From the Farmer DC CSA

From the Farmer Part III

I had a glorious start to the day yesterday because I received my last summer basket from From the Farmer!

Take a look at yesterday’s delivery:

Washington DC CSA

I know I showed this last month, but let’s compare August’s basket to June and July’s baskets.

June vs July CSA Delivery

These pictures illustrate why I love eating local, seasonal foods. Very few of the items in one month’s basket are found in the next. I received red beets in both June and August. In June, I received a cucumber and red potatoes, and then received a cucumber and white potatoes in July. In both July and August, I received peaches and corn. But really, that is all the overlap between months! (I thought about making a Venn Diagram to help explain, but that seemed complicated.) It has been great receiving these baskets over the past few months and seeing how local summer food in the DC area changes so much in just one season.

Oh, and did I mention that all this food has been ripe, fresh, and delicious? Another great benefit of a CSA and supporting local foods: the produce is picked and harvested when it is ripe since there is a smaller transit time between farm and consumer. This is much better to preserve flavor and nutrients.

Have I convinced you to support local food yet? If yes, don’t forget to try out From the Farmer using the code LOCALCHRONICLES to get 25% off three baskets!

Anyways, back to the bounty.

Malabar Spinach

From the Farmer DC CSA

When was the last time you saw spinach still on the stem? This was new to me! I’ve already used some of this in a salad for dinner last night. I love that spinach is so flavorful with minimal prep.

 Sugar Baby Watermelon

DC CSA Local Food

I didn’t make that name up. I also didn’t know there were different names for watermelon! And ignore the alien-looking beet in the bottom right corner. Aaron and I made a delicious watermelon frozen slushy earlier this summer using basil. Surprisingly refreshing! Maybe I’ll experiment with new flavors and herbs (mint?).

Summer Rambo Apples

DC CSA

Might be time to remind you of my first post ever on this blog: cinnamon-spiced apple chips!

Sweet Corn

DC CSA

I love fresh summer corn. Maybe I’ll remake my Grilled Corn & Shrimp Bisque?

Heirloom Tomatoes

DC CSA

Also on my salad last night! Delicious as is, but I could be tempted to cook with the right recipe…

Yellow Peaches

DC CSA

Grilled peaches, anyone? Now if only I knew the easy way to cut a peach in half and remove the pit…

Mixed Beets

DC CSA

When I saw that I would receive beets from the delivery preview email, I got excited. Then I saw this rodent-shaped beet and freaked out a bit.

From the Farmer Beet

Suggestions for non-rodent shaped beet recipes? I’ve already snapped off the “tail” so it would stop scaring me.

Mixed Summer Squash

DC CSA Local Food

I should make my Oven-Baked Zucchini Fries again! Have you tried them yet?

Mixed Peppers

From the Farmer DC CSA

So cute, a simple colorful garnish, and a great snack.

By this point, you know the drill. Let me know your recipe suggestions! If you are interested in trying out From the Farmer yourself, use the code LOCALCHRONICLES to get 25% off three baskets!

Disclaimer: This basket was provided courtesy of From the Farmer in exchange for a post. The thoughts and ideas in this post are uniquely mine.

Natural Collage 2

Natural Processed Foods- Is That an Oxymoron?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I won a $20 gift card to Abe’s Market. I was excited because a) I never win anything and b) they have a ton of products that I never tried before. So at random, I went through Abe’s inventory and chose lots of very new/unfamiliar food items, but items that I knew I’d use. $28 organic foot scrubs did not make the cut.

My shipment came in quickly, and packaged in this sweet box, asking you to reuse and not just trash.

Abe's Market Trial

If only I knew how to make a castle!

So far, I have tried:

Kur Cacao Mint Raw Date & Nut Bar (0.88 fl oz)

Kur Raw Chocolate Bar This treat was good, not amazing. But it does get props for having all raw, organic ingredients. But it was also $1.99/bar. So there’s that. It was a treat, but will not become my new afternoon snack.

Ancient Harvest Wheat Free Veggie Curls (8 oz)

Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Pasta

This may come as a surprise but this was my first time making gluten-free pasta. Why? Because I don’t have celiac’s. These curls were cute and I love the simplicity of the ingredients panel, but I think I overcooked my pasta. I’d try again (and I will, I bought 2 other types of gluten free pasta), but I’ll have to be a bit quicker to pull it off the stove.

Santa Fe BBQ Dryglaze (2 oz)

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

This was reaallllly good. Again, simple ingredients and the seasoning pack is easy to use. I purchased pork tenderloin yesterday and all I had to do was brush the pork with oil and then coat with the seasoning. I left it in the fridge to marinate while I went to the gym and when I got back, threw it on the grill, turning once. Easy peazy. This one I’d probably recommend most of the three items I’ve tried so far.

Overall, I have had a great experience with Abe’s Market, though the cost of some items may be a deterrent. Since I’ve joined the website, however, they have always been running some sort of special. Like right now, you can get 25% off and free shipping over $29. Not a bad time to try it out!

Anyways, as I talk about all of this fun, new food, did you ever think to yourself, “Wait, these foods made with natural ingredients are still processed. Are they still good for me?”

“Natural” is such an interesting marketing claim. It probably started out with great intentions to describe foods that contain only real food and no artificial ingredients. But then the food marketers got smart and realized that the FDA does not have a legal definition for “natural” and started using it all over the place. Natural potato chips? Come on.

When I learned about the “natural” controversy, I stopped looking at the front of labels and started looking at the ingredients panel on the back. I know I constantly promote whole, real foods and hope by now you realize I prefer to cook from scratch. I know not everyone is like me and finds cooking cathartic, but instead might find it stressful! When that is the case, then it is great to make sure you know the ingredients in your processed foods.

Here is how Abe’s describes their definition of “natural” on their website,

“The general rule: If a 12-year-old can’t pronounce something, assume it to be an unacceptable ingredient. And some specifics:

  • Nothing artificial. (No artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings and preservatives.)
  • No hydrogenated fats.
  • Non or minimally processed.”

I love that general rule- as an alumna of biochem, I can read pretty much any processed food label (not to say that I know what all the ingredients are). But if I gave a label to any of my younger cousins, how long would it take them to sound it out?

I think it is great to eat whole foods and Abe’s Market guidelines are pretty helpful to make the right decisions in the supermarket. This post may be misleading, because I don’t think foods need to be raw (Kur bar) or gluten-free (veggie curls) to be healthy; I chose these items because they are normally more expensive and I had a gift card! At the end of the day, I recommend that you stick with foods that have simple and easy to understand rather than pick an item for the health claim on the front of the package. So is “natural processed” foods an oxymoron? No, but don’t be fooled by marketing!

What are your thoughts on “natural”? How do you determine what is a healthy processed food and what is not?

Healthy Side Dish

Zucchini Fries and Postage Stamps

Random title, right? Reminds me of song titles from my emo-phase in high school (Jude Law and a Semester Abroad, anyone?). But yesterday had both zucchini fries and postage stamps with one thing in common, farmers’ markets.

At work, I was fortunate to join in the celebration of the unveiling of the new farmers’ market postage stamps by the US Postal Service.

Farmers Market USPS

So pretty!

USPS

The unveiling of these stamps took place at the “Get Fresh Festival,” which hoped to encourage low-income DC residents to visit farmers’ markets. Did you know that there are lots of farmers’ markets that accept federal benefits (e.g. SNAP/food stamps, Medicaid, WIC)? Even better, there are some government and nonprofit groups that help to double these benefit dollars when used at farmers’ markets. For example, seniors enrolled in SNAP not only can use their dollars to purchase fresh and local fruits and vegetables, but can also visit certain farmers’ markets and receive bonus dollars when they shows their benefits card. I love that this system encourages and rewards recipients to use federal benefits for healthy and local food!

Farmers Market

I also love being able to meander around a farmers’ market during work! I get such a feeling of community when I visit a market. Plus, sometimes there are samples :)

Anyways, last weekend I visited my neighborhood farmers’ market and purchased a whole bunch of zucchini, on sale for $1/lb! Yay for seasonal eating! But now, what to do with lots of zucchini?

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I used some of the zucchini for a fast and filling dinner on Wednesday.

Breakfast for Dinner

All I did was sauté a zucchini and onion with fresh thyme, and then top with fried eggs. Breakfast for dinner!

Last night, I made a new tasty and easy side dish- Oven-Baked Zucchini Fries.

Healthy Vegetarian Side Dish

Delicious! I worried they wouldn’t be crispy enough, but the coating worked out. I didn’t even have to flip them midway, a super low maintenance recipe. I recommend you take advantage of zucchini season and make these fries while these squash are cheap and flavorful…and go!

Healthy Side Dish

Oven-Baked Zucchini Fries
Ingredients
1 large or 2 small zucchinis
1 egg
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (about 2 slices of bread processed in food processor)
2 twigs thyme
Olive oil spray

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.
2. Slice zucchini into spears. I cut one zucchini in half, then sliced each end into 6 spears (12 total).
3. Mix thyme and bread crumbs in a small shallow dish. Beat egg in a separate shallow dish.
4. Dip each zucchini spear in the egg, then coat in the bread crumbs. Place on the baking tray and repeat for all zucchini spears.
5. Bake zucchini in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until crispy. Serve immediately and enjoy!