Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Attn Boston Foodies!

Just a quick post to let you know about two amazing events happening in Boston in October. The Boston Local Food Festival is this coming Saturday. I volunteered at the festival last year and will be helping out again this year. Here are some details straight from the BLFF website (just click the links for more info). I hope to see you there!

Boston Local Food Festival
What You’ll Find at the Festival:

  • Freshly harvested produce and seafood from farmers and fishermen
  • Scrumptious, $5 servings, featuring locally grown foods
  • Entertaining demonstrations, Throwdowns and competitions by chefs and other food experts
  • Lively local music of many cultural tastes
  • Tastings of Bay State hand-crafted wines and locally crafted beer
  • Engaging exhibitions and playful activities for the kid in all of us
  • Interactive workshops, featuring local food leaders
  • Food-inspired arts and crafts
  • Recycling and sustainable practices for minimal waste

  • Local Food Sources for Restaurants 

    Click here to learn more about local food sources for restaurants

    For all you microbrew fans, there's even a Local Craft Brew Tasting!

    Click here to learn more and buy your tickets for the beer tasting!

    The Boston Local Food Festival is a program of The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston (SBN).

    Then, later this month, the Boston Vegetarian Society proudly presents: 

    The 16th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival 

    Saturday, October 29, 2011, 11AM* - 6PM

    Sunday, October 30, 2011, 10AM - 4PM
    New! *Saturday 10 - 11 AM preview. Limited number of tickets ($5) available to visit the Exhibitor Room before the doors open at 11 AM for Free Admission to all.
    Reggie Lewis Athletic Center
    1350 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts
    Subway stop across the street

    This Festival brings together an amazing array of vegetarian natural food providers, top national speakers and chefs, and educational exhibitors in a fun and welcoming environment. It is a chance to talk directly to food producers, learn the newest items in the marketplace, taste free food samples, shop at show special discounts, or simply learn what vegetarian foods are available and where you can find them!

    I've gone to this festival for the past two years and highly recommend checking it out! It can get crowded, so get there early and look at the speaker schedule

    This post has been shared on:
    Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday
    Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday
    Real Food Whole Health's Fresh Bites Friday

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Black Bean and Summer Corn Salsa

    This recipe is one of my favorites and while you can make it any time of year with canned corn and beans, it's best with fresh summer corn. My local farmers market still has a great selection of corn, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and garlic. The only other ingredients are black beans, salt, pepper, and lime juice. I also used some pablanos and chives from my garden to spice things up, but they're not necessary.
    Black Bean and Corn Salsa is Delicious and Healthy!
    First, I grilled the corn. I removed the outer layer of husk then soaked the corn with the rest of the husk in tact in some water for about 10 minutes. Then I threw them on the grill until the outer layer of husk was crispy and brown, but not charred to a crisp. You don't need to grill the corn, though. You could husk it and boil it until tender. We just happened to be grilling other veggies for dinner that night and the grill adds some extra flavor.
    You Can Grill the Corn for Extra Flavor, or Boil it. Canned Corn Works, too.
    Once the corn was cool enough to handle, I husked it and cut the kernels off the cob. Then I added the juice of 1-2 limes (depends on how juicy they are), a minced clove of garlic, and a few tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro (tip: if you're not going to use the whole bunch of cilantro, you can freeze the whole bunch or chop it and freeze it so you can enjoy the taste of farm-fresh cilantro in the middle of the winter).
    These Ingredients are Made for Each Other!
    Then I strained and rinsed a can of black beans and added them to the bowl with the corn along with a finely chopped pablano pepper (any green pepper will work). If you like it spicy, add a jalapeno (or more if you like it really spicy. Remember that the seeds add even more heat!).  Season with a little kosher salt. If you like, you can also add some finely chopped red onion, scallions, and/or chives. It all depends on what you have on hand and on what you like.

    It's so simple and there are lots of small ways to vary this recipe. Serve it with some blue corn or multigrain tortilla chips or eat it with a spoon if you're so inclined. You could even heat it up and toss it with some brown rice or quinoa for a complete meal.


    Given my mission to get as close to my food sources as possible, I'm going to start holding myself publicly accountable. Here's where these ingredients came from:

    Corn: Nicewicz Family Farm in Bolton, MA is a vendor at the Union Square Farmers Market specializing in corn and fruit. They lost two fields of corn this summer to Hurricane Irene, but still have fresh-picked corn available for sale at the Union Square Farmers Market for .60/ear. Although they're not organic (I'm discovering it's hard to find organic corn locally), they use integrated pest management and their corn is delicious. They also sell yummy peaches, nectarines, pears, apples, etc. 
    Beans: I try to use dried beans, but didn't prep this time, so I resorted to a can of organic beans from Whole Foods 365 brand. Exact source unknown.
    Cilantro and Garlic: Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA is my favorite vendor at the Union Square Farmers Market in Somerville. They're organic, know how to merchandise and price their produce, sample their fresh veggies at the market, and know me by name. Their garlic is a bit pricey and can be hard to peel, but the cloves are huge and taste so much better than generic grocery store garlic.
    Pablanos and Chives: My garden (grown in containers!)
    Limes: I try to buy organic limes from California, but sometimes have to compromise and either go with pesticides or food miles from Mexico or Chile. Not sure about these. 

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    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes with Berry Sauce

    I credit the book Skinny Bitch with my initial decision to go veg. Since reading that book one afternoon three years ago, I've tried lots of new recipes in an attempt to cut down my consumption of all animal products. This recipe, adapted from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, is one of my favorite vegan recipes of all time. On lazy weekends when we have time to make and enjoy real breakfast, James often whips up a batch of these pancakes. He likes to throw in a few handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I prefer some banana or fresh berries in mine, so we usually split the batter. Either way, these pancakes are amazing and I highly suggest you try them this weekend!

    1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour (whole wheat flour works, too.)
    1 1/2 ts baking powder
    1/2 ts fine sea salt (or kosher salt if you prefer)
    1 1/2 c rice milk (other alternative milks work as well)
    2 tb refined coconut oil, melted (or safflower oil. canola should work if you don't have either on hand)
    1 tb maple syrup, plus more for serving
    1 tp pure vanilla extract

    Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Note that the coconut oil might turn to solid again if your milk and syrup are cold. Don't worrry. Just wisk them well. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until combined (a few lumps are OK).

    If you think plain pancakes are boring, here's where you can spice them up. I like to add a pinch of cinnamon and a thinly sliced banana to the batter. During berry season, I add a cup of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries depending on what's at the farmers market. You can add chocolate chips or cocoa powder (reduce amount of flour by the amount of cocoa)... or both for double chocolate chip! If you want more grains, I see no reason why you couldn't add a couple tablespoons of oats and if you like your pancakes on the nuttier side of life, try adding a half a cup of finely chopped walnuts. You really can't go wrong, so go crazy.

    Preheat a (nonstick or oiled) griddle or skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes (until hot but never until smoking!). Cook like normal pancakes. For those of you inexperienced in pancakes, just drop your desired amount onto the skillet (about 1/4 c per pancake makes a decent size, but it's entirely up to your preferences). Cook until bubbles appear and the edges set. The pancakes should be nicely browned on the bottom when you go to flip them. This usually takes 2-3 minutes, but depends on how hot your pan is. Turn the heat down if the pan starts smoking or if your pancakes start burning. Cook the other side for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Keep the cooked pancakes in a warm oven until ready to serve or eat them straight off the stove! Serve with warm maple syrup, your favorite jam, or a berry sauce like pictured here (recipe below).

    Berry Sauce:
    2 tb raw sugar
    1/4 c water
    Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or 1 tb)
    1 c fresh (or frozen) berries
    2 tp cornstarch (optional)

    Combine sugar with 1/4 c water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and berries. Mash berries with a potato masher and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes or until berries are softened. If you want your sauce thicker, whisk cornstarch with 1 tb warm water in a separate bowl . Add to the sauce, stir well, and simmer another minute. Serve over pancakes or whatever else you think deserves some sweet berry goodness!

    This post has been shared on:
    Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday
    Day2DayJoys Healthy 2day Wednesdays
    Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday
    Real Food Whole Health's Fresh Bites Friday

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Pack Your Lunch!

    It's September. Part of me is tallying all my regrets from this summer. I didn't spend enough time at the beach, plant enough lettuce to get me through the summer, or can enough tomatoes to last me through the winter. But the other part of me is grateful for all the time spent with family, for the surplus of garden-fresh basil, mint, eggplant, and peppers that I've had to find creative uses for, and for the routine of the fall. I started my second year of grad school last night after taking the summer off in an attempt to maintain my sanity by spending more time outdoors and in the garden. But now, my routine through the end of December will involve shopping, cooking, homework, and fun over the weekend, Stats on Monday evening, Managerial Economics on Tuesday evening, Body Defined on Wednesday evening, Elemental Yoga on Thursday evening, and Gentle Yoga, a massage, or dinner out on Friday evening. I should be able to fit in my favorite Farmers Market and Slow Flow Yoga on Saturday and hope to find a good yoga class to do with James on Sunday, too. It might sound busy or boring depending on how you look at it, but there's a strange kind of peace in knowing what's going on every minute of every day.
    So much better than cafeteria food!
    As we bid farewell to the sun and say hello to the changing colors of the leaves, I want to continue eating fresh and local food for as long as possible. Tomatoes, corn, peppers, squash, eggplant, lettuce, herbs, carrots, stone fruit, beans, and greens are all still plentiful at local farmers markets across the northeast. The end of summer hours and the beginning of the school year don't have to be synonymous with cafeteria food high in fat, sodium, and calories and low in the vitamins and minerals that are much more abundant in fresh, locally sourced produce that hasn't been shipped all the way to your plate from Chile or California.

    I threw some rolled oats and barley flour in the bread machine last night and woke up to a fresh loaf of multi-grain bread that I used to make delicious sandwiches for today's lunch (pictured above). I spread a thin layer of homemade pesto on one slice of the bread and some homemade hummus on the other slice and layered baby spinach with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden. Roasted peppers (pablano, bell, and sweet carmen) from my garden added the finishing touch. I sliced up some more cucumber to have with a side of hummus and rinsed some grapes and in less than ten minutes, I packed lunches for myself and James.

    Here are a few helpful tips for packing lunches for you and your family that will help you get the most nutrition and taste out of the least amount of time:

    • Pack nuts to get you through a week and stash them in your desk for when hunger strikes.
    • Pack lots of veggies! Keep a bag carrots and a few cucumbers in the fridge at work and you won't have to worry about bringing them every day. Don't forget about other veggies like sliced peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and grape or cherry tomatoes.
    • Fruit! Stick with what's seasonal and it will taste like it did when you were a kid. Stone fruit and apples for September. Berries at the height of summer. 
    • Stock low-calorie high-fiber crackers like ak-mak and melba toast in your desk just in case you run out of veggies. 
    • Dress up your salad. Boring salad sucks. It shouldn't be all shades of green. Add tomatoes, carrots, red onion, celery, sunflower seeds, roasted or grilled veggies, and/or beans. Try making your own dressing and keep a bottle in the fridge at work. 
    • Make a batch of hummus every week. Spread it on veggie sandwiches for extra fiber and protein. Bring a pint-sized container full to work on Monday and you'll have enough to snack on with carrot sticks, cucumbers, or melba toast all week. Change it up by adding some fresh basil, olives, roasted peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes. It's easy to find recipes online that you can make in a food processor or blender. You're likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry already (chick peas, olive oil, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper) and prep time is less than 10 minutes. You control what goes in and the taste of the finished product. Best of all? You'll save lots of money if you're used to buying hummus every week!
    • If you have a bread machine, use it! It's fast and easy to throw a few ingredients in before bed. I'll be posting some bread recipes soon, but baking two loaves a week can save money and while it might take a little more time than buying bread at the grocery store, you can control what goes in and vary the nutrient profile you eat with every loaf. Goodbye boring (or expensive exciting) bread. Hello hearty whole grains. Rye and wheat flours, oats, cornmeal, and seeds add protein and fiber. Bonus points if you opt for organic!
    • Pack something sweet, but make sure it's got nutritional value, too. Gummy vitamins, calcium chocolates, and ginger candies are my favorites. 
    • HAVE FUN! When packing for your kids, keep it colorful and pack lots of finger foods. Check out for lots of great ideas! 
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