Farm Share Week 6 & DIY Healthy Eating Toolkit

Greetings from the farm! Those roasting hot days keep on coming, but it was a blessing for me this week, as most of the workers who would normally be somewhere in the fields were working in the building and the cooler due to the off-the-charts heat. That meant an unrushed and earlier night for me, though I had to be a little more flexible in what I put in the boxes (I decided this is not the ideal week to be harvesting things from the greenhouse!)

This week I thought I would share my DIY Healthy Eating Toolkit– basically just the things I regularly use to help me consume more veggies. I would recommend on the same day you receive your box if possible, set aside an hour (or maybe more for a whole share) to wash and cut up your vegetables for easy use later. This will cut down on dishes (cutting board, knives and salad spinner) when all they need is a quick rinse between washing various items.

Farm Share Tool Kit, L-R: Handy Recipe Books, Chopping knives (I use the cruved one for greens and the straight one for most others, salad spinner, zip-loc bags and containers (I love my glass ones!)

1. Wash: First, give each item a good wash. A collander is very helpful for this, but if you have a salad spinner, there is a collander right in it. Root vegetables such as carrots can get a little scrub with a kitchen scrub brush as they don’t give up their dirt easily. I often soak spinach, even three times if it is especially girtty as it seems to hold dirt all too well. Other items like lettuce can be easily rinsed. The only things I don’t wash innitially are the raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes (which don’t like too much moisture) and baby bok choy or chinese cabbage, which I have found are impossible to clean properly until their leaves are removed (which makes them spoil faster).

2. Dry/ Place in Zip Loc or Container: After a nice wash, your leafy greens can be dried and placed in zip-loc bags or containers. A little bit of air getting to them is nice, but they should be fine if you plan to eat them in the next few days. Place a paper towel in with it to absorb excess moisture. Whatever you do, make sure your greens are not left open in the main part of your fridge. They will wilt! Even if you don’t have time to wash or prepare, clear out a little space in the crisper drawer or at least tuck them inside a plastic bag, tied loosly until you have time to wash them. If your leafy greens do suffer wilt, revive them with an ice bath or soak them in cold water with a little lemon juice (a tip I learned from my “Green Cleaning” book), about an hour. Leafy greens wilt when they lose moisture, so this is why they need the water put back into them to look their best.

3. Remove Leaves and/or Cut: (some vegetables). Root vegetables with their leaves still attached are happiest when the leaves are removed. Remember, beet leaves are very much edible (just like Swiss Chard) and I recently learned from a customer that carrot leaves are excellent to use in a juicer and filled with flavour. Normally leaving about 1/2 inch of stem left on the roots is ideal, but again if you plan to eat them in the next few days, I suggest cutting them up or right at the point where stem and root meet so they are easy to throw into your dinner. Leftover clamshells cleaned out make great containers for your trimmed radishes.

4. Store: Next, put everything in the refridgerator crisper drawer or containers where possible. Even hardy vegetables like carrots can go soft quickly when left in the open. The crisper drawer is kept a little colder and locks moisture in. The exceptions are tomatoes (much tastier and nicer texture when kept at room temp.), squash (cool room temp.) and basil (will charr if placed in fridge).

I hope these tips help you for now.

Here is your list for this week. I was sure we’d have tomatoes this week, there are oodles of tomatoes that would be great salad size, but alas they are still green. The grape tomatoes are still in their beginnings, and in limited supply. For the whole shares, we should have okra this week. I picked a tiny amount of beautiful looking okra. Also, I am impatiently awaiting more beets to become ready as well as the next rows of peas, but in the mean time, the beans are looking great and the raspberries just keep coming.

A very versatile green- use just like spinach!

Half Share

  • carrots
  • radish
  • green beans
  • yellow zucchini
  • cucumbers
  • garlic scapes
  • rainbow swiss chard
  • romaine
  • red leaf lettuce
  • raspberries

Whole Share

  • carrots

    Yummy, spicy, radishes!

  • radish
  • green beans
  • yellow zucchini
  • cucumbers
  • garlic scapes
  • rainbow swiss chard
  • romaine
  • red leaf lettuce
  • raspberries
  • green leaf lettuce
  • green onions
  • fennel
  • snow peas
  • rhubarb
  • baby bok choy

Enjoy the bounty!

Here are a few recipes to try:

Cucumber Chard Salad(from yummly.com)

First 3 Ingredients, Ready to Cook

Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers
  • bunch of swiss chard (stems and leaves seperated and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Directions

1. Add the balsamic vinegar, cucumber, and swiss chard stems to a pot or frying pan with lid. Cook, while stirring, until all the vegetables are coated with the balsamic vinegar and are heated through.

2. Add the water and lemon juice, bring to a boil and simmer until the stems are halfway done.

3. Add the swiss chard leaves, salt and pepper, and simmer until lightly wilted.

Serves 2-3 as a side. Tip: Cook as little as you can so that veggies retain their colour and nutrients.

Beyond Cucumber Pickles

I’ll admit that I normally steer away from making my own pickles, thinking that since they are normally canned they are out of my league. I found some exciting options on Canadian Living’s website using different vegetables to make up fresh pickles. Perhaps I will yet overcome my fear of pickle-making.

Radish Pickles

Ingredients

  • 4 cups thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 green onion (just green part, sliced)

Directions

In bowl, toss radishes salt, let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out liquid. Add vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and green onion. Toss to combine.

Serves 4

Asian Quick Pickles (Beans and Julienned Carrots) http://www.canadianliving.com/food/quick_and_easy/asian_quick_pickles.php 

Quick Zucchini Pickles http://www.canadianliving.com/food/quick_and_easy/quick_zucchini_pickles.php

Kid-Friendly Chef Salad from yummly.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes or quartered mini tomatoes (we will have some next week!)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 red pepper (not until August 😦
  • 1 slices whole wheat bread
  • 6 tbsp. sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 lb. swiss chard (cured)
  • 1/2 lb. chicken breast or cubed cooked ham
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Directions

1. For hard-boiled eggs, place three eggs in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water. Boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes in the hot water. Next, drain the hot water and run cold water over the eggs. Roll each egg gently to crack the shells, then peel. Rinse well, then slice into 4 wedges. TIP: For easy peeling, work under a running tap or in a bowl of water.

2. For garlic croutons, cut 2 slices of whole wheat bread into 16 squares each. Melt butter and add to bread pieces along with 1/4 tsp. garlic powder. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet or toaster oven tray. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning. Turn and brown the other side. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and cool. TIP: For fun, cut the bread into shapes using miniature cookie cutters.

3. For ranch-style dressing, whisk the sour cream, milk, and vinegar in a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder along with the parsley, dill, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Chill for at least 30 minutes while preparing the remaining salad ingredients.

4. To prepare the lettuce, cut 1 and 1/2 inches off the end of the romaine head and discard. Break the leaves off and wash in cold water. Place in a salad spinner and spin until dry (or pat dry with paper towels). If you have a toddler or preschooler or even an older child, let them help spin the lettuce dry. These are fascinating to kids and even if they aren’t able to do a perfect job, they are staying out of trouble and taking part in meal preparation all at once- hooray!

5. Older kids can peel and grate the carrot; wash, peel, and slice the cucumber; and wash and cut the pepper into strips with a knife or into shapes with a mini cookie cutter. Wash the tomatoes and remove any stems. Cut if needed. Place the ham or chicken, cheese, croutons, and hard-boiled eggs in bowls and serve along with a pitcher of the dressing. You may also do it salad bar style and kids could try making a face with tomato eyes and grated carrot hair. Pour the dressing over the salad or serve on the side for dipping.

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kim on July 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Bin looks awesome! I get the whole share – what is the really big leaf veg right on top of the bin?

    Reply

  2. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for the feedback. That one (big leafy green) was a last-minute change so I didn’t list it on the blog. It’s amaranth or callaloo, a Carribean staple. It can be used much like spinach. It’s so huge it made me think of Jack and the Beanstalk. Here are a few recipe ideas: http://eatjamaican.com/recipes/Jamaican-steamed-callaloo.html ; http://www.food.com/recipe/amaranth-leaves-spinach-in-coconut-milk-279618 It’s also made into soup quite often.

    Reply

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