Gluten Free For Good


More About Melissa

Posts Tagged ‘farm fresh’

gluten-free veggie pizza

I figure if I’m going to eat pizza, I better load it up with antioxidant goodness.

Wednesday is my Grant Family Farms CSA pick-up day, so Tuesday nights are often spent making pizza or rice bowls out of the leftover odds and ends in my crisper drawer. It forces me to explore the dark corners of my fridge and make room for the new arrivals. Never one to color inside the lines, I’ve come up with some creative ways to use the tail-end of my farm-fresh food deliveries.

Beet or corn ice cream, anyone? Sweet potato tacos?

How about radicchio, mixed squash and beet pizza?


Radicchio (see above) is a leafy chicory plant. Most people use it in salads, although I find it bitter. But guess what? If you cook it, the bitter taste disappears and it becomes mellow and slightly sweet. It’s wonderful stuff and according to The Journal of Nutrition, it’s also very high in antioxidants. Right up there with Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli.

Last Tuesday night I dug around in my fridge and found some radicchio, a piece of already cooked corn-on-the-cob, a beet, a small grilling onion, two roasted green chiles, and a few big chunks of delicata, crookneck and zucchini squash. I also had several garden-fresh tomatoes, all from the farm.

Radicchio on pizza? I’ll give it a try. And, how about roasted green chile, black olive, onion, corn and tomato pizza?

All super-healthy ingredients. Every veggie on this list is filled with high-quality antioxidants. That’s a good thing. Our bazillions of hard-working little cells need all the help they can get.

gluten-free antioxidant veggie pizza #1 (see above, top left corner)
what you need
1 gluten-free Udi’s thin pizza crust *
1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter (I prefer organic, pastured, full-tilt butter)
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (1-2 teaspoons)
1 cup thinly sliced ridacchio
1 cup mixed squash chunks (3/4 inch squares)
1 beet, washed and cut into chunks, no need to peel (3/4 inch squares)
cheese (I used a mix of 3 different kinds)

gluten-free antioxidant veggie pizza #2 (above, bottom right corner)
what you need
1 gluten-free Udi’s thin pizza crust *
1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (1-2 teaspoons)
2 roasted green chiles, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes chopped *
1 can sliced black olives
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup diced onion

what you do
1. Because the beets and squash take longer to cook than the pizza itself, I like to roast them first. It also adds a nice taste to the pizza. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared beets and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Gently mix to cover with oil. Spread out the veggies on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on center rack of the oven for about 15 minutes. Watch closely and flip using a spatula to make sure they’re roasted evenly. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the veggies are roasting, melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and honey and stir until blended.
3. Brush the melted butter-garlic-honey blend over the pizza crust. Add the ingredients, sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy! Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

Melissa’s cooking notes (if you dare):

* Udi’s is a local gluten-free product company. These crusts are thin, delicious and store well in the freezer. This is one of the few pre-made, gluten-free products that I buy. I love them!

* Put the ridacchio on first so it doesn’t burn (that goes for ingredients like kale as well, they tend to cook faster than the big chunky ingredients).

* When I use tomatoes for cooking and don’t want the extra liquid, I chop them and spin them in my salad spinner to get rid of the excess moisture. Then I save the juice and use it in my homemade salad dressings.

* Photos above are the “before” versions. I dislike messing with my camera when it’s time to sit down and enjoy dinner.

Peace, love and antioxidant goodness!

swamp scum smoothie

Well, that’s what it looked like. Murky, camo-green and all.

Plus, I’m hooked on alliterations, and those “s” words flowed together so well. Although I must say, swamp scum probably isn’t the most keyword-worthy phrase. Not that I’ve ever cared much about keywords. In my own blog world, anyway. If I write copy for you, I’m TOTALLY into keywords. TOTALLY.

I suppose if I’m going to take this blogging thing seriously, I should start thinking tagline options, SEO, keywords, analytics and metadata. Don’t you think? After all these years?


Just the mention of metadata gives me brain freeze. And without the accompaniment of a huge bite of ice cream, that’s just not fun.

Okay, on to the serious business of figuring out what to do with all this spinach. I’m almost sure someone at my CSA pickup location slipped some of their spinach into my box.

Fine. If anyone can manage an abundance of spinach, it’s me. I’ll take on the challenge.

Nancy Drew meets the Green Goddess (ooh, that would have been a great title).

swamp scum smoothie
what you need

SPINACH (if you don’t have any, I’ll share), washed with stems *
1 golden beet unpeeled, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped *
1 small apple unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped *
1 cup vanilla goat yogurt
a handful of frozen cherries
a handful of pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
coconut water

what you do
1. Place all ingredients in your VitaMix and blend well. If you have a regular blender, shred the beets rather than chopping them.

* The skins of beets and apples contain all kinds of beneficial nutrients and fiber, so choose organic and leave the skin intact. Scrub well, but don’t peel. If you don’t go with organic, then you might want to get rid of the skin as it’s probably been sprayed with an assortment of icky chemicals. Spinach stems contain some nourishing goodies as well, so throw some of them into the mix.

Go forth and celebrate spinach (again and again). No complaining. This is what “eating local” is all about. Especially in Colorado.
Peace, love and green stuff!

CSA Season begins (hallelujah)

Farm-fresh food lovers, start your engines (salad-spinners, blenders, stovetops, VitaMixes, ice-cream makers, juicers, dehydrators). CSA season is upon us!

Okay, so we’re a little behind out here in Colorado. It’s that pesky snow thing. But, we’re a hardy bunch. We don’t let cold weather ruin our fun or our growing season. Last weekend was Grant Family Farm’s spring farm tour and CSA kick-off celebration. It was cold, rainy, dreary and muddy, but in true Woodstock tradition, spirits were high, the beer was flowing and the farm-fresh food abundant.

As I did last year, I’ll be posting recipes according to what I receive in my share box each week. Please join me in eating our way through the season.

spinach pesto
what you need

2 cups fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
2 – 3 tablespoons parsley, washed and stemmed
1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

what you do
Place all ingredient in a food processor and pulse. Salt and pepper to taste. Serving ideas: drizzle over roasted chicken, serve with crackers, use on pizza, substitute as a condiment in wraps or sandwiches, use as a pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Akens, Food & Drink writer for the Colorado Springs Independent. Please follow this link to Kirsten’s article about Grant Farms Spring Farm Tour (more photos included). Thank you, Kirsten!

Peace, love and farm-fresh food.

farm-fresh roasted veggie tacos

This was my lunch today and trust me, it was delicious. Actually, it was more like dinner masquerading as lunch. I have a weekend yoga workshop with Matthew Sanford that starts tonight, so I thought I’d reverse things and eat my big meal this afternoon. I just ate these tacos while watching Nadal make his way into the finals of the French Open.

I think I’m evolving into a vegetarian. While I haven’t made it a definitive, 100% choice yet, I’m moving in that direction. I’ve never been much of a meat eater, so this all-veggie drift is natural for me. I don’t find it difficult to make up vegetarian versions of typical mainstream meals. In fact, it’s fun and entertaining. Plus, my Grant Farms CSA deliveries start soon, so farm-fresh, organic veggies will be abundant. Might as well start experimenting now.

farm-fresh gluten-free roasted veggie tacos
what you need for the tacos

1 medium/large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small squares
1 cup broccoli, chopped into bite sized florets
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed (I like Eden Organics because the cans are BPA-free)
olive oil
veggie broth *
sea salt
red pepper flakes
shredded cheese
taco shells

* I keep some homemade veggie broth or a container of Imagine vegetable broth in the fridge for oil-free sautéing and for adding moisture to mixtures like this.

what you need for the pico de gallo
1 avocado, chopped
1 tomato, chopped with juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced well into the green section
2 – 4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green lettuce leaf, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt to taste

what you do
Place all the ingredients for the pico de gallo into a medium bowl. Mix well and let sit while making the tacos.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chopped sweet potato in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil (maybe 1 tablespoon at the most). Mix it up with your hands so the potato pieces are covered. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and place on middle shelf of the oven. Set timer for 15 minutes. Watch as they can burn quickly.

Place chopped zucchini and broccoli in the bowl you used for the sweet potatoes. Add a touch of olive oil and toss to coat.

After about 15 minutes or so (the potatoes should be half-done), shove the potatoes aside and add the broccoli and zucchini mix to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and return to oven for 10 to 15 more minutes. Keep an eye on it as the broccoli florets burn easily. Using a spatula, turn the veggies if needed. Remove from oven once they’re finished roasting.

Heat a small amount of veggie broth (maybe 1/4th cup) in a large skillet. Add beans, roasted veggies, red pepper flakes and sea salt. Stir until well heated. You might need to add a touch more broth. You want it moist, but not drippy.

While the mixture is heating, place the taco shells in the oven. It will only take a couple of minutes to heat them up. Watch carefully, they’ll burn quickly.

Fill taco shells with veggie/bean mixture, sprinkle with shredded cheese, top with pico de gallo. Yum! Who says tacos have to be made with pork or beef? You might also like my kale taco recipe. Check here for details.

Peace, love and veggie tacos!

farm fresh salad soup

It was 32 degrees here last night, cold all day and light snow is expected tonight. It’s been snowing heavily in the mountains (yeah!). Monday’s CSA delivery had no chance of becoming anything other than farm-fresh soup. Other than garlic, broth, olive oil and one small sweet potato, I used what was in my delivery box and made a big batch of soup. It could have easily been a salad had I not cooked the ingredients.

I forgot to put the spinach in the before photo (my share box was absolutely overflowing again). Imagine a sweet potato where that gorgeous egg plant is and imagine it surrounded by rich, vibrant spinach leaves. As I was busy chopping away, I decided a sweet potato played into this soup better than the eggplant, so I switched those out at the last minute. I’ll figure out something with the egg plant later this week. Eggplant parmesan with a homemade tomato sauce?

Here’s the before picture.


Here’s the after picture.


Salad in the form of warm, soothing soup
What you need (anything you want, but I used the following)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 bay leaves
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3/4 inch cubes)
6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup water
3 carrots, washed and cut into chunks (don’t you love those chubby carrots)
3 celery stalks, washed and chopped into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces, leaves and all
2 cups washed, trimmed and sliced green beans (1 – 2 inch pieces)
2 cups washed and chopped zucchini (1 inch pieces)
corn kernels from 1 ear of corn (uncooked, removed from the cob)
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 – 2 cups spinach, washed and chopped into large pieces
herbs such as thyme, rosemary and basil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

what you do
• Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large stock pot. Add onion and bay leaves and stir frequently for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add sweet potato, stir occasionally and cook 5 more minutes. Pour 1 cup of the broth over the vegetables, increase heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.

• Add the next 5 cups of broth and the 1 cup of water and bring to a light boil or simmer. Add the carrots, celery and green beans and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and corn and simmer another 5 minutes.

• Add the diced tomatoes and the herbs and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the spinach, cook another 2 to 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Top with a touch of shredded cheese if you’d like (Parmesan or Monterey Jack is good).

These cooking times are flexible, but I’ve found this “layering” method works well with so many different types of vegetables. Put the veggies that take the most time to cook in the pot first, ending with things like herbs, tomatoes and greens that take much less time. I like my soups with crunchy vegetables and vibrant colors and if you over-cook the soup, you lose both characteristics.

Go forth and make salad into soup on cold days!

auxiliary verbs and too many tomatoes


Those of you following this blog know I occasionally assign quirky personalities or off-beat characteristics to my vegetables. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not because I have too much time on my hands.


I just love food, especially farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. That, and the fact that I have an overly-active imagination.

Between my Grant Farms CSA veggie share and my neighbor who’s out of town and asked me to keep an eye on his tomatoes (invasion of the tomato snatcher), I have a boat-load of these wonderful gems.

Tomatoes are auxiliary verbs. Don’t get me wrong, I love them on their own, but more than any other vegetable (at least at this moment when I have dozens of them rolling around on my counter), they play a “helper” role. An auxiliary verb helps to form the tense and voice of the main verb. Stick with me here. They combine with the main verb (or ingredients) to add texture and meaning to the sentence (or recipe).

See? Tomatoes are auxiliary verbs, they “help” express the richness of the dish. The depth of the sauce. The fullness of color. They bring out the best in basil, tarragon, parsley and oregano.

Those of you who are still reading, thank you for indulging me.

Onward. Here are a few things I’ve been doing with my invasion of tomatoes.

Thawed tomatoes make for great additions to soups, stews and sauces (think auxiliary verb). They can be frozen in a variety of ways, but here’s how I do it. Wash, dry, core and cut the tomatoes into wedges. Place them on a cookie sheet, making sure they aren’t touching each other and stick the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in several individual freezer bags or containers, date them and put them back in the freezer for later.


All-purpose blended tomato sauce (which I froze in separate containers)
Once again, this is a “launching pad” recipe which was created according to what I received in my CSA share on Monday. Adjust accordingly and be creative.
what you need (be creative)
8 tomatoes, washed, cored and quartered (cut off funky spots)
6 cloves garlic, chopped in chunks
2 carrots, washed and cut in chunks
1 cup chopped squash (skins included)
1/2 onion, chopped in chunks
basil, parsley and oregano
fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
* chop the veggies enough so they work in the blender

All of these ingredients, except the garlic and oregano were in my CSA box. I’m simply trying to use what I can and save the rest for later. This is a “save the rest” recipe. The basil and parsley were fresh from the farm, the oregano was dried.

what you do
Blend the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until half-way pureed. Not totally pulverized, keep some chunky stuff in there. Pour most of it into a large pot. Retain some of the tomato sauce in the blender so the rest of the ingredients have some liquid to blend with. Add the other ingredients slowly and blend well. Pour this into the pot and cook on low for an hour or so to thicken it and meld the flavors together. Season with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Let cool, pour into individual freezer containers, write the date and what it is on the container and freeze it for later. You can also freeze some of this in small ziplock freezer bags for adding to stews and soups. A cup or so of this sauce added to a soup or stew made with vegetable, chicken or beef stock is absolutely wonderful.

For a few other veggie personality profiles (and some recipes, check below)
The deadly serious beet
Punk rock kohlrabi
Rhubarb, the little tart

There you go – auxiliary verb tomatoes!

Real food


Here is this week’s Grant Farm’s CSA share. This is my abundant, small veggie share, plus my fruit share and a dozen pastured chicken eggs. I was at a loss for words, which is rare for me.

Luckily (or unfortunately for you), those occasional synapse lags never last long. Now it’s time to get to work figuring out what to do with all this produce, plus the lingering stuff from last week.

But first, I’m going to repeat something I wrote over a year ago. Josh, our witty CSA coordinator at Grant Farms, mentioned in his weekly newsletter how important fresh, wholesome, organic food is to our health. As a nutritionist, helping people make lasting and healthy lifestyle changes revolves around food. As an advocate for the return of old-fashioned food (real food), I’m on a mission to support the farmers who grow that food. Josh was right when he said that “many of our health issues are rooted in the food we eat and how it is grown or raised.”

Skip the overblown health claims for expensive supplements, don’t bother with the next dietary fad, avoid fast food and processed junk foods – eat the real thing – wholesome, traditional, real food.

Food Pyramid Remix (my take – late fall, 2008)

The government has made an effort to let us know what we should be eating on a daily basis by creating the Food Pyramid. Rather ironic, wouldn’t you say? Here we are at the top of the food chain and we’re the only animals in need of eating instructions.

I’m not picking sides, but in light of some of the decisions made by our elected officials, maybe we should educate ourselves and figure out what we should eat on our own.

Okay, having said that, I’m going to throw my two cent’s worth into the mix. More irony, you say? I suppose so, but at this point, there’s an overload of complex and confusing information from too many sources. It’s time to slow down and rethink things. We all have to eat, why is it so confusing to choose a healthy diet? Why are we so obsessed with food and yet so unhealthy as a culture? Part of the problem is too many choices in a world of food politics and an industry worth billions of dollars a year — in the United States alone. That can make eating complicated and even stressful.

It doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few of my tips for healthy eating:

1. Eat whole, fresh food (preferably organic).
2. Make whole plant sources, especially vegetables, legumes, and fruit your foundation. You can even eat veggies for breakfast — it’s okay, trust me. Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and teff.
3. For the most part, choose foods you can hold in your hands and wash. Can you wash a box of Kraft mac and cheese or a package of ding dongs? You can wash a tomato, cabbage and you can rinse brown rice. See how easy that is?
4. Don’t eat food that never spoils. Remember my HFCS post? The pink snowballs and the chocolate hockey pucks? As I mentioned, I’ve had those on my closet shelf for over a year. If it doesn’t rot, it’s not food.
5. If animals, insects, and bacteria won’t eat it, maybe we shouldn’t. Food that has been sprayed with chemicals to repel critters is not a good choice for people either. Whoa, that doesn’t mean bugs are smarter than we are, does it? Yikes, maybe so.
6. You’ve all probably heard this one before — don’t eat foods from the middle of the grocery store. Stick to the periphery where the real food is located.
7. Make it yourself. Learn from your grandmother. Enjoy the cultural wisdom of food. My mother grew up in a very poor family in the south during the depression. I mean dirt-floor poor. They had few food choices, but somehow the family was fairly healthy. All they had was what they grew or traded someone else for – vegetables, beans, cornbread, dandelion greens, whatever fruit or nut tree was around, some oatmeal and an occasional pig, chicken, or fresh-caught game (birds, fish, rabbits). My grandmother also made them all take a dose of cod liver oil regularly. Hmmm? When you think about it, you’ve got some very healthy food choices there. They either grew or caught everything they ate. I know things are different now and you just don’t have time to go rabbit hunting on your lunch hour, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
8. To sum it up: eat less, eat slower, use smaller plates, join a CSA, frequent farmer’s markets, choose fresh ingredients, eat more vegetables, choose humanely treated and pastured animal sources, skip the junk food, and savor your food. Part of healthy eating is enjoying what you eat, how you prepare it, the cultural variations, and sharing it with others.

Go forth and eat real food.

peach pancake sauce & push-ups


I’ve said this before, but I’ll admit it again. Being a nutritionist doesn’t stop me from having a full-on sweet tooth. That’s my thing, that’s my issue, that’s my problem, that’s what I’d want if I was stranded on a dessert (Fruedian spelling slip) island.

Stranded with Brad Pitt? No thanks. Stranded with something sweet? Count me in! Stranded with a maple tree and some sap buckets? Yeah!

Pancakes and pure maple syrup — yep, that’s my downfall.

The pancakes?

They’re just maple syrup holders. A reason to eat pure, organic, grade A, Vermont maple syrup.

Knowing full-well I’d be better off topping my pancakes and hot cereal with something other than liquid sweetness, I’m always up for a healthier option. Once again, Ali, from Whole Life Nutrition has come to the rescue, inspiring me to try something new. She just did a post on blueberry syrup and it looks divine. I, however, picked up another big bag of fresh Colorado peaches in my CSA box on Monday.

what you need
6-7 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped in small chunks
1 cup water (a little less if you have very juicy peaches)
2 teaspoons agar-agar *
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

what you do
Wash and chop the peaches. I put the chopped peaches in a large strainer like this, over a larger bowl. I squished (sophisticated culinary term) out some of the juice into the bowl, pressing and smooshing the peaches into the strainer. Pour water and collected peach juice into a medium-sized sauce pan. Add agar-agar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and stir frequently for 5 minutes until agar-agar has fully dissolved.

* Agar-agar is a thickener made from seaweed. You could use arrowroot powder for the thickening agent, or skip it altogether. I like using agar-agar because it’s high in iodine and I feel like I need a dose now and then for thyroid health.

Add peaches, cinnamon and honey and continue simmering and stirring for another 10 minutes, until sauce thickens and water is reduced. It should be the consistency of applesauce.

You have to stir frequently so you might as well keep yourself busy. Stand facing your kitchen counter, about 3 feet away (maybe a little more depending on how tall you are). Okay, here’s the disclaimer. Read this and swear to me you’re not going to do something stupid. Ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to do push-ups against the kitchen counter. Don’t slip on the floor, chip your tooth, hurt your shoulder or whatever else is possible. Make sure you have decent shoes on, your floor isn’t wet and you’re not standing on a banana peel.


With your feet at least 3 feet from the counter, bend over and grasp the edge. Now you’re at a 90 degree angle similar to Uttanasana Forward Bend demonstrated in this illustration. The only difference is you’re grasping the counter top and your feet might be farther away from the cabinet. The farther away, the harder the push-up. Also, the easier it is to slip and hurt yourself (see above disclaimer, read it again). Using core strength (imagine velcro-ing your belly button to your spine from the inside — work your abs), do a series of strong push-ups. Don’t sag. Start with 10 push-ups, rest, stretch back into Uttanasana Forward Bend and then stir your peach syrup; do 10 more push-ups, rest, stretch back into Uttanasana Forward Bend and continue to stir your peach syrup. And on you go. Think of how much strength you build just hanging around in your kitchen waiting for stuff to happen. Seriously, I do iron-chef-girl yoga all the time.

Serve your peach syrup warm over pancakes or let cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for later use. This is great over ice cream, hot cereal (wonderful over hot teff or GF oatmeal), buckwheat pancakes, French toast, or waffles.


Whew, cooking is hard.

do you know where your dinner came from?


Although I find the subject of food politics fascinating, I’ll spare you (sort of) my comestible ranting and stick to some of the more fun aspects of farming, food and healthy living.

But first, a little background.

Okay, I admit it — I drive an SUV. I was born and raised in Colorado, what else would I drive? I ski, hike, backpack and own a 130 pound furry dog. I’m not trading in my 4-wheel drive Pathfinder for some little foo-foo, plug-in car.

Having said that, I also care about the environment. Second to cars, the way our food is produced and distributed uses more fossil fuel than any other segment of the economy. And according to some of the experts who study this stuff, our Standard American Diet (SAD) contributes over one-third of the greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. Not to mention what that diet does to our general health.

Food travels an average of 1500 miles before it lands on our dinner plate. Most of the time we have no idea where it came from, who grew it, or how it made its way into our homes. Other than the short trip from isle 14 at the supermarket and into the kitchen.

So, to do my part, I’m keeping my 9 year old SUV “clunker” and instead of taking the $4500 in government subsidy money and trading it in on a new car, I’ll make an effort to eat as much locally grown, seasonal food as possible. Is “cash for kale” part of any of these government stimulus packages? That might fit nicely into all three of these bills currently stirring up debate in Congress; climate change, food safety and health care. Oooh, as tempting as this political thread is, I’ll resist jumping on my soap box (or fruit box, in this case) and move on to the fun stuff.

Those of us who belong to the Grant Farms CSA program know where a good part of our food comes from. At least 26 week’s worth, but most of us don’t know the finer details. Here’s a closer look, complete with photos I took last Saturday while indulging my hippie-girl roots and painting flowers and peace signs on the farm-tour buses.


. . . and eat your veggies.


Grant Farm’s Jane and Maggie – peace, love, Bob Dylan and sparkly farkle.


You’d never guess who the lady-bug painting expert was. These farm boys are gentle souls (right, Josh?).


This organic lettuce was grown with care by Andy Grant, Ricardo (lettuce scientist extraordinaire) and the gang at Grant Family Farms. It’s harvested at its peak and packed carefully into the CSA delivery boxes by Uriel (above) and his coworkers for pick-up by us, the lucky shareholders. Even knowing the basics of the process, it’s hard for me to imagine how much work actually went into growing and getting that bunch of lettuce into my hands. To be honest, I have no clue, but I can see the pride in Uriel’s eyes and the spirit behind his smile and that gives me a hint.


This is Carmen, carefully dishing out summer squash while flashing her mega-watt smile. There’s a whole assembly line of cheerful, hard-working people putting together our CSA share boxes. Visiting the farm, touring the distribution center and meeting the people who grow, care for, harvest, organize and distribute the food makes it taste all the more delicious.

And Alonzo — a delightful smile to match a pleasant attitude. Now, don’t you appreciate that squash a little more knowing where it came from? And doesn’t that make you smile too? Go ahead, I dare you. Look into these faces and try not to smile. See, it’s impossible (snicker, snicker).

Good people, good energy, good food.

Okay, I don’t want rant (too much) and I don’t want to preach (too much), but by purchasing locally grown food from folks like this who care about the land and value the goods they’re producing, we become an important part of that community — a cog in the health and sustainability of the cycle. They need us and we need them.

It’s a privilege. Thanks, Andy and gang!

Peace, love and veggies!

basil mint walnut pesto

fresh basil spice

Are you finding bunches of fresh herbs in your CSA box? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?

Hmmm, I wonder if Scarborough Fair was the first Farmer’s Market? If any of this rings a bell, you’re dating yourself to 60s crooners, Simon and Garfunkel. And maybe even feelin’ groovy. Without revealing age-specific details, I’m glad I experienced the 60s. As far as decades go, that was by far one of the best. Definitely much cooler than the 80s, wouldn’t you agree?

Bellbottoms and tie-dyes or mall-bangs and leg-warmers? Need I say more?

And the music? No comparison.

It would have been a better recipe segue for me if the lyrics had been parsley, dill, mint, rosemary and basil. Not nearly as melodic. Nonetheless, I find it quite romantic that the original love song was written long ago and involved a bonny lass, fresh herbs and a farmer’s market.

Only in Scotland.

I’m growing the rosemary and mint myself, but the rest of these herbs have been in my farm-share box the past several weeks. I can’t use them all, so I’m in the process of drying the more “dryable” herbs (a post on that will follow). The basil I have no problem using immediately. I love basil, the smell alone is enough to send me straight to the kitchen.

This recipe can be adjusted and played with in all kinds of ways. I’m having a love affair with pesto lately and am finding that you can create pesto using almost anything you find in your CSA box. Zucchini? Yes. Spinach? Yes. Garlic scapes? Wow! Onions, basil, parsley? No problem. Be creative. Here’s another one of my “launching pad” recipes to get you started.

basil mint pesto (and/or whatever else you want to throw in)
what you need

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup chopped walnuts *
3 cloves garlic *
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 – 2/3 cup freshly grated asiago or parmesiano reggiano cheese (a hard Italian cheese)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

what you do
* The walnuts and garlic are wonderful if toasted first, but it’s not necessary. If you decide to try it, preheat the oven to 325F. Place walnuts on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown (watch carefully as they burn fast). In the meantime, cut the ends off the garlic, but don’t peel it. Toast them in a small skillet on medium heat (on the stovetop). I have a small cast iron skillet that works great. Turn the cloves periodically so they cook on all sides, but don’t burn. The garlic should be somewhat soft and tender. Let cool and peel.

Put basil, mint, lemon, and half the oil in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add garlic, walnuts, cheese and drizzle in the rest of the oil. Pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper, pulse and adjust as needed (add a touch more oil if needed). It should be a past-like consistency.

You can also skip the mint and pulse in some shredded zucchini. Zucchini has a lot of moisture in it, so make sure you don’t end up with the pesto being too sloppy. You might have to cut back on the lemon or the oil. Serve on pasta, fresh roasted vegetables, toasted bread, as a side with fish or chicken or as a spread for sandwiches or veggie burritos. If you want to save some for later, put it in an ice-cube tray, freeze it and use individual servings as needed. This is a great way to have “fresh” pesto all year.

Feelin’ groovy,

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
recent posts

my book
(co-written with Pete Bronski)

stay connected
Gluten Free For Good on Facebook Gluten Free For Good on Twitter Gluten Free For Good RSS Feed

Subscribe with Bloglines
Add to Feedburner
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Google
Add to NewsGator
Add to MyAOL