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A beautifully written piece on what it means to ‘put the love’ in the food. If you don’t receive the LocalHarvest.org updates on what’s happening in your area, do so now-it’s great information!


LocalHarvest Newsletter, March 29, 2013

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

A little while back I was on a road trip and stopped at a coffee shop for a snack. I picked up one of the extra large cookies on the counter to see what was in it, and there, listed at the end of the usual ingredients was ‘love.’ I am sorry to say that my initial reaction included a tiny bit of eye rolling. It felt a little gimmicky – but it got me thinking. If we can put love into food, all sorts of possibilities open up, including how we think about good food.

We who appreciate good food sometimes struggle when it comes to describing it. Does it need to be grown within a certain number of miles? Does all organic food count? What if its parent company was a multinational? It gets complicated. Maybe there is some shorthand that would help, and maybe that shorthand is this: good food is grown and prepared with love.

What does that mean, exactly? How do we add love to our food? For myself, one important piece is simply paying attention to both the ingredients and the act of cooking. It’s the easiest thing in the world to throw together a quick supper while thinking a thousand racing thoughts about everything but the vegetables in my hands. But really, it is almost as simple, and infinitely more satisfying, to close the mental door on the day, focus on the task at hand, and take note of the fact that this food – this onion, these beans, this rice – this food right here will nourish me and my family, will become the energy that sustains us. Being mentally present and open-hearted changes what happens in the kitchen. It’s noticeable. My husband appreciates food and the effort home-cooking requires, and even when I’ve just thrown dinner together he looks at it and says, “Thank you for cooking, sweetie.” But when I’ve really put my heart into it, he’ll almost always say something like, “Wow, this is beautiful.” And it is.

So love changes food and the way we perceive it. I think this is one reason so many of us are drawn to farmers markets, farm stands and CSAs. Much of this food has been loved its whole life, and some part of us knows that. While not every farmer would use the word “love” in relation to what he or she does in the fields, I think it’s a fair descriptor of what’s going on when someone works for months to raise a crop, poring over crop rotations and seed orders, scraping weeds away from seedlings, sifting soil between their fingers to test the moisture, and getting up at 4:00 every morning to care for animals and load trucks and do the million other things necessary to bring in the harvest. Such work requires sustained attention, and usually, what people attend to deeply opens their hearts. Crops raised in this way, like meals prepared with care at home, are good food.

When we give our full attention to that which sustains us, whether we are growing, preparing, serving or eating it, that attention becomes a form of blessing. And we too are blessed.

Until next time, take good care and eat well.
Erin

Erin Barnett
Director
LocalHarvest

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules: Eat only foods that will eventually rot

  • Food processing extends shelf life ­ often by removing beneficial nutrients
  • Processed foods = longer shelf life & less nutritious
  • Real food is alive, and it should eventually die
  • Note: most “immortal” food­like substances are in the middle aisle of the grocery

Source: The Green Book

Trash Talk – Ways to save: sports & exercise

The calendar says ‘Spring’ but will it ever arrive?!? When it does, here are some ways to save: sports & exercise

  • Donate – your used sporting goods; contribute to a good cause, save resources, and delay adding to the landfill; plus a possible tax advantage
  • Used equipment – trying a new sport? Check out used equipment! Often just like new, and you reap the benefit of someone else’s change of heart. 
  • Research – yoga mats made from plant based material; helmets that are recyclable (vs. non-biodegradable); pressure-less tennis balls, etc. 

Will you take a small step to help?
Source: The Green Book

4 ways to avoid mindless eating

I have come to the sad revelation that I have become a mindless eater. This discovery came late one night when I realized that every single thing I put in my mouth that day was done haphazardly while standing. Picking at the leftovers from my children’s plate, noshing on the roasted vegetables each time I walked by the stove and grabbing a few cookies while the boys ate dessert. To be fair, I spend half my day feeding 3 hungry boys, which doesn’t make much time for a relaxing meal. However, this is an excuse that I can no longer justify. Breaking this habit is proving to be much more challenging than I anticipated. My new “rule” is to no longer put anything in my mouth while standing and no eating in front of the computer. I started this morning at breakfast; following this self imposed rule proved to be challenging and I constantly had to stop myself from mindlessly putting something in my mouth while I hurriedly fed the boys.

Hopefully a few “mindful eating” tips will help me in my new goal:

  1. Avoid multitasking while I am eating, stop all activity and just take a quiet moment to eat.
  2. Shift out of autopilot eating. Just because it is “time” to eat or food is available doesn’t actually mean I have to eat. Thinking about whether or not I am actually hungry makes a big difference in whether or not I will choose to actually eat.
  3. Stay hydrated. I often realize halfway through my day that I haven’t had very much water to drink.
  4. Use bowls, plates, etc. A surefire way to overeat is to eat directly out of the bag or box.

While many of these tips sound like common sense, even for nutrition professional like myself, it is always good to have reminders.

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules: Shop the peripheries of the supermarket & stay out of the middle

  • Processed food dominate center aisles of the store
  • Fresh food ­ produce, meat, fish, dairy ­ line the walls
  • Keep to the edges of the store & be more likely to wind up with real food in your cart
  • This method is not foolproof ­ check labels for HFCS, etc.

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules

Trash Talk – Do you file a tax return?

Do you know someone who files? (parents? friends?) e-file & direct deposit – please!
It’s quick–and secure - get any refund due back from the IRS electronically, instead of waiting for a check to arrive by mail.
Save paper & other resources, going & coming! – About $135 billion in tax refunds is still printed and mailed to individuals, which means printing checks and stuffing & mailing about fifty four million envelopes. What great opportunities to SAVE!

Will you take a small step to help?
Source: The Green Book

Weekly Wisdom – A new way to cook light ­- part 2

  • Eat less meat, more plants: push vegetables, fruits & whole grains to the center of your plate
  • Cook seasonally & when possible locally: enjoy the natural peak of produce
  • Learn new cooking techniques
  • Cook and eat mindfully & responsibly

Source: Cooking Light

Weekly Wisdom – A new way to cook light ­- part 1

March 6, 2013

Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

  • Embrace variety: eating many different foods is the best way to achieve good health
  • Cook more often
  • Eat more whole foods: reduce the number of foods in your kitchen with long ingredient lists
  • Favor the healthy fats: more plant oils & oily fish

Source: Cooking Light

 

Beef stew and bread

March 5, 2013
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

On the menu at home this past weekend was beef stew (Sunday was the perfect day for it!) and bread of some type.  The stew was pretty traditional-I used sirloin tip because it’s so lean & gets really tender when braised.  I always put in a lot of onion-typically I brown one medium onion with the meat, and another onion in with the vegetables.  I like to roast the vegetables separately, then add them to the stew.  It’s a little more time consuming, but it gives the stew more depth & adds a little sweetness.  In addition to the onion, I used carrots, celery, turnip & potatoes, along with a snip of fresh rosemary from my window herb garden.

The sauce for the stew started with beef broth, made from base.  I don’t know why bases aren’t available at the retail level like they are for food service.  To me they’re far superior to bouillon cubes (YUCK!) or even the packaged broths that are now available.  They’ll do in a pinch, but you can’t control the flavor & sodium levels like you can with base.  The secret ingredient in my stew is Campbell’s cream of tomato soup.  About 1 can (undiluted) added to a gallon of broth adds great flavor & helps thicken the stew.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to deglaze the pan you sauté the meat in with a little red wine.

But it’s really the bread I wanted to mention.  I’m embarrassed to admit that, after 30 years in the food biz, I’m afraid of yeast.  I worked with it a little at school, but I don’t think it counts when there are 13 other students making the bread with you.  I’ve shied away from it since, but decided it was time to get over myself & give it a shot.

I searched for a simple recipe online (amazing how many hits you get when you type in ‘simple bread recipe’!)  I absolutely loved the instructions written by The Simple Homemaker (http://www.thesimplehomemaker.com/simple-bread-recipe).  I giggled several times as I read through the recipe.  The part about kneading was very helpful, even though I used a different recipe (I wanted one with a little sugar & oil-hers is just yeast, water, salt & flour):

“Knead until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. If you have no baby’s bottom at hand to compare it to, give it the stretch test. Hold the dough up to the light and stretch a portion of it. If you can see light through it before it breaks, congrats! You’re finished”

Being a novice at bread making, it was a simple test I could use to judge whether or not I’d kneaded enough (I didn’t have a baby’s bottom handy).

The rest of the process was pretty simple-let it rise, punch it down, form it, let it rise again & then bake.  There is NOTHING more comforting then the smell of baking bread!  It came out delicious, and I was pretty impressed with myself on the texture of the bread. It was soft inside & had a great crust on the outside.  All in all a great experience for a first timer!  I think I’ll try it again…maybe cinnamon rolls for dads birthday….

Benefits of the mediterranean diet

March 4, 2013
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

It may make you say “oh we already knew that one” but when the latest study came out confirming the benefits of a Mediterranean diet I breathed a sigh of relief.  The world of medicine & science often seems like a lesson in contradictions often leading to mistrust or disbelief in the general population about health & good nutrition. But no one can argue that a diet devoid of nutrients (i.e. processed foods in our diet) is not beneficial for our health.  The Mediterranean diet is rich in beans, fish, lean proteins (very little red meat) fruits, vegetables and heart healthy fats like olive oil, canola, nut butters, etc.  Also important to note is that while it includes carbohydrates like rice, pasta and bread they are in the whole grain (meaning 100 % whole) versus the refined (i.e. removed) we include so often in our diet.

Great links for more information from two of my favorites: Dr. Walter
Willette, MD & Mark Bittman, food writer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/dining/when-diet-meets-delicious-the-mediterranean-approach.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0
http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview