Hello world! Time for me to tell you what my second favorite thing about New Orleans is (the first is that anything and everything is worth celebrating). First runner up is year-round fresh, local produce. I mean, this city is a future dietitians dream. In addition to the plethora of restaurants whose menus change daily depending on whats available, there are multiple farmers markets and local grocery stores that offer people a chance to use local ingredients to create nutritious, colorful, seasonal, decadent meals at home. Farmers markets are a great way to get organic, nutrient-dense foods without breaking the bank.
Starting yesterday, hundreds of people committed to New Orleans’ 4th annual eat local challenge. It is a 30 day challenge to only eat foods that have been grown, caught, or raised within 200 miles of New Orleans. You can read more about it here: http://www.nolalocavore.org/eat-local-challenge-2013/rules-of-challenge/
I am not fully committed to the challenge, for obvious reasons, if you’ve been following this “blog”, but I am going to use it as inspiration to start using more local ingredients in my meals. Two weeks out of the month I usually purchase “the box” at Hollygrove Market and Farm – the best market around in my opinion. Unfortunately some weeks I would find myself wasting entire heads of cauliflower, bunches of mustard greens, herbs, etc. To be honest it is usually due to my lack of motivation to research new recipes and ways to cook these items. A girl gets tired of eating roasted veggies, no matter how much she loves them. Just as I like to tell people during my nutrition education sessions, big change happens by taking little steps at a time. I am going to use the Eat Local Challenge as motivation to take baby steps and slowly broaden my cooking skills. Of course, all of you are welcome to come along for the ride and see what wonderful (and maybe not so wonderful) things I will come up with!
Yesterday – 6/1/14
I technically did not even decide to take some part in this challenge until I realized how many local ingredients I had used earlier this day! I had incorporated slicing celery from Hollygrove Market into the juice I made (along with apples, grapefruit, and carrots). For a mid-day snack I added locally grown blueberries to my yogurt, I also threw 2 tbsp of milled flax seed in to add fiber and omega-3’s. Around 2 pm, in an effort to further procrastinate studying, I decided to start making dinner. I used Tastespotting (my FAVORITE foodie website) to search for recipes with broccoli and I found myself drooling over a broccoli and cheese soup recipe. This is rare. I live in New Orleans. It was 90 degrees and probably above 90% humidity but it had been a dreary weekend so I was in the mood. This is how I fell into making my own vegetable stock from scratch.
Local Ingredients: 1 onion, slicing celery, parsley
Other Ingredients: 5 Carrots, 3 cloves garlic, 4 stalks celery, salt and pepper
Stocks are soooo easy – who knew! The idea always just seemed so intimidating to me. Basically you just roughly chop and throw everything in a pot with enough water to cover the veggies, bring the water to a simmer and allow the vegetable goodness to infuse the water for about 1.5 hours.
Broccoli Soup Recipe
1.5 L homemade stock (I used a little less, about 4 cups)
Local Ingredients: 2 large red potatoes, 1/2 onion, 1 head broccoli cut into florets
Other Ingredients: 1 cup cheddar cheese
In a stock pan, fry the sliced onion in a small amount of oil until translucent. Add the peeled, cubed potatos and allow to cook until the potatos begin to soften. Next add your stock and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli florets and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the broccoli begins to cook. Add the cheese and stir. You can use an immersion or standing blender to blend the soup to the desired consistency.
Today – 6/2/14
Fusilli with Seasonal Vegetables and Red Sauce
Local Ingredients: 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 baby zephyr squash (a new food for me to try, yay!), 1 cup creole tomato sauce, fresh parsley
Other Ingredients: 2 cups dry fusilli, 3 cloves garlic
For the sauce: Slice zucchini and squash and sauté on medium heat until cooked. Add minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Turn down the heat to medium low and add pasta sauce to the veggies. I threw the parsley in just a few seconds before I added the pasta to the pot – not sure what the protocol on adding herbs to sauce is, I am open to feedback!
For the pasta: Bring stock pot of water to a boil, add salt, and noodles. (Hint- you should always add the salt after your water is boiling because salt raises the boiling point) Cook according to package directions – mine was al dente in 9 minutes. Drain noodles and add to sauce mixture. Adding the pasta to the sauce instead of visa versa is a trick my Dad taught me, it really is better that way! Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy!