The Ultimate Detox Salad

Ultimate detox salad

By Nancy Smorch

Now that we are in Florida, there is a vegetable stand that I love to go to – Fernando’s.  It’s about a 20-25 minute drive (it seems like everything is about a 20-25 minute drive down here in horse country), and I usually end up going there at least once a week.  He has amazing kale, zucchini, eggplant, onions, sprouts, tomatoes, lettuces and a number of other delicious fresh veggies.  I’m never at a loss for ingredients for salads down here, but I wanted to make a salad that was a little more creative and something that had a supercharged health kick to it.  So I went to Eat to Beat, to peruse their recipes.

This is the salad I decided to go with – The Ultimate Detox Salad.  It is so refreshing and has some great greens (kale and broccoli) as well as some nuts (I add hazelnuts and cashews instead of the recommended walnuts) and other veggies (carrots, red pepper, cabbage).  But the kicker is the dressing – lemon juice with olive oil (I use olive oil rather than grape seed oil) and grated fresh ginger are the key ingredients.  The dressing really brings the salad to life.

I made if for the first time when my mother-in-law was visiting and she loved it, and so did I.  The girls were, in all honesty, a little less excited than I was – they’re not really big fans of salads.  But Mike and I felt it left us feeling pretty energized and alive.  I even made it the other day for Mike to take to a friend that was going through some health challenges – food is medicine, right?

If you’re looking for something healthy to bring to the next family gathering or dinner at a friend’s, give this recipe a try – it just may help bring your family and friends over from “the dark side!”

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Fall Quinoa Salad (With Kale, Root Vegetables, and Maple Vinaigrette)

Fall Kale Salad

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw that my favorite West Michigan deli, Farmhouse Deli in Douglas, was serving a tasty sounding fall salad with quinoa, butternut squash, and kale, with a maple vinaigrette.  I was planning on going there that day to try it, but the day got away from me and when I went to get some the next day, they were all out.

It was a cooler fall day and the sound of a warm salad with a little sweetness to it sounded perfect, so I thought I would try to make my own version of their salad.  I still had a ton of kale in my garden so I thought this would be a great way to use some of it.  And even though my family isn’t always big on quinoa, I thought by adding the slightly sweet maple vinaigrette, it might win them over and I’d be able to sneak lots of great veggies into them.

I had just been to the farmers market so I had some great-looking butternut squash and beets, and Frankie had harvested some of her potatoes from the garden that I though would be perfect as well.  I decided I would add some toasted pecans too – they would complement everything nicely.

Then I had to figure out how to make the maple vinaigrette.  I figured it would have an olive oil base with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  And of course, there would be some maple syrup.  I added a touch of cinnamon because that sounded like fall and then a bit of dijon mustard so it wasn’t too sweet or too vinegary.

I experimented a bit with everything until I got a taste I liked and then served it to Mike and the girls for dinner.  To their surprise, they loved it!  This will definitely be something I will make again and again.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

Salad

4 cups cooked quinoa (red makes the prettiest salad)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 large potatoes, cubed

1 large beet, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 bunch of kale, deveined, and chopped

olive oil

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F.  In a big bowl, mix the potatoes and butternut squash with 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper, mix until evenly coated and spread onto a baking dish. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a separate bowl drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, onto the cubed beets.  Mix and put in a separate baking dish in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes as well (or until desired tenderness).

Put the pecans in, yet, a separate small baking dish and put in the same oven, but only for 5-10 minutes – until just toasted and fragrant.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the kale.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

In a large serving bowl mix together the cooked quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, kale, and pecans.  Drizzle with the maple vinaigrette (recipe below) – start out with a little and work up (you can always add, but you can’t take away!).  Toss and taste!

Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

Matcha, Strawberry, and Cucumber Smoothie

Matcha strawberry cucumber smoothie

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Mike and I returned from Oregon late last night, and I started the day inspired to try some new recipes, and play with the combinations of ingredients that we experienced while on our trip!  The Allison Hotel in Newberg, which is where we stayed, had an amazing Chef’s Garden, and one night Mike and I had front-row seats at the kitchen.  We got to watch them cut and prepare the evening’s meals (I now would like a new set of pans!).  So that was a great experience.

Then, at Prasad Cafe in Portland, where we ate a couple of times, the presentation of the food was just amazing, and I was reminded how much of a difference a great dressing or sauce can make on a salad.  I’m now researching and experimenting with various combinations to play around with to spice up our salads at home – and maybe even get the girls a little more interested in salads as a result.

Another idea (self-reminder) I’m looking forward to trying is caramelizing more things.  We were watching “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” one night before bed, and the chefs at a couple of the featured restaurants were making sure to caramelize their meats and veggies, and you could tell that made a huge difference in the taste.  I know it does, from experience… I just needed to be reminded.

Watching the food prep at the Allison Hotel’s restaurant (Jory) and seeing the creative displays of salads at Prasad prompted me to see how they cut up some of those veggies.  You may recall the picture of the salad I posted a few days ago – well, I was curious how they got those beets to be cut up like that, all curly and thin.  I asked Shannon, and she said it was a “spiralizer.”  Can you believe I had never heard of such a thing??  She brought her’s over for me to try out – I can’t wait.  After I finish writing this post, I’m on my way to the health food store for some zucchini and carrots and other fun stuff to spiralize.  I’m thinking Mike and the girls will be so impressed with my newfound culinary skills, but actually, I will probably be more excited than them :)!

Finally, I couldn’t wait to try making one of Prasad’s smoothies at home.  I had my first attempt this afternoon.  I printed off their menu to keep on hand for meal ideas, and for lunch today, I thought I would try to make one of their smoothies.  Mine didn’t turn out quite as green as their’s, but it was just as good.  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

1 cup strawberries

1 small cucumber (not peeled – so make sure it’s organic)

1 tsp. Matcha tea powder

8 mint leaves (or peppermint leaves)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 Tbsp. honey

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and mix.  Pour and enjoy!

You can play around with the ingredients and the adjust them according to your taste.  I happen to like mint, so I like that the 8 leaves of mint gave a stronger mint taste to the drink.  If you don’t like such a strong mint taste, you can always go a little easier on it.  As I mentioned, my smoothie wasn’t nearly as green as Prasad’s, so next if you want a more green smoothie, you can add more Matcha powder – it’s good for you anyway, and will definitely add more color.  My drink at Prasad wasn’t too sweet, so I figured I would add enough honey to make it a little sweeter, but if you are fine without the extra sweetness, you can cut back on the honey – the strawberries might add enough sweetness for you.  I think next time, I may play around and add a little lemon juice.  I think the lemon and strawberry combination would be tasty.

Can’t wait until my mid-afternoon snack to play around with some more ideas!

The Holland Community Garden

Holland Community Garden

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

Earlier this week I had the privilege of touring the Holland Community Garden.

I hadn’t known about the HCG previously, and sort of fell into a tour on accident, as a friend of the family was seeking more information about starting up a community garden with their church. HCG was happy to provide her with information on the process.

Hidden behind the Community Action House building on 136th, and butting up against the production facility for New Holland Brewing Company, it’s a neatly fenced little area teeming with food, herbs, and Michigan wildflowers. Started in 1999, HCG is a joint project between the Community Action House, the Holland Area Master Gardeners, and the Macatawa Resource Center.

Harvest from the garden is distributed through the Community Action House, and goes to provide food for low-income families and seniors at risk of nutritional deficiency.

Barry Anderson showed us the ropes, explaining the working of the garden with enthusiasm and a deep understanding – after all, the HCG is also a teaching venue. At risk youths, or young individuals working off community service often come to the garden as part of their service, Barry explained. However reluctant to work they may start off, most of the time, with a little respect and guidance, they come to truly enjoy their time there. Mandatory short breaks bring together people from all groups – church groups, community service workers, students, etc. – in a cozy little eating area, where they can enjoy a drink, a snack, and some conversation. Fostering this sense of accomplishment and community among young people who have otherwise not been exposed to a positive environment can make a huge impact on their lives, Barry notes.

The garden itself, while not overly large, is absolutely brimming with produce. Dill as tall as myself waved yellow heads in the breeze, giant cabbages spread out purple arms next to broccoli and cauliflower growing toward a second harvest. Green beans hung in thick clumps from a wall, and onions bigger than my fist burst from the soil, ready to be plucked. It was abundance all around, and it was quite a sight… if you thought your garden was doing well, the immaculately groomed HCG will still put it to shame.

Yet everything in the garden has to be of use, Barry points out. Pretty is nice, but only plants that serve some kind of purpose make it on the inside of the fence.

HCG

 

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We munched on snap peas and beans as Barry showed us around, discussing the use of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and fish-based fertilizers. While not entirely organic, the garden strives to use as little chemical impact as they can. Sometimes all it takes to save a crop is a few volunteers plucking harmful insects off the leaves, he explained.

Around us, bees hummed in the air and on the flowers, hailing from a nearby hive painted in bright colors. A wren scolded us from her house amongst enormous tufts of wildflowers and local grasses, protecting her brood in the area dedicated to Michigan plants. Donated sculptures added to the pleasing aesthetic, though most everything else is utilitarian in purpose.

Rain barrels provide some of the water for the garden, though irrigation systems are built in throughout (the exception being in the newly built hoop house, which will extend the growing season to approximately 10 months out of the year). Compost bins are set up to take scraps, weeds, and other discards, and mixed with donated horse manure, and reduce overall waste. The garden is a finely tuned machine, and a pleasure to see working.

HCG

Run largely by volunteers, Barry included, the HCG is always looking for a helping hand. Individuals or groups of any kind are always welcome. Volunteers can learn about composting, bed preparation, planting, maintenance, harvesting, and many other aspects of gardening. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn, while helping out those in need in the Holland area.

Check out the HCG Facebook page for more information on ways to get involved in the HCG, or to network on how to start up a community garden in your own area!

Have a great weekend!

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