Day 196–Grilled Wahoo with Local Tomato Sauce

English: Super Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes

When it comes to cooking fish, my repertoire is a bit limited. I can pan fry a mean cornmeal dusted catfish or flounder and I like to grill teriyaki tuna steaks, but otherwise, I have a bit of trouble with my creativity. I found some locally caught wahoo at Locals Seafood this weekend and thought I would give it a try.

This recipe from Bobby Flay seems like a terrific combination of summer flavors, most of which come from the farmer’s market or my garden! It has a salty, lemony, tomato sauce that reminds me so much of Italy. I would actually make this sauce just for pasta as well. The flavors go so well with the fish–it is really delicious!

We made just two wahoo fillets (the original recipe calls for 4), but we ate every bit of the sauce, so I would recommend making extra sauce if you are serving 4 steaks. The tomatoes and garlic came from our Produce Box this week and the herbs came from our garden! Tom has an olive aversion, so no olives for us, but they would add a nice flavor if you like them! I also added 1/2 of a chopped onion with the garlic and serving this with sauteed summer squash.

Grilled Wahoo with Tomato Sauce

  • 2 wahoo fillets, 6 ounces each
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 anchovies in oil, patted dry and chopped
  • 1 pint local cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. capers
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (we left these out)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp. chopped, fresh oregano
  • 1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat the grill to high. Brush both sides of the fish with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill fish until slightly charred and almost cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. While fish is grilling, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and tomatoes and cook until slightly soft, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the capers, olives, lemon juice and herbs and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer the fish to the sauce and let cook for 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a serving plate and serve!
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Day 173–The Dirty Dozen Plus

I’ve posted before about the wonderful list of high and low pesticide foods called the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. GREAT shopping resource. Most of us can’t afford to buy everything organic, so it helps to know which foods are higher in residual pesticides (after washing and standard prep for eating) and which are the lowest. This list is compiled by the Environmental Working Group, an organization that doesn’t get nearly enough press.

The 2012 Dirty Dozen list is out and this year it is called the Dirty Dozen Plus. What is the “plus”? This year, the EWG added a new category to the Dirty Dozen list for crops that don’t meet the standard criteria used to identify a “dirty” crop, but contained enough neurotoxic chemicals to be of concern. Ok, all you kale lovers (I am definitely included in this category), take notice! Kale and green beans are on this new “plus” list!

My only complaint with the new list is that they have not yet updated the phone app, which is very helpful when I’m at the farmer’s market. I have enough to remember–the app is a great help! Maybe soon?

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

Day 172–Sharing the Kitchen and Spaghetti Tacos

I am, in general, a sharing person. There are lots of things I do share freely–laughing, bad puns, jam, pickles, and herbs from my garden. I find it difficult, though, to share my kitchen. First, my kitchen is small, which means that multiple people cannot be cooking at the same time without getting on each other’s nerves. Second, cooking is something I enjoy doing, but I can’t do it well and entertain people at the same time. So I like my alone time in the kitchen. But I also have an 11-year-old daughter who loves food and is very interested in cooking. And many of you who read this blog know that I despise the food industry’s focus on making cooking seem like drudgery to sell highly processed convenience foods. Cooking is a life skill. And, it is a wonderful creative outlet. So sharing my kitchen means giving my daughter a boost and letting her experiment with cooking dinner on weekends when she is with me. This weekend was her first dinner. Her choice? Spaghetti tacos.

To say I was reluctant about this meal is an understatement. For those of you who are uninitiated, the spaghetti taco phenomenon began with an episode of a tv show called iCarly. To say I hate this show would be an understatement. Overacting, highly dramatic teens who have no adult supervision and very few consequences is not my idea of entertainment. This show was banned from my house, but like a true video junkie, I know Ellie is still getting her fix elsewhere. Regardless, on one episode, the brother apparently created a dish called spaghetti tacos. From my Google search on the subject, this was actually intended to be a joke, but it has developed quite a following in the under 14 audience. So, this was Ellie’s suggestion. I only wish their joke dish had included quinoa and eggplant. THAT might redeem the horrible writing and acting for me.

So how are spaghetti tacos? Actually, they were pretty good! Ellie did a great job making the dish herself. I gave her suggestions and some input, but she did all the work. To try to eek some healthy benefits out of the dish, we added some fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market and we have some additional ideas (adding chicken Italian sausage) that could make it even better. Here is the recipe we used. Now, where is that cable channel blocker…

Here is Ellie’s recipe for the sauce (in her own words):

  • 1 teaspoon  of Hungarian paprika
  • 1 bell pepper(chop it up into squares)
  • 1/2 of an onion(chop into squares)
  • a pinch of Perfect Pinch Salt-Free Seasoning
  • a tablespoon of chile powder
  • a tablespoon of chopped dried Italian seasoning mix
  • a pinch of minced garlic
  • 1 fresh diced tomato
  • .all of a jar of tomato sauce

and boom the perfect sauce ever and I made this all listening to Pink Floyd (now she is a girl after my own heart!).

Spaghetti Tacos

  • Prepared taco shells (we used the corn shells from Trader Joes); 2-3 per person
  • Ellie’s sauce (above)
  • 8 oz. organic spaghetti, broken into thirds
  1. In a large pot, heat water for pasta.
  2. While water is heating, heat olive oil in a large saucepan. When oil is hot, add onion, green pepper and seasoning.
  3. When vegetables are soft, add the marinara sauce and heat through.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions and heat taco shells according to directions.
  5. When pasta is done, drain (parents help here) and add pasta to sauce to coat.
  6. Assemble by filling taco shells with spaghetti. Eat up!

Day 154–On Obesity and Industrial Food

Newsweek just featured a story on why the obesity epidemic is so pervasive (hint: it’s not that we’re lazier as a society) and now the Huffington Post has published a thoughtful article about why we diet but can’t lose weight. I’m reprinting part of it here with a link to the whole article. It is definitely worth a read! Click HERE for the Newsweek article and see below for the Huff Post piece.

The Last Diet You Will Ever Need

by Mark Hyman, MD

Why is it that we believe we can feed our bodies industrial, nutrient-depleted food-like substances empty of life and be healthy? How did we come to believe that food industry chemicals and processing could replace nature-made foods?

A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh or naturally-preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet. Today there are not even enough fruits and vegetables in this country to allow all Americans to follow the government guidelines to eat five to nine servings a day.

What most of us are left with is industrial food. And who knows what lurks in the average boxed, packaged, or canned factory-made science project.

When a French fry has more than 20 ingredients and almost all of them are not potato, or when a fast food hamburger contains very little meat, or when the average teenager consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, we are living in a food nightmare, a sci-fi horror show.

The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food. When it becomes a revolutionary act to eat real food, we are in trouble.

The food industry, which is the second biggest employer in America after the federal government, heavily influences the media and government agencies that regulate it (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Congress) and intentionally confuses and confounds us.

Low-fat is good — so anything with a “low-fat” on the label must be healthy. But Coke is 100 percent fat-free and that doesn’t make it a health food. Now we are told to eat more whole grains, so a few flecks of whole grains are sprinkled on sugary cereals. That doesn’t make them a health food either.

The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on the label, or better yet avoid foods with labels in the first place.

In the 21st century our tastes buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and our kitchens have been hijacked by the food industry. The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system food trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure, but not our biology, which reacts, rejects and reviles the junk plied on our genes and our hormonal and biochemical pathways. We need to unjunk our biology.

Industrial processing has given rise to an array of addictive, fattening, metabolism-jamming chemicals and compounds including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, to name the biggest offenders.

MSG is used to create fat mice so researchers can study obesity. MSG is an excito-toxin that stimulates your brain to eat uncontrollably. When fed to mice, they pig out and get fat. It is in 80 percent of processed foods and mostly disguised as “natural flavorings.”

And trans fat, for example, is derived from a real food — vegetable oil — chemically altered to resist degradation by bacteria, which is why modern cookies last on the shelf for years.

But the ancient energy system of your cells is descended from bacteria and those energy factories, or mitochondria, cannot process these trans fats either. Your metabolism is blocked and weight gain and Type 2 diabetes ensue.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot, and the result is the disaster of obesity and chronic disease we have in America today.

No wonder 68 percent of Americans are overweight. No wonder that from 1960 to today obesity rates have risen from 13 percent to 36 percent and soon will reach 42 percent. Over the last decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

Really? Almost one in four of our kids now has pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes? And 37 percent of normal weight kids have one or more cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t make them fat, it makes them sick!

It is time to take our kitchens and our homes back. Transforming the food industry seems monumental, a gigantic undertaking. But it is not. It is a small problem. In the small places in our lives, our shopping carts, the fridge, the cupboard, the kitchen and on our dining room table is where all the power is.

Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/food-industry_b_1559920.html

Day 150–Starting Week 22–Budget and Menu

Does spring seem to put time into warp speed for you? I find myself stunned that today is June. What happened??? Between end-of-school-year ceremonies and performances, sports, last-minute projects that are due and weekend outings to take advantage of the weather, I feel like I’m struggling for some level or normalcy. I’m not sure I’m getting it this week, but I’ll keep trying!

Here is our menu for this week. You’ll notice I’m already two days behind in posting this, but whatevs. I’m just rollin’ with the spring tsunami of activity…

Menu

  • Wednesday–Egg salad sandwiches (a bachelorette night for me)
  • Thursday–Pasta with ham and asparagus
  • Friday–Tuna salad bowls
  • Saturday–Shrimp w/broccoli over rice; blueberry/lemon pie
  • Sunday–Grilled burgers, squash and zucchini, potato salad
  • Monday–Chicken salad in pita, leftover potato salad, carrots
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Budget

Our budget this week is under control and within our goal of $100 or less! We spent $92.90 this week (and as you can see, we are eating pretty well!).

  • The Produce Box (squash, zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, new potatoes, asparagus): $27.50
  • Rare Earth Farm (ground beef): $12.00
  • Great Harvest Bread Co. (whole grain burger buns): $6.00
  • Locals Seafood (fresh NC shrimp!): $15.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, yogurt, soy milk, rice, lemon curd, pie crust): $32.40

Have a wonderful week, enjoy the strawberries, blueberries or whatever else is growing in your area right now. This is truly a glorious food time of year!

Day 149–Pasta with Ham and Roasted Asparagus

We are nearing the end of our NC asparagus season. Asparagus and strawberries always seem to leave too soon! We received a beautiful bundle of local asparagus in our Produce Box this week and I’m using it to make one of our favorite dishes–pasta with ham and asparagus. You can saute the asparagus for this dish, but I love roasting it–roasting really brings out the flavor. This is a quick and easy weeknight dish. We’re using the last of our Christmas smoked ham that has been living in the freezer. I tell you, that was one wonderful gift! Instead of a  ham steak, you could use pancetta or prosciutto instead. You don’t need a lot–just enough for flavor. Here is the recipe:

Pasta with Ham and Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 smoked ham steak, diced and bone removed
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, rinsed of sand
  • 8 oz. fresh or dried fettucine
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated (about 1 c., but more if you like)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put water in a stock pot and heat to boil for pasta.
  3. Trim tough ends from the asparagus. Cut asparagus spears into 2″ pieces. Put asparagus pieces in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Put asparagus in a baking dish in an even layer. Roast for 20 minutes or so, until they are soft and a little browned.
  5. Heat a skillet and cook the ham pieces until browned.
  6. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving 1 c. of pasta water for sauce.
  7. Add pasta back into pot, along with ham, asparagus pieces and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese and stir. Add pasta water if needed to make a light sauce.
  8. Serve with a green salad and you’ve got dinner!

Day 135–Week 19–Budget and Menu

After a few days of bad eating, we are back in the swing of things with another week of healthy, local food. I’ve missed cooking on something other than a fire or propane stove and look forward to cooking fresh vegetables again! I’m excited to see fresh zucchini and yellow squash at the farmers market. I know by July I’ll be sick of it, but it’s a new welcome addition to our menu! Also, it’s always super to see strawberries AND blueberries at the market. Unlimited deliciousness come from those two combined! I went over budget this week due to a weakness for fresh crabmeat. The last time we had crab was for our Super Bowl party and that came from India, which seemed really weird. The pork roast I picked up from Homestead Farms is huge and will carry over into next week, which should hopefully save us some money and bring us back into our $100 budget.

Here is how our budget broke out for the week:

  • The Produce Box (zucchini, squash, blueberries, broccoli, beets, pointy cabbage, sweet onions): $26.00
  • Locals Seafood (fish, crabmeat): $40
  • Hilltop Farm (arugula): $4.00
  • Homestead Farm (pork roast): $24.00
  • Melina’s Pasta (spinach fettucine): $6
  • Trader Joes (black beans, rice, tortillas, fat-free refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, frozen fruit, soy milk): $26.30

Here is our menu for the week!

  • Wednesday–Spinach fettucine with lump crab and arugula pesto
  • Thursday–Penne pasta with roasted squash and zucchini, salad
  • Friday–grilled sheepshead (this is a fish), sautéed swiss chard and beet greens, whole wheat cous cous
  • Saturday–Leftover pasta
  • Sunday–Cuban pork roast, black beans & rice, cabbage slaw, beets
  • Monday–Pork quesadillas, salad
  • Tuesday–leftover cleanup

Have a wonderful and healthy week!

Day 134–Falling Off the Wagon

Hi, my name is Deanna, and it has been four days since my last locavore blog post.

In that four days, I have eaten s’mores, hushpuppies, campfire pizza, vegetables from a can, biscuits from a can and yes, I have ordered Papa Johns pizza with industrial ground beef. I am not proud of this, but, when camping with 11 pre-teen girls, sometimes it is a matter of survival (earplugs would also be a matter of survival, but that’s for another day). The Papa Johns was not so much camping survival as it was post-camping exhaustion. Note to self–take a day off work after camping with a group.

So today is Tuesday, May 15th, and I am making a committment to getting back in locavore action and eating healthy, locally produced foods once again. My cupboard is nearly bare, but tomorrow (Wednesday) is both Produce Box delivery day and downtown Raleigh farmer’s market day, so we should be flush with yummy local veggies, eggs and meats in another 24 hours.

This brings me to a change in how I post our weekly menus. Since our Produce Box comes on Wednesday and the farmer’s market just a few blocks from my office is also on Wednesday, I’ll be posting weekly menus and budgets on that day instead of Sundays, so look for the next menu tomorrow!

In the meantime, I’ll be curled up under my desk napping. 🙂

 

Day 126–Starting Week 18–Budget and Menu

Our weather this spring is just plain ol’ wonky. Last weekend was in the upper 50s and by Tuesday it was over 90. So things are a little confused when it comes to crops. The chilly weather slowed things down and then the hot, dry weather pushed some greens to bolt. Still, we have a lot to choose from and starting this week we will even have blueberries! Spending was on budget this week at $99.78, thank goodness, although we do have two fewer meals this week. Ellie and I will be heading out with our girl scout troop to a Hunger Games campout (no actual fighting to the death allowed, of course) so we’ll be eating around the campfire instead of at home. Tom will be fishing, so no one will be home eating! Our weeks are getting so busy and juggling eating our precious veggies is getting to be a challenge. I’m thankful that our Produce Box gives us the option of skipping a week, although we haven’t had to do that yet.

Budget

  • Locals Seafood (scallops, flounder): $40.00
  • The Produce Box (blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, bok choi, onion, carrots, tomato): $23.00
  • Melina’s pasta (spinach fettucine): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (soy milk, frozen mango, peanut butter, lemons, baby zucchini): $26.78
  • Water Oaks Farm (eggs): $4.00

Here is what we’re having this week!

Menu

  • Sunday–Spinach fettucine with scallops and fresh peas, salad
  • Monday–Cornmeal dusted grouper, stir fried kale, baby zucchini
  • Tuesday–Egg salad sandwiches, carrots
  • Wednesday–Scrambled egg tortillas
  • Thursday–Spicy peanut vegetable stir fry over whole wheat cous cous
  • Friday–camping
  • Saturday–camping

Day 122–All We Want is a Salad Bar

The reactions to our experience watching “What’s On Your Plate?” keep growing as we move forward and study our own eating environments. I asked the group of girls who saw the film what they learned and to them, it was astounding to learn how difficult it can be to change even one small part of the school food system. These girls are typically up for a challenge, so they zeroed in on that. Ok, so here are middle school girls complaining about how horrible the school lunches are and how little choice they have in their diet while on campus (yes, they could bring lunch, but that’s a whole other discussion about middle school social rules). They equate the quality of their lunch with how much the school cares about their well being…and let me tell you, this is one group of girls who do not think the adults in charge really care.

What do they want? A salad bar. How hard will that be? We’re going to find out.

Ellie brought up a very good point during the discussion. She noted that schools spend a lot of time, money and energy dealing with bullying, but they don’t do anything to address one of the personal aspects that encourages bullies to zero in on a target–being overweight. The girls agreed that being overweight or obese raises the odds that you will be bullied or harassed. So why aren’t schools using their bully budget to address that? It was a good point. If young people are asking for help with this issue, we should be listening.

Now this group of 4-6 girls is interested in starting a petition to have a salad bar in the cafeteria. Every journey begins with a single step and they are excited about moving forward. I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience!