photos courtesy of Food Network
Fresh, juicy, and colorful layered tomatoes, drizzled with sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar make for a refreshing salad on a hot summer day.
To make the salad, alternate rounds of watermelon (you can use a biscuit cutter) with slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes and top the stack with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and little fleur de sel adds contrast to the sweetness of the melon and tomatoes.
Stuff a variety of heirloom tomatoes with tuna salad, chicken salad, rice, or quinoa.
photos courtesy of Food Network
This time of year is crazy around here. During the busy summer months on a farm I find it easiest to prepare 2-3 big meals that we can all eat from through the week. These are perfect with a side of fresh corn (we eat it raw), cantaloupe, watermelon, sliced tomatoes...
You could really vary these according to what you have on hand, find at your local farmers market or even to use up extras in the freezer. I simply throw all the ingredients into the crockpot and let it sit for 6-8 hours.
Cabbage and Sausage
Head of Green Cabbage
Head of Purple Cabbage
3 Mild Jalapeno
2 Pounds Sausage
Salt & Pepper
Drizzle of Honey
Total Cost: $12
Meaty Green Beans
Lots of Beans!
Package of Bacon
Salt & Pepper
Total Cost: $10
~Add them to your Green Smoothies or yogurt!
~Cook them down with a little honey or other natural sweetener for a delicious sauce or glaze.
~Freeze them to be used later in your smoothies or baking.
~Dehydrate them for use in granola and cereal.
~And our favorite way...fresh picked berries from our farmers market! We rarely get home with many left over!
Tips for Kids & Picky Eaters
*Introduce berries and other fruits before they eat or drink anything with white sugar (this includes juice, candy, gum etc).
*As they take the first bite ask them questions about the fruit. What color are they, how do they taste, are they juicy. This gets kids thinking about flavor and experience rather than simply sweetness.
*For that really picky eater who needs some incentive...have a contest to see who can get a purple tongue first!
Making a shopping list, meal planning, coupon cutting and the like have always stressed me out! I tend to do really well for a couple of weeks and then lose steam. The next time I'm at the grocery store I just fill up the cart with what looks good, seems healthy and I know the kids will eat. Thsi do
Shopping at a local farmers market tends to make things just simple enough for me to stay on track with our healthy eating and our budget. I'd love to share a few of the tips that I've used the last couple of years, especially when we are buying almost all of our food at the local market.
1. Meat, Eggs, Milk This is what that looks like for us each week:
2 Packages of Breakfast Meat (Bacon and/or Sausage), 3 Packages of Dinner Meat (Whole Chicken, Beef Ribs, Pork Chops, Kabobs, Ground Beef, etc), 3 dozen eggs (I hard boil 1 dozen, and we eat the other 2 dozen for breakfasts or Breakfast for Dinner), 1 Gallon Real Milk. I place my order online by email from Stoney Creek Farm before the market so that it is all ready and bagged for me on Saturday mornings.
2. Fruits We love fruit! And this time of year it replaces all of our other snacks so I stock up! I basically buy one of every fruit available. For example, this week we picked up raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples. The key is to use them! Use the most perishable fruits first, freeze them if they are getting too ripe, put them on cereal, make a Green Smoothie!
3. Vegetables Don't skip this part! My kids know that we will have vegetables cooked in Olive Oil at least 2-3 nights a week. They have learned to request their favorites like squash and zucchini. Nathan loves eggplant parmesan. We eat fresh salads with tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers at least 4-5 days a week. And who doesn't love fresh sweet corn and baked new potatoes! I start with what is most comfortable for my family and then I like to challenge myself by trying something different.
5. Document Your Food Stash I started taking photos of my groceries a couple of years ago. It's a great way to hold yourself accountable, document what you have and to remind yourself of what is in the back of the fridge or freezer. I simply upload the photo on the computer and come back to it during the week. Its a great way to remind yourself that you have two eggplant to use or a package of kabobs that will be great for grilling night! It's also useful for making your list for the next week. If taking a photo doesn't work for you you can always simply make a list of your purchases or even the specific meals you have ingredients for you.
6. Eat What You Buy This is the most important step in staying on a budget. As Americans we throw away a LOT of food. Recipe searches are a great way to "figure out" what to do with those last few items left over at the end of the week. Simple search for "recipe, plus your ingredients" and see what comes up!
Everyone loves Breakfast for Dinner! What I love about this time of year is that there are so many delicious, healthy foods at the market that can go with your fresh brown eggs.
Dozen Eggs $3 (Stoney Creek Farm)
Pieces of various sliced vegetables (When I slice them for other meals I keep the ends to put in our eggs) $1-2 (Caneyville Farms, Coleman Bros. Farms)
Bacon $3 (Stoney Creek Farms)
Granola $2 (Mennonite Delight)
Black Raspberries $2
Total $11 (for a family of 6)
To prepare eggs:
Heat 2 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet. Add sliced vegetables (we like squash, zucchini, tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, bell pepper, onion). Eggs can be added and prepared to your taste. I like over easy, the rest of the family likes scrambled.
I want to challenge you to try something new. Even if you don't like vegetables very much (outside of potatoes and the deep fried variety). Trust me when I say that I know where you are coming from. I've been there. Asking for extra rice instead of the side of veggies, ordering the baked potato (loaded) and turning my nose up at the "steamed veggie" option.
But if you are like me you want to eat healthier, am I right? Well, here's your chance to try something simple and I guarantee you will like it! It's sweet, salty, crisp and surprisingly delicious!
2-3 yellow or green squash (any variety) $1-2
2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Pepper
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add thinly cut squash. Salt and Pepper to taste. Let cook on booth sides until browned. This can take a while...but the crispier the better!
Try them, love them and feel good about it!
If you are like our family you are probably hosting or attending a lot of potlucks, BBQ's and celebrations this summer. Salads topped with lots of your favorite goodies are a great way to share local foods with big crowds. A special thanks to the Page family for inviting us into their home and lives over the past couple of years. You have been mentors to us in so many ways, food and mothering to name a few! May we share many more meals together over the years...
Fresh Local Salads (topped with your favorites)
Lettuce $1.50 (Caneyville Farms)
Tomatoes $1.50 (Caneyville Farms)
Brown Eggs .50 (Stoney Creek Farm)
Onion .75 (Caneyville Farm)
Peppers .50 (Coleman Bros. Farm)
Chicken $1.75 (Stoney Creek Farm)
Cucumber .50 (Coleman Bros. Farm)
All items were purchased at Community Farmers Market
Total Budget $7.00
Kimberly's Honey Mustard Dressing
1 cup Mayonaise
1 squirt Spicy Brown Mustard
1 Tablespoon Raw Honey
Dana's Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 Parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Part Balsamic Vinegar
With the money you are saving you can pick up a bar of soap or a potted plant for the hosts!
You have probably heard a lot about eating "real food" or "local food" but if you are like I was a couple of years ago you may have a hard time imagining how to make that work for you...especially if you are on a budget. Let me share with you exactly what a real, local dinner can look like for your family.
All of these foods were purchased at the Community Farmers Market on Saturday June 4th, 2011. Dinner was made in less than 15 minutes prep time (about 30 minutes total). It wasn't difficult and my entire family enjoyed it. Most importantly it was nourishing food prepared together in our kitchen and enjoyed together.
Cabbage & Sausage
1 head Cabbage $1.50 (Caneyville Farms)
1 pound Sausage $4.00 (Stoney Creek Farm)
1 Sweet Onion $1.00 (Caneyville Farms)
Brown sausage and add onion until carmalized
Chop cabbage and add to sausage and onions.
Cover with a 2-3 cups of water and cook down.
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Patty Pan Squash ($1.25) (Coleman Bros. Farm)
Olive Oil (Sam's)
Salt & Pepper (Sam's)
Warm oil on low to medium heat.
Add sliced squash, salt and pepper to taste
We like ours browned on the edge. But you can cook them to your preferance.
Sliced Banana Bread $2.00 (Mennonite Delight)
Real Milk $1.50 (5 glasses) (Stoney Creek Farm)
Total for Dinner $11.25 (for a family of 5)
After my third child was born I hit a brick wall when it came to energy, weight loss and overall health. I had always been physically active but a little older and heavier I was having a hard time getting back in shape. Three little ones 5 and under take a lot of energy but you don’t get the cardio that your body needs to keep up with the fast pace of a two year old. Another concern I wanted to cure was poor digestion. Not a fun topic, but when your digestion isn’t happy your body isn’t either! In an effort to find a solution I ran across several websites and blogs discussing green smoothies. I admit that I wasn’t initially convinced or even thrilled with the idea. But after reading the benefits of weight loss, extra energy, reduced sugar cravings and daily regularity I thought I’d give it a try.
I started with the simplest recipe (orange juice, banana and spinach) and I can honestly say it changed my life. I was eating healthier, sugar cravings dramatically decreased and for the first time in my life I had normal digestion. Within a month I was waking up refreshed, running for the first time in my life and felt great. This one change in my diet encouraged many more positive changes such as drinking more water and eating more salads at mealtime. For the first time in my life I was eating the recommended intake of fruit and vegetable servings.
Simple Steps to Get Started
Grocery List: Simply Orange Juice, 1 Bunch of Ripe Bananas, 1 Bag of Baby Spinach
First thing in the morning drink a large glass of water, followed by a green smoothie 1 part OJ, 1 Banana and 1 handful spinach (you can also add additional water or ice)
Repeat for at least 3-4 days and see how much better you feel. Although I noticed reduced sugar cravings the first day.
What I love about the green smoothie is that it is simply real food providing real benefits to our bodies. It isn’t complicated and it doesn’t take a lot of time in the kitchen. Once you have built a routine of adding the smoothie to your diet every morning you can start trying new things. Add frozen berries, increase the spinach, use kale or even add flax seeds for extra nutrition.
I have found that kids are really smart and adaptable to change, especially when we explain things in advance. For example, rather than simply swapping their morning orange juice with a new “green smoothie” explain that you want them to be healthy and have extra brain power for the day. Tell them that this new drink will help their bodies work better. Kids get it. Here are a few more ideas for introducing the smoothie to kids:
-Adding blueberries (or any dark berry) makes them purple smoothies rather than green.
-Put them in a fun glass or add a crazy straw!
-Call them “Monster Juice” or “slime"
-Try not to talk up the green, spinach or kale part of the smoothie if it turns them off.
-Ask other adults (dad, grandma etc) to not make funny faces or comments about the smoothie until your kids are hooked!
-If the green is a serious problem simply leave it out for a bit. Or read green eggs and ham and tell them that you are trying green smoothie!
Sharing a Good Thing
After realizing that there were so many benefits to adding the green smoothie to your day I started sharing it with my friends. Everyone noticed that not only was I healthier but my entire family had better eating habits. This is what a few of them had to say about their daily smoothies:
I have become hooked on green smoothies. After the birth of my youngest child, I really craved them to replenish my lost iron from childbirth. I would "limit" myself to two a day! I still drink them often, and especially love them after a weekend or vacation filled with poor eating choices. The green smoothies seem to give me more energy and allow me to easily do something good for my body. I feel like it helps my body purge some of the impurities in the other foods I enjoy eating. But, by far the best benefit is that my kids love them. My four year old son Oliver wouldn't touch a vegetable if it were on his plate. And yet, I can blend up a big bag of spinach or kale, carrot juice or a little orange juice, a few strawberries, and a banana and he will gladly guzzle down his "monster slime smoothie." Or, I can substitute blueberries or rasberries and he'll enjoy his "giant blood smoothie." It is amazing watching him and his siblings down a liquid salad and then ask for more! -Claudia Strow
My entire family loves the green smoothie! Personally I've noticed more energy and a decrease in sugar cravings, and since I'm a nursing mom the sugar cravings are bad! They are perfect for that mid afternoon snack when I really want to eat everything in the house and then sleep. –Brianna Smith
About a year and a half ago Michelle told me about this smoothie she started making every morning and the benefits she was having from drinking it. So I reluctantly told her I would try it. I was so surprised at how I really like the taste of it. Then after a week I noticed that my acid reflux had sub-sided. I have been drinking it now everyday and no longer have to take medications. My skin is better and I actually crave it every morning. To make it I simply add a banana, orange juice and a handful of spinach. Mix it in a blender, Delicious! I have passed this onto some friends and it has really helped them in many ways too. –Brenda Guest
Real Food for Families
Join me as I share my journey to the discovery of real food. Local, healthy food that nourishes our bodies and minds...all while living on a budget!