Heartland Revival

CSA:6

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA6

Since I am so late in posting this, the contents of this CSA is long gone! Here is what I did with my share:

Tomatoes - in my Sourdough Calzones (with basil and balsamic)
Cherry o Tomatoes -
Double Tomato Bruschetta (with this recipe, I usually use sun-dried tomatoes, NOT in oil and skip the cheese)
Lettuce - Salads
Potatoes - breakfast hashes
Cucumbers - salads, with hummus
Summer Squash & Zucchini - roasted together with onion, garlic and red pepper flakes
Green Peppers - raw with hummus
Basil - in Calzones, Bruschetta, and for Blueberry Basil Jam sweetened with honey
Scallions - in everything

Purplette onions - in hashes and salads
Onions - with the roasted squash and zucchini

CSA:5

At Home, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA:5

My CSA pickup was on July 3rd right before the holiday weekend so I wasn't able to plan and start enjoying until the Sunday after the 4th of July. Boy, was I glad to come home to some fresh vegetables after the (to many) fried fair foods and sweets. So far, this is the share that I am most familiar with except for the fennel... to be honest, the fennel makes me very nervous. I am not a fan of licorice and when I put the fennel away, I caught a whiff of just that. After some googling "fennel recipes", I decided on Roasted Fennel with Parmesan from Food Network. The reviews claim that the licorice taste goes away when roasted, and I love anything with parmesan on it so this seemed the best choice. As I am writing this, I have made most of the below except for the fennel so I will come back and update my experience. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Carrots: pickled and roasted
Potatoes: roasted and mashed
Celery: chopped and then froze for soup bases this winter
Bunched Purple Baby Onions: in salads and hash
Fennel: roasted with parmesan
Cabbage: roasted with carrots and potatoes
Cucumbers: cucumber salad
Summer Squash: squash au gratin for one
Zucchini: breakfast hash with easy-over eggs
Parsley: garnish, in cucumber salad

 

FENNEL UPDATE /// In attempt to use up the rest of my CSA, I combined the cabbage, carrots and fennel, roasted with thyme and rosemary, and then topped with fresh parmesan cheese. As a whole, it wasn't too bad! I am still getting used to the fennel flavor but am open to using it other ways to see what I like best. After all, it it very good for you!

CSA:4 + Sesame Seed Dressing

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment
CSA4

After receiving Kohlrabi in my share last week,  I was a little perplexed. I had never seen or eaten Kholrabi so I was at a loss as to how I was going to use it. After some research, I found a few salad recipes to try it in and ended up making a salad of mixed greens, red onion and equal parts Kohlrabi + apple. I am a fan of making homemade salad dressings and have gotten pretty good at winging it so for this salad, I made up a sesame seed dressing. I'd say it turned out pretty well so I thought I would share the recipe.

Sesame Seed Dressing
scant 1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into mason jar or container with lid and shake until combined. The dressing will store in the refrigerator for about a week. Shake to recombine before using.

Here is what's up with the rest of the share:

Chinese Cabbage - stir-fry cabbage
Peas - for a snack with hummus
Beets - juice!
Basil- grilled pesto shrimp
Summer Squash - in foil packs on the grill
Parsley - juicing
Scallions - in foil pack with squash, sauteed with cabbage
Garlic Scapes - in everything
Lettuce - salads
Kohlrabi - in salad with apple, red onion and homemade sesame dressing (see recipe above)

 

 

 

CSA: 3

At Home, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
photo(14).JPG

Here is the latest and greatest from my CSA. This week's share had several items that I had never eaten or cooked with but I am up for the challenge. Using more ingredients sourced locally and in season has started to change my thinking when shopping at the grocery store. I can tell tremendously the difference in quality of foods out of season compared to in season. It feels good to be more in tune with nature!

Swiss Chard: Lemon Garlic Swiss Chard
Lettuce: Salads, of course
Bag of Lettuce Mix (not pictured): Same as above
Scallions: in stir-frys, salads, everything
Kohlrabi: Shaved with Apple and Hazelnuts
Bok Choy: Salad from CSA:1
Turnips: Caramelized, served with an egg on top. (made this for last Sunday's breakfast, SO GOOD)
Strawberries: In salads and in breakfast overnight oats
Peas: As a snack or in a stir-fry
Garlic Scapes: In salad dressings, stir-frys, wherever I would normally use garlic

What new vegetables have you tried lately? It's so easy to Google recipes and find how to prepare foods; there are no excuses with today's technology. Next time you are at the store or farmers market, purchase a vegetable that you've always wondered about but never had the courage to try it!

Revive: Sourdough Starter

Press, ReviveAmber BransonComment
HR_sourdoughstarter

One of my goals this year has been to try making more of my food from scratch and “revive” some skills that have faded with food production and technology. Bread has been at the top of my list for some time so after some research, I set out to catch some wild yeast and make a sourdough starter. I used instructions from Pinch My Salt but added more pineapple juice than called for so that the consistency matched more of what her photos showed. I would say it worked! I was unable to make bread right away from the starter so I put it in the fridge and plan on baking this weekend.

I also wanted to say a few words about me making bread in general. I do not have celiac disease and have no gluten intolerance so luckily for me, I am able to enjoy bread from time to time. My business is primarily Health Coaching and while bread is not usually seen as “healthy” there is still something to be said for made-from-scratch foods. Baking my own bread is a way for me to cut out unnecessary sugar and preservatives found in store bought bread (even “healthy” gluten-free bread usually contains added sugar) but more importantly to revive (at least in my personal life) an art form that has been around for thousands of years. Not to mention using only 3 ingredients and creating something so delicious and practical is very satisfying to me.

 

CSA: 2

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA2

These are the contents of my CSA from last Thursday. So many greens! Here's what I have planned:

2 heads of bok choy: crunchy slaw

2 heads of lettuce: lettuce wraps and salads

1 bunch of kale: cheesy kale chips

Bag of spinach: salads and for juicing

Bag of baby kale: juicing

Bag of mixed greens: used for a Greek salad for Memorial weekend camping

Small container of strawberries (not pictured): in overnight oats and strawberry chia jam

I am most worried about using it all before it goes bad. I did some research on storing greens and so far, so good! Do you have any tips for storing greens? Let me know in the comments!

CSA: 1

Amber BransonComment
CSA1

Yesterday, I picked up my first CSA haul! Last fall, I made the decision to participate in a CSA in an effort to eat locally and because I eat A LOT of vegetables and it can be expensive. After some research and asking around, I decided to go with Riverbend Roots Farm. Since this is my first time participating, I chose the full share for every other week. I wanted to get the full range of what they offer but wasn't sure I could handle a full share every week by myself. I was warned that the first share is the smallest and although it won't last me long, I was happy with what was included in the share and I am excited to try a few new recipes.

Here's what I plan to do with my share:

Bok choy: seared as a side dish

Radishes: in a salad with cucumbers (to serve along with the bok choy)

Bag of greens: LOTS of salads

Lemon Balm: infused vinegar, muddled in cocktails, paired with strawberries to flavor water

I encourage you to find out where your food comes from and try cooking with a vegetable you've never had before! Here is a great resource for finding locally grown food near you.

 

Making Recipes Healthier: A How-to

In My Kitchen, Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
 Art found  here.

Art found here.

Often times I find recipes that sound awesome but can be made a little healthier (IMO). I wanted to show you how easy it is to deconstruct a recipe and rework for maximize health benefits. I keep these 3 questions in mind when customizing recipes.

  1. How can I add more vegetables?
  2. Can I make this with less sugar? Or with a different sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
  3. Is there a more nutrient-dense or gluten-free grain to substitute with? (If the recipe calls for a grain)

Lets take this recipe I came across today. It sounds delicious, looks easy to make and I've been on a pineapple phase so this is right up my alley.

Here are the ingredients called for:

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • Serve over white rice

Here is what I would do differently:

  1. Reduce amount of pineapple (too much natural sugar) to 1 1/2 cups and add cubed zucchini (something green!) instead.
  2. Substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil. Vegetable oils cause inflammation (among other things) and the coconut oil will better complement the other flavors.
  3. Omit brown sugar as the pineapple has enough sugar. (reading comments on recipes that you've never made before can be helpful. many said that there was no need for additional sugar )

  4. Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened. Again, reducing sugar but not compromising flavor.
  5. Serve over soaked brown rice or quinoa instead.

There you have it! Cooking healthy food is not as hard as you think. What is a favorite recipe that you could rework to be healthier? Or what methods do you already use to make recipes healthier?

Let me know in the comments!

-Amber

Self Care Schedule (free printable)

Amber BransonComment
selfcare.JPG

Recently, I listened to a talk by Jennifer Louden called "Create a Life You Love" in which she speaks about establishing minimum daily requirements for self care to keep centered and grounded. They aren't goals or have-to's but simply basic things that help keep us sane and that honor our true selves. I know it can be hard sometimes to image giving yourself time out of your busy day so I've come up with a weekly reminder for you to print out and keep on your fridge, at your desk, etc.

There are no rules for what you write down, just come up with three things to do for yourself everyday. My Self Care Schedule may include: walking my dog, drinking lots of water, having tea with a friend, going to Yoga. You can write the same three things everyday, or write down something completely different for each day of the week.

Just remember, these aren't have-to's, just gentle prompts to take some time for "you" everyday.

Click HERE to download the free printable.

Library Reads

Lbrary ReadsAmber BransonComment
  (clockwise from top-left)   All Natural ,  Clean ,  Animal Vegetable Miracle ,  Eat to Live

After reading this book back in July, I decided to renew my library card (free!) and start checking off (or out?) my growing reading list. I try to finish one health/self-help book a month. Above are a few that I've read in the past few months that I've taken bits from and applied to my eating lifestyle. I've been mostly reading up on diet theories and now seem to be gravitating to intuitive eating books. Next on my list are Intuitive Eating, Eating Mindfully and Health at Every Size.

Pumpkin Carving + Seeds

At HomeAmber BransonComment
PumpkinCarving.jpg

Yesterday, we finally got to carve the pumpkins we picked up at Eckert's a few weeks ago. I also had a pumpkin seed request, which I happily obliged. Since I don't eat a lot of meat, they are a great source for iron as well as making my keto guy happy. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with magnesium, potassium, zinc, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

I made 3 variations, one simple with just olive oil and sea salt, the second with olive oil, bbq seasoning and cayenne pepper and then the third, a "sweet" version with coconut oil and cinnamon. A little trick I found helped a lot with this year's batch; boil the seeds beforehand! It makes them easier to digest as well as helping the outsides get crispy without burning the interior seed.

Pom-love

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment

Pomegranates have to be one of my favorite fall foods (after pumpkin, duh). Perfect as a snack as I had them today, or in a salad with roasted kale, butternut squash and goat cheese (last weeks lunch).  Another favorite of mine is to make chocolate–pomegranate clusters, but this recipe is next on my to-make list.

Pomegranates are high in Polyphenols, which have an array of health benefits from reducing inflammation to normalizing blood pressure . Here is a little more info along with a few options for getting your Polyphenols.

Lettuce Turnip the Beet

In My KitchenAmber Branson2 Comments
BeetJuice.jpg

 I began juicing about a year ago and although I don't do it everyday (like I probably should), it makes me feel amazing when I do. I love it. And I'm totally into the hype. My favorite juice is anything with beets.

At home my concoction usually consists of:
1 medium sized beet (top included)
1 bunch of kale (or I use about half bag of kale from Trader Joes)
1 apple
1 small lemon
1 inch chunk of ginger

I got a great deal on this juicer and couldn't pass it up. With juicing being so popular, there are a ton of resources on the internet, as well as books, explaining the best fruit-to-vegetable ratios as well as recipes and techniques. Here is a good place to start.

Harvest of Action

ThoughtsAmber BransonComment
PureRevivalLabels.JPG

What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.
/// Meister Eckhart

 

 

Been busy gathering supplies for a workshop/event I'm hosting. Something that has been in my mind for a long time is finally coming to fruition. Hoping to make it a regular thing and spread some DIY projects for healthy living.