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Fourth of July Snacks

The weekend of July 4th is rapidly approaching, what dish will you be contributing to this year’s holiday get-together? Just because this celebration is tradition does not mean that you need to follow in the footsteps of Fourths past and gorge on hot dogs and burgers. Celebrate the long weekend, no cheat day included! Enjoy these fun, easy, and healthy snacks not just this weekend, but all summer long. Start new July 4th traditions by giving your family and friends treats that taste great and are great for your body too.

Fruit pops with coconut water

Fill Popsicle molds ¾ of the way full with your favorite fruits.

Fill the rest of the mold with your chosen brand of coconut water.

Place in the freezer for two hours or until partially frozen then insert the Popsicle sticks into the molds.

Continue freezing for three more hours or until your pops are fully frozen.

Yz

Zucchini chips

Ingredients:

4 cups of thinly sliced Zucchini

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Whisk salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar in a bowl.

Add thinly sliced zucchini, the thinner the crispier!

Toss the crisps until they are fully covered in the dressing.

Place the slices on dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 5-6 hours.

     Yz2

Burrata tomato bites 

Cut the tops off cherry tomatoes and scoop out the insides.

Fill with a small spoonful of burrata or mozzarella cheese.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar over top.

      

         Yz3

Frozen Yogurt Blueberries

Use a toothpick to dip blueberries in Greek yogurt.

Place on a baking sheet and freeze until ready.

Try using different types of Organic Greek yogurt (like Siggis, Fage, Stoneyfield, Chobani, etc) to create a combination of flavors.

Yz4

For dessert! Fruit pizza

  Yz5

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of sugar cookie dough
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon of water

  

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the cookie dough as usual for 13-14 minutes on a prepared pizza pan.

In mixing bowl use an electric mixer to whip the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until light and smooth.

Spread the “frosting” over the crust when cool and arrange the fruit however you would like!

Optional: whisk the preserves and the water and brush it over the fruit then refrigerate until serving time

                                                    

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 8.16.44 AM

Kohlrabi, by consumer definition, is that spaceship-looking vegetable seen at the grocery store or farmer’s market that you contemplate buying just because it looks cool, but you actually have no idea what to do with it. Well, let us solve that problem for you so next time you don’t hesitate and can leave with the spaceship vegetable in your shopping bag.

Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage plant family. Therefore, it is also related to other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Some of the health benefits of kohlrabi include its fairly high content of fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. Simply stated, the fiber is good for your overall digestion and heart health, while Vitamins C & B6 help boost your immune system and metabolism.

Now you’re probably wondering, “Ok, kohlrabi sounds good for me, but how do I know I will like how it tastes?” The answer to that question is that it really depends how you choose to eat it. Every part of the vegetable is edible – the leaves, stem, and bulb. However, whether you choose to eat it raw, sautéed, or baked and with or without seasonings might be an experiment for your taste buds. When eating it raw, a high school student who recently visited the farm quite reasonably described the taste as if a “radish and a cucumber had a baby”. It has a nice crisp taste and matchstick slices make for a great addition to a vegetable tray. If you cook it in the oven or sauté it on the stove, it can become a little sweeter or caramelized in the high heat, making it a nice side dish for steak, fish, or a main course meal.

 

So how do you prepare kohlrabi?

  1. First, you will probably want to cut off the stems and peel it. The outer layer can be rather tough. (The stems and leaves can easily be chopped and tossed into a salad.)
  2. Slice the kohlrabi in half, then into quarters (this makes it easier to peel off the skin).
  3. Peel off the tough skin of its outer layer.
  4. Cut the kohlrabi into pieces that suite your need or recipe. The slices are further described below and pictured from left to right.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 8.16.27 AM

  • Thick Slices (far left)
    • Using a sharp knife carefully cut the slices into thick wedges.
    • These pieces can be good for baking, stir fry recipes, and even eating raw with a light ranch dressing or veggie dip.
  • Match Sticks (middle)
    • Cut the kohlrabi into thick slices. Then, stack the slices and cut them into matchsticks or French fry sized pieces that could be used in stir fries and coleslaws.
  • Thin Slices (far right)
    • The best tool to use for thin slices is a mandoline slicer, which can be seen in the picture below.
    • Position a kohlrabi quarter on a mandoline, and use a finger guard to hold it in place as you slice.
    • These slices are perfect for a salad and could even be added to a vegetable lasagna.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 8.16.57 AM

 

Now what? Your vegetable looks like a disassembled spaceship, and you’re not sure how you want to eat it. Check out the links below for some tasty recipes!

 

Herbilicous

“An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.”
— Charlemagne

photo 3 (1)

Tis the season for fresh foods – the weather has finally turned to sun and warmth and our bodies are now craving the crunch of fresh flavors. The Farm at St. Joe’s is producing bountiful leafy greens, radishes and carrots, beets, green onions, and kohlrabi. Fresh vegetables can be incorporated during a meal as a mixed green salad or on the go as a snack.

But the fresh food craze is not limited to vegetables – fresh herbs are available too! Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of plants, whereas spices originate from the seeds, berries, bark, roots, and fruits. Herbs are used for food, medicine, perfume, or flavoring – a great way to add taste without adding calories. Herbs can also replace salt – which is a wise way to protect your heart!

It’s no wonder with all the benefits of herbs that National Herb and Spices Day is celebrated annually on June 10. So how might you start using these wonderful gifts from Mother Nature?

Fresh herbs should be added toward the end of cooking or just as a dish is being served because prolonged heat can cause flavor losses. When following a recipe, use the following approximate equivalent amount for fresh herbs:

 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs

 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs

 ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs

Parsley Beds

At The Farm at St. Joe’s, the herb parsley is growing abundantly. There are two main categories of parsley used as herbs – flat leaf, or Italian, and curly leaf. The farm is growing flat-leaved parsley, as it is easier to cultivate tolerating more rain and sunshine and has a stronger flavor. However, curly leaf parsley is more decorative and thus used in garnishing.

Parsley is widely used in traditional dishes around the world. Parsley is the main ingredient in Italian salsa verde, which is a condiment containing parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, and bread soaked in vinegar used on commonly on fish.   In Brazil, freshly chopped parsley and scallion are used in the seasoning called cheiro-verde (translated to “green aroma”), often a key seasoning for a range of traditional Brazilian dishes including meat, fish, beans, stews, and salads. Parsley is also the main ingredient in several Middle Eastern salads such as Lebanese tabbouleh. In the United States, parsley is found in potato salad, as a garnish on plates in restaurants, and used to flavor dishes with vegetables such corn, peas, potatoes, and tomatoes.

When using parsley in a recipe, pick the leaves off the stems, as the stems are tough. Check out these recipes for parsley inspiration, including parsley hummus and parsley salsa verde with grilled cod. With the leftover parsley, consider these storage tips from columnist Martha Rose Shulman at the New York Times: Take the rubber band or twist-tie off the bunch of parsley, wash and spin dry in a salad spinner, and lay the parsley on a doubled paper towel and roll up; make sure the paper towel is damp; and keep in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator.

Parsley is a flavorful addition to almost any dish – I added parsley to a jambalaya recipe prepared while camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes last weekend per Christine’s suggested to get outside! But parsley also has advantages for your health. Parsley is a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K, important for your eye health, blood clotting, and as powerful antioxidants. In addition, if using it as a flavor substitute to salt parsley can be cardio-protective!

Enjoy fresh herbs this season, either from your local farmers market, The Farm at St. Joe’s, or your own backyard. If interested in starting your own herb garden, check out resources here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 photo 1    tomatoberry_vine

You’ve heard it a million times (probably from your mother) – eat more fruits and veggies! Well, this time of year, there are no excuses not to fill half your plate with the rainbow of produce. Though you can purchae produce in cold-weather states like Michigan year round, what you are getting is produce that is grown thousands miles away and that can have a negative effect on not only the taste of your produce, but also its nutritional value.

During the spring, summer and autumn months, however, we can take advantage of the bounty of locally grown produce. The taste of these dietary staples, as they reach the peak of their ripeness, is unrivaled. That is why we decided to kick off this summer with a quick guide to the fruits and veggies that are optimal during this time of year. We all know how essential the second tier of the food pyramid is to our overall health, but here are some less well-known benefits to keep you feeling your best during the best time of the year.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the fruits containing the highest amount of lycopene. Lycopene has been linked with lower levels of cancers, especially prostate cancer.

Avocado

Whether eaten plain, spread on toast, or mixed in with scrambled eggs, avocados are one of the best ways to satisfy your body’s healthy fat needs. Avocados are considered to be a monounsaturated fat, the kind that’s good for you, and can lead to an overall lower body weight. 

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries all have more in common than their shared suffixes. Berries have compounds that deter the natural decline of mental processes and help to preserve cognitive abilities during aging.

 

Cantaloupe

In addition to being key in fighting off dehydration cantaloupe is also full of antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin has been linked reducing the risk for age-related macular degeneration, a condition that is the leading cause in the loss of vision.

 

Peaches

Eating just one sweet, juicy peach can benefit your bones, your nervous system, and your red blood cells. How? Peaches are storehouses for an impressive variety of minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous, and manganese.

 

Watermelon

Not only does watermelon nearly taste too delicious to be good for you, but it is also comprised of about 92% water, making watermelon slices a hydrating, nutritious, and sweet snack to keep hydrated in the summer heat.

 

Cherries

Having trouble sleeping at night? Instead of adding melatonin pills to your nightly routine, try incorporating more cherries into your diet. Cherries are one of the rare natural sources of melatonin and can help you get those extra few hours of sleep needed to fuel your day.

 

Cucumber

Cucumbers have the highest water concentration of all fruits and veggies, adding up to about 96% water. They’re also easy to incorporate into your diet, whether in a salad, sandwich, or a wrap.

 

For those of you who want to experience a little more of what summertime produce has to offer, check out the following more adventurous fruits and herbs.

 

Basil

By inhibiting the same enzymes as anti-inflammatory medications, basil has anti-inflammatory health benefits for those suffering from the pain and swelling of arthritis. Basil is also noteworthy in its versatility; it can be added to nearly every dish! Try mixing some in with the some seasonally ripe tomatoes, either into a fresh tomato sauce or a mozzarella salad.

 

Figs

Don’t be misled by the sweetness and dessert-like qualities of figs. One serving of these pear-shaped fruits has about one quarter of your daily fiber needs, essential for healthy digestion and in curbing those unnecessary between-meal cravings.

 

Mint

Mint is incredibly beneficial for helping along healthy digestion as well as other stomach or bowel ailments. Mint also can relieve nausea. Try adding crushed up leaves to hot water to make refreshing homemade mint tea.

 

Key Limes

These small, yellow-green limes can be used for more than making delicious pies. They are also a great source of vitamin C, which is necessary for a healthy immune system, promotes youthful skin, and lowers risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

 

Hey Michiganders! Do you remember the last eight months of cold weather we just had? Of course you do, how could you forget. Well, it’s finally your favorite season – summer! And with that said, there isn’t any reason you (or anyone) shouldn’t be spending some time outside, right?

Sadly, we know that isn’t always the case. Life likes to keep us busy with work, family, household chores, etc. But we didn’t endure the last eight months of cold and snow just to spend more time distracted indoors.

With that said, I’d like to highlight the outdoor opportunities our great state of Michigan has to offer. Time and time again we are reminded of the importance of physical activity, but that doesn’t mean we have to get up at 5am to go to the gym before work. You could obtain that exercise by spending an entire day walking the trails at a state park, kayaking or canoeing the Huron River, or on the bike trails between Dexter and Ann Arbor.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week. That’s only a total of two and a half hours! But imagine if you spent your entire Saturday outdoors with friends or family at a park? That could easily add up to a nice five-hour day of fresh air! Some of the health benefits of exercise include weight maintenance, improving cholesterol and overall heart health, and feeling more energized.

Even doctors are promoting more time outdoors. On June 1st, the Vermont Public Radio published an article about a group of physicians throughout the state writing prescriptions for their patients to spend more time outside and included free entry to the Vermont State Parks. While it is great to see health professionals promoting physical activity, we must admit that this isn’t a new philosophy. We have been playing outdoors since we were children, yet somehow we lost touch with our inner child that ran around catching lightning bugs until our parents called us indoors.

Here in Michigan, we are lucky to have access to some beautiful parks and trails located near most towns, and we are surrounded by lakes. Whether it is walking around your neighborhood, checking out what the local Parks and Recreation Department has to offer in your town, or venturing to one of Michigan’s state parks, make it your goal this summer to spend some time outdoors. Get more than the recommended amount of physical activity without even realizing it! Enjoy the sun and soak up that Vitamin D! Those winter months will creep back before you know it.

Check out the state parks closest to you on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ website and plan your next (or first!) outdoor activity this summer.

Michigan Parks

Parks located in and around Ann Arbor:

By: Lisa Warren, MS, RD

Keep that New Year’s Resolution and DASH into Good Health!

For many Americans, their 2015 resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier have been forgotten.  But it doesn’t have to be like that – in fact, good health can be just a DASH away!  Every year, US news and World Report ranks diets for ease in following, safety, efficacy, and sound nutrition. The Dash Diet has been ranked number 1 for the past 4 years!  Originally developed to help control blood pressure (hence the name Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), it was found that this diet can also help lower blood lipids and result in weight loss.  So, why not try it—what do you have to lose besides a little weight?

Here are some key points to get started:

  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits ( 4 – 5 servings of each)
  • Include fat free or low fat dairy products (2-3 servings)
  • Make whole grains part of your daily intake (6-8 servings)
  • Pump up muscles with protein foods like legumes, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds (6 ounces or less of meats and legumes, nuts, seeds 4 – 5 times/week)
  • Limit sodium to 1500 mg , but no more than 2300 mg daily

It’s Easy!

  • Increase fruits and vegetables in your daily diet by adding an extra serving at lunch or dinner or for a snack in between meals. Remember, ½ cup of cooked vegetable or 1 cup raw, 1 medium size piece of fruit (size of a tennis ball), or ¼ cup dried fruits all equal a single serving. The fiber will help fill you up and is naturally low in sodium.
  • Make a meatless dinner twice a week – use dried beans or legumes as your protein source.
  • Watch those labels for sodium content. Fresh is best whenever possible! Boost the flavor in your food with spices or herbs that don’t contain sodium or learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods.

Don’t give up!

Whatever you do, don’t give up!  If you go off track, don’t abandon the whole plan.  Take it one step at a time and incorporate one new thing a week.  Need a little help?  Take a look on line at DASH.org or National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website or ask a registered Dietitian. Check out this delicious recipe:

 

Quinoa Spinach Patties

1 cup cooked quinoa

4 eggs, whisked

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

3 large scallions, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup steamed, chopped spinach (frozen can be used)

1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

Rinse quinoa with water and then place in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water.  Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until quinoa is tender and has absorbed liquid – about 20 minutes.  Cool.

Combine cooked quinoa, eggs, parmesan, scallions, garlic, steamed spinach and breadcrumbs.  Let liquid absorb before shaping into patties using ¼ cup of mixture for each patty.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat.  Cook patties covered for 8 – 10 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Makes 14 patties

Serving size 2 patties:  200 calories, 6 g total fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 4 g fiber, 140 mg sodium, 245 mg potassium

 

Try a plant-based diet

Diets rich in delicious whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help prevent or actually reverse heart disease. That’s huge!

Over 83 million American’s have some form of heart disease that can be directly related to unhealthy eating.   Our typical Western diet is to blame, laden with animal meats, fat, and sugars.  Several authors have touted plant-based eating over the years such as Ornish and Esselstyn as a way to reverse damage in the blood vessels and prevent recurrences.  Even though it will require a commitment to a specific way of eating, the rewards can be tremendous!

Other benefits to plant based eating include prevention of:

  • diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer

 

Get Started!  Too Strict?   Don’t Depair!

  • Take a look on the internet at sites such as 21 vegan kickstart (pcrm.org/kickstartHome/ ) or in books by Esselstyn, Pritikin, or Ornish to get started. There are many recipes online and in published books on the topic that can make this way of life enjoyable and delicious.

If you feel like the plant based diet is too strict for you, maybe you can consider becoming a Flexitarian.  That’s a flexible vegetarian diet with an occasional animal protein.  It is often called the 3-4-5 way of eating – that is 300 calories at breakfast, 400 calories at lunch, and 500 calories at dinner with 150 calorie snacks depending on the calorie level you need.  Any way you look at it, eating more vegetables can be a great way to much healthier you!  Need a little help?  Ask a registered Dietitian.

oats

Come sample delicious oat/cherry energy bars at the Farmer’s Market today between 11-1 courtesy of Chef Carly. This is such an easy recipe to make and requires no baking. These energy bars are a favorite snack of the Detroit Red Wings because the preparation time is under five minutes. Check out the recipe below and try a batch at home. The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is to individualize the ingredients to whatever you like. These are a great recovery snack after a long run or bike.

Ingredients:

2 cup organic oats

1/3 dried tart cherries

½ cup all-natural peanut butter or almond butter

3 Tablespoons honey (I like Manuka honey best)

1 tsp vanilla optional add ins: chia seeds, hemp seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, coconut, ground flax, etc.

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Either roll into balls or fill small containers and freeze for 30 minutes.
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