Posts tagged ‘Boston Organics’
Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens – those might be cute and poetic, but don’t quite top my favorites list. I have been finding pleasure in the little things lately, like enjoying hot oatmeal instead of overnight oats on my one day a week off. Or taking walk breaks during my runs because my legs are fatigued from standing all day and I am enjoying the time in the sun as much as I am the exercise. Or counting my bike ride to the hospital as my exercise for the day if I am too tired or too busy to squeeze in a run, thankful that at least there is some movement in my day. I am also loving these suggestions about fitness for the
lazy busy girl!
I am still enjoying cooking, though I am doing less of that these days, too. With lunchtime conferences feeding me at the hospital 4 days a week, I have less need to prepare food that will make good leftovers. I miss my quality kitchen time, but am grateful for the amount of time (and money) the free lunches have saved me! Still, not all meals are provided and I love a good excuse to cook up some healthier, veggie-laden dinners when I can! This recipe combines some of my favorite things: sweet potatoes, quinoa, leafy green veggies, and Indian-inspired flavors. I found the recipe for Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa and Greens on the Boston Organics website when I was lacking inspiration for my bunch of Swiss chard. I am glad this didn’t sit on my “to make” list for very long – it is too good to miss out on! I’d recommend trying this now, both because it is so delicious and because it will soon be too hot for oven caramelized sweet potatoes. The only change I made to the recipe is using 1/4 tsp dried ginger instead of fresh, and omitting the lemon juice and pat of butter. I loved the curried quinoa, and the sweet potatoes really add the great sweet note to complement the curry spice. Don’t miss out on the condiments with this one either – I had a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, a bit of chopped cucumber, and a dollop of Trader Joe’s mango butter that added dimension and depth with each bite.
Running, resting, cooking and vegetables, these are a few of my favorite things!
Question: What are you loving lately?
I received the largest tomato I have ever seen in my Boston Organics box last week! I forgot to snap a picture, but trust me when I say this thing was a monster. It was seriously the size of 2 or 3 normal tomatoes. I was afraid of it being tasteless or mealy since it was so big, yet it was still flavorful, juicy and delicious! I pulled this meal together after a few chilly early fall days in Boston. I was freezing last week, since it was rainy and the temperatures were peaking in the low 60′s. How am I ever going to survive the winter if I can’t even handle 60 degree weather?! I hope I adjust quickly! Inspired somewhat by the idea of scalloped tomatoes, I was craving some sort of baked casserole. I decided to slice the tomato and polenta, layer them together in a baking dish, sprinkle that with goat cheese, Balsamic, and basil. I was unsure of what to expect, but this dish blew me away. The flavors were incredible, the goat cheese got nice and melted, and the warm tomato and polenta together were comforting. Such a great use for late season tomatoes as the weather begins to change on us!
Question: What is your favorite use for late season tomatoes?
serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side
2 medium tomatoes
1 polenta log
2-3 oz goat cheese
20 basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the tomato in half and then into slices. Cut the polenta log into similar thickness slices. Arrange the tomatoes and polenta in an alternating pattern along the bottom of the baking dish. (I used a 10 inch round dish and layered 2 tomato slices for every piece of polenta. Once the first layer is down, sprinkle with goat cheese, salt and pepper. Create a second layer with what remains of the tomatoes and polenta. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with basil slivers. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until liquid in the bottom of the dish is boiled. Set the oven to broil and broil for an additional 5 minutes, until the Balsamic vinegar is browned on the top layer. Cut and serve immediately.
Most people can cook – with a few basic tools and skills, and some patience, it is easy enough to follow a basic recipe. However, it is much more difficult to create. Looking in the fridge and pantry, seeing what is on hand, and combining only what you have to create an awesome meal. This is what makes programs like Boston Organics or traditional CSA’s so intimidating – a loss of control of what ends up in your fridge, and a big push into the realm of creative cooking. However, this, for me, has been the most fun part of my Boston Organics box! I love day dreaming about how I can pull together the random assortment of ingredients from my fridge and cabinets. A quick tip: keep a well-stocked pantry! I always have pasta, brown rice, quinoa, cous cous, canned and dried beans, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, olive oil, a few vinegars and basic spices on hand. They really make a huge difference when trying to pull together fresh ingredients into a satisfying meal! The biggest hurdle to overcome: fear. But what is there to be afraid of? If it doesn’t taste good, scrap it and start over. At least food usually isn’t too expensive of an experiment! (Or you could eat it anyway, what I usually do since I really, really hate to waste my veggies…)
Who knew that it would be such great preparation for my time at my friend’s vacation home in Croatia, too? We were excited to be able to cook for ourselves for a few days, both to save money, and to see some veggies back on our plates after a few days eating out in Sarajevo! We brought along some fruits and veggies from a market in Sarajevo, and bought a few necessities from the supermarket as soon as we got there. Soon, our fridge was full with necessities: tons of fresh fruit, eggplant, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, chicken, peppers, beer, wine, gnocchi, tomatoes, cucumbers. We bought what looked good, paying little mind to what we were going to use it for. We could always run back to the produce stand, or swing by the store on the way back from the beach if we needed anything! We ended up making three meals at home, one of which I have already shared. The other two are coming up this weekend!
Two bits of exciting news… I now have a Facebook page! I feel guilty for constantly spamming my friends and filling their news feed with post updates. If you are a friend who gets updates about new recipes and posts through Facebook, or are a regular reader, like my page to keep getting those updates! I will no longer be posting to my personal wall, so be sure to stay in touch!
In much more exciting news, my best friends are getting married! Over the long weekend, I will back home in NJ for the wedding (you may remember her engagement celebration and bridal shower!) I am fortunate enough to be hosting her rehearsal dinner, so will be busy this evening tonight and tomorrow with preparations for that. And of course there will be no time for blogging on the wedding day – Saturday! I am so excited for my friends and am so blessed to get to share in their special day. I hope you enjoy my prescheduled posts about my cooking adventures in Croatia in the meantime!
Question: Are you a recipe-follower or creator in the kitchen?
There is nothing I love more than watching someone fall in love with a healthier lifestyle. It only takes a few small changes that eventually add up into a lot of healthy habits! This recipe is what pushed my little sister over the edge to be an adventurous, veggie-cooking college student. She has found her own veggie delivery program in Philly, and says that she is excited to try new recipes and new foods as she begins to cook for herself this year! I hope that she finds inspiration from what I make with my box, as well as from her own amazing culinary creativity.
I have seen recipes for all types of green goddess dressings popping up everywhere, whether they are low-fat, vegan, gluten-free… you name it! I had some leftover cashew cream from my pasta sauce, and decided to try my own hand at it! It is a little more inspired by the flavors in pesto than in a traditional green goddess dressing, but is absolutely delicious in its own right. Plus, I got to try out my new Whole Foods purchase – nutritional yeast! This strange, flaky ingredient is super good for you – rich in B vitamins and packed with protein. It has an interesting, almost cheesey flavor, making it a perfect addition to dressings and pasta sauces! If you are not so adventurous, you can definitely try substituting a bit of grated cheese in the dressing, or just leave it out and add a bit more salt! I really like the flavor that it adds in recipes, but am not at a point to use it sprinkled over pasta. A little to earthy for me…
Try this recipe. It is really, really good. My sister exclaimed, “I just want to stick my face in it!” She had me make extra before I left, and is dreaming up ways to use it. We dipped some roasted broccoli in it, but she thinks it would make a great chip dip, or could even be a great pasta sauce.
Question: What do you think it would go well with?
Green Goddess Dip
1/3 cup basil
1/3 cup parsley
1/2 cup cashew cream
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Chop basil and parsley finely in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and combine until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
After three months of being an omnivore (and a few truly carnivorous weeks in Europe), I am back to my vegetarian ways. My dad is particularly perplexed by this, since he is the kind of man who thinks dinner doesn’t count if there is no meat. But honestly, I feel better when I am not eating meat. I have more energy after meals, definitely get more veggies in my diet, and all around feel healthier. I still will stand by my philosophy of being a better friend than a vegetarian, and will not turn down someone’s hospitality simply to maintain my dietary preferences. However, my recipes from now on will be vegetarian!
There are two things I love most about cooking as a vegetarian. The first is enjoying tons of fresh fruits and veggies! It is really simple to eat healthy when a huge box of produce shows up at your doorstep. I have explained the Boston Organics program briefly before, and am so glad to be a returning customer! I received my first delivery for the new school year yesterday, and found kale, lettuce, green beans, cukes, onions, plums, nectarines, apples, oranges, bananas and thyme all nicely waiting for my on the porch when I got home from class! I have convinced many of my Boston friends to join either Boston Organics or a CSA, both for the convenient for delivery and for the fact that it forces you to always be stocked with fresh, mostly local, organic produce. My sister even found a really similar program in Philly and is considering joining, and is really excited about learning to cook veggies so they taste good. My enthusiasm for veggies may sicken some, but is obviously infectious, so watch out ;)
The other thing I love is finding alternative protein sources: beans, nuts, seeds…. but one of my favorite vegetarian protein sources is lentils. My mom picked up some naan at the store during my last few days home, and I knew that I wanted some lentils with it. With it being so hot and humid, I wanted to stay away from the stove as much as possible. These lentils are light and creamy, with just enough curry flavor to make it interesting. They are not the most photogenic beans… I promise they taste better than they look! I enjoyed the lentils with naan for dinner with a few of my spaghetti squash fritters, but they would also make a great light lunch on their own!
Question: What is your favorite vegetarian protein?
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (soy yogurt if vegan)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried cilantro
3 stalks celery, chopped
Cover dried lentils with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to allow lentils to simmer. They should be cooked through and soft in about 15 minutes. Be careful that the water doesn’t boil off or the lentils will burn at the bottom! Allow the lentils to cool. Mix with Greek yogurt, herbs and spices, and chopped celery. Season with salt to taste if desired. Refrigerate or serve at room temperature.
It is Wednesday morning… know what that means? Recipes and pictures from another fantastic roommate dinner! We have both been free three Tuesdays in a row – we are on a roll! Think we can keep it up for a fourth? As we enjoyed our experimental “risotto” and snacked on watermelon for dessert, I helped my roommate list out the recipes that she knows well and feels comfortable with. She is relatively new to cooking and is good at the ten things she knows how to make, but feels like she is stuck in a rut. We brainstormed ways for her to become more adventurous in the kitchen, which gave me inspiration for a blog post! (I cannot promise when this will happen, but sometime soon, I hope to write some ideas that we came up with as advice for beginner cooks. If you have any specific questions or things you would like addressed, comment below!) We also decided that roommate dinners from now on will morph into quasi-cooking lessons to help expand her recipe repertoire. I am looking forward our little experiment.
I called dinner Barley and Bean “Risotto” because it is loosely inspired by the traditional Italian rice dish. I love the creaminess of a well-made risotto, but wanted to find a way to make it a little more whole-grain-healthy (Arborio, the traditional risotto rice, is a short, white rice variety – not a whole grain!) I had seen some recipes for barley or farro risotto instead, and so I decided to experiment. The end result was delicious, but not quite a risotto. The barley is a little chewier than rice, but still a really unique and great texture. I would definitely make this again, especially because it is a great way to clear out some of your sadder-looking leafy greens. The greens I got as part of my Boston Organics box last week were unidentifiable – kale? chard? collard greens? Doesn’t matter! Throw whatever you have on hand in!
Watermelon reminds me of spring and summer, just like the flowers in bloom all around Boston! There are a few pictures of pretty tulips in Kenmore Square to brighten your day :) Our watermelon dessert was a gift from our upstairs neighbors. They are funny people – friendly and chatty when they want to be, but unpredictable in their mood. Anyway, I am glad to at least know my neighbors – the last apartment I lived in was so transient that I lived there for 2 years without knowing anyone in my building other than my roommate. To thank them, we made a little card to tape to their back door. A simple papercraft, but hopefully another step in building a relationship with them.
Question: Are you comfortable in the kitchen? What are some things that draw you to cooking, or prevent you from experimenting in the kitchen more often? These questions are meant for you guys! Comment below to let me know your thoughts on cooking, and things you would like to see on my blog that might help you become more comfortable making healthy and home-cooked dinners!
Barley and Bean “Risotto”
1 cup dried white beans (or 1 can of white beans, drained)
3 bay leaves (if using dried beans)
2 small onions
1-2 tsp minced garlic, depending on your taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup barley
1 can tomato soup (not condensed kind, and better if low-sodium)
1 can vegetable broth
2 bunches of leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.)
1 tsp basil
Cover white beans with water. Add bay leaves and boil for about 10 minutes, and then reduce heat and let continue to cook until beans are soft – about an hour.
Chop the onion and saute with garlic and olive oil. In a separate pot, bring tomato soup and vegetable broth to a low boil. When the onions are soft, add the barley and stir until well coated. Add about 2/3 cup broth mixture. Allow barley to cook until liquid is absorbed, like you would do for a traditional risotto. Add another 1/3 cup of liquid and allow to absorb. Continue this process until all of the liquid has been added to and absorbed by the barley. (This process should be done slowly while stirring pretty constantly so the barley has time to cook all the way). Drain the cooked beans and add to the barley mixture. Add the rinsed and chopped greens (they will be voluminous at first but they’ll cook down!) and turn down the heat. Season to taste with basil, salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan.
A few of my posts have mentioned Boston Organics and promised that I would explain more about the program later. Well, for all of my Boston friends, listen up! A friend from church introduced me to Boston Organics late last summer. I had looked into doing a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program that summer, but was deterred by the size of the box and fear that I would be unable to use all of the produce. Plus, traditional CSA’s do not allow you to put a delivery on hold or say “no” to certain types of produce. My friend explained that Boston Organics was like a wholesale CSA. Instead of working with one local farm, they sourced organic farms nationally in order to provide a more well-rounded year-long selection. They do have the option of a Dogma Box for people committed to only eating local, and give preference to local organic farmers for all of their other boxes. Plus, they have various size boxes with different fruit:veggie ratios, and have delivery options either weekly or bimonthly. Even better, with advanced notice, you can cancel an upcoming shipment if you are going on vacation, or have been unable to eat all of the produce in your box that week. You are also given the option of creating a “no list,” which ensures that certain types of produce will not come your way, and you can update this throughout the course of your membership. They also have add-on groceries and specialty items that you can include in your delivery! I listened to her explain this to me and fell in love with the program. It supports local farming, provides me with organic produce, and delivers it all directly to my doorstep! The convenience factor was a huge selling point for me, an increasingly busy med student who still wanted to have fresh produce on hand. But if you still need some more convincing…
Contrary to popular belief, most organic produce is not more nutritious than its conventionally grown counterparts. In fact, a NY Times article by Mark Bittman claims that the label “organic” should be the least of American’s worries since our fruit and vegetable consumption as a whole is so embarrassingly low. Simply eating more produce is sufficient to provide the nutrients we need, organic or not. However, conventionally grown produce has many other problems. Exposure to chemicals and fertilizers are linked to a whole host of problems, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, autism, Parkinson’s disease, male sterility, female infertility, miscarriage, ADHD, asthma, allergies, and many others. Also, produce grown in large-scale farms can lead to mineral depletion and soil erosion, and leads to many environmental problems. Therefore, organic produce is the healthy and environmentally responsible option. (Summarized from The Huffington Post)
For those of you who aren’t sold on organic quite yet, there is something called the dirty dozen. These are the foods that are the most contaminated by the gross chemicals that are linked to so many health problems. If money is tight or you want to ease your way into eating more organic produce, these are the ones to start with: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes. Some of the ones on this list surprised me, but mostly it makes sense. If it has a thin skin, no skin, lots of leaves, or spends a while in the ground, its is more likely to pick up a lot of those chemicals. If it is thick-skinned (think citrus or bananas) or primarily imported, it is less likely to be chemical laden.
I have never regretted becoming a Boston Organics customer. It saved me during this long, cold, snowy Boston winter from having to make the 20 minute trek to and from the grocery store. It ensured that I always had fresh produce on hand, even when classes made it nearly impossible to complete daily life tasks like laundry and cooking. It also introduced me to new foods that I would never buy on my own in the grocery store, and eventually to the wonderful world of food blogging as I pondered what to do with these curious new ingredients. Plus, even if they are not more nutrient rich, I have found that organic produce usually tastes better! Either way, I have been convinced that it is the more environmentally and health friendly way of eating, when I can afford it.
Question: What are some of your food ethics? Do you try to eat organic, local, cage-free, free-range, hormone-free, or any of the other terms that are in vogue? Why? Almost all of my produce is organic, except for the few supermarket fillers that I buy occasionally (in which I use the dirty dozen rule to decide to buy organic or not). I am looking forward to being able to eat more local produce this summer (hello Jersey corn and tomatoes!) as well as veggies from my mom’s garden. I also buy cage-free brown eggs when possible, and can usually find them on sale since I am an infrequent egg eater. I try to strike a balance between budget and conscience when making my food choices.
Every other Tuesday, I get a box of produce delivered to my doorstep as part of the Boston Organics program. It is similar to a CSA except the organization works with organic farmers nationally so that customers get a more well-rounded box at all times of the year. For now, check out the website, but I will be sure to post about this awesome program more in the future!
While I love my box, you do not control what is coming to your doorstep. This occasionally leads to a stockpiling of lesser
loved used produce. This week, I got my second bunch of organic carrots in a row, and I still hadn’t eaten my way through the last delivery! I love carrots as much as the next veg, but they usually only take me so far (aka carrot sticks and hummus) before I let them sit lonely in the bottom of my veggie drawer. With a dangerously high level of carrots on my hands this week, however, I decided to get a little more creative. I looked into my recipe archives on my computer for some quick carrot slaws, all inspired by a NY Times article I may or may not have found while surfing the internet in class at the beginning of the year…
The first salad, a classic Moroccan dish, made an appearance at my community group (the neighborhood Bible study from my church that I attend weekly) as part of our salad night. We share a themed potluck meal together each week that rotates between salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, breakfast for dinner, taco night, and some other randoms thrown in there for fun. It is almost always my favorite meal of the week, even if it is not cohesive, and I almost always am the one to ensure that veggies make an appearance.
The second salad caught my attention because it uses coconut, which I now have a ton leftover from my Raw Samosas that I made for Easter. It seems like a random list of ingredients, but is surprisingly tasty, and really filling! I made it in advance so that I have quick, grab-and-go lunches for next week.
Question: How do you clear out your vegetable drawer/random leftover ingredients, from your fridge? My go-to is usually a soup, but I may have to experiment with more salads like these as we enter into warmer weather!
Moroccan Carrot Slaw
3 cups shredded carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
¾ cup raisins
dash cumin powder
1 tbsp parsley
Grate peeled carrots in a food processor. Toast cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let stand in fridge before serving to let all of the flavors come together.
UPDATE: This can also be served warm if you mix it in with some quinoa – a good way to keep leftovers a little more interesting by reinventing them!
Curried Carrot Slaw
1 can chickpeas
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup shredded carrots
1 head of celery, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lime juice
1 ½ tsp curry powder
Drain chickpeas well. Mix together with carrots and celery. Add olive oil and lime juice and mix well. Stir in curry powder and coconut until well combined. Add more lime juice and curry powder to taste. Let stand in fridge before serving to let all of the flavors come together.