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Fall Foods for the Whole Family | 08.24.2014
Fall is back-to-school time as well as harvest time for a variety of super nutritious fruits and vegetables. Why not send your kids back to the classroom full of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants their bodies will need to stay healthy as cold season sets in?
Squashes are among the cheapest and easiest fall fruits to prepare, and they pack a powerhouse of nutrients, including potassium, carotenoids, folate, and fiber. Best of all, they are both kid friendly and baby friendly, being a great food for infants.
To prepare squash, simply split any variety (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti) down the middle with a large knife, scoop out the seeds, place the halves flesh-side down in a pan with ½-inch of water, and bake at 350 degree for 45-60 minutes. The squash is done when a knife sinks easily into the flesh. To serve, scoop out the flesh and add butter and cinnamon to taste.
A high-quality butter from pastured animals will add Vitamins A and K2 to your dish as well as a healthy dose of saturated fat. Wait a minute, did I use healthy and saturated fat in the same sentence? Yes! Research is chipping away at the myth that saturated fat is bad, when in fact both saturated fat and cholesterol are essential for growth and development. See westonaprice.org for a wealth of information on the benefits of fat and other nutrient-dense foods—or do a Google search for the recent spate of articles in the news!
Spaghetti squash can be a fun food for kids since it looks like, well, spaghetti! After baking, scrape out the flesh with a fork and serve with butter, salt, and pepper, or with a little pasta sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Fall is also harvest time for that universal symbol of education, the apple. Making homemade applesauce or apple butter can be a fun project for the whole family, and can spare your kids the high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners added to commercial products.
To make your own applesauce, simply cut apples into 1-inch chunks (no need to remove the skin—it has lots of nutrition!), sprinkle with cinnamon, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Place steamed chunks into a food processor and puree with a few squeezes of lemon juice. You can also add a tablespoon or two of virgin coconut oil for extra flavor and nutrition.
For apple butter, place 10-20 sliced apples in a slow cooker with an inch of water (again, no need to remove the skin). Sprinkle with a generous amount of allspice and cinnamon and cook on low for 8-10 hours, checking periodically to make sure there is enough water in the bottom of the cooker to prevent burning. Puree the apples with the remaining water using a stick blender (or transfer to a food processor), adding a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract as you blend. If it’s too thick, add small amounts of water until you achieve the right consistency.
Cori Hart is the local chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, committed to reintroducing nutrient-dense foods into the Standard American Diet. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Eat Seasonally: Sprouts | 12.25.2013
Sprouts are that rare superfood that hits the sweet spot between flavor and nutrition. In addition to classic alfalfa sprouts, look for zesty radish, peppery broccoli or savory onion sprouts, as well as crisp and crunchy mung bean sprouts.
At Good Earth Market, local producer The Growing Business, owned by Daphne Zortman, provides us these delicious greens. Daphne started growing sprouts with her sister back in 1984, and she’s still the type of person who likes to get in there and get her hands dirty. She enjoys eating her own sprouts and is convinced of their powerful health benefits. “They’re a powerhouse of nutrients,” she exclaims, adding that her sprouts are very natural, too, being grown in well water and then cleaned – there’s very little processing that goes on.
It’s hard to improve on the classic sandwich combo of turkey, avocado and sprouts, but how about radish sprouts, fresh goat cheese, and tomato on multigrain bread? Or onion sprouts, cream cheese and cucumber on rye? Sprouts go beyond sandwiches, too – use mild-flavored mung bean sprouts to garnish everything from stir-fries to soups.
Quick Vegetable Bibimbap
This recipe is a delicious signature Korean dish, literally meaning “mixed rice”.
Serves 6, ready in 1 hour
- 1 cup uncooked medium-grain brown rice
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 c. carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c. zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- ¼ lb button mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 6 oz fresh spinach
- 4 green onions, sliced
- ½ lb baked or fried tofu, cut into 1-2 inch squares
- 1 c. cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 2 oz mung bean sprouts
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs
- ¼ c. hot sauce (Gochujang, Sriracha or other hot chili paste)2 tsp tamari
- 1 T. water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
Start cooking the rice according to package directions. In a small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, heat the sesame and vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add spinach, and stir-fry just until it’s wilted and tender (about a minute). Remove from heat and toss the vegetables with the tofu, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside vegetables, and fry 6 eggs over easy.
To serve, place a scoop of rice in each bowl, top with some stir-fried vegetables, place a cooked egg on top, and garnish with sliced green onions. Serve the sauce on the side for drizzling.
Preserving Tips: Dehydration | 08.15.2013
No added ingredients necessary! Air circulation and heat—from the sun or a dehydrator—are all you need to dry many fruits and veggies for storage. The dehydrated product is easy to store, too.
Here are a few tips:
• You can make simple drying racks out of untreated wood and screen. The racks, which can be stacked, are designed to keep the food off the ground and allow air to circulate underneath.
• Placing cheesecloth on the screen under the produce will help absorb the moisture.
• When drying produce in the sun, also cover with cheesecloth to protect from insects and birds.
• You can purchase a dehydrator, which evaporates the moisture. These are made up of stackable trays that sit over a heating element. Stovetop dryers are also available. (While our ancestors would dry produce in the warming oven of a wood stove, using your oven isn’t an energy savvy method of dehydration, no matter how low the setting.)
• Don’t dry food in the microwave; the food will usually burn before it dries.
• To make fruit leather, dry thin sheets of fruit purée.
• Another simple dehydration method is to string and hang herbs, onions, and garlic.
• To dry veggies, blanch them first, then dry in the sun or a dehydrator.
• Store dried produce in an airtight container in a dark place.
For more information on dehydrating, check out the Yellowstone County Extension Service and download their preserving guides.
Dehydrating Vegetables (pdf)
Dehydrating Fruits (pdf)
Summer YUM! | 07.30.2013
We asked staff and member/owners which produce they’re most looking forward to this summer. Here are their responses:
Lindsey Battle, with Kimmie & Max IV
“Our family likes to make sweet potato chips. And these little guys love bananas & apples. We also make kale chips and carrot fries in coconut oil. The carrots I fry, the rest I bake.”
GEM’s Board President
“My favorite fruit is actually what most people think is a vegetable – the ripe, red tomato. You need to slice it, add a dash of red wine vinegar, a dash of olive oil, a little salt & pepper, and a little basil. Let it sit and, oh my, you have the essence.”
Local Producer Committee Chair
“Basil. I’m obsessed with the stuff. I like to add it plain to salads, like a green salad or a couscous salad, or even with steamed broccoli. It has so much flavor, it brings everything to life. Or I make pesto. It freezes really well in ice cube trays. Pop them into a freezer bag and they’re handy all winter.”
“One of our favorite things to do is wash and pluck grapes off the stem and put them in the freezer. Like little mini grape popsicle bites! We eat these all the time in the summer. They’re so delicious!”
“APPLES! The local apples are brilliant here. There’a tree in my backyard just loaded and the funky ones are starting to fall now. You have to watch for bugs if you’re wildcrafting, but that’s still a lot of fun. I prefer local apples, but am eating Galas from New Zealand now. I really like the old-fashioned varieties, too. They used to grow so much here! Our area is great for fruit. I eat ‘em raw. I also like the local berries (lots of antioxidants!) and local Flathead cherries (good for the intestines!).”
“Apples are always good. I’m looking forward to them. Everybody likes the tomatoes and the watermelons. I like all of the local because it’s picked ripe and has more flavor. I love supporting local and appreciate the early farmer’s market you had this year. With the tomatoes, I just slice them and drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Or put them on a baguette with some feta or mozzarella, and a little basil. I like them cooked, too.”
Lead Grocery Clerk
“I’ve been into avocadoes, like guacamole, or cut up with tomatoes as a side dish. It’s cool and refreshing in the summer, and good with a little salt & pepper. It seems like they taste fresher in the summer because they’re in season.”
“I LOVE BBar Ranch burgers, and the way I fix them is very unique. I put what I like on them, in them. I dice onions, quarter small, fresh mushrooms (don’t chop them any smaller or you won’t taste them), a few chopped jalapenos, cubes of blue or cheddar cheese (you can grate it, but then you won’t get the tasty pockets or cheese). I cook them medium, never well and make them huge – ½ pound hamburger with all the fixings. All ingredients go in raw – my favorite summer food!”
“Those pluots have been so amazing. They’re like candy, but better for you, obviously. I had never had them before I started working here. They’re incredibly juicy – two a day makes you a happy person.”
NCGA Resources for YOU! | 07.25.2013
In the spring of 2011, we became a member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (a.k.a NCGA). Your little Co-op is growing up! Joining NCGA has given us access to numerous resources, helping our Co-op remain competitive in the marketplace.
You’ve probably noticed many changes already: more competitive pricing, new Co+op Deals sales program, an overall step-up in our operations, the little Co+op Stronger Together logo that peeked its little head and has now become a store foundation. The staff is working very hard to use the resources and implement the programs that work for the uniqueness and individuality of our own cooperative.
But along with the resources that have improved your shopping experience in the store, NCGA has numerous resources developed specifically for you, the member-owner!
NCGA’s consumer website. Check it out! You’ll find a plethora of helpful articles – seasonal recipes, how-to’s on gardening and making smart food choices, how to cook just about anything. For you travelers, you can search co-ops anywhere in the nation to ensure you get to eat the tastiest, healthiest food while on vacation. Visit www.strongertogether.coop and “Like” Co+op Stronger Together on Facebook.
A brand new NCGA release – 55 how-to videos by co-op experts from around the country, with more on the way! When it comes to cooking at home, choosing the right ingredients and understanding basic kitchen skills can make the difference between a good meal and an amazing one. In the video series, Co+op Kitchen, you’ll find handy hints from chefs and food enthusiasts who love sharing their passion for great food, plus easy recipes for delicious homemade meals.
And, be sure to check out the FREE Co+op Kitchen iPad app for iOs6 on iTunes.
Co+op Deals Ads
Two flyers monthly! Not only do these ads feature the top sales at your Co-op (with big savings!), look inside for tips and information on your food and where it comes from. Check out each issue for information on seasonal produce, cheese, cooking tips; as well as recipes!
NCGA is providing more resources all the time in an effort to support and build local food and local communities. At the heart of the mission is taking care of the individual member-owner, that’s you!, and building the value around your food choices at the Co-op and the impact it has in our community.
How to Keep Your Fruits & Veggies Fresh | 07.30.2012
I’ll admit I’m one to go a little crazy in the produce department and farmers’ markets. Especially this time of year, I’m enticed by the colors and freshness of all the local produce and end up with a little extra in my Market bag. I’ll find a way to work in that kohlrabi that just came in from Tom Kress or Danly Farms!
And my fridge looks beautiful! For a while. My plans to cook delicious meals all week long fade (as do my veggies!) when more summer outings with friends present themselves – events in Downtown Billings, baseball games, concerts – summer fills up fast!
So I was excited to stumble across this handy guide, “How-To: Store Fruits and Vegetables”, from the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Farmers’ Markets to keep my produce fresh a little bit longer, or at least until I can make time to cook them. The guide lists how best to store 60 popular fruits and vegetables – without using plastic.
A few tips from the guide:
Apples (I’m anticipating the delicious varieties from Ross Orchards in Fromberg) – Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, they can be kept in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Stonefruit (apricots, nectaries, peaches, plums) – Store on a cool counter at room temperature. Only refrigerate when fully ripe!
Berries – Keep them dry (wash only before eating) and don’t stack too many high when storing. They’re very fragile.
Greens – Most greens should be kept slightly damp (not wet or they’ll rot faster) in an airtight container. The hardier greens, such as collards, chard, and kale, can be placed in a cup of water on the counter or fridge. Yes, please – I’ll put an edible bouquet on my kitchen table.
Tomatoes – Shouldn’t be refrigerated. Keep them on the counter until ready to eat.
Who you store the veggies with makes a difference in their longevity, too. Check out this guide from the Vegetarian Times to find out which fruits and veggies should and shouldn’t be neighbors.
Would you use plastic to store your fruits and veggies? Is there another type of container you use for produce storage? If you have any other tips, let me know!
Alicia Reyer, GEM staff member, can be found either dancing or at the Market, usually with a cup of tea on her desk.