Making the best of winter… an outing to the winter market

Hi everyone!  I have to admit, I am less than impressed with today’s snowstorm.  I mean, tomorrow is the first day of spring!!  Apparently Mother Nature did not get the memo…..

So, one great thing about winter is the great selection of local WINTER farmer’s markets.  Yes, that is correct, you can get fresh local vegetables in the winter, even in New England  😉

One of my favorite markets is in Exeter, NH and I had the pleasure of going this weekend with my friend Heather.  Heather worked on one of our local farms a few summers ago… for me, this experience (you know, second-hand friend-experience) started me on this journey of farm-fresh food and healthier whole food eating.

I’m pleased to report that the farmer’s market is so much more than just vegetables.  There is so much to see, and taste, that I could (and did) spend the whole morning there!  The highlights……..

The Heron Pond Farm farmstand… this is where Jonathan and I usually do our CSA membership!  Tons of fresh produce, always a treat…. and the owners are really great.  Come to think of it, I’ve never met a farmer that isn’t great… must be something about all that fresh air and fresh food that makes a person happy 🙂

market veggies

Fresh bread and local cheese….. (I ONLY refrained because we are still working our way through a loaf of foccacia at the house)

market bread

Fresh pasta!!  Need I say more?  Well okay, I do have more to say… Valicenti Organico is has tons of pasta options, including some made from farro and grains other than your traditional wheat.  He also had so many different ravioli choices.  I was ten minutes deciding… I went with the multi-grain portobello with spinach and chevre.  Yum!!

market pasta

White Heron is another favorite.  I just love their teas.  I enjoyed an iced cranberry ginger at the market.  They also had a tasty looking quinoa salad… I didn’t buy it, but I did stare at the label long enough to memorize the ingredients.  Can’t wait to make a batch 😉

market tea

And here I am with Heather, Shelly and Tamara… Shelly is one of the owners at Burnt Swamp Farm.  I plan to get her fresh eggs until Jonathan lets me have some pet chickens.  She has 224 chickens… I would be happy with just 3-4, totally manageable, right?  😉  And I would be remiss if I failed to mention her greens.  Fresh spinach and kale, delish!  I also love the market because it’s a chance to catch up with friends and chat with new people.

market girls

If you are curious about the market schedule, and live near me, you can check it out here (this is not an exhaustive list!)

Hmmmm… now what to do with all this fresh food?  A delicious meal, of course!!

Winter Market Bowl

This meal combines some of winter’s best harvest.  Paired with a gingery soy sauce, this bowl is tasty and satisfying.  This recipe was also my first use of wheat berries… SO GREAT!  Of course, you could serve this with rice or quinoa, but once you try wheat berries, you won’t want to.  Serves 2 with extra wheat berries.

  • 2-3 small beets, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup broccoli, broken into small pieces
  • ~2 cups kale, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • sauce: 3Tbs tamari or Bragg’s, 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar, 1Tbs olive oil, 1 tsp tahini, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2-1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • toppings (optional): chopped almonds, nutritional yeast

Start by getting the wheat berries going… bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add a dash of salt and 1 cup wheat berries.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until all of the water has absorbed and the berries are cooked, about 45 minutes.  The veggies will cook quickly, so give the wheat berries about 30 minutes of cook time before starting the vegetables.

Chop the carrot and beets.  Roast at 450F for 5 minutes then add the corn kernels and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.  I like my veggies a bit crunchy.

Here’s the coolest thing ever… Jonathan got me a bamboo steamer!

bamboo steamer

It is so quick and easy, and vegetables come out perfectly!  Bring an inch or two of water to a boil over high heat.  You can just pop this steamer on top of the pot… if you don’t have a steamer, a collander works well too.  The broccoli and kale were cooked to perfection in 5 minutes.  Here it is in action:

bamboo steamer2While the veggies are cooking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients.  The raw garlic and ginger can be a bit heavy for sensitive taste buds, so you may want to strain the sauce before serving to remove the bits.

Easy assembly… add cooked wheat berries to a bowl… top with veggies.  Drizzle with sauce and (optional) top with chopped almonds and nutritional yeast.  Not to toot my own horn, but this was seriously one of the best meals!

market bowl

Mmmmm… transport me to southeast Asia… away from all of this snow!!  Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  I’m crossing my fingers that I wake up to 50 degree weather  😉

Stay healthy… winter is almost over!!

xox, Kristen

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Apple stuffed acorn squash and lemony kale salad

Hi everyone and happy Tuesday!  I had a low-key weekend filled with family time, yoga, Thai food (the BEST I’ve ever had at The Green Elephant in Portland, Maine), movies and homemade pizza… some much-needed relax time.  And I was lucky enough to work from home yesterday (second best to actually having the day off), so I could catch up on some important work stuff, and also laundry.  😉

For food highlights, I have a delicious apple stuffed squash for you.  The recipe is reminiscent of my Mom’s Waldorf salad.. since I’m not a mayonnaise gal, I’ve actually never eaten it (yes Mom, it’s true, all those years at Thanksgiving, never tried it), BUT I can tell just by looking that it’s tasty!  And other people love it.  I digress….. anyway, I must have been channeling Waldorf in the kitchen when this one was hatched.

squash ingredients

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know what they say about ‘good things’ and ‘waiting,’ right?  Well, this is one of those recipes… it’s not difficult, you’re just going to need to give the squash some quality time in the oven.  Great news, this is a perfect make-ahead candidate… the stuffed squash will keep just fine in the fridge.  Think about it: home from work, pop food in the oven… by the time you’ve unwound from your day… a hot ‘weekend’ dinner on a weeknight!

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 apples, I used organic fuji, but whatever you like will be great
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion
  • 1 tiny piece of ginger, zested about 1/4 tsp
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (the good ones, without added sugar)
  • 2 Tbs chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsely, minced
  • olive oil and black pepper

Chop and combine apples, onion, celery.  I left the apple skin on.  Stir in cranberries and pecans.  Add black pepper to taste.  I used several cracks of pepper but no added salt, you really don’t need it!  The chopped filling smelled so fresh and tasty, I almost grabbed a fork and stopped there.

squash filling chopped

Carefully cut the squash in half.  The squash are pretty hard so I lodge the knife as far as I can, then use the ‘splitting wood’ method.  Scrape the insides out and save the seeds.  I love roasted seeds and always cook mine when making squash… I throw them on a piece of aluminum foil with some salt and pepper and roast while the squash is cooking.

Lightly oil a baking dish.  Stuff the squash halves and place in the dish.  If you have extra stuffing, just throw it in the dish.

squashes

Cover and roast at 450F until soft, approx 50 minutes.

While these are roasting, you can prep your salad… I made a kale salad with lemony tahini dressing and roasted brussels sprouts.  I really love the addition of hot food on top of my green salads… especially in the winter.

stuffed squash

Lemon Tahini Kale Salad

I’m going to explain this recipe two ways, so I will try to keep it straightforward… I made the basic salad with dinner, then bulked up the leftovers with extra toppings for lunch the next day.  The add-ons gave the salad some protein and lasting power, making it more main-course worthy.

  • 1 head curly kale
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts (approx)
  • Lemon Tahini Dressing: 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs tahini, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, pepper

Thoroughly wash kale and tear into bite sized pieces, skipping any really thick stems.  Combine dressing ingredients and mix with the kale and carrot to coat well.  The vinegar will begin to soften the kale a bit… in fact, the longer this salad sits, the better it tastes!  Kale won’t go limp like regular lettuce can.

Slice brussels sprouts in half and spread on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Roast the brussels sprouts at 450F for 20 minutes.  If you’ve never roasted sprouts, it’s absolutely the best way to cook them… they get a little sweet with nice crispy edges, soooo good!  In fact, roasting is my very favorite way to cook any vegetables!

Top the kale salad with roasted brussels sprouts and squash seeds.  This makes a perfect side dish… OR, as a meal…

  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup dressed kale salad
  • leftover roasted brussels sprouts
  • chopped red bell pepper
  • marinated white beans
  • roasted squash seeds

Marinated beans are a new favorite of mine… I’ll whip them up and leave them in the fridge to add to salads or wraps.  Simply soak any type of beans (I’ve been loving the large white beans) in a combo of 2T apple cider vinegar, 1T olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Between the marinated kale and beans, you totally don’t need extra dressing.  If you are really feeling the need for a flavor burst, you could always whip up a little extra lemon tahini.  I love how fresh and crunchy and brightly colored this salad is!  And I always forget how yummy cabbage is until I eat it.

pumped up kale salad

In other news, today is day 5 of the 30 day green smoothie challenge that Jonathan and I are doing with Young and Raw.  So far, it’s been a success.  We’ve had a new green smoothie every day and are both totally LOVING the experience.  I’m a big smoothie fan, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut… so it’s lovely to have a supply of new recipes and creative new combinations.  It’s too late to join this month’s challenge, but if you follow them on facebook, they post lots of great smoothie and other raw recipes.

That’s all for now friends!  I am experimenting with homemade granola bars… so with any luck, I’ll be back with a healthy treat soon.

xox, Kristen

Yogalates and an Asian rice bowl

Hi friends!  I hope everyone is having a great week… I am having an extra-awesome week because I am not working!  Well, back to the office tomorrow, but let’s not think about that today 😉

Yesterday I spent the day around the house.  I reorganized the walk-in closet to make room for Jonathan’s clothes.  I mean, we’ve only lived there 5 months, so it seemed like it was time.  I have never, ever shared a closet in my life… so far, nothing catastrophic has happened.  And Jonathan was so happy to see his clothes hanging neatly when he got home, so it was a win.

Today, I’m enjoying some quality me-time.  This morning I tried a new class!  My friend Vanessa teaches Yogalates at Coastal Fitness in Kittery.  I am always working on Wednesdays, so I was really psyched to be able to attend her class.  As the name cleverly suggests, it is a fusion of Pilates and yoga… it was a pretty killer ab workout, which felt great (I can safely say that now that it’s done).  And Vanessa had some new-to-me moves the I look forward to adding to my repertoire… one huge perk of checking out new instructors.

In food-news, I’m excited to share this recipe with you all.  A yummy little Asian-inspired creation…

Asian Brown Rice Bowl

This one is quick and easy… and delicious, a great combination!  I’m a big ‘grab what’s in the fridge’ person, so feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have on hand… I promise, you can’t go wrong.  Serves 3.

  • 1/2 large beet
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • large handful of kale
  • brown rice
  • Sauce: 1T rice vinegar, 2T Bragg’s (or soy sauce), 2T almond butter, 1T olive oil, 1 small clove garlic, small piece of ginger (about the size of a garlic clove), 3T water to thin
  • Toppings: scallions, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast (all are optional), or whatever sounds good!

Cook the rice… I have failed at cooking rice many times.  I have had friends tease me because cooking rice is supposed to be so simple.  Out of nowhere, it suddenly became easy and has since always worked out.  In case you aren’t yet a rice-pro, here’s the deal: bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil, add 1/2 cup rice, cover, turn down and simmer about 40 mins or until all of the water is absorbed (I like to double this so I have rice to use later in the week).

Chop all the veggies, except the kale… I was hungry and hoping to speed things up, so I cut them into small 1/2-inch cubes.

Roast veggies at 450F until soft, about 20 mins for small-cut.  Rip the kale into bite-sized pieces and add on top of the roasted veggies.  Cover with foil or a lid to wilt the kale.

Prep the sauce… if you have a food processor or blender, that works really well to mince the garlic and ginger and incorporate all the flavors.

To assemble, scoop rice into a bowl, add veggies, sauce and toppings.  Yum!

asian bowl

Okay friends, I’m off to work on another little house project.  Have a great day!!

xox, Kristen

Fall Harvest Bowl and Pursuing the Crazy

Van Gogh said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you can’t paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

I know, I know… Van Gogh cut off his ear… and he may have been crazy.  Nonetheless, I like to take a page from his book now and again.  I need to pursue those crazy ideas just to show myself that I can… plus, it’s a ton of fun!

Today’s version came in the form of 108 Sun Salutations (in a row) 😉 at Yoga Mala in Dover, a really great fundraiser to support Seacoast Eat Local and the (H)EAT program.  So, not only did I get to show myself that ‘yes I can’ but I had tons of fun AND, as one person, got to support the greater good of the community, which feels even better than the killer workout I got… a win all around!!

mala

Here we are setting up.  200 people were there practicing together… I left buzzing with the energy of the group!

After yoga I took a trip to Good Karma Cafe in Exeter for some cleanse-friendly eats.  This place is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and my parents loved it as well!  I ordered the Asian Tempeh Bowl, which was absolutely delicious… I will definitely be re-creating that one at home.

Speaking of yummy re-creates, I made a great dinner last night, inspired by a dish I had at Life Alive last weekend.  Seriously, this is a good one!

Fall Harvest Curry Bowl

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1/2 bunch kale torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup brown rice (you’ll have extra)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (I used lite)
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • few shakes cayenne
  • handful chopped almonds
  • nutritional yeast (optional)

Not only is this tasty, but easy to make.  While the rice is cooking, chop the sweet potato (I leave the skin on) and cut the onion into thick slices (skin off on that one).  Roast the sweet potato and onion at 450F until soft 35-35 mins.  When the other veggies/rice are just finished, steam the kale.  Boil 1/2inch of water in a pot and add the kale, cook until just slightly softened, about 2 mins.  Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan.  Add curry powder and cayenne to taste… I’m a big ‘to taste’ chef… and I like it spicy!  I used approx 1 Tbs curry and 1/8 tsp cayenne.

To assemble, top rice with the veggies. Drizzle with sauce and top with chopped almonds and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

fall curry bowl

Guess what… Jonathan, a self-proclaimed non-fan of curry, LOVED this dish as well.  Two empty bowls = success.  (and the recipe made 3 servings… tomorrow’s lunch, done)

curry gone Hope you all had a great weekend!

xox   Kristen

Hello my little dumpling

Hello friends!  I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  I am super excited to share this recipe with you… this might just be the BEST thing I’ve ever made!

Soooo, a little background… on Christmas Jonathan and I BOTH got dumpling presses in our stockings (we, I mean Santa, inexplicably had the exact same idea… one of those really cool marriage moments).  Well, we put them to good use this weekend!  I did my usual ‘roll with what we have in the fridge’ approach and the dumplings came out better than I could have imagined.
Butternut Squash Dumplings 

  • butternut sqash, cut into small cubes (1/2 lg squash, or 1 smallish one)
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into thick slices
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
  • wonton wrappers (in the regular grocery store near the tofu)
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

dumpling ingredients

Drizzle the squash, onions and garlic with olive oil and a bit of salt.  Roast at 450F until soft, about 45 mins.  I keep the garlic skins on so they don’t dry out, just squeeze it out after cooking.  Mix with the chopped spinach and mash the ingredients to make the filling.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Place a wonton wrapper diagonally on the press.  Add about a teaspoon of filling, wet edges, and press… voila!  Place the dumplings on wax paper and keep pressing.  The recipe made about 2 dozen.

Heat 1-2 Tbs olive or sesame oil in a skillet on medium high heat.  Cook in a single layer, 2-3 minutes per side, or until crispy.

pressdumplings stick

Oops!!  The first round totally stuck… (this did not stop us from devouring them straight from the pan)  I definitely recommend a NON-stick skillet for these delicate little babies:

dumplings nonstick

Aaaahhhh…. perfection!

And,what’s a dumpling without sauce… if you answered ‘not very good’ then friend, correct answer!  So I did a little trio of dipping sauces.  This sounds more complicated than it was because two of those sauces came from bottles  😉

Dipping Sauces

  • Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Citrus Ponzu sauce (the brand I picked was too citrusy for my tastes, so I toned it down with some tamari and water)
  • Spicy Peanut sauce: 2T peanut butter, 1T rice wine vinegar, 1T tamari, 3-4T water, 2 shakes cayenne.  A mini food processor is great here, or whisk like crazy with a fork to get that PB into solution.

I also did a little raw broccoli salad.  I used a bag of the Green Giant brand ‘Rainbow Slaw’ pre=chopped veggies (it was next to the wonton wrappers and just jumped into my basket).  I dressed the slaw with a mixture of: 1T sesame oil, 1T tamari, 1T citrus ponzu, 1T sweet chili sauce

Drumroll please…………

dumplings!!

The most delicious meal ever!

In other news, I went to a class this afternoon on cleansing with whole foods.  I left feeling nourished, energized and inspired.  The cleanse starts Friday… so stay tuned!

xox!  Kristen