Aug 27, 2013

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Workshop

by Lisa Lipe

Dr. Weatherly, my chiropractor in Conway, is offering a free workshop on Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain on Tuesday, September 10 at 6pm in the Faulkner County Library.  In addition to being a great chiropractor, Dr. Weatherly promotes drug-free natural approaches to pain and disease, and supports a real food, traditional diet.  Seating is limited.

Call Dr. Weatherly's office with questions (501)327-3255.


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Aug 26, 2013

Baba Ghanoush

The right spice can add so much flavor to a dish.  Smoked paprika (from the bulk section at Whole Foods) brings out the best in baba ghanoush.  This middle eastern dip can be eaten as a dip with veggies, chips, pita, or toasted bread.  If you wanna be wild and crazy, spread some on your sandwich!

Last week I made baba ghanoush with larger eggplants (or are they regular size?)  This week I made the dip with fairy tale eggplant.  Either one works well, though the fairy tale ones may be a bit more work removing the pulp from the skin.  The extra work is not arduous so plunge in either way.

First pierce the skin with a fork so that as it roasts steam can escape.
Next roast.  Last week I did it on my stovetop (very HOT kitchen idea) this week I decided to give it a go on the grill.  You could also broil the exterior for a few minutes as this food blogger recommends.
Below is what they looked like after 5 minutes.  Be sure to give them space so as to cook evenly.  The fairy tale eggplants roasted about 15-18 minutes on the grill.
The little buddy below exploded, I suppose because I didn't poke enough fork holes in him.  Thankfully he was roasted through so it didn't really matter.
Once cooled, the skin peels off easily.  Discard the skin.
Here's the roasted garlic.  I lopped off the top of a garlic bulb, drizzled it with olive oil then squished foil around it and put it on the grill as well.
 Squishy yummy goodness.
 My bowl of roasted eggplants.
 Transformed into baba ghanoush!
It's hard for me to write a recipe for this because I taste and adjust along the way.  Here's a general outline.

1-2 large roasted eggplants or a bunch of little ones
1 bulb roasted garlic or 1 raw clove
1/4-1/3 cup tahini
1/4+ cup full fat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (found in bulk spice section at Whole Foods and makes a HUGE difference in this recipe.  Go out of your way to procure some.)
1 teaspoon (to taste) salt
drizzle of olive oil - optional

Mash all together with a fork or in a food processor or blender.  Taste and adjust.  Enjoy!

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Aug 24, 2013

Squash and Zucchini Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

Hey y'all! HB here! My family has a farm share from one of our all time favorite farmers. Eddie, at Kellogg Valley Farms, keeps us stocked up on wonderful, chemical free, local veggies. We have had lots of squash and zucchini lately and I've been putting it to good use. For the first time tonight, I made stuffed zucchini. It was a show stopper.

Stuffed Zucchini
1 huge zucchini, or 2 big zucchini
1 onion, diced
4-8 cloves garlic, diced (I like a LOT of garlic, trust me, go for it on this)
2 small or 1 large bell pepper, diced
3 eggs, beaten (these days, I get mine from Katie at Farm Girl...delish!)
1 1/2 cups browned sausage (Sausage from Katie is divine as well, but I didn't have any and used cherry chipotle sausage from Whole Foods and it was very, very good)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar, shredded plus extra cheese for the topping
1-2 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread crumbs (can omit if you are gluten-free)

So, take your big ole zucchini, cut it in half, sprinkle a little oil or butter on it and bake it in the oven at 300 for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Brown your sausage and saute the garlic, bell pepper, and onion in lots of butter. After the zucchini is done baking, let it cool for a minute or two, then scoop out the guts and turn the zucchini over to let the rest of the liquid drain out for maybe 10 minutes. Combine sausage, sauteed veggies and remaining ingredients and stir well. Fill the hollowed out zucchini with this yummy goodness and bake it at 350 for about 25 minutes, top with more cheese and bake for just a few minutes longer. This bad boy was just about to go in the oven:

Slice the zucchini into 1" serving sizes as pictured below. Eat and enjoy!

And, last but definitely not least, my favorite squash casserole. Now, don't let the word casserole turn you off here. Just trust me. This is total comfort food. 

Look at this beautiful squash!!
Squash Casserole 
5 pounds medium yellow squash
2 eggs beaten
1 cup bread crumbs plus more for topping
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 stick softened butter
1/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
2 teaspoons salt
dash pepper or more if you like things spicy

Trim squash and cut in slices (as shown above), boil in a large saucepan with plenty of water for about 20 minutes or till tender. Drain in a colander and then mash. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and pour into a buttered 3 quart casserole. I used a 9x13 dish and it was full. Top with more breadcrumbs and bake at 350 till lightly brown. Makes 12-16 servings. Seriously. This is a great dish for holidays or cookouts. And, for all you sugar hating peeps, I have tried to make this without the sugar and I am hear to testify: it is not as good. But, I like things sweet, even my veggies. If you are gluten free and are omitting the crumbs, I'd add a couple extra eggs and really, really drain the squash well and I think it'd be fine. Maybe you could top it with some cheddar for extra kick? Enjoy!

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Aug 23, 2013

Eggplant Ideas

These fairy tale (mini) eggplants were so pretty I couldn't stuff them in a cold, dark refrigerator drawer. They adorn my dining room table and greet guests as they walk in the door.  What a conversation piece!  The plan is to use this recipe but I'd love to know other recipes you've tried.
Last week, I roasted larger eggplants right on my stovetop for baba ghanoush.  Starting with this recipe, I added a bit of yogurt and paprika (like Yaya's does).  Also, Pioneer Woman never disappoints.  (Note to self, roasting eggplant inside in August in Arkansas is not the smartest idea.)
Go to the farmers market this weekend and find some fresh food treasures.

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Aug 21, 2013

Pickled Peppers {Lacto-Fermented for Probiotics}

Last weekend at the Argenta Farmers Market in North Little Rock I found some "not hot" jalapeno peppers (from Kellogg Valley Farm) to lacto-ferment.  Recipe here.   To keep the pepper rings submerged I criss-crossed carrot spears, pictured below.
This is a sneaky way to add probiotics to salsa (or anything else!) without it tasting overly "fermented."  And food preservation doesn't get much easier than this.  True to their name, the jalapenos were not hot.  I don't care for super spicy foods yet I could eat these off a spoon.
One other idea I wanted to share with you comes from lacto-fermenting queen, Diane Loftness.  Instead of painstakingly slicing banana peppers into rings, she plopped them in a food processor.  Not only is this faster but more peppers get in the jar = space saver.  Genius.  Recipe here.


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Aug 19, 2013

Baby's First Food: Egg Yolk at 7 Months

This week my baby turned seven months old.  For the last month I have tried to feed him avocado but with every spoonful he has spit it out.  The last two days he has eaten hard boiled egg yolk with a spoonful of chicken broth and a dash of sea salt.
Pastured egg yolks are packed with vitamins and minerals along with brain nourishing, hormone balancing fat.  Chicken broth is gentle, soothing even, to the digestive system.  Because we suffered through 3 months of colic, I am loosely following the GAPS diet for babies and holding off giving him simple sugars (grains or fruits).  No one knows exactly what causes colic but just in case his gut has been compromised, I want to be vigilant to feed him foods that heal.
Commercial baby foods are sold in "stages" - this basically means how chunky or watery the baby food is.  Instead of adding water to make the yolk easier to manage, I have added gelatinous chicken broth.


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Aug 15, 2013

7 Tips for Making a Deal at the Farmers Market

Let's face it:  we all like to get a good deal.  Below are tips for helping you at the farmers market.

1.  Know your farmer.
Spend time talking with them - ask what they grow, about their families, other hobbies.  Buying groceries locally is so much more than going on Saturdays to buy food under a tent.  Knowing your farmers is my number one tip for shopping locally (for many reasons).  When you chat a while with the farmer, you could learn a thing or two about them like...

2. Buy the overstock.
Some farmers specialize in certain crops.  They may love eggplant so much they grew 5 rows of it this year and it did really well.  So well, in fact, eggplant is coming out of their ears and they don't bring 1/3 of what they could to the market.  The other 2/3 of the crop is wasting in the field.  Or, for a meat farmer they could tell you that they have certain kind of sausage special.  

3. Ask in advance.
Contact them a few days before market day (most are connected via Facebook or have contact info on a website).  You could say something like, "Hey I know you grow cucumbers.  I'd like to make 5 gallons of pickles.  Could we make a deal?"  Or, "I'm trying to get the most bang for my buck - what would you advise me to buy from you?  Could you bring some to the market on Saturday?"

4.  Buy in bulk.
While it helps to ask in advance, sometimes that is not always possible.  If on a spring market day you are inspired to make jam by all the juicy strawberries, ask if you could get a price break for buying several flats.

5. Go late to the market.
Just before the market closes see what's left in abundance.  Some of it could be slightly shriveled from being in the sun since 7am but would still make a yummy lunch or dinner... or perfect for lacto-fermenting.  Maybe the farmer who picked a ton of peaches needs to go to a wedding before going back to the farm and he's looking to liquidate.  Be sensitive though, about how you ask.  I wouldn't say, "Hey are you just gonna dump this stuff in the trash?  I'll take it off your hands."

6.  Ask about the ugly or damaged.
Let me let you in on a secret - sometimes the bruised and cracked is the most flavorful because it has been on the vine the longest, soaking up sunshine and nutrients from the soil.  The tomatoes above were not picked green then gassed to turn red (like the perfect tomatoes in the grocery.)  I would rather have ugly local tomatoes than perfect-looking-outside-mealy-on-the-inside grocery tomatoes.
Because farmers are people that take pride in their hard work, they often don't want to present produce that is bruised or bug-tasted.  If you are looking for a deal and are able to cut out a bad spot or two, ask about the discards.  Probably you will see a box on the ground with culled goods.  And quite honestly, if the bugs don't want the food, I don't want it either.

7.  Don't be stingy.
If you only buy the knock-offs or only ask about making a deal but never buy anything, you aren't endearing yourself to the salesman.  Be willing to pay asking price.  Our farmers are not getting rich.  The small, local producers of good healthy food do what they do because they love it and have found a way to survive on the income.  Bless them and their hard work by paying for their sweat equity.  My family has decided to pay more for fresh, local, nutrient dense food now with hopes that we will not be investing in pharmaceuticals later.

So what I have a missed?  What tips do you have for me?

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Aug 14, 2013

Pasteurized Verses Ultra-Pasteurized

Like a giddy schoolgirl, I shrieked with delight in the dairy aisle at Whole Foods.  Not only were they carrying pasture raised cream, but it was only pasteurized - not the usual ultra-pasteurized.
Three terms I want to define today:
-pasture raised

Pasture Raised
This means the cows are given access to grass.  It seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  However, most industrial dairy cows are raised in confinement, given hay and consume a diet that is largely corn, soy and cottonseed meal.  When cows eat lush green grass the nutrition is passed along in their milk in the form of conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.  This nutrient is known to fight cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and osteoporosis among a few other diseases.  Needless to say, I am thrilled to find pasture raised dairy in the grocery store.  See also this article for more information on pasture raised benefits.

[If you are a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes her mother adding some carrot juice to color their butter in winter.  This is because in winter, the cow's diet is devoid of green grass and the butter is whiter in the absence of CLA.  If your butter is a rich yellow color this is evidence of CLA.]
The above picture is of pasture raised cream (good) but is ultra-pasteurized (not so good.)

Pasteurized Verses Ultra-Pasteurized

Many people are shocked to learn that ultra-pasteurized dairy (also known as UHT) does not have to be refrigerated until opened.  Yes, you read that right.  Ultra-pasteurized dairy does not have to be refrigerated for 6-9 months!  In Europe, UHT milk is seldom refrigerated.  When you see ultra-pasteurized dairy in the refrigerated section, it is because as Americans, we expect dairy to be cold.   This milk or cream has been heated to Ultra High Temperatures of 280* F and killed almost every living thing in it.  Thus the long shelf-life.  Basically UHT milk is sugar water with calcium and maybe some fat (some would argue because heat destroys the enzymes in milk, the body cannot absorb the calcium.)   Cream is so good for the body, in lieu of not having cream at all, I buy ultra-pasteurized cream for my coffee and cooking.

But now Whole Foods sells pasteurized cream!!  Watch the sell-by date, the shelf life of pasteurized cream is much shorter than the ultra-pasteurized cream.  Once I left UHT cream in my refrigerator for at least 7 weeks, past the sell-by date.  It did not smell at all after being opened for SEVEN weeks! Eww.
When milk is simply pasteurized, it is heated slowly to temperatures just below boiling.  This process allows some microorganisms to live and is why milk needs to be refrigerated.  And why, after a period of time, pasteurized milk will spoil - something living has died. 

Be especially careful when buying organic milk.  Read the label.  Know if you are buying pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized (bad).  Producers know that consumers are willing to pay more for organic milk so the producer extends the shelf life of their product by boiling the life out of it, or ultra-pasteurizing it.

I have heard people say, "We don't drink much milk so I like buying this brand of organic milk because it will stay fresh for several weeks/months."  The teacher in me wants to scream, "Think about the logic of that.  If it stays fresh for weeks/months if it never goes bad - is it good for you to begin with?"

If I had the choice of buying only ultra-pasteurized milk or drinking water, I would skip the milk.

Those with sensitive palates describe ultra-pasteurized milk as having a "burned" flavor.  True story: when my first son was 4 years old he could taste the difference between pasteurized milk and ultra-pasteurized milk.  He did not like one brand of organic milk because it tasted yucky to him - it was ultra-pasteurized.

I want to challenge you (especially parents) to think twice about buying these cute, sugar filled single servings of milk for children.  Confession: my kids drink it on occasion - but it is a treat.  I do not think of this milk as nutritious.  If given the choice of a soda or this milk, I would choose the ultra-pasteurized milk.  But at that point, I think I'm just splitting hairs and need to scoop it all in my 20% that doesn't count.  (Read here for explanation of the 80/20 rule.)

So there you have it, the difference between pasture raised, pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized.

Truly, the most nutritious milk is that straight from the cow.  Raw and delicious.  But that is a post for another day.  One that I have tried writing for about 4 years now.  If you are curious about learning more, we have a series of educational videos here about real, fresh milk here.


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Aug 12, 2013

Rich Orange Egg Yolks

This article was written by Katie Short, Farm Girl Foods.  Katie does an excellent job each week of writing an educating and informative snippet to the FarmShare participants.  I enjoyed this week's article and asked to reprint it in this space. - Julie

We’ve received some questions this week about egg yolks taking on a paler shade lately and thought everyone might appreciate an explainer on yolk color in our eggs.

The richness of the orange in the yolk is directly related to the richness of the green in the hens’ forages- more orange comes from more green. In this way, the yolks reflect the condition of the pastures in which the hens live. In spring, when the days are lengthening and there is plenty of rain, the sweetest, tenderest varieties of grass fill the fields. Among these, rye grass is the most prevalent and is delicious to all animals, including our ladies who can easily eat and digest it.

By this time in the year, the rye has long since matured and hangs around like sad old straw having been replaced by the hearty, heat tolerant grasses of high summer. These are durable and slower growing, and nobody but the grasshoppers like them.

While they are technically green, their toughness is only exceeded by the cutting serration of their long stiff leaves. This is fescue. There are other grasses that are less aggressive but equally unpalatable, none of which are especially relished by chickens, though they do seem to eat some anyway. What the   chickens are really digging right now is the August boom in insect life. They have become experts at hunting grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, even flies and eagerly hunt through the pasture with great efficiency snapping up any creepy crawlies they find. While bugs are uniquely rich in good fats, micro   minerals, and digestible protein, they are very much lacking in carotin (the green in grass) and do not contribute to yolk color.

Rest assured, there has been no change in management of the ladies, just a seasonal change in the environment of the field. We expect the lusher, more palatable forages of fall to bring with them a more lively colored egg.

-Katie Short
Farm Girl Foods

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Aug 7, 2013

Free Bee Keeping 3-Part Course

Ever thought of keeping bees in your back yard?

Learn how to do it in a FREE three session course.


Evening 1: Bees hive & other equipment, honey bee biology
Evening 2: Seasonal colony management tasks
Evening 3: Keeping hives healthy – managing pests and diseases

Classes will be held at the U of A Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium 2301 S. University Avenue in Little Rock.

No prior knowledge of beekeeping is required. This course is offered for free and is open to the public, but registration is required to assure sufficient course materials will be available.

For more information or to register for the class, contact the Pulaski County Cooperative Extension Office at 501‐340‐6650.

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Aug 5, 2013

Broth Making

It's been a busy few months at my house.  Baby number three has pretty much consumed our lives.  

Searching the freezer this weekend I came to the stark realization that we were OUT OF BROTH.  


Some would say that I like to "go big or go home" and today's broth making day is big.  In the 4.5 gallon roaster, there are beef bones.  In my biggest crock pot I have chicken parts.

These are big bones from when I bought a quarter of a cow.
In the picture below I've added a gallon bag of steak and roast bones I've been saving in the freezer for several months.   When giving specifics to the butcher, I request the bones stay in the roasts.  And, after enjoying a wonderful steak dinner I do not hesitate to rescue bones from the plates of my guests. For those with cootie fears, all the germs are boiled out in stock making.  Bones are precious in my sight.
Last but not least, I add my frozen compost stock parts.  These are the ends of celery, carrots and onion bits that I have saved when not actively making broth.  They add flava that otherwise would go in the compost.
Other ingredients to my broth: bay leaves, cracked pepper, a splash of apple cider vinegar (to help draw out minerals) then fill it to the brim with filtered water.  Salt is added when I am using the broth.
The roaster and crock pot (with chicken parts) are plugged up outside - to keep the heat and smell out of my kitchen.  Because the beef bones are so big, I will probably keep the roaster plugged up for several days making perpetual soup.  I'll skim a bit off the top and add more water.  See also this article - the heat will be turned down to a simmer once the broth comes to a boil.

The chicken stock in the crock pot (below) will simmer for a couple days.  I will remove broth tomorrow and refill it with water.  Because chicken bones are much smaller than beef bones they are finished sooner.  You know the bones are "finished" when you can smash them between your fingers - all the calcium and other minerals have been transferred to the broth.  [By the way, this is a good object lesson for kids.  Ask them if they thing they are strong enough to crush a bone.  Then give them one that has been in the crock pot a few days (cooled, of course.)  After their amazement, I explain that we use broth so that our bones will not become brittle like the chicken bones.  When we drink/eat the broth, those minerals are transferred to our bodies.]

What to do with gallons of broth?

Once it is cooled, I freeze it in yogurt containers.  It is so nutritious, I look for ways to use broth.
-use it in rice, quinoa
-give flavor to greens
-add moisture when reheating food on the stovetop
-red beans and rice
-drink it straight


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Aug 1, 2013

Spoils of Summer - Visit the Farmers Market

cucumber from Kellogg Valley Farms
What's your favorite spoil of summer?

In Arkansas, we have quite the lot from which to choose.  There's really no comparing a sun-ripened tomato to its grocery store counterpart.  Or peaches so flavorful and juicy that you have to wipe your chin after each bite.  Maybe you wait all year long to score fresh okra.

In this week's FarmShare basket was the best tasting cucumber I've ever put in my mouth.  I didn't know cucumbers could be that yummy.  Summer is the season for culinary greatness.

Whatever pleases your palate, be sure to make time for the farmers market this weekend.  Summer doesn't last forever.


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