As summer comes to an end, fall inspired dishes are starting to appease me! This dip is perfect for an end-of-summer BBQ or even a fall soiree. Serve with pita chips, raw or roasted veggies, and crackers.

This dip is also perfect to spread on sandwiches or wraps to sub for mayo!

 

White Bean Dip

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:

2 cans white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed

3 Tablespoons garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 lemon, juice & zest

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2-3 Tablespoons water (to thin)

Switch up the flavors: Add roasted red peppers, pesto or even olives to mix up the flavor combinations!

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Pulse until ingredients are combined, then blend for 1-2 minutes. Mixture should be smooth and thick.
  3. Top with toasted pine nuts, olive oil, or fresh herbs!

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

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Do you know who picked that apple you ate for a snack? Where it was grown? When it was picked, or even how it got to the grocery store? If your answer is no, don’t worry! This post is all about knowing who grows our food (the real MVPs): FARMERS and how you can get the inside scoop on where your food comes from.

My interest in food & wellness peaks each summer when our CSA (community shared agriculture) begins. Each Monday (for the past 7 summers) from May- September I head to our local farm to pick up our share of fresh veggies, herbs and flowers (our share also includes weekly U-Pick options such as beans, tomatoes and berries).

If you are interested in learning more about what a CSA entails- you’re in luck! Below I’ve answered some FAQ and interviewed my farmer/ CSA director Nancy Grove (answers in italics).

*Photos included were taken at Old Path Farm in Sauquoit, NY*

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How does it help the farmers?

This helps farmers have a more steady and guaranteed income even when the weather is rough.  Additionally, farms pay most of their expenses in the winter and early spring, purchasing seeds, supplies and equipment, and normally they must then wait until the summer or fall to receive income to pay for those expenses.  For this reason, farms often rely on loans with accruing interest.  Many farms go out of business due to the above financial pressures.  In the CSA model, the customers pay the farmer at the time when the farmer needs the money most.

 

How does it benefit me?

First and foremost, they receive extremely fresh and seasonal produce.  In most CSA situations, the customers receive a significant discount on the value of the farm products over usual market value.  In many CSA situations, customers get to know their farmers and grow a trusting relationship with them, thereby excluding the need for a third party certifying agency (i.e. government or NGO-based organic certification).  In many CSAs, customers come to the farm weekly and become intimate with where their food is coming from.  They witness and are even involved in the process of growing food.

            Over the 13 years we have been practicing the CSA model, we have found that every year, no matter how difficult the weather conditions, we are able to provide every customer with more than their money’s worth of food.  What has varied year to year is which vegetables are most abundant.  Sometimes there is a very challenging spring, and the yield starts off slow, but later in the summer and fall, other vegetables have come to thrive so we can make up for the rough start.

            We value farmer’s markets, but truth is, on a rainy day or a holiday, customers don’t come.  CSA model means that our hard work of growing vegetables never goes to waste.  The customers have pre-paid, so they always show up!

 

How can I find a CSA near me?

localharvest.com – Free website that analyzes your location and provides a list of CSAs, farms, farmer’s markets, co-ops, u-pick, and wholesalers near you!

If all else fails you can google “CSA near me” – guaranteed results.

 

*I also asked some questions that interested me about the farming process and Nancy’s thoughts on fresh, local produce.

Some extra reads here:

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What’s so great about organic farms?

Ideally, organic farms are striving to mimic the natural surrounding ecosystem as much as possible.  And they are seeking farming practices which do not poison the water, soil, air, plants, animals and humans who exist around their farm. Non organic farms spray upon our food chemicals which are known to be toxic and cancer-causing.  They are the reason that breast milk in the United States contains herbicides.  

 

What additional things are added to the growing process to benefit the plants?

We spray and spread a long list of nutrients on the soil and plants.  All of these nutrients are derived from nature and are not man-made.  They include enzymes, beneficial bacteria and essential oils.  Another mainstay are rock minerals such as cobalt, zinc, copper, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, etc.  The reason that we use these trace minerals is both because they lead to optimum health for the plants and because when we ingest the produce, we are eating “nutrient dense-food” which brings optimum health to the consumers.  When plants have all the nutrients they need, they do not succumb to insect or disease problems.  Likewise, when humans have all the nutrients they need they are not as susceptible to diseases and bodily dis-functions. 

 

What happens to the farm/ growing process in the winter?

We have time off in the winter to enjoy the glories of Upstate New York, spend time with our families and pursue our other interests.  The garden has been planted to a crop that protects and nourishes the soil for the dormant winter months.  Some farms continue growing in greenhouses during the winter, but we choose to rely on storage vegetables for our own consumption.  Our winter farm tasks include the office work of taxes, accounting, planning, ordering and marketing.

 

Why do you think eating locally and seasonally is beneficial to us and to the environment? 

We benefit from eating food that is fresh.  Locally marketed food is cultivated in a way that is most delicious and nutritious.  Food that is intended to travel over 1000 miles to your plate has been designed to be packaged and to survive weeks of travel and storage in the grocer.  This is why produce in the grocery store does not taste good.  If you have ever tasted garden-fresh produce, then you know what I am talking about.

As for the ‘environment’- we are less likely to allow the poisoning of rivers, when the river is running through our own community and is our own water source.  Farms that are out of sight and mind, get away with horrendous amounts of pollution.  The same is true of farm labor.  We are less likely to want to exploit workers who live in our community and who are our friends, neighbors and relatives.

*If you have any other questions about CSA, farming, or how you can get involved feel free to contact me! (contact info located in the About section)

With autumn soon arriving, I love to stock my freezers with fresh baked goods, veggies and fruits. Keeping these vegetables frozen until winter ensures you have summer-fresh food all year long! As much as I’d LOVE to eat sautéed zucchini for every meal, I think people would be more receptive to something sweet!

These muffins pack a punch of flavor as well as nutrients: fiber, veggie power and a hint of sweetness make them the perfect grab-and-go breakfast!

Here’s what I did with my leftover zucchinis:

 

Yield: 16-18 cookies

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini, shredded

2 cups oats

1 cup flour (whole wheat is best, but AP is fine)

½ cup ground flaxseed (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup (4 TBs) butter, melted & cooled (sub: coconut/olive oil)

1 large ripe banana, mashed

1/3 cup honey (sub: agave, maple syrup)

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ cup dark chocolate chunks (I cut up a dark chocolate bar, regular chips are fine)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place zucchini in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, sit for 10 minutes. Press the zucchini and drain excess water.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the vanilla, egg, honey, butter, banana, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Add the zucchini and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the flour, oats and chocolate, mixing until just combined.
  5. Place two tablespoons of the mixture on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until just browned.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for midnights snacks!

The end of summer means one thing: an over abundance of zucchini flooding through the kitchen. Bread, fritters and muffins are the usual works, but these pancakes add that extra umph to breakfast! Packed with fiber, natural sweetness and nutrients, these cakes are like chocolate chip zucchini bread on the go!

Helpful Hint: If you have an insane amount of zucchini: shred and place into a ziploc bag, freeze for up to 6 months! This is perfect for fresh zucchini bread all year long.

Here’s what I did:

Yield: 8-10 small pancakes

 

Ingredients:

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1 cup oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons honey

1 pinch of salt

2 eggs

1-2 tablespoons milk (regular, almond, cashew)

Pan spray

Optional: ground flax seeds, chocolate chips, chia seeds

 

Directions:

  1. In a bowl whisk eggs, milk, salt, vanilla, honey and cinnamon until well combined.
  2. Add the oats, zucchini and baking powder and stir until fully incorporated.
  3. Heat a small pan with cooking spray or coconut oil, add ¼ cup of batter and cook until bubbly. Flip and cook on other side for about 2 minutes or until puffed and browned.

Best served with maple syrup or fresh berries!

These fudgey bites are perfect to take hiking, walking or just to give you that extra kick of energy during the work day. You can throw everything but the kitchen sink into these: leftover nuts, seeds, protein powders or even some cinnamon to spice it up. This recipe is completely versatile so make it your own!

We had some leftover dried figs hanging around so here’s what I did:

Chocolate Fig Energy Bites

Yield: 12-15 balls

Ingredients:

¼ cup figs, stems removed (sub: dates, dried apricots or raisins)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup (sub: honey, agave)

½ cup almond butter (peanut, cashew or sunflower butter work too)

½ cup almond flour

½ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon hemp seeds

1 Tablespoon flax seeds

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder (sub: regular cocoa powder, unsweetened)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

2 scoops collagen (Further Food)

 

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the figs, maple syrup and nut butter until smooth.
  2. In a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Add in the fig mixture and stir until dough begins to form (this might be somewhat sticky, if so add more almond flour- if too dry, add more maple syrup).
  3. Using a teaspoon, measure the mixture into your hand and roll into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Roll some in extra almond flour, cocoa powder, chia seeds or leave as is.
  4. Once the balls have set up, place them in an air tight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

 

With our CSA in full force, it seems like a race each week to eat as many veggies as possible before they spoil. This can be seen as a good thing though for both for my health and my creativity. After picking (and eating) pounds of peas, this is my favorite way to eat them in disguise.

This recipe is perfect for those on the go: one pot, minimal ingredients & a delicious meal to enjoy for dinner and lunch the next day! If you’re not a sausage person you can substitute ground beef, turkey or chicken or add some swiss chard, spinach or collard greens if you’re not into kale.

Toss this mixture with pasta or leave it as is- both are equally delicious, but who doesn’t love an extra excuse to eat carbs!

 

Serves 3-4 (or 2 if you’re really hungry)

Ingredients:

 

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 teaspoon garlic, fresh and chopped

½ pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, whichever you like)

1 (8 oz) can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ cups peas, fresh or frozen

3 cups kale, fresh (chopped or torn into small pieces)

½ cup chicken stock (or water if you don’t have this on hand)

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet (I used cast iron), heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for one minute or until fragrant. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into the pan with the garlic. Sauté this mixture for 8-10 minutes or until the sausage is browned and fully cooked.
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add the beans and peas and sauté for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
  4. Once the beans and peas are somewhat soft, add the kale and stock (or water) and cook until the kale is fully wilted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper before adding the sausage back to the pan. Mix everything together and sauté on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

I know everyone has their theories on how to reduce sugar cravings, but when I want something sweet it’s not going away until I’m satisfied. These dark chocolate babies are filled with healthy fats, natural sugars and are the perfect way to ease those late night cravings while staying on track (because seriously who can live without dessert, like really though).

For this recipe I’ve added collagen peptides- I’ll get into these more in a later post- and they are completely optional, please don’t go out and buy them just for this recipe. This amino acid powder from Further Food (my favorite brand, but there are many out there) is unflavored, unsweetened and dissolve in hot or cold mixtures.

For those interested- Collagen Benefits: great for gut health, keeping bones & joints strong, reducing inflammation and bloating, great source of protein.

 

Honey Almond Butter Cups

Yield: 6 cups

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate pieces (I use an 85% dark chocolate bar from Aldi)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1/3 cup almond butter (sub: peanut, sunflower, cashew, macadamia)

1 sprinkle of cinnamon

1 Tablespoon honey (sub: maple syrup, agave)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 scoops collagen peptides (optional- these add an extra protein boost)

Sea salt for garnishing (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the chocolate and coconut oil. In 30-second increments, melt the mixture, stirring between each time. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the almond butter, cinnamon, honey, vanilla and collagen. Stir until fully incorporated.
  3. Line a mini cupcake pan with 6 paper liners. Take ½ teaspoon of the chocolate mixture and place it in the bottom of the liner. Carefully spread the chocolate on the sides of the liner, coating it halfway up the paper to create the shell. Repeat for the other 5 liners.
  4. Place the whole pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes or until the chocolate has set.
  5. Once the chocolate has hardened, place 1 heaping teaspoon of the almond butter mixture into each cup and spread evenly.
  6. Next, place another ½ teaspoon of the chocolate mixture on top of each cup, covering the almond butter completely.
  7. Sprinkle each cup with sea salt (optional) and then place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate is firm.

 

Keep these cups in the refrigerator or freezer so they don’t melt! These can be kept for 3-4 weeks.

From June to late October, my family receives a CSA (community-supported agriculture) pick-up of veggies each Monday. Supporting our local farm (Old Path Farm of Sauquoit, NY) helps us eat seasonally while also keeping local farms afloat.

This week’s bounty brought cabbage, kale, Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and of course beautiful baby carrots with tops! Utilizing all parts of our produce ensures that food waste is kept to a minimum.

Mix this simple dressing into a salad, roasted vegetables, or pasta to add another layer of flavor. You can also dress up shrimp skewers, marinate chicken or use it as a dipping sauce for your favorite raw veggies.

Don’t throw away those beautiful carrot tops!!  Here’s what I did instead:

Carrot Top Pesto Dressing

Yield: 2 cups

1 cup carrot tops (or parsley)

½ cup fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Juice of one lemon

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ cup olive oil (sub: grapeseed oil, avocado oil)

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup water

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients besides the oil in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds or until ingredients begin to combine.
  2. Keeping the blender on low, slowly stream in the oil and blend for 1-2 minutes or until the dressing becomes emulsified and creamy.

Keep in a jar or Tupperware in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

Yield: 2 pizzas (about 12 in long, 6 in wide) or can be made into 4 individual pizzas

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast

2 tablespoons honey

1 ½ cups warm water (between 105-115 degrees F)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups quinoa flour

1 cup all purpose flour (sub: whole wheat, or gluten-free mix)

 

Toppings of choice:

I used leftover roasted asparagus, caramelized red onions, fresh grated Parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar before serving.

Some other ideas: (average 1 ½- 2 cups of vegetables for topping and ½-1 cup cheese for sprinkling)

  1. Sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, fresh rosemary
  2. Ricotta, roasted carrots, pesto
  3. Fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic
  4. Goat cheese, honey, pistachios

 

Directions:

  1. Mix yeast and warm water in a glass bowl, set aside for at least 5 minutes or until mixture is foamy and doubled in size.
  2. After 5-10 minutes (or when yeast is activated), add the honey, olive oil, salt and flours. Mix in a stand mixer fixed with a dough hook for at least 10 minutes or until the dough separates from the bowl and a ball starts to form.
  3. Place a dishtowel over the bowl and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and place onto a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes by hand and then place on a sprayed baking pan for cooking.
  5. Once toppings are added, bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees or until the crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted.
  6. Serve warm & enjoy!

These bars are perfect for the on-the-go, 9-5 ers or even that little something to curb late-night cravings. This recipe is a base line for any granola bar: add other dried fruits, nuts, or a sprinkle of flakey sea salt to make them your own!

Here’s what I did for mine:

Oat flour- this can easily be made in a Magic Bullet, Nutribullet, blender or food processor. Place 1/2 cup of oats in your chosen machine, pulse for 1-2 minutes or until a sand-like consistency has formed/ oat pieces are ground and voila!

Ingredients-

2 Tablespoons ground flax seed

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

7 Tablespoons warm water

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup (honey, agave or brown rice syrup also work)

1/2 cup nut butter (I like sunflower, almond, cashew or peanut best)

2 scoops collagen peptides (my favorite brand is Further Food)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup oat flour

1 1/2 cups oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt (who really measures this, it’s one large pinch)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (sub: raisins, or dried and chopped apricots/figs)

1/4-1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (I use a 75-85% dark cocoa bar cut into small pieces)

Directions-

  1. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ground flaxseed, chia seeds and warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the water has been absorbed into the seeds (this will resemble an egg-like consistency).
  3. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, nut butter, collagen & vanilla, stirring until combined.
  4. After that is mixed, add in the oat flour, oats, coconut, cinnamon, cranberries and dark chocolate chunks (here’s where you can get creative: add in your favorites like raisins, cashews, pumpkin seeds or pistachios).
  5. Mix this together until the dry ingredients are coated thouroughly. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking pan and freeze for 45 minutes-1 hour before cutting into rectangles.
  6. Once cut, individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or place into plastic bags.

These bars are best enjoyed cold, keep them in your freezer or refrigerator until you are ready to eat.

Store for up to 1 month (in freezer), 2-3 weeks (in fridge).