spices.
  4. Spread the veggies out on a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook for about 20 mins at 350 degrees.
  5. Depending on the thickness they may need a little more time, but toss them again and try one so you don’t over cook.  They should be soft on the inside but still hold their form and not be mushy.

Kanye’s got nothin’ on these guys!

I have some fairly eclectic music tastes, but I am not normally drawn to a lot of rap.  I have to say though, when it comes from a group of cute British organic farmers with a message…I’m sold!  Check out this great video from Yeo Valley, complete with a hip hoppin’ hootie owl, a tractor doing some sweet wheelies, and yeah, did I mention the cute farmers?  🙂

Kids learn nutrition through math

Check this out!  Joy Moore is an elementary school teacher who incorporates nutrition and label reading into her math lessons.  I love it, especially the part where she makes them all fresh smoothies as a reward for a job well done!  Seriously, smoothies are pretty motivating 🙂

Pumpkins…not just for carving anymore

When I was a kid, the only time I thought about pumpkins was around Halloween when we would carve them.  Although that was great fun, I now enjoy all of the yummy pumpkin goodness that cooks up in my kitchen!  Pumpkin pie, stuffed and roasted pumpkin, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, and today, PUMPKIN BUTTER!!!  Oh my goodness, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing my apartment smells right now!

I first tried pumpkin butter at Lyman Orchards when I was still living in Connecticut and it got me hooked, but absolutely no store-bought (even if from a farm) can compare to homemade.  The smell alone is pure heaven!  You cook it down for about 6 hours in a slow-cooker, so you get to enjoy it all day long.

You could put pumpkin butter on pretty much anything.  Try it on toast, scones, muffins, a sandwich, or as a glaze.  If you eat pork, I bet it would be great on a pork chop (sustainably raised of course) 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 Pie Pumpkins (typically about 6 inches in diameter, not big carving pumpkins)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 2 cups sugar
  1. Cut your pumpkins in half and scoop out the guts.  Be sure to save the seeds as you will want to roast them later because they are super delicious
  2. Steam the pumpkins for about 15 mins.  I had to do mine in 2 batches because my steamer wasn’t large enough.  You can let them cool for a minute and then the pumpkin should separate right out of the skin.
  3. Puree the pumpkin.  An immersion blender works great, but you could also use a food processor or a  hand mixer.  It may be too thick for a standard blender
  4. Add the pumpkin puree, sugar and spices to your slow-cooker and stir together.  Cook on low with the lid cracked open for about 6 hours.  You want it to cut down to about half of the original amount.
  5. Stir every now and then…you don’t really have to, but I guarantee that the smell won’t allow you not to taste it, so I’m giving you permission now.  🙂

Due to the low acid level in pumpkin butter it is not recommended that you can it for preserving, but it freezes excellently, so put it in your mason jars and store in the back of your freezer for when you want it.  An open jar will store for a few weeks in the fridge.

Vegetarian Chili – perfect for a cold fall day

One of my favorite things about fall is being able to come home out of the cold rain to an apartment smelling of chili in the slow cooker.  As Ron Popeil would say, “set it and forget it!” haha…no, seriously though…I still really want his food dehydrator.
Anyway, here is my new favorite vegetarian chili that I made this weekend.  It is super hearty, making it satisfying for vegetarians and carnivores alike.  Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • 10 plum tomatoes (roasted), or 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup bulk black beans or 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup bulk white beans or 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup bulk red kidney beans or 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup bulk baby lima beans or 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • 2 ears of corn (corn sliced off the ear), or 1 1/3 cups frozen corn
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 minced jalapeno
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper
  • 1/3 cup wheat berries
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste

If you are using bulk beans, soak them overnight in the fridge.  Also soak the wheat berries overnight in the fridge.

combine all ingredients up to and including the cayenne red pepper in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.

With about an hour left on the timer, add your wheat berries to the slow cooker and stir.

About 20 minutes before serving, chop the sweet potato and toss in the olive oil with a little salt for seasoning.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until tender, tossing after about 10 minutes.

serve chili with chopped cilantro over the sweet potato and enjoy 🙂

How happy are you with your Happy Meal?

A friend sent me this article today and I thought readers might be interested.  Just another reason to avoid McDonalds.  Think about it…food is supposed to rot and break down.  If it doesn’t, is it really food?  The article notes that the hamburger feels like plastic and seems completely preserved.  Imagine what your body must go through in order to breakdown and digest something like that.  If the energy it takes to digest the food is more than the energy you get from the nutrients in the food, it is worth it?  This is the reason we feel sluggish and tired after eating food with little nutritional value.  It is a simple efficiency equation!

I’ll go back to the food is fuel discussion.  If the true purpose of eating a meal is to fuel your body so that you have energy to do all of the things you want to do with your day, why eat something that is going to be counterproductive and put you in a food coma?  Many people will argue that it is because it tastes good, and I challenge that argument.  It doesn’t really taste good, it’s just that all of the salt and preservatives fool you into thinking that it does.  Once people learn how to cook for themselves and/or know where to buy good nutritious food on the go, they tend to find that the food tastes better and their bodies feel better too.

10-10-10: Happy Non-GMO Day!

Today was a special day for a lot of different reasons.  First there was the 10/10/10 Global Work Party organized by 350.org where people at 7,347 different events in 188 countries got to work on climate change.  Then there was The Portland Marathon where so many of my friends ran in the cold and the rain (I’m so proud of you all!!!).  And lastly, but more appropriate for this blog, today was the first ever official Non-GMO Day, and we already have things to celebrate!

The United States Court of Appeals upheld our (specifically OH citizens) right to know when there are GMO’s in our milk! For years now, conventional dairy farmers have increased yield in their dairy cattle through the use of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).  These growth hormones are similar to steroids and result in an average increased yield of 10-15%, but up to 40% in some cows. Hey, more production is always better, right?  Wrong!  These hormones have been proven to negatively impact the health of cows including bacterial infections (which mean more puss and antibiotics in your milk), hoof diseases, internal bleeding, and even deformed calves.  They also increase the levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 in the milk, which can lead to colon, prostate and breast cancer in humans.  Can you believe that the FDA actually allows this stuff on the market?!?!

For all of these reasons, it is so important that consumers have the right to choose.  Do you want to buy milk from sick cows?  Well apparently the US Appeals Court didn’t either, because even though tons of the lobbyists were fighting against labeling your milk for rBGH & rBST, they didn’t win, and that’s a huge win for us!!!

http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2010/09/organic_dairy_products_produce.html

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_3717.cfm

http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/dairy/