Saturday, January 30, 2010

Harvest Box for January 29, 2010

Look at this week's luscious harvest box!! This is really winter in Ottawa these days (my toes are blue to prove it), so be sure to try and bring your harvest box inside as soon as it arrives so your produce doesn't freeze. Doesn't take long when it's -30 outside!

We are big avocado lovers so I always find myself smiling when I see the bumpy-round surface of an avocado inside my harvest box. A family favourite is to slice up an avocado and add to some fresh crusty bread with a couple slices of tomato and cheese. Smear on a little may and freshly ground pepper, and you've got yourself a perfect little sandwich!

I also really like the looks of this Crunchy Avocado Salad and hope to try it out one day this week. For the sushi lovers (of which I am one, although I have not yet forayed into the world of sushi-making), I suggest using both your avocado and mango together in this delicious sounding
Crab, Avocado and Mango Roll. And although my tried and true avocado sandwich has gotten us through the years, it may truly have met its match in this week's Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich. Doesn't that sound divine? Please let me know if you give it a try - I am dying to know if it tastes as good as it looks!

I offered a few simple ways to incorporate mango into a main meal last week, and I stumbled upon a couple other great recipes I wanted to share. I've learned that beef and mango are a great combo (proved to me with last week's Beef and Mango Wraps) and so I am hoping to give this Stir-Fried Beef with Mango a whirl in my kitchen this week. And for anyone interested in a non-beef option, why not try this Broiled Salmon with Avocado Mango Salsa. Sounds fabulous.

While I enjoy eggplant, my husband and three children are a bit more finicky when it comes to the deep purple vegetable. They don't like the texture, and they don't like the bitter taste. They have not favoured eggplant parmigiana when I made it in the past. So I found this Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad and wonder if grilling the eggplant will make the texture softer and easier for them to tolerate. (Plus, they love goat cheese!) Other choices if you're stumped for how to use your eggplant include this Eggplant Gratin and Lemon Rice and Eggplant-Chick Pea Curry. I really want to try the curry recipe, as so far I've really enjoyed all the Rachael Ray recipes I've made.

Mushrooms are easy to incorporate into so many meals - we throw them into stir fries, add them to omelets, chuck them on top of salads. But the for nights you feel like taking that extra step . . . serve your friends and family this Mushroom Risotto. It wont' disappoint! Baked Mushroom Linguine also makes a delicious vegetarian dinner, and you can't beat the health benefits of
Smothered Mushrooms and Kale - full of nutrients, and tasty too.

I noticed this recipe for King Pao Beef includes an option for baby bok choi, and it looks absolutely delicious.

And I know I've shared this before, but I really do recommend you try throwing your broccoli into a pasta dish. My kids adore Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli and always ask for seconds. I am hoping to try Ina Garten's Broccoli with Bow Ties for one of our week night meals in February.

Enjoy your week and your produce - and stay warm!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slow Cooker Yam and Red Pepper Soup

This soup is absolutely divine!! It is so easy to make (slow cooker - so perfect for my life - chop it up in the morning and dinner is ready at supper time with no effort!) it is not funny. Most of my soups I tend to pour into the blender and mix in batches, but this one I just used my hand blender right inside the crock pot!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Slow Cooker Yam and Red Pepper Soup

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 lbs yams, peeled and cubed

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cubed

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup orange juice mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

5 1/2 cups chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

whipping cream

Combine the first 10 ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting 4 hours. (I actually left it a couple hours longer, and it tasted fantastic.)

Puree the soup with a hand-held blender.

Season the soup with salt and pepper. Garnish servings of the soup with a drizzle of the cream.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Harvest Box for January 22, 2010

Take a peek inside this week's Harvest Box from Life Organic! Looks delicious.

This recipe for Beef and Mango Wraps arrived in my inbox this week and I was delighted when a mango arrived in my harvest box this week. It's like it was meant to be, so I'll definitely be trying out these healthy, tasty wraps this week. Like incorporating your mangos into a main meal like I do? Try this Chipotle-Mango BBQ Chicken dish - better if you can do it outside on the barbecue (which I won't, because I am too much of a wimp in the cold Ottawa winter) but still tastes lovely cooked inside. And the mango citrus salsa in this BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Mango Citrus Salsa adds a perfectly sweet flavour to the pork tenderloin.

My kids are big fans of peanut butter or cream cheese stuffed in the "ravine" of celery, but if you're keen to add celery as a side dish to one of your main meals, why not make Braised Celery,
Celery and Portabello Salad, or Romaine, Celery and Parmesan Salad? And for those cold winter nights, try serving up a steaming bowl of Creamy Celery Soup with some fresh bread.

I was thrilled when I saw a big giant bag of parsnips this week, because that means I can make more Cajun Parsnip Fries for everyone! I love serving it as side dish to fish or chicken, and it makes a healthy alternative to potato fries. And although I haven't personally tried these recipes, I think Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes and Caramelized Roasted Parsnips look promising. And even though I can't wrap my head around the idea of Parsnip Muffins - please give me some feedback if you decide to try them!! Although I suspect they would taste a bit like carrot muffins . . .

That broccolette in your harvest box is a member of the cruciferous family that looks sort of like miniature broccoli. It is a cross between broccoli and kale. The stalks are sweet and can be eaten without peeling. Broccolette is stored in the crisper in your fridge just like broccoli. It can be combined in many dishes where you normally use broccoli, and I came across this recipe for
Broccolette with Olives and Capers which looks fantastic. And why not try a Salmon and Broccolette Superfood Salad or Sweet Chili Chicken with Broccolette and Noodles as main dishes?

I am thinking about trying these Squash and Zucchini Cakes this week - I may be able to pass these off as "fun" and have my kids actually eat them. As I've mentioned here before, they are huge fans of my Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins and I may give this Zucchini Bread recipe a spin this week. And if you're adventurous, throw your zucchini into a Zucchini Ribbon Pasta and really wow your guests.

Have a great week, and be sure to check in next time!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Harvest Box for January 15, 2010

Doesn't the arrival of your Harvest Box just brighten up a cold and chilly day for you??? Thinking of all that potential deliciousness . . .

This week inside your Harvest Box you'll find a head of cauliflower. Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density.
Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. When cooking, the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets.

Cauliflower is absolutely delicious in a curry - if you get a chance, why not try this Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry - nutritious and filling at the same time for a meatless dish. This Cauliflower Casserole also looks tasty and I think this Cauliflower Lentil Rice Bake would make a great weeknight meal. Like traditional comfort food, only healthier! I'm trying to find more ways to get my three kids to eat spinach. It's so darn good for them but they are just not big salad-lovers. I'm thinking serving this Spinach Bacon Quiche to them would certainly change their minds. We are (embarrassingly) big bacon fans so I'm hoping this quiche will have a little "zing" to it.

(Any time a recipe calls for frozen spinach, you can almost always replace it with fresh. I do it on a regular basis and it always tastes great!)

I like the sound of this Beef and Spinach Lasagna - the ingredients (and the photo) lead me to believe it is pretty yummy. I like the combo of beef and spinach together, as again, I think I can convince my kids to eat it. For the veg lovers out there, why not try a traditional Spinach Lasagna with white sauce? Not too difficult to make and a definite crowd pleaser or Sunday night favourite.

Take your bright, sunny yellow lemon and put it to good use in a scrumptious dish of Lemon Chicken. I've made lots of lemon chicken in my time, but this recipe I have yet to try and am anxious to do so. It looks fantastic. Got a hankering for pasta?? Get moving on this Peppered Lemon Chicken Pasta and show your family and friends how simple can taste fantastic.

Although there are not green beans in the box this week, I did come across a new food blog with interesting recipes on it that I wanted to share. I pulled this Roasted Shrimp with Green Beans from there and am hoping to get a chance to make it soon. Our family adores shrimp and with the added nutrition in the green beans, I don't think you can go wrong.

For more recipes on a specific food, check out our labels on the right hand column of this blog - click on each link to be rerouted to recipes for each food item.

Have a great week and enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Organic Gardening Workshop - Ottawa

Life Organic customers and readers may be interested in the following organic gardening workshop coming up in February. It's offered by a Life Organic farmer! To RSVP please see contact info below.


Robert Rivard, certified organic farmer

When : February 9, 16, & 23

From : 6-9 pm

Cost : $75

Where : Lord Lansdowne Retirement Residence,

located at 920 Bank St (on the corner of Holmwood Ave and Bank)

Objective :

After following this workshop, you will have acquired the most useful knowledge, sources, and inspiration to produce your own, all year-round bounty of fresh organic food whether you live in a small apartment, own a small backyard, or a larger estate.

1. Introduction : Urban Organic Food Self-Sustainability

v Annual and Perennial

v The Ideal Soil

2. Planning : Know Yourself and your Environment

v Time

v Space Inside and Outside

v Weather and Financials

3. Calendar : Timing for Productivity

v Biodynamics

v Early Start and Successive Plantings

v Rotations

4. Seeds : Sprouting Hope

v Seed Ordering

v Sproutings, Seedlings and Cuttings

v Transplanting

5. Soil : Dirt Giving Life

v The Working Soil

v Urban Composting

v Fertilizing and BioDynamic Sprays

6. Neighbours (1): Weeds? What Weeds?

v Usefulness of Weeds

v Weed Management

v Companion Planting and Mulching

7. Neighbours (2) : 1000 to 2 Legged

v Insects, Mammals and Humans

v Traps and Barriers

v Homemade and Commercial Organic Treatments

8. Neighbours (3) : Microscopic

v Fungal, Bacterial and Viral Diseases

v Prevention

v Homemade and Commercial Organic Treatments

9. Plant Specifics : Carrots are Not Tomatoes

v Plant Families

v Stakes and Trellises

v Container Gardening

10. Harvest : Enjoying the Bounty

v The Weekly Harvest

v Storage Conditions

v Healthy Raw Preserves

11. Tools : Bare Hands and Technology

v Tools for Soil Preparation

v Gardening Tools

v Motorized Tools

12. Conclusion : Food for Thought

Limited number of seats available, if interested please RSVP to; or call 613-601-4676

Friday, January 8, 2010

Harvest Box for January 8, 2010

After a long two weeks' holiday, I was ecstatic to see my Life Organic Harvest Box show up on my doorstep tonight. It looks fantastic, and with all the extra Christmas calories I consumed, I can most definitely use some healthy organic food around here this week.

I was happy to see an entire box of mandarin/clementine oranges this week! My kids absolutely adore eating these sweet little treats, and I often peel them for them and put them in a container in their lunch to take to school (not able to peel them on their own yet, they're both in kindergarten!). We can pretty easily go through an entire box just peeling and eating them, but for something different I may try this Baby Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Red Onion. Looks like a light, healthy lunch or even dinner, perhaps served with some chicken or fish. I'm also wondering about these Chicken Salad Pitas (with Mandarin Oranges) - I'm thinking they look pretty tasty and would be a refreshing change from our boring old peanut butter sandwiches.

I love yams so I'm going to tell you, once again, that my favourite recipe is still Roasted Mashed Potatoes and Yams. It's delicious, fairly easy to make, and a big family favourite here. For a couple different options, try Yams with Toasted Spice Rub or Crushed Yams with Steamed Spinach - with all that added spinach this has got to be jam packed with vitamins and nutrients! Another family-friendly recipe are these Sweet Potato Sticks - kids gobble them up. (Adults do too, for that matter!)

If you're looking for some healthier fare as part of your New Year Resolutions, take your cherry tomatoes and throw them into a delicious BLT Salad - there is not *that* much bacon in it, and you could cut back even more if you wanted to reduce the fat content. I also like the looks of this Grilled Balsamic Chicken and Tomato Salad and hope to add it to our menu one night this week.

Scared of that red, leafy vegetable peeking out from inside your Harvest Box? It's Red Chard and it is packed with nutrition - it's an excellent source of vitamins C, E and K, carotenes, chlorphyll, and fiber. Chard is also a good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron. Add to all this the benefits of B6, protein, calcium, thiamine, zinc, and folic acid and you really can't beat the health benefits of this leafy vegetable.

Some easy but tasty chard recipes to try are this Seared Red Chard from Rachael Ray and this Red Chard and Caramelized Onions.

I found this recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Smashed Potatoes and thought that my family might like it - although they are big broccoli eaters so I often just steam or boil the broccoli and toss on a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Over Christmas a friend of mine lent me a couple Ina Garten cookbooks and I'm really enjoying them. I fell in love with a couple of her vegetable dish recipes, including this Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots. I only started cooking with shallots in the past year or so, and I love finding new ways to use them.

And what better way to use a whole slew of winter veggies together than in this recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetables??? Enjoy!

1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don't cut them too small.

Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

Have a great week, and be sure to check back with us next week for more recipes and tips for your Harvest Box . . .

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Few New Year Recipes!

Here are a few recipes to get everyone's New Year started on the right foot! These were included in the Life Organic e-mail message this week. Check back later in the week for some recipes for this week's Harvest Box . . .

Carrots with Sticky Orange Ginger Butter

This yummy side dish is great for this winter's cold season as carrots are packed with vitamin C and fresh ginger root boasts curing powers.

2 cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled, then grated
100 g unsalted butter
Juice and zest from 1 clementine
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise

Add ginger, butter, and clementine zest and juice to food processor. Process until combined and refrigerate until needed.

Steam or boil the carrots until tender. Dress with the butter and serve. Makes a lovely side for roast lamb.

(from Cole and Abel)

Kefir and Banana Muffins

Put in blender:

180ml (3/4 C) Pinehedge Kefir (New! Available on Weekly Specials List)
240ml (1 C) Bananas in purée (2 bananas)
120ml (1/2 C) Sunflower or other type of oil
5ml (1 tsp) Vanilla extract
2 Eggs

Mix together:

360ml (1 1/2 C) Whole wheat flour
20ml (4 tsp) Baking powder
120ml (1/2 C) Sunflower seeds or walnuts (optional)

Incorporate the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir slightly and let sit ten minutes.
Bake at 375 F for 17- 20 minutes.

Chioggia Beet Salad with Feta and Olives

Chioggia Beets are an Italian heirloom variety that has alternating rings of white and rose pink. Show off their unique beauty by slicing them horizontally or cutting into wedges and then using them in a salad.

1.5 to 2 pounds beets, steamed and peeled
1 small garlic clove
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz goat feta
8 Kalamata olives
2 handfuls of salad greens

Cut the beets into wedges or slice them horizontally, then cut into half moon shaped slices. Pound the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth, then whisk in the lemon juice and olive oil. The dressing should be a little on the tart side. Toss the beets in enough dressing to coat lightly. Arrange them on individual plates with some salad greens and just before serving, sprinkle with the cheese and olives.

(Adapted by Front Door Organics from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)