Archives for April 2012

Carrot Frites

In case you didn’t take middle school French class like I did, ‘carrot frites’ translates as, “carrots so good you will burn your tongue because you’ll be eating them just as soon as they come out of the oven.” Or maybe ‘frites’ means fried – but that can’t be right because these carrots are baked.

Actually, I was trying to make carrot chips and failed. These aren’t crunchy like a chip should be. Instead – they are the same lovely texture as a French fry.

After making these several times, I’ve decided they are the perfect food. They don’t require a plate at all. I just pull them out of the oven, then shove them in just as quick as I can while they are still hot. Try them and see if you don’t have the same reaction.

Carrot Frites

Carrot Frites

Ingredients

  • 6 large carrots
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional toppings: sea salt, cinnamon, cardamon, chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Use a food processor and slice carrots into long pieces.
  3. Toss carrot slices with the olive oil (you control the amount) and spread flat on a jelly roll pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn slices over, rotate pan, and bake an additional 15 - 30 minutes. Be sure to check the smaller pieces as they will cook more quickly and are apt to burn.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/carrot-frites/

Stuffed Eggplant

Now that we are integrating the Paleo way of eating, I’ve been looking for recipes that are heavy on the vegetables, but that integrate some meat. I used to make these stuffed eggplants with 1 1/2 cups brown rice mixed with a beaten egg and about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning to make a meatless Monday entree. Here’s how I made the recipe using Italian sausage and organic ground turkey to make it Paleo.

Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 1 14 oz can organic tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut eggplants in half. Using a spoon, hollow out eggplant, leaving a 1/2 inch shell. Sprinkle shell with salt, turn over and allow to drain for about 30 minutes. Chop the remaining eggplant. Reserve 1 cup chopped eggplant for this recipe, keep the remaining chopped eggplant for another recipe.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  4. Add shredded carrots and sweet potato and continue to cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the reserved 1 cup chopped eggplant and cook until all ingredients look soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together the sausage, ground turkey and egg. Once the vegetables are cool, mix thoroughly with the ground meat mixture.
  6. Stuff the eggplants with the meat and vegetables. Place the eggplants in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake the eggplants for 1 hour.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/stuffed-eggplant/

Growing Herbs

Growing Herbs at Home

Growing herbs at home was my gateway drug to growing an outdoor vegetable garden.

It all started innocently enough. Sick of buying the expensive pre-cut and washed basil, I bought a single basil plant.

Once I had the satisfaction of using my fresh basil in my cooking, I moved on. And now I grow basil, lemon balm, mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley.

Growing herbs successfully made me feel invincible. Like I could grow anything.

And the taste of “fresh” had me hooked. So I had to move on to bigger plants. More addictive plants. Fresh grown tomato plants.

Economically? It just makes sense. Take this price comparison of buying prepackaged herbs versus growing your own:

Herb Price Comparison

 It just doesn’t seem worth it to buy the packets of fresh herbs when you can have a whole plant! Besides, if you are anything like me, you’ll buy the packet and use the amount your recipe calls for. The extra goes back in the fridge for the next recipe. Except …. you don’t actually have a next recipe in mind. Which means it gets shoved to the back of the fridge until eventually, two weeks later, you find an interesting mold experiment that used to be fresh herbs.

Herb Garden

How can you successfully grow herbs at home?

Plants versus Seeds: The quick answer: Plants. Plants don’t have the same light, water and warmth requirements that germinating seeds do. Plus, you will most likely find that the plants you can buy are the right varieties for growing on a windowsill.

Light: How much light do herbs need? As much light as you can give them. South facing windows are best, but any sunny location is the ideal place for your herbs. How will you know if you have enough light? Buy a $3.99 herb and give it a try.

Watering: Herbs require more water than a typical houseplant. However, you do want the soil to dry out between watering. How do you know when to water? Stick your fingers in. Seriously. In gardening – even indoor gardening – you need to get a little soil under your nails. Also, you want to make sure you water at the base of the plant on the soil – not on the leaves of your herbs. This makes no sense to me given that in nature herbs get their water from rain, and it doesn’t rain on the soil only – it definitely hits the leaves. All I know is if your water hits the leaves of the herbs you are growing indoors, you are likely to get mildew. So water the soil.

Pruning Herbs

Pruning: Invest in a pair of kitchen shears or pruning shears for your herbs. Just like with humans – a clean cut has less chance of infection. For herbs like lemon balm, mint, thyme, and oregano, you can cut from the bottom, outside of the plant. Basil is a bit more finicky. You want to trim right above leaf growth about 3 to 4 inches up the plant – like in the above picture. Basil will then form two new stalks right above the cut, like in the picture below.

Pruning Basil

Food:
When you bring your herb home, be sure to pick up a good quality bag of organic potting mix too. When you plant your herb in it’s new pot, it will be happiest if grown in good soil. You’ll also want to periodically feed your herbs with an organic food such as a fish emulsion.

As with any addict, I’m also a pusher. I want everyone to experience the “high” that is cutting a bit of fresh mint for a cup or tea, or making a compound butter with lemon balm and sage and using it to roast a chicken, or even just running your fingers over a fresh rosemary plant to enjoy the fresh scent. So give it a go and I’m willing to bet you’ll become a pusher too.

Organic Costco Price List

Organic Costco Price List

Many of you have asked for the quantities purchased and unit price on my Costco shopping list. Here it is! This is everything I bought on the first week of my Organic Costco Challenge – 4 weeks only $475 to spend and buying as much organic as I could.

Still not sure about a Costco membership even after seeing the unit pricing? Read Is a Costco Membership Worth It?

Costco Price List Organic Staples

Costco Price List Organic Perishables

Costco Price List Organic Produce

Costco Price List Organic Protein

Costco Price List Organic Frozen

What do you think is the best bargain at Costco?

Organic Costco Meal Plan: What’s Left

When I started the Organic Costco Meal Plan challenge, I set out to shop only at Costco, to buy everything I could either organically or a whole food, and to limit my spending to only $475.

This is what the initial shopping trip looked like:

Costco First Shopping Trip

Click here to see the list of everything I bought.

After 4 weeks, this is what I have left:

  • Organic Evaporated Sugar Cane – at our consumption rate, we still have 3 -4 months worth left
  • Organic Lemon Juice – about 1/4 bottle left
  • Organic Whole Wheat Pasta – (3) 16oz bags
  • Organic Butter – out of 2 pounds, I have 1/2 stick left. 🙂
  • Green Tea – 20 bags
  • Corn Tortillas – 10 left
  • Pure Maple Syrup – Maybe 1/4 of a bottle left? Could be less.
  • Oats – About 5 cups left
  • Popcorn – 2/3 bottle left
  • Organic Brown Rice – I guesstimate we used 1/4 of the bag and will have plenty of brown rice for the next few months
  • Chocolate Chips – 1/4 bag left
  • Craisins  – 1/4 bag left
  • Organic Olive Oil – 1 full bottle (pictured) and left out of the picture is another 1/2 bottle – we’ll have enough for a few months
  • Organic Salsa – 1/2 bottle left
  • Pinto Beans – Out of 10 pounds, I have 6 pounds left and another 3 cups of cooked beans still in the freezer.

Since I know for certain I won’t have to be beans, olive oil, brown rice, or sugar – the initial cost of those items was $52.76!!!! That is a lot of money I can now roll over and spend on other items for the month!

**UPDATE: I forget that I still have 10 heads of garlic and 3 yellow onions (they all still look free of deterioration) that I can use still! The cost of the garlic was $3.99!**