Tag Archives: organic

Starting Fresh

The holidays are an invitation to overindulge.  And I accepted the invitation gleefully this year; I spent the month of December eating cake, cookies, cheese, wine, and beer like it was my job.

I’m not complaining, though.  I did it knowingly and willingly, and I enjoyed every last bite without a shred of guilt.  I’ve said it before, and I stick by it: December is for indulgence, and January is for righting the ship.

But after weeks of heavy, rich food, my body was craving something light and fresh.

This is the kind of thing that is making an appearance at our dinner table of late:  raw organic veggies (with homemade ranch for those of us who are less than ecstatic about snap peas and red peppers).

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Sometimes I forget that the simplest meals are often the best.  We paired these veggies with balsamic chicken and whole wheat dinner rolls and every last bite disappeared.  Not a leftover in sight.

After weeks of pasta, cream sauces, cheese, and nightly dessert, this meal felt like a relief.  I think even the kids needed it.

This month as I cook, I’m focusing on simplifying meals and including as many veggies as possible.  It feels good to start fresh.

Home Grown

raspberriesI am no farmer.  I can barely call myself a gardener–my April enthusiasm is always replaced by July negligence and my plants must fend for themselves in the hot D.C. summers.

I’ve learned to be okay with that.  I’m happy enough to support my local farmers by buying produce from nearby markets.

But.

We have a few little raspberry vines in a raised bed in our back yard.  We planted them a few years ago and basically ignored them and they were tiny and yielded nothing.  Until suddenly a few weeks ago I noticed a flash of dark pink as I walked past the sad, untended little things.  Lifting the leaves, I saw a half-dozen perfect little ripe raspberries, and a dozen more still to come.

There were only enough berries that first day for each of us to try one.  But, man, they are juicy and sweet and delicious.  And we grew them.  I mean, sort of.  Mother Nature gets 99% of the credit, but we DID plant them in the ground.  She did the rest.

Since then we’ve had 6, 10, 12 berries every few days.  Q goes out to check them and always calls me before he pulls any off the vine–he does not want to eat them before they’re ripe, so he wants to be sure they’re ready.  He needs help too, because his still-pudgy little hands tend to squish the berries rather than gently pull them loose.

We don’t have many, but raspberry plants spread, so there are quite a few vines in our raised bed now.  Maybe next year we’ll see more.  If not, though, it’s okay.  I’m happy with a handful of berries every few days.

It’s a lovely surprise how different they taste when you’ve grown them yourself.

Homemade Applesauce

homemade applesauce

Matt didn’t want a cake for his birthday this week (we’re trying to be super healthy!), so instead Q and I made him homemade applesauce, which is one of his favorites.

It’s a fitting dish for this time of year; tis the season for apples!  This is a super easy recipe and one of my favorites to make and can.  And as always, it helps to have the cutest 4-yr old sous chef ever…he makes sure it comes out just right.

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Homemade Applesauce

3-4 lbs of peeled, cubed apples

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

1/4c. dark brown sugar

1/4 c. white sugar

1 c. water

1/2 tsp salt

nutmeg to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot; cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, discard cinnamon stick, mash with a potato masher to desired consistency.

Can freeze for up to 1 year.

As always, I use organic ingredients wherever possible. 

This is one of those recipes that makes your whole house smell good as you cook it, which is such a bonus.  I was hoping that I’d be able to can the leftovers and use it for school snacks this month, but there were no leftovers!  That’s a good sign of a well-loved recipe, but now I need to get more apples and make a big double- or triple batch so we have some to put up.

Eat Real Food

 

A few years ago, our family made a huge change in the way we eat.  I read a few books (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to start) that really opened my eyes to the realities of the food industry in the United States.  Once I’d read these books, I couldn’t NOT make changes.

I can’t lie, at first it was a pain.  I had to read every food label as I grocery shopped, which took way longer than just throwing stuff in the cart.  I had to stop buying a lot of the foods we were used to eating, and I had to try to find substitutes (honestly, I still haven’t found suitable, store-bought substitutes for a lot of snack items).  I began baking all our cakes, cookies, and treats from scratch. 

I started buying all organic fruits, veggies, and dairy.  I researched farms in our area and found one where we could buy organic, grass-fed, humanely-raised (and slaughtered) meat.  We stopped eating fast food entirely, and actually we rarely go out to eat at all anymore (which, with four kids, isn’t that much fun anyway). 

It was a lot of work up front to make these changes.

But.  BUT.  Fast-forward to now and it has become so second-nature, it takes no effort at all.  Our whole family eats better.  I don’t spend any more at the grocery store than I used to, I just buy different things. 

I have literally changed my own and my family’s taste buds too–when one of us does eat processed food for some reason, we often comment that it tastes bad or weird and I am reminded WHY we eat the way we eat.

And we are SO much healthier now.  I’m not kidding you–I can count on one hand the number of times my kids have been to the doctor in the last two or three years.  (Not counting well-child checks.  For some of my kids, those well-child checks have been the ONLY doctor visits in the last few years.)  It has been an amazing, life-altering, completely-worth-it, change.

It seems hard, I know.  But it gets easy pretty quickly and the benefits certainly outweigh the initial annoyance. 

Eat real food.  It’s worth every bite.

Real food

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