Hi everyone,

Continuing on with our A is for month…. the Artichoke!

If there is a specific vegetable season that I wait for in MN, it is artichoke season because then we can actually afford to buy them. They are a favorite with everyone in the family. (I am serious, including our 4 year old grandson, who actually asks for them). With five in the house at one time, it was a real treat and a dent in the grocery budget, but worth every bite!

Artichokes need a cool climate for optimum growth and that is why you will find them primarily along the coastal areas of California in the spring and summer and inland areas for winter growth. Artichokes, a member of the thistle family (sunflower plant),  are hardy plants and produce their crops for about ten years. The artichoke we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud.

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Posted by admin, filed under Alphabet Posts, Healthy Food, Random Recipes, Vegetables. Date: February 20, 2011, 10:58 am | 1 Comment »

Hi everyone,

While grocery shopping with my grandson, who is 4 years old, we started playing the alphabet game in the produce department. It gave me a great idea for my blog. I am going to select a letter of the alphabet each month and cover a fruit, vegetable or an herb or spice. Just sounded like fun, so let’s get started.

A is for Avocado and a favorite in our house. After living in California for most of my life and, at one time, having avocado trees in my backyard, I check the grocery sales each week for specials.  Although Haas avocados can tolerate cooler temperatures, it is just a bit too cold in MN, so we, obviously, look to outside sources.

The Haas is probably my favorite avocado and that is partly because they are available all year.  Because the avocado has a seed, it is considered a fruit, not a vegetable. It has the nickname of “Alligator Pear” because of the skin on the outside and the shape of the avocado resembles a pear.

Despite the bad rap about the fat, avocados contain a healthy fat that should be included in your diet, possibly as a substitute for other fats you might eat. Avocados also have lutein, which is great for the eyes,  lots of vitamins and minerals and contain more fiber than any other fruit.

San Diego County produces about 60% of the avocado crops in California and Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County)  calls itself the “Avocado Capital of the World”. Each year they have an Avocado Festival, which I think would be a not only fun, but some pretty good avocado tasting too.

There are several resources for more information on avocados, so check them out:

Get creative, enjoy that avocado and check back for our next “A is for….” post.

Take care,

Judy

http://www.localfoodconnections.com

Posted by admin, filed under Alphabet Posts, Fruits. Date: February 10, 2011, 5:37 pm | Comments Off on A is for ….Avocado

03  Jan
Happy New Year!

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year! We are looking at 2011 as a year of hope, health and prosperity and wish the same for you.

I hope your holiday season included a bit of relaxation, fun, and time spent with those you love. The new year always brings discussions of resolutions, diets, more exercise, and the like.

Last week, I read an interesting piece that treated the subject of the new year resolutions a bit differently. Following the norm, most of us have blown our resolve in about a couple of weeks and then resolve to try again. How about if we treat the changes we want to make as intentions rather than resolutions! Sometimes a change of perspective is what is needed to make something new work well.

Some suggestion for intentions:

  • If you are not vegetarian, eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. There are lots of food options providing a good blend of protein and nutrition you need without sacrificing taste.
  • Servings of fruits and veggies should take up more space on the plate.
  • Reduce the amount of white foods on your plate. There are many wonderful whole-grain breads, rye breads, or white whole-wheat blends that are better than plain old white bread. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful substitute for the standby baked potato.
  • Manage your protein choices with lean options and correct serving sizes.
  • Eat local as much as possible and organic where it counts.
  • Aim for 20 minutes of exercise at least three times a week.
  • Look for healthy recipe sources (Healthy Living, Taste of Home is an excellent example).
  • Try fresh herbs or seasonings to boost flavor.

It is our intention to continue to follow many of the suggestions in the new year more so than in the past. We know our winter CSA made a huge difference in eating local and and has provided us with some wonderful options. It does cost a bit more to eat healthy and properly, but it might be worth pinching pennies somewhere else. Remember, a walk costs you nothing and does as much to clear the mind as it does exercise the body. You will see and feel the results.

Take care,

Judy

Local Food Connections

Posted by admin, filed under Healthy Food. Date: January 3, 2011, 11:20 am | Comments Off on Happy New Year!

21  Dec
Winter is Here

Hi everyone,

Today is officially the first day of winter, but here in MN we’ve been having winter for quite some time. The snow is piled high and familiar landmarks are no longer in sight after the plows made their way through the streets.

Winter brings different foods to our table… comfort foods. Lots of hearty soups, such as my recent recipe post for Squash and Italian Sausage soup, chilis, stews, and casseroles are the fare. I try to use as many local and organic ingredients as are available and the budget allows. Having the CSA does give us the opportunity to easily have more of both options. What is important to remember is to make those dishes healthy eating.

I am not cooking the Christmas dinner this year and am looking forward to being horribly spoiled by a wonderful grandma’s meal. I will contribute by bringing dessert, but she will present a feast to enjoy. I will be with people that I love dearly and that is what counts.

With the holidays looming large, I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday celebration. Take time to appreciate your surroundings and carry Thanksgiving into Christmas.

Wishing you the best and take care,

Judy

Posted by admin, filed under CSA - Community Supported Agriculture, Healthy Food, Local Food Connections, Local Food Resources. Date: December 21, 2010, 10:19 am | Comments Off on Winter is Here

10  Dec
Using the Basket

Hi everyone,

It was a chilly Saturday so it turned out to be an experiment in the kitchen day. With the lovely squash from Featherstone Farm, I’ve been trying new recipes. One that is particularly delightful is from Cuisine Magazine – Italian Sausage and Squash Soup. Emeril Lagasse also has a similar recipe, but there are couple of extra ingredients that brightened the appeal of the Cuisine Magazine recipe. The prep takes a bit, but it is so worth it! I used the squash and fresh spinach from Featherstone Farm in the recipe.

Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash Soup

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Posted by admin, filed under Healthy Food, Local Food Recipes, Make-Ahead Dishes. Date: December 10, 2010, 7:24 pm | 1 Comment »

Hi everyone,

I’ve been away from my blog for too long! In October, I was in the Lakewinds Chanhassen store (our local co-op). There was a gal with a table display that was a bouquet of fresh vegetables. She was offering fresh carrots as a sample. I love to taste new foods and I thought – carrots, what is so different about them. They were fantastic – sweet and crisp crunchy. She was providing information on a winter CSA, which was totally new to me. I spoke to my husband about it that evening. Their deadline was drawing near for closing sign-ups. We decided we had to try it. We are so glad we did!

Featherstone Farm is located in Rushford, MN, which is about an hour away from the Twin Cities. We pick up a box every other week at the Lakewinds store. It is an easy deal for us to do so and we have been so impressed with the quality, quantity and taste of the produce. Here is a picture from their website of the first box of the season…. wow!

Box from Featherstone Farm

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Posted by admin, filed under CSA - Community Supported Agriculture, Healthy Food, Local Food Connections, Local Food Resources. Date: December 4, 2010, 1:11 pm | Comments Off on Our Winter CSA Adventure

Hi everyone,

CSA Basket

A basket from our CSA - Crazy Daisy Farms

What a great idea – you can dine at certain restaurants for the week of October 10 – 16 and a portion of the proceeds from the participating restaurants will be donated to the American Farmland Trust.

The American Farmland Trust is a organizations whose sole mission/vision is to save America’s farms. They support environmental farming practices with the purpose of supporting farms for the future.

To read more about this activity, check out the care2 make a difference blog post – http://www.care2.com/greenliving/dine-out-for-farms.html

You can obtain a list of the participating restaurants at this link – http://action.farmland.org/site/PageNavigator/dine_out_for_farms/friends_of_farms_participating_restaurants

In the meantime, across the Midwest, we are experiencing the end of our farm basket season. I will miss the local freshness and am already looking forward to the spring for the return of our CSA.

Take care,

Judy

Posted by admin, filed under Judy's Resources, Local Food Connections. Date: October 12, 2010, 8:30 am | Comments Off on Dine Out for the Farms

Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago our oldest daughter, who is the undisputed Sauce Queen, gave me a bottle of Bar-B-Que sauce she purchased at a Farmer’s Market. She said it is the best and knew we would love it. Well, she was right.

About a week later, I was at the Excelsior Farmer’s Market and right between Mackenthun’s and Ridgeroll Farms, was the M&B Homemade Seasonings and Sauce stand. I was so surprised and pleased. It also gave me an opportunity to meet Brenda Snell, one of the owners. It is always great to see a successful family business and they show their pride in their product.

M&B Homemade Seasonings and Sauces offers a complete line of products. Their sauces

M&B Homemade Sauce

M&B Homemade Sauce

include Maple, Original, Sweet Garlic, Northwoods Hickory, Zesty, Fireworks and the Grand Finale. They also offer spices with a 14 All-U-Need Seasoning and a Cowboy’s Seasoning.

All of their sauces and seasonings are made with the highest quality ingredients, with no added chemicals, but a lot of love in their product. I am pretty picky about this stuff because I don’t like buying sauces with high fructose corn syrup as their first ingredient. Most ketchup already has that as an ingredient, so why add even more!

I know they are at the Excelsior, Minnetonka, Delano and Maple Grove Farmer’s Markets, but you can contact them if you want to know of other locations or they might offer a mail purchase.

Contact information: M&B Snell, Corcoran, MNMBSnell2@comcast.net or call them at 763-221-6295.

I know they would love to hear from  you!

Take care,

Judy

Posted by admin, filed under At the Farmer's Market, Judy's Resources, Local Food Connections, Local Food Resources. Date: July 30, 2010, 5:13 pm | 6 Comments »

Hi everyone,

My post last week discussed the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their clean and dirty guides. Today, I have another link that discusses this guide in a conversation with Dr. Andrew Weil. His points are well taken and should be up for consideration in your eating and shopping.

Visit this link for Dr. Weil’s video on the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.

Another email from the EcoMetro Guide (a wonderful Entertainment coupon guide with a look to natural, local, and green resources) contained a new guide from the EWG that defined the pesticide levels in greater detail. This might address a couple of comments about vegetables and fruits.

Always good to have current information and resources to help you make the right food choices.

Eat healthy and take care,
Judy

Posted by admin, filed under Green Resources, Healthy Food. Date: May 6, 2010, 3:27 pm | Comments Off on Dr. Weil and the EWG Clean Eating Guide

Hi everyone,

Here in the Midwest, we are getting close to the wonderful part of the year with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables coming our way. I look forward to having a selection of local produce, as well as our favorite CSA, Crazy Daisy Farm

Now is a good time to consider the advantages of eating local and organic. The economy has dealt many of us a rough hand the past couple of years and I understand the need for having to carefully manage the grocery budget as well as anyone. However, there are a few areas where I won’t skimp and eating healthy food is one of them. It is a conscious decision on our part to spend a bit more on the best quality for our meals and not splurge on a meal out as often.

fresh vegetables
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Posted by admin, filed under Green Resources, Healthy Food, Locavore, Vegetables. Date: April 27, 2010, 9:02 am | 2 Comments »

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