Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Seven Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food

Here are my top 7 quick tips on getting kids to eat healthy food!

 1.  Assure them that they don't have to like everything.  

Seriously!  As adults we don't like or eat everything that is put in front of us.  So, why do we expect our children to do so?  I always allowed my boys a couple of items that they really didn't care for.   They didn't get to make an issue of it or yell "yuck"!  But, they could quietly pass the green beans to the next person and just take seconds of something else if they wanted to.

2.  Give them the healthy stuff first.  

There is nothing wrong with letting them start out with fruit or raw veggies with healthy dip.  There is no rule that says you can't start a meal out with what they like and enjoy. 

3.  Give them healthy treats.  

Be careful that they don't get white flour, sugar, oil, and salt on a regular basis,  If you give them whole foods, they will develop a taste and prefer that to prepackaged junk.  It is so easy to make roasted chickpeas or homemade granola!

Try this!  Spread homemade hummus on a tortilla and top it with some fresh spinach or shredded romaine lettuce, fresh tomato slices, and a drizzle of salsa or homemade dressing.  Wrap it up tightly and then slice it into little rounds.  Kids will love it!  And it's good for them!

4.  Try it another way.  

If you have served green peas and they have responded with "yuck!", don't get frustrated and don't give up!  Make them green pea hummus!  If they ask for seconds, you might tell them that it contains green peas.  Have a talk about how amazing it is that when we first try a food, often we don't like it, but after a few different recipes, we find that we do, indeed like it!  If they still do not find green peas to be a taste sensation, it's not the end of the world.  Don't make food an issue!  Be patient.  Be kind.  Model good eating behaviors yourself.  I assure you that they will grow up to be like most of us:  enjoying a wide range of tastes and textures in food and finding that just a few are not our cup of tea. 

5. Give then reasonable portions.  

For a new food I always put just a couple of tablespoons on their plate.  If they wanted more, I was happy to oblige.  But, don't put so much on their plate that they could not possibly eat it all in one sitting and then get frustrated when they don't.  If my kids got half way through their meal and said they were full, I took their plate, wrapped it in plastic and replied, "Okay.  If you get hungry later, let me know and I'll heat it up for you."

6. Let them graze.  

As a new mom I adhered to a strict eating schedule.  No budging!  But, then I had my last baby at the age of 43.  By that time, I learned to pick my battles and eating by the clock wasn't one of them.  I had figured out that if I had some healthy food that I wanted them to eat, I just arranged it nicely on a plate or tray.  Raw veggies or fresh berries disappeared like magic.  If you feel like you need to, set some rules:  "We eat in the kitchen" or "We sit at the table".  By all means, if you have little ones who could choke on raw broccoli, then don't put the "grazing tray" at a level which they can reach.  We often got the "grazing tray" out at mid-morning.  My boys all knew that when 10:30am came it was snack time.  If I forgot, believe me, they reminded me. 

7.  Let them help cook.  

 I saved  most important tip for last.  A 2012 study from the University of Alberta showed that kids who cook are more likely to enjoy fruits and vegetables.  When my boys went to the store with me, they helped pick out produce.  We talked about how to tell if a melon is ripe.  We looked for peaches with no bruises.  We inhaled the aroma of ripe strawberries.  They got to pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try each week!  When we got home, they helped put the fruits and veggies away.  Later, we chopped, mixed, and cooked.  Allow your preschooler to arrange colorful raw veggies on a platter for dinner.  Let your 2 year old dump ingredients into the bowl and then mix the apple salad.  A three year old can slice bananas with a table knife.  Kids love spending time with you!  It may take a bit longer to do the shopping or cook the meal.  But, the dividends of quality family time are immeasurable!

*Special thanks and shout out to Kira and Nathan for the lovely photos of their children for this post!  

Happy eating! 


What did I miss?  

Add your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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Sunday, July 29, 2018

This Week's CSA Box: Mid Summer Magic!

I love being a CSA member!  There is an incredible thrill in picking up our weekly box.  It's like  getting a present:  you ever know what wonderful treats await you until you open the box and take out each fruit or vegetable one at a time and lay it on the table .  Then, I immediately begin to envision my menu plan for the week!

In this week's post we will focus on simple recipes, showcasing the fresh flavors of summer! 

Here's what we got!

Three summer squash - notice the three distinct colors!  This makes me super happy!
1 bunch of carrotts
Red potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Green peppers - I think 1 of them looks like a hot green pepper
6 tomatoes
5 cucumbers
8 ears of sweet corn

What I'm going to do with it:


Spicy Sweet Potatoes:  Take advantage of this week's forecast of slightly cooler temperatures to turn the oven on for a short time.  This recipe calls for roasting three sweet potatoes with a spicy outer coating. 

Garlic oregano zucchini:   Once again, this recipe is super simple, but amazingly yummy!  This week's colorful squash will look perfect in this dish!

Garden cucumber tomato salad: Just like grandma used to make!  Easy too!  Just cut the veggies and add a simple sugar and vinegar dressing.  Marinate and serve!  It uses green pepper, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the CSA box.  

Sweet corn and zucchini fritters:  grated zucchini and corn fresh from the cob are combined in a simple batter.  Pour onto a non-stick skillet and cook just like pancakes.  This recipe will use some of our zucchini and 2 cobs of corn.  I made this for supper Saturday night.  I used egg substitute and soy milk to make mine vegan.  The recipe made 16 nice sized fritters.  (The photo is of my finished fritters).  When it comes to toppings, think spicy-sweet.  I topped mine with the mango-peach salsa that I mentioned in this post

Carole's Crowder Peas:   This recipe features several of the items from this week's box in a thick stew-like creation.  Cornbread and a salad make it a complete supper.  I'll be using some of the red potatoes, green peppers, and carrots from the box.  

 Keep watching!  Later this week I'll be doing a review of crowder peas.  I'll share reflections and recommendations for using for this Southern favorite.

That's it!  Have a great week!

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Our Food: Does Presentation Matter?

I have always believed in the old adage, "We eat with our eyes."  Presentation can make the difference between a meal which is eaten with gusto and enjoyment by your family and a meal that gets a "so-so" rating. I have always enjoyed a huge degree of satisfaction in artfully arranging and presenting food.   I am a visual person.  If you put a hotdog on a pretty china dish, it looks as attractive as filet mignon.  Okay, maybe not.  But, it will taste better to you and help you remember that while living under the median you are saving money to be able to afford filet mignon.

I recently began to think about writing this post when I found these great bowls at Salvation Army for just $2.99 for the entire set!  Returning home, I immediately placed them on my antique Sellers cabinet and filled them with fresh produce.


Looking at them, I felt a wave of inspiration and creativity.



 It turns out that when it comes to our food, presentation does matter.  A 2014 article in The Guardian, highlighted a study which "adds to a growing body of evidence that the appearance and presentation of food can affect the dining experience. "

This article from 2017 on The National Lifestyle website explains that top chefs often first find a new plate and then create a recipe to serve on it. Dessert served on white china is perceived by taste testers to be sweeter than the very same one served on a black plate.  Diners said they would pay 30% more for salads, which were arranged artistically.

Am I telling you to buy new dishes?



No!  I am telling you to not let your limited grocery budget limit your creativity!  My $2.99 set of bowls is giving me much enjoyment!  I have used them nearly every single day since I bought them.  I have discovered that when I married color with an attractive arrangement of food, it increased my personal pleasure.  Best yet, my family has also noticed!  I've received more "Mom, this is good" and more "make this again" since I began investing just a few more minutes on presentation.

Living under the median, whenever I find something that doesn't cost me any extra money and requires very little additional time, I go for it - especially if it makes my family happier and more satisfied.  

Give it a try!  

I'd love to see your creations!  Leave photos in the comments section below!

Happy eating!

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Yikes!! $13 Left in My Food Budget!!

It's July 27th! When it gets to the end of the month making the last of the grocery budget stretch can be challenging. 

Here's what I have left in my fridge:  

2 shallots
1 clove of garlic
4 stalks of celery
a lot of carrots
a few cherries
2 small apples

That's it!  Thank goodness we pick up our weekly CSA box tomorrow morning!  Of course I have no idea what we will get in this week's box.  So, I thought it would be challenging to plan 4 main dish meals with what I could buy for $13 from the store.  

When the end of the month looms large and your grocery dollars are tiny in comparison, it is essential that you know what is in your pantry and freezers.  You must look at each item you purchase in terms of how many meals you can use it for.  It's all about multiple meals from the same ingredients. 

With $13 left in the grocery budget this morning, I went to Kroger: 

 Here's what I got. 

3 pounds of peaches -
1 pound of spring mix
10 oz. of baby spinach
10 oz. salad mix
5 avocados
3 mangos. 

 My cost: Just over $11.00. I have $2.30 left. 

Believe it or not, I'm headed out in just a few minutes to deliberately go over my grocery budget by 20 cents! I know! It's crazy talk! GFS has 8 pounds of baking potatoes for $2.45. I'm praying to find a quarter on the ground!  LOL!  

Let's see how to stretch these ingredients to last 4 days!

 Main dishes: 

Peach salad using part of the spring mix and the peaches. 
Baked potato bar.   
Taco Salads with black bean filling.
Potato soup with muffins and salad.  


Mango peach salsa - using some more of the peaches and 1 mango.  
Guacamole with 3 of the avocados.  
*These will both be served with the taco salads and the baked potatoes. *

Smoothie:  Gee, I may serve this for a snack or even a dessert one night.  It sounds glorious! 

Mango-Peach Bliss with the rest of the peaches and mangoes. 

Happy end of the week everyone!  

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Monday, July 23, 2018

"One Anothering": Teaching Our Kids to Live in Community

 God designed us to live in community.


The smallest community your children will experience is, of course, your nuclear family.  This is followed by extended family.  But, there are also multiple communities in which they will be involved:  church, school, neighborhood, sports teams, and city being just some of them.  

When my children were young I wanted them to understand that they were an integral part of each community and that they could serve, love, and comfort others within their reach.  So, I came up with a phrase and a plan to help them understand this concept. 

We are to: 

  • Love one another.
  • Serve one another. 
  • Honor one another. 
  • Prefer one another.   

We call it: "One Anothering"


This phrase was born out of the Bible verse Romans 12:10:  "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."  Here's how we taught it to our children.  

Step 1:  Give them A Definition: 

I explained to my children that God places each of us in a community.  Even though you are small, your special touch is needed in the lives of others.  It is super important to God that we show love to those around us.  We do it willingly and joyfully.  We have a special word in our family for  this.  It is called "One anothering". 

Step 2:  Give them examples:  

  • When you help stock the shelves of the church food bank you are "one anothering".  

  • When you mow our neighbor's lawn while they are on vacation you are "one anothering".  

  • When you get a drink of water for your thirsty sibling you are "one anothering."  

  • When you make soup for a sick neighbor you are "one anothering".  

  • When you color a picture and give it to someone who is sad you are "one anothering".   

"One anothering" is best described as a natural outflowing of your love and concern for your family, friends, neighbors, and community.


 Step 3:  Give them a task:  

  When we were raising our sons, we lived next door to this lovely lady, Jinny Nailing.  
She is pictured here with her nephew,  Chaz.

When my oldest boys were about 8 and 10 years old, on snowy mornings I had them get out of bed, dress warmly, and go out and shovel Miss Nailing's sidewalk.  I explained that although Miss Nailing didn't go to work until after lunch, we wanted her to wake up to a perfectly clean sidewalk.  

Weeks later I noticed that they had began to watch for Jinny to return from her weekly shopping trip.  I was so pleased to see them quickly bound from the house to rush to aid her in carrying her grocery bags into her home.  They did this on their own volition.  I hadn't even mentioned it to them.  

When they returned from their task I said, "Boys I am so excited that you saw a need and helped Miss Nailing.  You are really getting the hang of one anothering!"

They grinned from ear to ear as my second born son, John, replied, "Yeah, Mom and she's got great cookies too!"  😄

Well, I guess a little reward for their kindness is okay and as a Mom I have learned that when you allow another adult to "grandparent' your kids, you don't interfere with them giving your children a sweet treat.  

Ask Your Kids!!


Sit down with your children and ask for their input.  Believe me, they will bless your heart as they tell you how they would like to practice "one anothering".  They will come up with ideas that you would never have thought of or considered!  God uses our little ones in ways which are amazing and will take your breath away!

I would love, love, love to know what your family has done to practice "one anothering" in your neighborhood and community!   Leave your thoughts in the comments section. 

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

What's New in this Week's CSA Box?

Cucumbers, green peppers, and leeks make their debut in this week's box alongside seven other favorites! 

What's in the box?

1 pint cherries
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint blueberries
2 leeks
1 large bunch of carrots
1 yellow squash
1 pound of red potatoes
10 ears of sweet corn
3 cucumbers
a half dozen green peppers

What Am I Going to Do with It?  

Once again this week we are trying to stay away from the oven.  It's hot enough without adding more therms to the atmosphere in the house.  

1.  Cucumber cherry salad pairs the sweetness of cherries with the crisp texture of cucumbers.  Yum!

2.  Vegetable kabobs!  This is not the first recipe that I've gotten from Damn Delicious.  I can't wait to try this.  You could probably substitute any in season vegetables.  I'll use cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, and green peppers from the box. To avoid heating up the house, throw them on the grill and serve over brown rice. Add a salad for the perfect summer meal.  

3.  Smashed twice cooked potatoes with leeks and green garlic.  I was looking for something different to cook this week.  Topped with fresh lemon juice, these potatoes look delicious!  

4.  Corn and tomato pasta salad.  I love the magazine Midwest Living!  They inspire me to remember what is great about living in the middle of the US.  They always feature fresh produce presented in new and interesting ways.  This hearty main dish salad is a perfect example!  Along with corn and tomatoes, you add shredded chicken and either homemade or store bought pesto. 

5.  Blueberry Chia Jam.  If you've never made jam with chia seeds, do give it a try.  It's quick, easy and delicious!  Don't worry if it is a bit runny when you first make it.  It thickens up in the fridge.  

6. Chicken, tomatoes, and corn foil pack.  We had a really good experience with the foil dinner packets that we made on week #2 of the CSA boxes.  Vegetarians can add chunks of tofu, while the rest of the family adds chunks of chicken.  Throw these individualized meals on the grill until done. 

That's it!

Enjoy the goodness of summer!  

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Look at My REAL Grocery Budget

I thought it was time to tell you what my "real grocery budget" looks like. 


  You may remember that my husband was recently diagnosed with end-stage heart failure.  This led us to drastically reduce our expenses by 25 percent.  

That's when I came up with the grand scheme to try to reduce our normally pretty slim grocery budget.  The June Grocery Budget Challenge was born!  

I challenged myself to purchase all the food for my family of seven for just $320 for the entire month! I did it!  I finished with just over $10 left in my food envelope.  I learned a lot!  We all did a happy dance together and I told you the important lessons that I learned

Let's Look at the Numbers:


My budget during the challenge:  $320

My normal food budget:  $400

That monthly food budget does not include:  our CSA subscription.  

A couple of notes:

1. I normally have a family of five.  But, during June our oldest son was home from college and our middle son's Southern Belle was visiting from Mississippi.  So, during my June Food Budget Challenge that already slim budget was S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D even further.

2.  We pay $600 a year for our CSA subscription.  I save $50 a month throughout the year so when January arrives, I have several hundred dollars available to pay cash for our CSA share.  That's why the cost of our CSA box was not figured into my June food budget challenge.  Clearly, for about six months of the year we do  benefit from receiving a bushel basket of fresh produce every single week.  You might even stretch the point to consider that some of that food is put by for winter.  So, there are some residual benefits, even during cold weather months.

2.   I tried to make the budget challenge a reflection of our 25% reduction in income.  Because my food budget is already really low, I felt that cutting it by 20% was a pretty ambitious goal.  I will admit to you that it was tough!

How does it feel now?

Now that I have $80 more per month to spend, I feel like I am super rich!  I don't get that feeling very much.  LOL!   I still remember the feeling of standing in the middle of the store and wondering if I had enough money that week to buy a extra bunch of bananas.  As a result,  I am still remembering to count every penny. 

 I want to offer hope to those who are living under the median!


  Transparency and honesty are both really important to me!  


 I don't offer arbitrary advice.  I tell you my experience.  I tell you when I've screwed up.  I tell you when something awesome happens and we give each other a round of high-fives.   I give you real life tips that were born in the trenches of living under the median.

I will continue to do so with the hope that you, too, are enjoying being on the journey with me.   

 Leave your comments, thoughts, and tips below.  I'd love to hear from you! 

I want to work through hard spots with you and I want to know when God blesses your socks off by meeting your needs in totally unexpected ways. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

This Week's Best Buys: It's Fruit Week!

A Serious Amount of Fruit!

 That statement perfectly describes this week's best buys.  As you'll see, the summer harvest brings with it opportunities to buy in bulk and save big!  

Let's take a look at my buys. 

Then I'll give you tips for summer savings.


I bought ten pounds of fresh Michigan blueberries through the local farm bureau.

Cost:   $22.00.  

 Strawberries were on sale at Kroger for just $1.88 for 2 pounds!  

Cost:  $11.40 for 12 pounds of strawberries.  
 I kicked myself all over the place for not stocking up when Krogers had strawberries on sale recently at $1.98 for two pounds.  This time, I didn't miss out!  I bought 12 pounds and may very well head back for more before Tuesday at midnight when they go off sale.  (Yes, there are greens in the photo, too.  I couldn't resist!  They were all half price because they were close to date!!)  

Mandarin oranges and cherries from Aldis!

The mandarin oranges were on sale for $2.99 for 3 pounds and the cherries were just $1.49 a pound (the cheapest price I've seen so far this summer!)

Cost:  6 pounds of mandarin oranges and just over 4 pounds of cherries for $12.21.

So how much did I spend on fruit?


I spent $45.61 for 32 pounds of fruit!   

What in the world am I going to do with that much fruit?



Tip #1:  Plan ahead.  

I'm going to freeze most of it. For a tutorial on how to freeze produce effectively, see my posts on "putting food by". You'll find them here and here.

 We have talked about taking the "long view" in the summer.  We must always consider the wisdom of the book of Proverbs in the Bible.  We are encouraged the consider the ant, who stores up food for winter and always keeps busy doing work and preparing for the future.  We must do likewise, especially if we are feeding a family on an income which is under the median.  One caveat:  Fruit rots quickly.  You have to be prepared to spend an afternoon preserving all that goodness for later use. 

Tip #2:  Watch prices.

I have been watching produce prices for weeks now.  Even when I was not planning to buy strawberries, I watched the trend carefully.  I compared prices at several different stores each week.  I knew the trend.  I also had predetermined from past experience that my stock up price was exactly that - $1 a pound.  That's why when the price of strawberries plummeted at Kroger this week, I pounced like a mouse on cheese.  You have to know your 'buy price" and have some money set aside to look like a fruit hoarder at the store.  

Tip #3:  Look for unconventional sources

Shout out to my friend, Tracey, who is a member of the local farm bureau.  Her membership nets her big savings on bulk fruit deals.  The bureau gives members a "heads up" e-mail a few weeks before they place their ginormous produce group order.  You just fill out a form and stick the payment in in the mail.  Then a few days later you pick up your order at the farm bureau.  These are the most glorious looking and tasting blueberries that I have ever had! I only wish I had ordered more.   I flash froze eight pounds and kept two pounds out for munching on.  The kids cleaned me out in about 24 hours.  No kidding!  Wanna know the best deals in your area, ask your thrifty friends and they will, most likely, have ideas that you have not thought about.  

What about you?

How is your freezer looking so far?  Mine is getting so full that I'm going to have to plan a "freezer organizing day" to be certain that I can get all of this season's goodness in there!

 Leave your comments, thoughts, and tips below.  I'd love to hear from you! 


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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Putting Food By for Winter: Blanching

There's nothing like taking a package of vegetables out of the freezer during the middle of winter and revisiting the tastes and textures of summer. I've talked on this blog about freezing fruits and vegetables for winter use.  However, some produce must first be blanched before freezing to keep the vibrant color and to insure that the texture does not suffer from the freezing process.

Blanching involves submerging fruits or vegetables for a short time in boiling water and then immediately thrusting them into freezing water to stop the cooking action.

According to the national center for home preservation,  "blanching  is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack."

Step 1:  Wash, cut, and prepare vegetables


Be sure that your vegetables to be frozen are washed thoroughly and cut into sizes appropriate for freezing. 

While you are preparing your fruit or vegetables, fill a big pot about half full of water.  Place it on the stove, cover,  and heat to boiling.   

Step 2:  Blanch for a short time


 When the water has come to a rolling boil, add the prepared produce.  Bring back to a boil and cook for the appropriate amount of time.

 How do you know how long to boil a vegetable?

The boiling time varies for each fruit or vegetable.  This chart is a great tool for timing this step of the process.  

Step 3:  Drain in a colander and place in ice water


Once the correct blanching time has passed, as quickly as possible, drain the produce in a colander and then thrust the contents into an ice bath.  This stops the cooking process, resulting in an attractive, usable end product with a pleasant texture after thawing. 

 Step 4:  Cool, package, and label


It's now time for the final step. When your vegetable is completely cooled, simply place it into a ziplock bag or other appropriate container, label it with the date, amount, and contents of the package.  If freezing in a plastic freezer bag, it is best to place it on a hard surface and then putting it into the freezer.  This allows it to freeze flat, facilitating more efficient space usage for long-term freezer storage.

That's it!  

By the way, if you have children, this is a terrific time to institute the Happy Helper Club!  Many hands make light work!  Plus, it's really fun for kids to stem green beans and snap them into smaller pieces.  My kids love it!

What do you freeze for winter?

I'd love to know what sorts of things you freeze for later use and if you have any great tips on making the process efficient and successful.  Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 


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Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Sweet Corn Continues.... This Week's CSA Box!

Whew hoo!  My need for sweet corn is, once again, met! 

Thanks Garden Spot!


What was in the box

3 summer squash
small white potatoes
11 ears of sweet corn
carrots (with nice greens!)
1 pint blueberries
1 big mess of green beans
a half dozen nice shallots
5 tomatoes
1 pint of those amazingly sweet cherry tomatoes!

What am I going to do with it?

It's hot outside!  

 So, in an effort to beat the heat,  this week I focused on quick dishes that only use the stove top for short periods of time.  The only recipe that requires the oven is the blueberry banana loaf, because I just could not resist the idea of slowly savoring a slice with a glass of iced tea for a mid-morning snack - or even breakfast.  

1.  Lentil soup - 

I know!  It's hot outside.  But, some dear friends were sick this week and this soup cooks in 30 minutes.  I made them some of my trademark lentil soup and took it to them with some herbal tea.  I used some of the carrots, 4 of the shallots,  and part of the tomatoes for the soup.  Oh, and I added some of the purple garlic from my CSA box from a couple of weeks ago.  I love purple garlic.  The cloves are huge and super easy to cut and use. The lentil soup recipe is my own.  In the near future I'll put it up on the blog as a Cheap Eats feature so you can have the "secret" recipe too.

2.  Blueberry Banana loaf  - This week's berries get combined with the sweetness of bananas.  This loaf is perfect for breakfast or for a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of herbal tea.  Enjoy!  Here's the link.

3.  Blackened Green Bean and Quinoa Salad - Holy cow!  I drooled all over myself when I found this recipe.  It combines fresh sweet corn, green beans, onions, and cherry tomatoes - all from this week's CSA box!  I can't wait to try this!  You'll find the recipe here.

4.  Boiled potatoes with garlic and parsley -  Some of the best recipes are simple.  I remember my mother serving simple boiled potatoes with butter as a side dish when I was a child.  This recipe adds garlic, lemon, and parsley.  I'm going to add some of the green beans to the water too and serve them with the potatoes.  I think it will be delicious.  Add some fresh corn, a salad, and some of that blueberry banana bread and you have a summer supper!  Check out the recipe here.

5.  Honey Glazed carrots - The carrots we get in our box are so incredibly tender and sweet!  They pair perfectly with just a little honey and rosemary.  If you find rosemary too pungent, substitute some chives or tarragon.  This is a quick and elegant little side dish.  https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a58381/honey-glazed-carrots-recipe/

6.  Skillet Zucchini with a balsamic reduction -  The zucchini in this week's box were small beauties - the perfect size to slice and quickly cook in a skillet.  I think the addition of balsamic vinegar will take this recipe to the next level of yumminess!  I may serve these over the top of some brown rice and drizzle with balsamic reduction to make it a main dish.  I'm vegan, but if you eat meat it would be super easy to add some chunks of chicken to the skillet and coat it in that balsamic reduction too. 

Enjoy every morsel of summer produce!

Coming up next week:  my series on "putting food by for winter" continues.  This week we'll discuss blanching.   Here's a link to last week's post on freezing food in case you missed it. 


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Friday, July 13, 2018

Review of The purple daikon radish

Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus
The purple daikon radish is known for its color and, I assume, its taste.  I will admit that I find daikon radishes, in general, to be a little overwhelming with their "in your face" tart taste.  I don't dislike it. I can take it in small quantities. But, it isn't something that I would deliberately seek out either.

On a recent visit to the farmer's market to pick up our weekly CSA box, I was actually intrigued by the purple variety of this plant.  I didn't actually know what I was looking at.  The tapered ends reminded me of turnips.  The greens did too!  They resemble turnip greens in shape, only they are a little fuzzier.  I pointed in the general direction of the small pile of plum colored plants and quickly asked Lillian, who co-owns and manages Garden Spot with her son, what in the world it was.  To my surprise she replied that it was a purple variety of a daikon radish.

It was only then that I made the connection with the fuzzy nature of the leaves.  Lillian told the that they had grown a small amount of this unusual vegetable as a test.  She asked if I would be willing to try it out and let her know what I thought.  Well, I'm generally game to try any new fruit or vegetable and can count on one hand how many I truly do not enjoy eating.

So, it was .... Game on! 


How Good it is for you?

Any food with this coloring has to be good for you!  As a whole food, plant based vegan I am constantly on the look out for color.  I try literally to eat a rainbow each week.  Generally vibrant colors spell "really nutritious, really healthy, and really fun flavors and textures".  Daikon is used most often in a Korean condiment-like side dish known as kimchi.

According to Specialty Produce.com, the purple daikon is loaded with nutrients.  Here is a direct quote from their website:  " Purple daikon radish is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, particularly when eaten raw. Additionally they contain flavonoids and the antioxidant sulforaphane. Purple daikon also contains vitamin B6, folate, and minerals such as K, Ca, Mg, and iodine. The leafy greens of the Purple daikon are edible and offer a significant amount of vitamin C as well."  

Wowzers!  Seriously, that information alone makes me want to try it.  But, you know what really made me want to try it?  The color!  

My Observations

This is one lovely looking plant!  The  violet-fuschia exterior gives way to a creamy white mixed with just a hint of pale color on the interior.  

Doesn't this make you want to eat it?  My 13 year old sous chef by my side, I cut open.  Our first thought upon cutting one open was, "We need to put this in a salad!"  But, like true connoisseurs, our first concern was the taste.  My side kick and I cut off some of the end root and we gave it a try.  Although there was a hint of the traditional daikon flavor, we found it to be pleasantly muted in this variety.  We appreciated that the same crisp texture which one would expect from a radish was evident.

The Roots

Recipe #1:  We immediately cut one of the three tubular roots up and put it on a raw vegetable platter.  Those who wished, could either eat it raw or put it in their evening salad.  I did both!  

Recipe #2:  We decided to try a traditional radish salad.  Here is the link.  http://www.foodfidelity.com/2017/10/30/purple-green-daikon-radish-salad

Here is a photo of my effort at this salad.  

It was super easy to make.  

I used carrots as an accent color.  I used Bragg's aminos instead of soy sauce.  The saltiness of the Bragg's aminos was the perfect foil to the spicy bite of the radishes, the sweetness of the sugar, and the tartness of the rice vinegar.  It made a very generous amount of dressing.  This salad would be a very elegant side dish to serve at a summer dinner party or picnic. 

The Leaves

I couldn't let the leaves go to waste!  You all know how I feel about using the greens of root vegetables.  I have eaten radish leaves before and I honestly have a hard time getting past the "fuzzy" texture.  However, as I mentioned earlier, this foliage has just a hint of texture.  I decided to go with a tried and true traditional greens preparation, especially for our Mississippi Belle.   

 Bacon, onion, garlic, a splash of water and Bragg's aminos.  

Cook them down until tender.  Holy cow!!  They were amazing!  They did have a sort of salty, spicy taste.  But, it was not overwhelming at all.  My son's Southern, bacon-loving girlfriend highly approved of this application for greens.

  Our Rating and Recommendations

  The purple daikon got two thumbs up from most family members.

Those in the family already fond of the flavor and bite of a good radish definitely enjoyed this root vegetable.  The traditional daikon flavor was definitely more muted in the purple version than the long, white one that you generally see in stores.  The purple version was also smaller than the white version.  This is probably good, since unless you really love radishes, you aren't going to buy purple daikons every week.  The smaller size makes it easier to use, too, cutting just what you need and leaving additional roots whole until a later time.   The leaves were a pleasant surprise and quite good.  

We would rate it as a something that we would buy again.  

 The color was inviting and will provide a vibrant splash of color to summer salads.  The flavor was interesting, but not overpowering.  If you are a radish lover, give the purple daikon a try. 

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