Vegetable Soup 

img_3086So, now that the weather is cooling down soup can be added to your menu planning rotation!  That’s great for me because I love soup.  On a cool crisp day, after being outside with your kids, or your animals, or even alone with nature it feels so satisfying to sit down to a steamy bowl of hearty soup.  As with most of my recipes, this is a guide to give you ideas and not a strict formula for soup success.  Although, with soup how could one go wrong?  Well, even though it’s hard to mess up soup, if you don’t add any salt, sometimes people complain, lol!  So, let me qualify…as long as it’s seasoned adequately, it’s hard to mess up soup.

This is a great way to use whatever is in season and whatever you have on hand.  In my bowl I used tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onions and kale.  Oh, yeah…KALE!  It’s still a very fashionable vegetable and can boost your leafy green intake at any meal.  When chopped up small and cooked in the soup, the leaves just melt in your mouth.  I also added some rice to this vegetable soup to thicken it and make it more substantial for a stand alone meal.  You can start with a vegetable broth or just plain water, toss in your chopped vegetables and your dry rice.  Then bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the rice is nice and soft.  Then it’s time to add your favorite herbs (dry or fresh) and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so and then remove from the heat.

This soup features onions, carrots and kale from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box, however you can use just about any veggie from our farm to create a delicious and satisfying soup for your Autumn enjoyment!

Greens Galore!

Hello Again, I liked the format of last week’s post so much that I decided to do the same thing this week as well.  The title this week is greens galore, and that really is what Spring has brought us in our CSA boxes.  Tons of nutritious dark leafy greens!  I am pleased to say that my family and I were able to make use of ALL the greenie goodness this week without leftovers or waste.  I get so bummed out when I can’t get to all my fresh organic veggies fast enough.  You know, those busy weeks when it seems like sitting down to a meal at home is a challenge?  Well this week was a great example of determination and pre-planning.  When you find yourself with a mountain of greens, you can use the tags to search for all of my posts that feature greens.  Among them are some of the recipes that I made for my family this week and one new one!

The top left photo is a new recipe for me.  It is Spinach Potato Tacos and comes from Forks Over Knives.  I loved this recipe and it got good reviews from my kids and husband.  We eat tacos a lot and this was a new twist on a familiar favorite.

Top right is a photo of a typical Tuesday night here at my house…Taco Salad!  One of my go-to meals, taco salad is easy and nutritious.  Plus, the bonus of meals like this is that everyone gets to customize their own plate!

Bottom left is a photo of Lentil Sloppy Joes.  I  made this recipe last year and so this year when searching for a way to incorporate cooked greens into our main dish, I revived it, but with a few new suggestions.  Last year when we ate these we pretty much just ate the lentil mixture on toast and that was that.  This year I offered condiments, for more of a burger type feel to the meal.  It worked like a charm.  These toppings enticed some of my pickier eaters to enjoy, and even request a second helping, of lentils and greens.  What mom wouldn’t be pleased?!

The next photo (the one that looks mysteriously upside down, weird…), is just some leftovers.  Lentil sloppy Joe mix over a baked potato and a salad, utilitarian I know, but that’s an honest look at what happens for dinner sometimes.  Can’t always be gourmet you know, lol!

For the final photo there is a picture of Green Soup topped with almond Parmesan and green onions.  This recipe is the best way to subdue a ginormous pile of greens, hands down!  I can’t think of any other recipe that will allow you to use such a volume of leafy greens.  I have eaten this soup every morning this week for breakfast and it keeps me full for a long time.

So that’s all folks!  My week of delicious, organic food from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box!  Hope you enjoyed this peek into my week.  What did you do with your greens this week?  Let me know in the comments…

A week in pictures…

 

Instead of reinventing the wheel again, this blog post I decided that I would show you all what I did with the delicious organic produce from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box.   I also wanted to share with you something fabulous that I discovered at my (not so) local Barron’s this month.  Flavored vinegars.  Now I know that flavored vinegars have been around for a while, it’s nothing new, but I wanted to encourage you to try my new favorite flavor…Mango!  It is a white balsamic vinegar and it makes eating salad a real treat.  The smell alone is enough to go gaga for, but the flavor will really get you to clean your salad bowl for sure!  This week my salads featured lettuce, green onions, and radishes from Sage Mountain Farm’s awesome organic CSA box!

I used my produce for the usual salads and added lettuce to a veggie burger here and there, but the recipes that I want to highlight are the two from Forks Over Knives.  Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chili always gets rave reviews, but this was the first time I had ever tried it.  Sure enough, it lived up to the hype…delicious and quite popular with most members of my family.  This dish was garnished with organic green onions from my weekly CSA box.  We decided to call it “red lentil stew” because my kids thought that it didn’t really fit with their concept of chili, but whatever you call it, give it a try.  It’s a keeper in my book!

The next recipe from Forks Over Knives that we tested out this week was Enchilada Casserole.  This one got mixed reviews from my crowd, I think because of the chunks of vegetables.  Texture can be an issue for kids.  Based on flavor, it was a good recipe and although it won’t take the place of our usual bean and vegan cheese enchiladas, I know it will show up again from time to time.  Pretty easy to toss together and it uses CSA greens, and you all know how I love that!

As for the other photos above, I made kale chips in the oven.  They were seasoned with nutritional yeast flakes and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  Funny story, I make these every once in a while with just the Bragg’s, which is like soy sauce, and they go over well.  I like them when I am craving something salty and I have excess greens to use up.  This time I was really wanting a salty snack, and I think it turned out a bit like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, because they were S.A.L.T.Y. In fact, I was dared by my hubby to eat a whole plate of them, which I did, but boy…talk about too much of a good thing!

Last photo is of some cute  little rice rolls.  I used short grain brown rice and filled them with slivers of carrot, radishes, and greens along with a tiny bit of soy chorizo.  All yummy things from my CSA box (except the soy chorizo)!  And you know, Sage Mountain also offers wholesome green-fed pork so…you could make rice rolls with some veggies and some pork from the farm as well!

Have a great week!  If you liked this post, let me know in the comments.  I’ll post again soon with more ideas for enjoying the delicious organic produce from Sage Mountain Farm!
 

Panini with Greenies

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Panini…the answer to lunch!

Have you ever made panini at home?  It’s really quite easy, even if you don’t have a panini maker.  There are a lot of ways to make a delicious, super flat and crispy sandwich, some of which you probably have in your kitchen right now!  A panini is really just a grilled sandwich, but let’s move beyond grilled cheese here and consider the greens that you get in the CSA box.  Imagine a toasty savory way to enjoy the bountiful nutrition of chard in an easy to carry, portable package!  Panini…the answer to lunch.

So the panini can be made with a griddle pan and another heavy pan, such as I will talk about below in my recipe.  It can also be made in any type of grilly-pressy kitchen gadget; George Foreman grill, sandwich maker, even waffle irons!  The main thing is to grill it and press it flat so that as the greens cook, the sandwich compresses to contain the awesome tastiness!

I was inspired to do this when I saw a video of Rip Esselstyn, the guy from the Engine 2 Diet, making a similar panini for some people.  It looked so delicious, I just had to try it with the ingredients that I had on hand in my kitchen.  A little while later I was eating the rewards of this inspiration and today I want to inspire you as well.

Panini with Greenies

Ingredients:

Two slices of bread, I used Ezekiel bread but you could use any bread you like.  Just make sure that it is a sturdy bread, otherwise it may not hold up to the process.

Hummus, I used homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus, but you can use whatever hummus you like.

Sliced tomato

A large handful of chopped greens, I used kale but chard and collards would also work brilliantly!

Salt and pepperSage Mountain FarmSage Mountain FarmsSage Mountain Farm

Method:

Begin by preheating your panini making item of choice, for this recipe I will talk about a cast iron grill pan.

I always tell my kids that the first ingredient of any sandwich is a plate!  This saves me from the mess that generally follows if they are allowed to make their sandwich directly on the countertop.  So, on top of your plate lay out your bread of choice and spread on some hummus, a good amount on each piece, and then salt and pepper generously.  On one piece of bread lay out some sliced tomato and on the other side a mountain of chopped greens, don’t worry it will cook down to a nice flat panini!  Then carefully smoosh both halves together.

Place the sandwich on your grill pan.  Get another cast iron pan and place it on the top of the sandwich.  In the top pan place more cast iron or, as in the demo by Rip, a barbell!  Let the sandwich cook like this for several minutes.  Remove the top pan and flip your panini carefully then replace the top pan and continue cooking for several more minutes until your sandwich is perfectly grilled and lunch ready!

During the cooking process the greens will wilt and compress, releasing liquid.  This may cause sputtering noises as the liquid drips onto your pan, totally normal…no worries!

I love to slice my panini on the opposite diagonal as the grill marks, it looks restaurant fancy that way!  🙂

Let me know if you try this out and what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Italian Style Mustard Greens

How do you enjoy mustard greens?  I don’t have any mustard-green-specific family recipe so I decided to make one up.  YUP, this is an original.  Well, there ain’t much to it exactly, but it is tasty and easy, so it’s a win-win, whip-up type of recipe that’s great to have in your back pocket for a weeknight meal that is satisfying and uses leafy greens.  The more greens we can get ourselves and our families to eat, the better off the world will be…at least in my world-view anyway. 😉

Italian Style Mustard Greens

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Gather up them greens!

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1 white onion, diced

1 bunch mustard greens

Salt to taste (I used a cirtus/herb infused salt, recipe coming soon!)

2t granulated garlic (If you prefer to use fresh garlic then add it when you add the fresh onions at the beginning of the recipe.)

Instructions:

Chop your greens as finely as you like.  I like mine chopped fairly small, I think it makes them more palatable – especially for kids who may not like the texture of cooked greens.  You can use any greens you like here.  I had a few extra leaves of red kale that I threw in along with an entire bunch of mustard greens.  Rinse ‘em and let them sit off to the side until you are ready to add them to the pan.  In a large chef’s pan sauté your onions on high heat until they are translucent.  You could use olive oil here, but I prefer to use small amounts of water to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan.  Season your onions as they cook with your salt.  When you are happy with your onions dump in the greens.

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Sauce and Pasta, Mustard green style!

They should be damp from being rinsed, this will help them not to stick to the pan while you are wilting them, but if you need to, add more water to the pan.  Season with a little more salt.  Think of this as building flavor layers.  You don’t want to add too much salt at any one step in the recipe, just a little sprinkle each time.  Remember to “taste it as you make it” and you’ll be golden!  Stir around your greens and onions until the greens have cooked down enough for there to be room in the pan for your crushed tomatoes.  I like to use the crushed tomatoes that already include a little basil.  Pour the entire can into your pot and give everything a good stir.  When all of the greens and onions are evenly distributed into your tomatoes, turn the heat to low and cover your pan.  Set a timer for 20 minutes.  Once or twice during the cooking time take off the lid and stir.  This would be a good time to sprinkle on the granulated garlic, if yer usin’ it.  Taste and adjust with more salt as needed and allow your greens to finish the cooking time.  This is delicious as a side dish, but my favorite way to eat this is over a whole grain pasta in lieu of a traditional tomato sauce.  Rice could also be used as a base for this flavorful and nutritious sauce.

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Dinner…Done!

How did you like that?  Easy…yes!  Tasty…for sure!

Let’s have a conversation…  Leave me a comment on the blog, on twitter or on Instagram and let everyone know how you like your mustard greens!

Pineapple “Unfried” Rice

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Garnish with fresh cilantro for a great lookin’ plate!

Today we will be using a recipe from the YouTube show, The Chef and The Dietician.  They call it Pineapple Unfried Rice.  Ya’ know, fried rice…only not fried.  No oil and veggie-packed folks, about as healthy as you can get!  Bring it on! 

This is a super tasty recipe.  Hubby and kids approved and I, of course, loved it.

I used the veggies that I had on hand from this week’s CSA box instead of the ones that they suggest.

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Chopped and Ready!

It is a versatile recipe and the combo of pineapple with cilantro is out of this world!  Like, crazy good!  It is easy to throw together on a weeknight and tasty enough to serve to guests.  I think that it is safe to say that this is a hit!  You could easily scale this recipe up or down to fit your appetite and family size.  Though it packs great as a lunch to-go, so I don’t think you should scale it down…just pack it up in individual servings and eat it at school, work or anywhere your adventures take you.

Some things to note:

#1  A confession…You may notice from one of the pictures that I made this recipe using white rice, not the uber-healthy brown version.  Sue me!  I had some leftover and I just went with it.  “Waste not, want not”, right?!

#2  I used shredded carrots, but this is a great place to try out the salad sprinkles that we made earlier this week.  You really could use any combination of veggies that you happen to have on hand, even leafy greens could make up some of the vegetables in this.

#3  They suggest coconut aminos but Bragg’s or regular soy sauce will give you the same flavor profile, use what you have and “taste it as you make it”!

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Saute in juice…zero added fat.

Pineapple Unfried Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups pineapple chunks

1 cup pineapple juice

3-4 cups chopped or sliced veggies (I used carrots, broccoli, broccoli greens, and green garlic)

Grate some ginger in as well (my addition to the original recipe)

4 cups leftover (meaning already cooked) brown rice

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Stir in leftover rice.

½ cup soy sauce (Bragg’s or tamari or coconut aminos are all fine here)

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Heat pan on medium high with ½ cup of the pineapple juice.  Cook your vegetables, garlic and ginger.  Put rice in with the veggies and continue to stir as it all cooks.  Add the other ½ cup pineapple juice if needed and the soy sauce.  Then add the pineapple and cilantro.  Stir to combine.  Serve and enjoy!

I hope that your family likes this as much as mine does.  It really is a great template for any combination of veg that you are enjoying from your CSA box or farmstand purchase.

Salad Sprinkles

Beets + Carrots = No more boring salads!

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So pretty! So colorful!

This week I decided to pair up these root veggies for some color on my salads.  Shredded carrots are a pretty standard topping for a green salad, but add some shredded beets and you have added a pop of vibrant color along with four times the protein of carrots and twice as much potassium!  Carrots are no slouch, however because they’ll give you twice as much Vitamin A as you need in a day and are lower in carbs than beets.  Paired up, these two colorful veggies make some nutritious eye candy for your lettuce!

So, I know that this isn’t really a recipe, buuuuuuuuut sometimes just an idea from someone else will spark inspiration and get you thinking outside of your routine.

However you shred your carrots, be it box shredder or food processor, shred your beets the same way.  WARNING: Beets are so messy!  I like to put a paper towel or a cutting board under the surface that I am working on so that clean-up is a bit easier.  Use equal parts of carrots and beets for the perfect look!

I am thinking of trying the combo out in other dishes as well.  Wherever you use shredded carrots you could sub these “salad sprinkles” instead for a new twist.

I will share with you the salad that I made using these “salad sprinkles”.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Pineapple Salad with Salad Sprinkles

All I can say is YUM!
All I can say is YUM!

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped to your liking

1 cup of pineapple chunks or tidbits

1 cup Salad Sprinkles (equal parts shredded carrots and beets)

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2 T of citrus vinegar* (I use Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)

*If you don’t have any citrus vinegar you could use pineapple juice or orange juice

Gently toss the ingredients together and enjoy!

Once you have tried the salad, let me know if these “salad sprinkles” end up in any other recipes you make this week.  I’m thinking stir fry, chili, or even a quick bread…. The possibilities are endless.

Green Soup

The important thing to note about this chef-inspired soup is that it can be used as a template for any greens that you have on hand.  Broccoli…check!  Kale…check!  Double the spinach and no beet greens…O.K.!  Even lettuce can be used as part of your huge pile of greens.  Imagine the reaction that you would get from Popeye!  This soup was a hit in my family from the youngest to the oldest.  Try it out on your family and see what they think.  I paired this with a salad and it made for a great meal.  You could also add croutons or some crusty bread!  Enjoy!

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Gather your greens to get started!

Green Soup

Ingredients:

2T olive oil or butter

3 yellow onions, sliced thin

3 green garlic plants, trimmed and sliced

1 T ground cumin

Celery, a handful of stalks (with leaves) about as thick around as a box of dry spaghetti

1 T of dried thyme

2 lbs of potatoes (I used 4 medium sized Yukon Golds), peeled and sliced thin

A whole bunch of beet greens, chopped

A whole bunch of spinach, chopped

A whole bunch of chard, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Get out that big ‘ole soup pot!  Put your butter/olive oil in the bottom of the pot and dump in your sliced onions.  I used a mandolin to slice my onions and then later my potatoes as well.  This was a huge time saver, but you could simply slice thin your onions and potatoes with a knife if you don’t have a mandolin.

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Slice ’em thin and sweat ’em

Stir the onions around and let them sweat on medium high heat.  Trim and slice your green garlic and sprinkle over the sliced onions.  Stir and continue to let ‘em sweat.  Toss in your cumin.  Stir.  If you need to add water to prevent stuff from sticking to the bottom of the pot, go ahead and add it anytime.  Chop your celery, stalks, leaves and all and add it to the pot.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir and continue to let this fragrant mixture cook until the onions become translucent.

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See how they’ve cooked down?

Use this time to peel and slice your potatoes.  The thinner they are the more confident you will be that they will be fully cooked when your soup is ready to be blended to creamy perfection at the end.  These potatoes are the key ingredient for a velvety smooth soup.  Add the thyme and potatoes, stir.

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Fluffy chopped greens added to the pot!

Chop your greens and cram them into your pot.  You can add half of the greens and wait until they wilt a bit then add the other half if the whole pile is just too fluffy to add all at once.  Add water to your pot.  Fill it up to 2 inches below the rim of the pot.  Bring this up to a good boil then turn the heat down and let is continue to simmer for at least an hour.  Taste your broth and add more salt and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender (or transfer soup in batches to your container blender) and puree this hot swampy mess into a gourmet soup fit for a fancy brunch!

Two Spinach Smoothies

It’s smoothie time!  I do like me some kale and lettuce, but when I saw the spinach in my CSA box, I immediately thought of smoothies!  The weather is warming up and so I like to change up my usual breakfasts from the comforting oatmeal or hash brown scramble to a cool and frosty treat.

I will admit right off the bat that I have a Vitamix.  For reals though, I got it second-hand so don’t be a hater.  Yes, they are expensive and yes, they are worth every penny (if you actually paid for one, which luckily I didn’t have to).  Don’t worry though, I will not give you any recipe where you will have to blend an entire Chevrolet into a decadent dessert or something.  It’s all fruits and veggies, peeps.  Anything I do in my blender, you can do in yours.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about my favorite way to consume spinach.  I think that a few “go-to” strategies are important when you are eating healthfully, especially if, like me, you grab whatever is easiest more often than what is most nutrient-dense.  It is a bonus when you can set yourself up for success by knowing ahead of time what is easy and healthy!

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Ready for some smoothie action!

A great tip to be ready for smoothies whenever the mood strikes is to keep frozen bananas in your freezer at all times.  I intentionally buy extra bananas and let them over-ripen on my counter, then I peel ‘em, roll ‘em in foil and freeze ‘em.

Enter my two smoothies…

The first is a fruit smoothie.  The best fruit to hide greens in (that is why we put greens in smoothies, right?!  I mean, if you wanted salad for breakfast, eat it on a plate and have a mimosa to drink!) is mangoes.

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Frozen Mangoes!

I buy a big bag of organic frozen mangoes.  They are cubed and ready for smoothies.  I think that they can even stand up to kale, if you are so bold!

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Oh…Stick a straw in it!

Green Smoothie – Mango Style!

Spinach (as much as you can cram into your blender)

1 frozen banana, cut into slices

Frozen mango chunks (between ½ and 1 whole cup)

2 cups pineapple juice (or water, or oj, or plant milk, etc.)

Blend it then stick a straw in it and pretend you are on a beach somewhere, soaking up some rays!

Smoothie number two is a treat!  Well, anything healthy and delicious is a treat, but this is a “sometimes-smoothie” for me.  I feel indulgent when I drink this.  I save this for when I need a little boost, a little “me” treat.   It is a chocolate peanut butter smoothie, that also just so happens to contain vegetables.

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When chocolate and peanut butter love each other very much…

Green Smoothie – Chocolate PB Style!

Spinach (as much as you feel like)

2 frozen bananas, cut into slices

1 heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter

1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

A dash of cinnamon

A dash of vanilla

1 to 2 cups of non-dairy plant milk (or water, or even cow’s milk if that’s part of your diet)

A few ice cubes (cuz’ this tastes best as frosty as possible)

Blend, then drink while binge watching your favorite show!

Both of these breakfasts are full of plant powered nutrition and will help you get your day started right.  They can also be consumed for a snack or lunch, or whenever.  Feel free to experiment with the greens that you include.  Spinach is the easiest green to disguise, but lettuce, kale and chard are all worthy of a try.  “Taste it as you make it”, use what you have on hand and enjoy the bountiful health provided by nature in a cup!

Cimmaron Cherry Smoothie

Cimmaron is a red Romaine variety.

Cimmaron lettuce is beautiful and unusual with its garnet color and its long slender leaves.  I read that this type of Romaine lettuce has been around since the 1700’s!  It has a great mild taste and the color is spectacular.  I usually grab another lettuce first though.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe because I think green = lettuce and so subconsciously I just grab the green stuff more often?  Whatever the reason, the Cimmaron is usually left in my crisper, alone and aloof, like a princess in a tower (sigh).  Well, the color of this royal beauty was what inspired me to pair it with cherries for a great way to drink your greens(reds, lol!) in the morning, or anytime!

According to an article on cherries over at Livestrong.com, cherries can help you sleep better, they can prevent disease and they can keep you healthy and fit.  They have a good amount of fiber per cup and they are high in Vitamin C and Potassium.  The health benefits though, for me anyway, are second to the taste.  I love the sweet/tart combination of flavors that cherries have perfected!  All in one tiny jewel colored package!

For this smoothie I opted to use water as my liquid of choice for two reasons…#1 Water is zero calorie.  #2 Water is free, hey practicality has its place, right?!  Some people prefer to add apple juice to their smoothies for more sweetness.  Others prefer any number of milks, plant or animal based, for creaminess and flavor.  Whatever liquid you add will change the flavor, but like I have said before…”Taste it as you make it”.  I did.  When testing this idea out, I started with only one banana.  It wasn’t sweet enough so I added another, bingo!  Just sweet enough to drink lettuce for breakfast without being dessert-like, which I don’t’ prefer first thing in the morning.

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Have you tried lettuce in a smoothie?

Ingredients

1 bunch/head Sage Mountain Farm Organic Cimmaron Lettuce

2 frozen overripe bananas

1c frozen cherries

2c water (or other liquid)

Blend and enjoy!  Makes 5 cups of smoothie!

As always, I would be thrilled to get your feedback on this (or any other recipe).  Just leave me a comment below!  Do you drink green smoothies?  Have you ever tried lettuce in one?  Let’s have a conversation!