From the Land 11/30

sweet-potato-field,katori-city,japan

sweet potato field

announcements

The last day of Fall Share is December 14! Spring Share contracts will be available beginning next week, and will be due by December 31. Spring Share will begin January 4. You’ll have the option to sign up for block, semester, or both – but PLEASE fill out your contracts before you leave for winter break so we know how many members to expect!

food for thought

onions, sweet potatoes, cilantro, beets, beefsteak tomatoes, and radishes!

veg of the week
sweet potatoes: Ipomoea batatas

This tuberous root vegetable originated in Central America, where it has been cultivated for over 5000 years. It is not grown throughout the world in temperate and warm temperature zones where there is enough water to support its growth. China is the world’s top producer of sweet potatoes, but almost 60% of their product is used for animal feed.

Sweet potatoes are growing in popularity as they become known as a delicious and healthy alternative to the common potato. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins C and B6. When compared with other common vegetables in a 1992 study on these factors, as well as calcium, protein, and iron, sweet potatoes won by a long shot (when not counting the toppings).

Sweet potatoes are commonly eaten mashed or in a casserole (usually topped with brown sugar), as sweet potato french fries or baked potato, or – my personal favorite – in enchiladas topped with green chile sauce!

Carbohydrates

Though carbohydrates get a bad rap these days, it’s important to note that all carbs are not created equal. Carbohydrates are in fact essential to life, as they are one of the main macronutrients; all green plants produce carbohydrates with sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. With the help of an enzyme called amylase, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (blood sugar), giving the eater the energy needed to make it through the day.  However, there are different kinds of carbohydrates, and some are better than others.

Carbohydrates are broken down into two categories: simple and complex.  Simple carbs are naturally found in fruits, some vegetables, milk and milk products. They are also found in processed and refined breads and pastas, as well as sweets. Complex carbs are found in starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Getting the correct amount and source of carbohydrates can be tricky to decipher, but is essential to creating a healthy diet.  Eating too many carbohydrates (from refined sugars and processed grains) can lead to an increase in total calories, resulting in obesity or other diet-related health issues. But on the other end of the scale, not getting enough carbs for a sustained period of time can cause a lack of calories (or excessive intake of fats to make up for the calories) which can cause malnutrition. Some fad diets actually rely on this effect, as weight is lost when the body essentially goes into shock, and takes energy from wherever it can (in this case, excess fat).

Good “whole” carbohydrates make up a healthy diet: they contain all the proper vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients to digest the food while giving you energy to last through the day.  When considering grains, the less processed the better.  Milling and grinding take off the high-fiber bran and the vitamin-rich germ that helps the body break down the grain, leaving only the starchy endosperm: the simple carb. Refined foods such as white flour, white rice and white sugar lack any vitamins and essential nutrients, and are often called “empty calories” and can cause weight gain.  Most breads and pasta products have been processed in one way or another, eliminating most of the nutrients.

For healthy carbs, try whole grains, quinoa, bulgur, potatoes with the skin, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grain breads and cereals.  Avoid refined sugar, white breads, candy, soda, corn syrup, or any food that has been so highly processed that it no longer resembles its original state.

For more info:

Carbohydrates overview

Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way

Mayo Clinic: Carbohydrates

Good Carbs.org

recipes

jacket sweet potatoes with radish greens and avocado buttermilk dressing

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1.5-2 lbs total weight)
  • Greens from 1 large bunch of radishes (or other spicy green of choice, or, heck, spinach or chard, if that’s what you have on hand), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 stalk green garlic (or one garlic clove)
  • 1 tablespoon flax oil or olive oil (optional)
Scrub sweet potatoes and poke holes all over with a fork. Place in oven-proof dish and bake in 400-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender. Once cooked, halve them lengthwise and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. Place the avocado and all remaining ingredients in blender and mix on high until smooth.
If you’d like to cook your greens a bit, do so while the sweet potatoes are cooling. Rinse the greens but don’t dry them. Using a skillet over medium heat, cook the greens for 1-2 minutes until just wilted (the water will steam them, but if you wanted to use a little oil, it wouldn’t hurt).
Once potatoes are cooled, top each half with a quarter of the radish greens, drizzle each with about 2 tablespoons of dressing, and finish with salt and pepper.

roasted sweets ‘n’ beets

  • 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a bowl, toss the beets with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the sweet potatoes and onion in the bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat vegetables with the oil mixture.

Bake beets 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Continue baking 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

red chile rubbed sweet potatoes with green onion vinaigrette

Green Onion Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup freshly chopped green onion, green parts only, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
Spice-Rubbed Sweet Potatoes:
  • 6 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, par-cooked and slice into 1-inch thick slices, skin left on
  • Canola oil
  • Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Special equipment: 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

For the vinaigrette:

Blend the vinegar, water, onion, cilantro, honey, salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Use as a dip for your sweet potatoes – yum!

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From the Land 11/23

please note: if you are not able to pick up your share or your milk today (day before Thanksgiving), we will put aside a few extra veggie shares and save your milk, but you won’t be able to pick it up until next Monday (extras that haven’t been reserved will be distributed first-come-first-serve)

food for thought

pecans, potatoes, baby carrots, honey, and choice of pie pumpkins or butternut squash!

health benefits of honey

Meet Alfredo – a local apiarist (beekeeper) –>
He keeps beehives in Aguila and Skull Valley, and sells his honey through the Prescott and Sedona Farmers Markets and the Prescott College CSA Store. This week we are all the lucky recipients of their honey!

We’ve probably all heard the health claims about honey: it contains vitamins  B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B5 (panothenic acid), and B6, which all depend on the qualities of the nectar or pollen. It also contains vitamin A (carotenes), C (ascorbic acid), vitamin H (biotin) and P1 (rutin), as well as the minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, sodium chlorine, iron, sulfur, copper, iodine and zinc. So what does this all mean?

Most bee products are known for their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and honey is no different. The antibacterial properties can help with sore throats, as well as help build your immune system if taken consistently. Honey also contains antioxidants, which are substances that helps protect the body from cellular damage and chronic disease. The concentration of antioxidants in honey can vary depending on the floral source and the darkness of the color (darker honey will have more antioxidents). The combination of honey and fresh lemon juice can aid in digestion, and many people turn to a “tea” of honey, lemon and cayenne to treat a cold. Honey has also been shown to enhance endurance and relieve muscle fatigue.

So, is all honey good for you? There is evidence to the contrary: store-bought honey, which is pasteurized and filtered for longer shelf-life and appearance, partially destroys the yeast and enzymes that would otherwise assimilate the vitamins and minerals contained in the honey. Sure enough, nutritional analyses have shown that raw honey contains higher nutrient value than pasteurized honey.

In addition to the processing of the honey, there are additional benefits gained by eating honey that is collected from your local region. Primarily, eating local honey can help allergies; by eating local honey you are ingesting small amounts of pollen which in turn help prevent allergic reactions to the pollen in your own environment.

Honey can also be beneficial when used topically: it can help cuts and burns heal faster due to its antiseptic properties that prevent infection by absorbing the air around the cut and preventing it from getting to the cut. Its antibacterial properties also help with inflammation and pain caused by the cut. My own experience shows that applying honey to a splinter draws the splinter out overnight.

Honey can be enjoyed in place of any liquid sweetener, and (with some modification) in any baked good. Eating it raw increases its nutritional content and health benefits – so enjoy!

Next week: the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates…

recipes
Happy Thanksgiving! Here are some recipes to help you liven up the meal – great twists on classic T-day creations. Enjoy!

honey-pecan butternut squash pie
adapted from epicurious.com 

For pecans:

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves (about 4 ounces)
  • Easy Pastry Dough disk or pie crust

For filling

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 C solidly packed cooked butternut squash
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs

For topping

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Make pecans:
Place large piece of foil on work surface. Stir sugar, honey, butter and salt in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, butter melts and syrup comes to simmer. Add pecans. Cook until syrup turns deep caramel color and bubbles thickly, stirring nuts occasionally to coat, about 9 minutes. Scrape onto foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with spoon. Cool completely. Place in airtight container. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store at room temperature.)

Make pie:
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Roll out dough disk on floured surface to 12- to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under; crimp edge, forming high-standing rim.

Stir sugar and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk in squash and honey, then cream and 3 eggs. Beat 1 egg in small bowl to blend. Brush inside of crust with some of beaten egg. Pour filling into crust.

Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed and begins to crack at edges, covering crust with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour. Cool on rack. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store at room temperature.)

Make topping:
Using electric mixer, beat cream and honey in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe rosettes of cream atop pie. Garnish with candied nuts. Serve, passing extra nuts separately.

mashed pumpkin potatoes
adapted from food.com

  • 2 cups potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups pumpkin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 medium onion, small dice
  • 2 slices Canadian bacon, small dice (optional)
  • olive oil
  • 2 -4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 -2 tablespoon butter

In a large sauce pan cover potatoes and pumpkin with water. Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, 6-10 minutes.

While potato/pumpkins are cooking, sauté onions and Canadian bacon in oil about 3-4 minutes. Onions should should be tender and golden.

Drain potatoes and pumpkin and return to pan. Lower heat to the lowest flame possible. Mash with a potato masher, mixer or immersion blender. Add milk and butter to thin a bit and make mash creamier.

Mix in the onions & bacon. Serve!

glazed dijon carrots
adapted from allrecipes.com 
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, bring carrots and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place carrots in a serving dish and keep warm. In the same pan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger and salt; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over carrots and toss to coat.

From the Land 11/16

spinach

announcements: please read!

We’ll be starting distribution a few minutes late today, as our delivery from Crooked Sky is running a bit behind, and so we can put together the beef shares. Please accept my apologies – we should be ready to go by 1pm!

Beef shares will be distributed today: make sure you bring payment if you haven’t already paid for it, and a cooler to put your meat in.

food for thought
spaghetti squash, parsnips, japanese salad turnips, spinach, tomatoes, and basil

veg of the week
SPINACH Spinacia oleracea

From the family of Amaranthaceae, spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran), from where traders brought it to India, then China, and finally Sicily in 827 AD. When it appears in England and France in the 1400’s, it quickly gained popularity because it appeared in the spring when few other vegetables grew.

Spinach is extremely rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, and potassium. It also contains high amounts of calcium, but spinach’s calcium is the least bioavailable of all vegetable sources (only about 5% of the calcium is available as compared to 50% from broccoli) because of the presence of oxalate, which binds with calcium and decreases its absorption.

As with most vegetables, fresh spinach loses its nutrient content as it stores. Spinach also lays claim to being one of the most pesticide-laden produce items. Because it retains high amounts of pesticide residue, it is even more important to source organically-grown spinach if you are either sensitive or morally opposed to pesticides.

Spinach is very versatile, and can be eaten raw (as in salad), steamed, lightly boiled, sauteed in stir-fries, as a pizza topper, or added to a pasta dish or casserole. Check out the included recipes for great supper ideas!

Genetically Modified Organisms

We often hear reference to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetic engineering (GE).  The light that GMOs are portrayed in will differ with the source, and the information found online can be confusing and contradictory.  Are GMOs stifling biodiversity, or are they necessary to feed the planet’s growing population?  Are they possible to avoid?  And since the U.S does not require food processors to label foods that contain GMOs, how do we even know which foods to avoid?

What is a GMO? A GMO is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered by genetic engineering processes.  These processes are known as recombinant DNA technology.  This is when DNA molecules from different plant and animal sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes.  This new DNA is then injected into the organism, giving it a set of new and modified genes.  Under the umbrella term GMO is another term “transgenic organism”, which are organisms that have a set of genes that originated in a different species.

Are GMOs unhealthy? Though the official line is that GMOs are harmless and necessary to produce high yields, the World Health Organization admits that there are some concerns: allergic reaction (allergies to the plant origin of the transferred gene), gene transfer (from GMO foods to cells of the human body could be dangerous, especially if the gene was antibiotic resistant), and outcrossing (the movement of genes from a GE crop to conventional crops or related species in the wild). Many informed consumers are choosing to avoid GMOs because they refuse to participate in what is a generation-wide human health experiment.

So how do we know what foods contain GMO’s?  In general, we can assume that all non-organic processed foods containing the “big four” (corn, soy, canola/rapeseed, and cottonseed) are genetically modified.  Beet sugar is the most recent addition to this list of common GE crops, and may be included in foods sweetened with anything other than “cane sugar”. In addition to the straight-forward names in the lists of ingredients, these four products can be found under many names that are less obvious: high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil, citric acid, corn starch, baking powder, caramel, dextrin, fructose, mono- and di-glycerides, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sorbitol, xanthan gum, isolated soy protein, textured vegetable protein, lecithin, and isoflavone.  Meat and dairy alternatives, cereal bars and energy bars, chips and crackers, canned foods, soups and sauces, salad dressings, baby foods, and sodas, fruit juice and iced teas, unless labeled organic, are huge culprits of using GMOs, as are most processed foods.

Most of the fruits and vegetables found in the produce section are not GM, except for a few that are outlined in the True Food Shopper’s Guide (small amounts of summer squash, zucchini, and sweet corn, as well as papayas from Hawaii).  Organic fruits and vegetables must be GMO-free to retain their organic certification, and there are also other foods out there that are neither GM nor organic.

Another GMO is look for is rBGH or rBST, which is the bovine growth hormone often injected into dairy cows to increase the rate of lactation and growth rate of young cattle.  In general, it can be assumed that most industrial milk and other dairy products contain traces of this GMO.  It is becoming increasingly common to find milk and other dairy products that are free of rBGH or rBST and they will have a label saying so.  To avoid GMOs from growth hormone and from feed, make sure to buy grass-fed and/or organic meat and dairy.

for more information…

Corn-derived Food Ingredients

Health Hazards of Genetically Manipulated Foods

True Food Shoppers Guide

20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods

recipes

Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Spinach

  • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 oz organic baby spinach
  • ¼ C chicken pan drippings or 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T butter
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for finish)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the squash with a fork and place on center rack of oven in a baking dish for 1 hour. Remove and let cool until manageable.

Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add pan drippings or olive oil and butter, allow to heat thoroughly. Sauté garlic until browned, add spinach and wilt completely.

Cut squash down the center. scoop out seeds and fibrous center strands. Remove stringy flesh and place on serving dish. top with garlic and spinach mixture, including liquid. top with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Mushrooms, Parsnip, Potatoes and Spinach Casserole

  • 4 large starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • salt
  • 1 small peeled onion
  • 1 bunch chopped spinach
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C grated Gruyere or Parmesan
  • paprika
  • roasted Mushrooms
  • 2 1/2 lbs mixed mushrooms
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
Put the potatoes and parsnips in large pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, over medium heat. Salt the water and cook the vegetable until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and return them to the hot pot. Grate in 3 to 4 T of onion, then add the spinach, butter, half of the milk and all of the cream. Season with salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg, to taste. Mash the mixture together and taste to adjust seasonings. Add the extra splash of milk if the potatoes are too tight. Cool to room temperature, then stir in the eggs and transfer the mixture to a casserole. Cover with cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Cool and chill for a make-ahead meal.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Put the casserole on a baking sheet and put it in the lower third of the oven. Bake until hot and golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.In a medium baking dish toss the mushrooms with the garlic, thyme and olive oil. Roast until dark and tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.Serve the mushrooms alongside the casserole.

Baked Ziti with Spinach and Tomatoes

  • 3/4 lb hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pesto sauce
  • 10 ounces ziti or penne pasta (about 3 cups), freshly cooked
  • 1 bunch spinach leaves, stems discarded
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Heat heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion and garlic and sauté until sausage is cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices to pan. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in pesto. Season sauce with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly oil 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. Combine pasta, spinach, mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese over. Bake until sauce bubbles and cheeses melt, about 30 minutes.