Archive for the ‘What We Eat’ Category

What We Eat: Broccoli Stalks

broccoli stems & radish greens
Sautéed broccoli stalks & radish greens

Yes, you read that correctly, I am doing an entire post on broccoli stalks. They are one of my new favorite foods and I bet you will love them too if you just give them a chance!

When you buy broccoli, do you just eat the crowns and then throw the thick stalks into the trash or compost? I used to do that because I thought they were too woody and tough to bother with. Over the past year or so I’ve become increasingly interested in using ALL of the parts of food we buy, both plant and animal. I was so disturbed by my own wasteful actions that I figured out ways to eat a lot of things we had previously tossed, including broccoli stalks. Oddly enough, I have come to prefer the stalks to the crowns. They have a mild flavor and a nice watery crunch. The trick is that you have to peel the tough outer layer off of the stalk (and yes, trash it or compost it…). The inside of the stalk is then ready to eat raw like a carrot, chop up into a salad, or sauté with radish tops and garlic as shown in the photo above. Those are just a few ideas. The stalks are incredibly versatile and would be delicious on a crudité tray, in soup, in stir-fry…the list goes on. I admit that the first time I decided we would eat the stalks I opted to cook them because I don’t like the flavor of raw broccoli and figured the stalks would taste similar. Not so! Removing the outer layer also removes that odd bitterness and the inside is, I dare say, almost sweet! Below is a recipe for a delicious green side dish featuring two commonly thrown-away items, broccoli stalks & radish greens.


Garlicky Broccoli Stalks & Radish Greens

2-3 broccoli stalks
1 bunch well-washed & spun (or blotted dry) radish greens
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 Tbsp olive oil
A pinch or two of sea salt

Peel the broccoli stalks using a paring knife (really, a peeler is pointless here), quarter lengthwise, and slice thinly. Heat olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add garlic and broccoli stalks. Sauté for a minute or two, until you smell that delicious garlic aroma and the stalks look a little less raw. Add the radish greens and stir to distribute the oil and get all of the greens in contact with the heat. You may need to add a tiny bit more oil at this point if it seems that you don’t have enough in the pan to cover all of the greens. The oil helps them cook and also helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the veggies, so don’t be shy. Toss in a pinch or two of sea salt. Continue to stir the greens (it’s really more of a folding motion, actually) until they are all wilted, which takes about 5 minutes or so. Enjoy!

What We Eat: Frittata

frittata

We eat a lot of frittatas around here. A LOT. I make huge frittatas (the one pictured above was made with 20 eggs, which is the norm), so there is pretty much always some frittata in the fridge for breakfast or snacks. Frittatas are one of my favorite foods because they are healthy, easy, and can be made with whatever I’ve got laying around. They are an especially great way to use up veggies (or eggs, for that matter) that are getting a little past their prime.

The basic method I use is to sauté whatever ingredients I want in my frittata, add them to a bowl of beaten eggs, then pour the whole mess back into the pan, distribute the “fillings” evenly if necessary, and let it cook for a while over low heat. No stirring! At the end I throw the pan under the broiler for a couple minutes to thoroughly cook the top and get it a little brown. When the frittata is cool, I slice it into wedges and store in an airtight container in the fridge; it will keep for 5-7 days that way. You can eat the frittata cold, let it come up to room temperature, or heat it in a toaster oven or microwave. We don’t do the microwave thing and I find that about 7 minutes in the toaster oven at 350F gets my fresh-out-the-fridge frittata warm without drying it out.

Technique notes:

  • Make sure your ingredients are in small pieces. Brian has a habit of putting gigantic pieces of kale in our frittatas and it’s really no fun to bite into the frittata and come away with an entire kale leaf hanging out of your mouth. Especially in front of company, oy!
  • If you are using meat (we prefer sausage removed from its casing), cook that thoroughly first, add to the beaten eggs, and then use the grease from the meat to sauté your veggies. I typically use about a 1/4 lb of sausage for 16-20 eggs.
  • If you are not using meat, I suggest the following fats for your sauté purposes: bacon grease (you should really have a jar of rendered bacon grease in your fridge at all times), butter, olive oil. My dad would put coconut oil on this list but he is crazy. If you don’t mind the taste of coconut in your savory egg dishes, go for it.
  • Cook your veggies thoroughly before adding them to the eggs unless you want raw veggies in your frittata.
  • Salt & pepper your eggs. I also add salt to my veggies while they are cooking.
  • I typically plan 2 eggs per serving. We use large cage-free eggs.
  • Greens cook down a lot so use more than you think you need, especially with really wilty greens like spinach or radish tops. You may need to cover tougher greens like kale to cook them through, it’s really unfun to get semi-raw, fibrous, hard-to-chew pieces of kale when you bite into a frittata.
  • Obviously you will need an oven-save pan for this method. This is also one of the few occasions that you really need a nonstick pan, too. And please make sure your pan is large enough that your frittata is no more an inch or so thick or you will have a hard time getting it to cook through without burning the hell out of the bottom.
  • Do not walk away while your frittata is under the broiler. It really only needs a minute or two and burnt eggs are yuck.
  • You can mix cheese into the eggs or put it on top. Try both and see which you prefer, they both yield a slightly different flavor. I prefer it mixed in because cheese on top gets a little soggy in the fridge and in my opinion never fully recovers. Another option is to leave the cheese out of your initial cooking and keep a container of shredded cheese ready to go so you can sprinkle it on top when reheating your frittata.

Ingredient combination ideas:

  • Spinach, onion, garlic (that’s the combo pictured at the top of this post)
  • Chorizo, lacinto kale, onion
  • Rutabaga greens, onion, parmigiano-reggiano
  • Italian sausage (we like a mix of hot & mild), garlic, bell peppers
  • Zucchini, onion, cheddar (cut the zucchini into small thin slices & get it a little brown)
  • Spinach, mushroom, onion, garlic (be sure you cook the mushrooms until they are shrively and brown, otherwise your frittata will be wet)
  • Mushroom, onion, garlic, bell pepper
  • Spinach, feta, onion, garlic (this one is also good with zucchini)
  • Garlic sausage (they have this at Whole Foods), radish tops, broccoli stems (peeled & sliced thin), onion
  • Bacon, spinach, cheddar (broccoli is also really good in this one, just make sure it’s in small well-cooked pieces)
  • Bacon, kohlrabi bulb (peeled & sliced thin), garlic

If you have questions please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. And please leave your frittata ingredient ideas, too!


What We Eat: Local Grapefruit

local grapefruit

Did you know that if you remove all of the membrane from your grapefruit, it won’t taste bitter anymore? I’m not saying it’ll be sweet like an orange, but grapefruit sans membrane is much, much tastier than grapefruit with membrane. By “membrane” I mean not only the pith but all of that thin skin that forms the fruit into wedges. You’ll need to use a sharp knife to get rid of all of it, but it is worth the effort. To think I spent 32 years declaring my hatred of grapefruit and all I had to do was ditch the membrane to discover a new form of citrusy joy!

The grapefruit pictured above came in our CSA box and is both local and organic. We’ve been getting local grapefruit from a variety of sources since the beginning of this year and I still think it’s weird to live in a place where citrus is local.

What We Eat: Salmon Salad

salmon salad

For lunch today I ate:

  • Salmon salad
  • Sprouted grain toast with butter and homemade fig spread
  • Mixed Greek olives in spicy marinade

In case you are wondering, it was delicious! Also, because I’m sure you’re curious, I did not make the fig spread, it was a gift from a very talented friend who has also bestowed upon us blueberry jam, salsa, and grapefruit-ginger marmalade. Oh, yeah.

Salmon salad is one of my go-to meals when I need something quick. It takes 5 minutes to whip up and the ingredients aren’t set in stone so you can really make it with whatever you have lying around. Because this is the inaugural What We Eat post, you also get a recipe! So here it is, even though you probably don’t need one for this dish:

Salmon Salad

1 7.5-oz can sockeye salmon, drained
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 chopped green bell pepper
1 scallion, chopped
Dill (1 tbsp if using fresh, 1 tsp if using dried)
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Toss the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Enjoy!

Other vegetables that work well in this dish are tomato, cucumber, red onion, and radish, but you really can use anything you like. Fresh parsley is nice, as is fresh garlic if you are feeling crazy. If you want your salmon salad to resemble more of a traditional seafood salad, dice your veggies up small and mash everything together with slightly more olive oil and lemon juice than is listed in the recipe above. Just please don’t add mayo, it makes salmon sad. Lastly, I drain off the juice/oil that is in the can and give it to Cooper, but Brian prefers his canned salmon with all of the juice, it’s really a personal thing so try it both ways and see which you like better.

I feel it necessary to note that the deliciousness of your salmon salad is directly related to the quality of the canned salmon you use. Please don’t use that nasty Bumblebee stuff, okay? We buy ours from Vital Choice and get the salmon with the bones & skin–it tastes much better and is way more nutritious. We eat the skin and the bones, except for the little salmon vertebrae because they totally freak me out.

I also feel it necessary to note that the photo above is in fact NOT an iPhone photo. I don’t believe this is the first “real” photo to appear on this blog, but it’s certainly the first one in a long time. I deserve a pat on the back!

What We Eat

I get a lot of questions from readers about what we eat. I made the switch to whole, organic, sustainably-raised foods 13 years ago this year, and to local foods about 6 years ago. This is not to say that every morsel of food that passes my lips fits neatly into these categories, but the bulk of what I eat does. And Brian has come along for the ride since I do the meal-planning and most of the shopping and cooking. Sometime I’ll write about what inspired these changes, but that is a much larger topic that will need to be addressed separately. While organic foods have been getting a lot of press for several years, I’ve noticed in the past year or two that people are staring to pay significantly more attention to the concepts of eating whole foods, or local foods, or sustainably-raised foods.

Unfortunately these terms can really just be a lot of jargon. Who defines what food is “whole,” “organic,” or “local” anyway? For me, it all comes down to eating real food: something that has recognizable origins and is minimally processed if at all. I also try to choose foods that are grown near where I live because they are fresher and thus more nutritious, and because they have a much lower environmental impact than foods that are shipped from far away. Eating local foods also ensures that we eat seasonally, which I personally believe is better from a health standpoint. Organic is probably another topic that deserves its own post (I actually did an independent study on organic foods my senior year of college!) but the short, very general, answer is that it means the food has been grown sans pesticides and in an environmentally responsible way. Sustainably-raised, the way I use it, refers specifically to meats, fish, and eggs–are the animals raised in ways that are healthy for them and limit the negative environmental impact?

Where am I going with this? Well, something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time is use this blog as a way to disseminate information that could help other people live more consciously and healthfully. Eating is a huge part of everyone’s lifestyle, so it follows that if you want to change your lifestyle, altering your eating habits is part of puzzle. Because I get a lot of questions about what we eat, how to eat healthier, or how to eat whole foods/local foods/etc., I thought it would be fun to start a regular feature here that would highlight some of our meals. Hopefully the photos and descriptions of what we’re eating will inspire you to try something new, or at least entertain you a little bit. I am also going to be posting a lot more recipes here, and while I already have several requests please leave a comment if there is something you want to know how to cook!