Apr 29, 2013

Oven Risotto

For many reasons, it is a special time when babies are born.  When my third child was born (almost 4 months ago!) someone brought us this meal.  It is delicious!  After emailing it to several of my close pals, I decided to post it here.

2 T butter
2.5 c chicken broth
1 c uncooked Arbrio Rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 t salt (or more if using homemade broth)
1/2 c baby bella mushrooms, chopped (I used the entire package)
2 c (or more) chopped cooked chicken (use a deli chicken to save time)
1-2 c shredded mozzarella
1 c (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved (I bought & used entire package)
1/4 c shredded basil or 4 heaping Tablespoons of pesto (I used pesto)

To prepare:
add broth and butter to 9x13 pan, stick in oven then
Preheat oven to 400
once hot, stir in next 4 ingredients (and pesto if using it).
Bake, covered for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and fluff with fork.  Stir in chicken, cheese, tomatoes and basil (if not using pesto).

I like to cover again for 5 minutes so that tomatoes wilt a bit.

I've had this with basil and pesto and I think the pesto version is my favorite.

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Apr 21, 2013

Linky Love

- If you're still not convinced, you must read this to find out why you should never eat canola oil or margarine.

- Trying to loose weight? Sugar, not fat exposed as deadly villain in obesity epidemic.

- Suffering from allergies?  Here are 7 natural remedies for allergy relief.

- Anyone planning to go to the WAPF International conference in November?  It's in Atlanta this year. (Road trip anyone?!) The theme is Curing the Incurable: Holistic Therapies for Chronic Disease.  Take a peek at the schedule.  Start saving your pennies.  It is a worthwhile conference.  Nutritionists and Registered Dietitians can get CEUs for attending.


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Apr 19, 2013

McSwain Ranch in Lonoke

Pictures and story courtesy of Lyndsey Lewis.
Mike & Patti McSwain
A few years ago, Mike and Patti began reading and researching where and how our society gets its food. It started with the The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. “Everyone should own a copy of that book,” Patti insists.

This book, as well as works by Joel Salatin, Allan Nation, and Greg Judy, inspired the McSwains to rethink how they eat and what they could do to change things for the better. They had acres of underutilized pasture around their home. They had once toyed with the notion of boarding horses, but their new awareness of the farming industry persuaded them to raise animals for food instead.

This renaissance led to what is now McSwain Ranch in Lonoke, which provides beef to Central Arkansas’ upscale restaurants and lamb for ‘locavores’ and foodies from around the state. Now they are three years into their adventure with organic grass fed sheep and cattle farming. Using movable fencing, they use rotational grazing to keep their furry friends happy and well-fed with fresh grass.

Mike and Patti love sharing their passion for natural, healthy food and would love to give you a personal tour. You can learn about the underground water system that has been installed in the pastures and how they were awarded federal grants to pursue natural cattle and sheep farming.  

Also lambing season (March and April) is in full swing, so it would make for a great family field trip.  Don’t be surprised if you get to help out wrangling sheep or get treated to an impromptu jazz concert inside their cozy cabin while visiting. They are a welcoming and joyful couple, full of pleasant surprises. Call Mike (501) 676-1572 or Patti (501) 681-1782 to schedule your tour.

To learn about other farms in Arkansas that we've highlighted, click here or the label in the right column titled "Meet Your Farmers."

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Apr 13, 2013

Governor Beebe Signs Raw Milk Bill

A big shout out goes to Representative Randy Alexander!  Thanks in part to his courage and perseverance, the raw milk bill has been signed by Arkansas Governor Beebe.  Thanks also goes to every person who contacted their legislator(s) on behalf of food freedom.  The details of the bill can be read here.

So when does the sale of fresh milk become legal?

A friend of mine explained:
...all enacted legislation takes effect (in Arkansas) 90 days following the adjournment of the session. As I understand the session ends on April 19th. If I am counting correctly, that would mean farm fresh milk prohibition officially ends July 18, 2013.
Anyone a friend of the Arkansas Raw Milk Facebook Page may continue to find ongoing information and resource there. 

PS - if you wonder what all the fuss is about raw milk and why it is so wonderful, go here.

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Apr 12, 2013

Tips for Making a Green Salad - Fast!

Spring is salad season.  At the farmers markets you will find luscious lettuce leaves to don your dinner plate.

I like eating salad as long as it's not boring.  Translation: there has to be variety in flavor.  However, variety in flavor usually translates to work.  Because I want to minimize work, I've found some short cuts for making a salad fast.  Maybe this is my version of batch cooking with fresh veggies.

1.  Prepare lettuce all at once.

My salad spinner gets a work out in the spring.  When I bring home lettuce, it is rinsed and rough chopped.  Store either in a plastic bag or bowl with a lid in the fridge.  Keeping the air out will keep your lettuce from wilting. I like to toss in a paper towel to absorb extra water.

2.  Chop everything at one time.

This may seem like a no-brainer out there to most of you, but I just made this discovery recently.  Chopping the entire bunch of green onions ensures they get used because the work is done.  We love green onions on most everything.  Bonus: onions are prebiotics and good for gut health.
My husband loves green olives on his salad.  I could take or leave them.  Usually they get left off salads because I'm too lazy to chop one. more. thing.  This week I chopped a whole jar at once for future salads.
I used to dread making salads because I'd have to clean up a huge mess (after myself).  Grating a carrot is so messy!  So, I pulled out my food processor and grated a whole pound of carrots.  Just be warned, grated carrots will spoil quickly (about 5 days).
Other salad toppings:
-grated cheese
-red bell pepper

3.  Use lacto-fermented veggies on your salad.

This idea came from my new friend, Brandy.  When she gave me a jar of lacto-fermented ginger carrots, she said, "I just sprinkle a few on my salad."  Genius.  I get more probiotics in my diet and this solved the problem above (that raw grated carrots spoil quickly).  After I gobbled up the jar she made, I made my own variation of dilly carrots with turnips from my FarmShare.
4.  Make a giant batch of salad dressing.

This is my current favorite salad dressing (I double it). But also here is a yummy dressing and here is a recipe for ranch and honey mustard.  Salad dressings are easy to make and very easy baby steps to take if you're beginning a real food journey.

What do you enjoy on a salad?


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Apr 10, 2013

Raw Milk Bill (HB 1536) Passes House & Senate, On To Governor's Office

Normally I don't get excited about politics.  But boy-howdy! The last few days have been, well, dare I say fun?!

It started last Friday (my birthday!) when I took 3 kids to the Capitol to sit in the House Agriculture Committee meeting to show our support for fresh milk. It passed 12 to 4 and we needed 11 votes to get out of the committee and on to the House floor.  (It is worthy to note that the bill's sponsor, Representative Alexander, had never tasted fresh milk until this meeting - crazy, huh?  Glad he's all for food freedom!)

Because it is near the end of the session, our legislators are working overtime. So they met the following day - yes, a Saturday - to pass HB 1536, the Raw Milk Bill, through the House of Representatives. Amidst a lot of debate here, our bill managed to make it out of the House with 60 votes for and 19 against. NOT BAD!

Then, the bill was sent to the Senate the very same day (Saturday)! Within an hour and a half from passing in the House, it was being read in the Senate. It was read twice (a bill can be read three times before a vote) and was sent to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development.

Yesterday the Senate Ag. Committee met. I heard it was a rather heated debate, but again fresh milk prevailed! 

Today, HB 1536 was read on the Senate floor for the third time. It turned out to be the toughest vote yet. Several Senators were strongly opposed, but others went to bat for food freedom, and we are so grateful! A special thank you goes to Senator David Sanders who, literally, stood up for the bill, arguing that it is a good bill that gives regular people like you and me the freedom to choose what we eat. It was certainly a tight vote, ending up with 19 votes for and 11 against. (It needed 18 to pass.) But the good news is...it PASSED!  Lori was there with her four raw milk-drinking children.  How incredible is that?  They were able to see democracy in action--from the VIP Room, no less--and served as living proof that real milk is both safe and healthful! (They were also in the House Ag. Committee meeting on Friday.)

The entire time, we've been sending emails and calling our legislators, telling them to vote for food freedom.  Thank you to all of you who have encouraged us on Facebook or emailed us to let us know you are communicating with our legislators, too.  Wow!  Together we can make a difference!  And we have.  The passing of this bill is no small feat.  It has been tried...and has failed before.  I am confident one of the reasons it has made it so far is because so many people have communicated with our legislators.  Thank you for speaking up for food freedom.

But we're NOT completely out of the woods yet.

The bill must now be signed into law by Governor Beebe.  Please call his office 501-682-3687 or 501-682-2345 and let him know that you want food freedom in Arkansas and yummy fresh cow's milk.  Or you can fill out something on this on-line form.  My sources tell me that both Farm Bureau and the Department of Health are in opposition to this bill and will be in touch with the Governor.  Let your voice be heard.

May food freedom ring in Arkansas,

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Apr 8, 2013

Status on Raw Milk Bill - Please Take Action

On Saturday, food freedom took another step forward.  HB 1536 was passed in the House!

The bill may be heard tomorrow (Tuesday) in the Senate Agriculture Committee.  There are 8 committee members and we need a YEA vote from 5 to get out of this committee.

Please contact these senators.  Phone calls are most effective with this short of time, but emails are good too.

1. Bruce Holland - There are conflicting reports on his allegiance.  He has said he will be in support of the bill to a constituent, however, he has close ties with Farm Bureau (which is in opposition of the bill).

Phone 479-996-0977
Email Bruce.Holland@senate.ar.gov

2. Bruce Maloch (pronounced MAL-ick)
Phone 501.682.2902 - the senate switchboard just ask to leave a message for him
Email bruce.maloch@senate.ar.gov

3. David Wyatt
Phone 870-613-3014
Email David.Wyatt@senate.ar.gov

4. David Sanders
Phone 501-682-6107 - the senate switchboard just ask to leave a message for him
Email davidjamessanders@gmail.com

5. Stephanie Flowers
Phone 870-535-1032
Email Stephanie.Flowers@senate.ar.gov

6. Jonathan Dismang
Phone 501-766-8220
Email dismang28@gmail.com

7. Ronald Caldwell
Phone 501-682-6107
Email ronald.caldwell@Senate.ar.gov

8. Alan Clark
Phone 501-262-3360
Email alan.clark@senate.ar.gov

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Apr 5, 2013

Urgent: House to Hear "Raw Milk" Bill Tomorrow

Today the House Agriculture Committee passed House Bill 1536 in favor of on-farm sales of raw milk in Arkansas. That's great news! But our work is not done yet. Now it goes before the entire House tomorrow (Saturday)!! So, NOW is the time to contact your respective Representatives! This is for all of Arkansas, so please spread the word.

The complete alphabetical list with contact information can be found here:


If you are not sure who your Representative is, go here and enter your home address:


Please let him/her know you support what should be our constitutional right already--the freedom to eat or drink what we want and to purchase it from whom we want.

Don't forget to identify the bill as HB 1536 when corresponding with your Representative.

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Apr 3, 2013

Farmers Markets Open

The weather should be perfect for the opening day of the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market this Saturday in Argenta (North Little Rock.)

Last weekend, the Hillcrest Market was open - despite the rain.

The downtown Little Rock Market opens Tuesday, April 30.

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