Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finally inspiration comes through Hummus !

Sometimes it just takes a few days of mulling it over and hard work in the orchard to come up with what I would like to blog about next.  This past week because of a lot of hard physical work and exhaustion, I was simply not inspired.  The farm always seems to be in  need and sucking the life out of us, lately because of fencing and sheep.  Sheep lambing and escaping through fences !  It was time to just start over and goat wire the entire property and cross fencing.  Sheep are a bit dense but after two years had discovered that they could follow their large guard dog masters, of which we have four, right under the fence line and escape !  After a few of these attempt and sheep on the road in front of our property or down the road, quietly through four neighbor's properties, they have been on lock down as we have proceeded to fence.  Anyway, back to food and inspiration to eating better and choosing healthier options !

Hummus is something I have been making for a few years.  My grown daughters have recently become enamored with it also, but for the most part, they are buying instead of making and their brand of choice, for busy Mom's, working gals and chiropractic students is Grandma's Hummus.  I think I have that correct, but I do know it could be purchased at Whole Foods and maybe other places.  I like it, but seriously think it comes in second place to my Hummus recipe that I would like to share with you.  If you don't have a clue as to what hummus is, it is simply garbanzo bean dip !  I am sure it has some sort of cool Mediterranean story.  The other thing about hummus is that it usually is made into what I consider an unhealthy food because it is made with canola and or soy oils that are more than not genetically modified.  So if you have a blender or food processor, simply gather up the ingredients and make your own for pennies and know what is in it so it is healthy ! 

Back to the 20 food ideas, one a week that we can substitute for a healthier option.  Hummus wins hands down ! This is a great snack for kids and a super way to get them to dip fresh veggies and eat those too :)   Find you some organic garbanzo beans.  I know HEB has the Central Market organic brand and then grab you a jar of organic tahini.  I know, this might be a bit more difficult to find but well worth it and it will last you many batches as you just use 1/3 cup or less per recipe.  Store in your refrigerator afterwards like a good natural peanut butter.  Tahini is ground sesame seeds and lots of it is grown and processed in India and if not organic can be full of pesticides and chemicals so go for the organic.  If you live somewhere that has limited organic products, do go online and find a place to order from.  One I know about is but compare pricing and shipping.

I love to sample hummus at the farmer's market with Bok Choy sticks and tell people about the amazing amount of calcium in raw Bok Choy.  Many people have never eaten the Chinese Cabbage, and for the most part always say they like it better than celery since it is not stringy but has a nice crisp wateriness to it.  I grow Bok Choy but many people tell me they don't know how to cook it or use it, so this is my introduction.  It is also wonderful in a stir fry or Thai curry.  Chop up the white stems to stir fry first and then add the torn up green leaves at the end of cooking, or throw them in a soup at the end.  Curry is on my menu tonight with Bok Choy leaves and stems.  Sure wish I had a sweet potato too but will substitute a carrot or something :) Here is your recipe, so make some Hummus, dip your Bok Choy and start eating some great real food.  There are times when I just throw it all in the food processor and don't bother with mincing and mashing the parsley and salt.  A garlic press is a very nice tool to own :)  The toasted pine nuts with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley are a nice touch but not necessary either if you want to simplify.

A local Bastrop restaurant called Cedar's Grill has a wonderful appetizer plate with hummus, feta cheese, sliced tomatoes, black olives, and baba ganoush (roasted eggplant dip).  Create your own for dinner and dip with pita wedges, veggies sticks or crackers. 

Hummus:  Chick Pea dip w/parsley and Pine nuts

Yield 2 cups  rated easy, from Gourmet Mag. Via foodnetwork

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp salt

1 (16 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, save liquid

1/3 cup well stirred tahini

2 T fresh lemon juice or tt

¼ cup olive oil  and another ¼ cup

½ c of the saved liquid if needed

2 T fresh parsley

1 T pine nuts, toasted lightly


On a cutting board mince and mash garlic with the salt to a paste , then add to can of chick peas in a food processor and also add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and some of the liquid if needed to make a smooth paste, scraping down sides and add salt to taste.  Add more liquid to thin out to desired consistency and then transfer to a bowl.  Clean out or wipe out processor and add ¼ cup more oil and parsley and process until bright green and parsley is minced.  This is to drizzle on top of the hummus and then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Salad Dressings for our Greens !

I started last week blogging about blending veggies and fruit to make green smoothies.

I wanted to give people ideas of how to get more raw food into their diets daily and a simple process to making one change each week.  I saw this posted on Facebook and thought what a great tool to use.

Real Food in 20 weeks (

1. Pick one processed food you/your kids eat
2. Pick something REAL to replace it
3. Repeat for 20 weeks. Keep a list
4. Look back and be proud

I am picking salad dressings today for this week !

I  have a passion for organic unprocessed food but often get questions about how to prepare or cook veggies.  Many people just don't know what to do with fresh produce, especially leafy greens and a salad many times is just romaine or iceberg lettuce with some grated carrot or a tomato sliced.  People know salads are a better choice or a "healthy" choice but often it is what we put on them that makes them a not so "healthy choice".  So besides trying to encourage a wider variety of leafy greens, grated or sliced veggies and fruit that are organic, lets talk about dressings.

All you have to do is pick up a bottle of store bought salad dressing and read the label.  If there are words you cannot even pronounce, then don't buy that or eat it !  Now check the sugar content and I hope if you are reading this and looking for ideas on how to make some healthier choices, that by now you know that high fructose corn syrup is not  good for anyone besides other forms of hidden sugars.  Then look at what kind of oil is on the label.  Unfortunately canola oil has been marketed to be a healthy option but if you do some research you will find it is made from the rape seed which is genetically modified and there is a lot of processing to get it to a form fit for a human to ingest.  A natural oil that is good for you ?  Not hardly.  Highly processed with a marketing spin to make people believe this is a healthy option.  So besides chemicals, preservatives, sugar and bad fats in purchased dressings, what are the options?  Even some of the refrigerated fresh dressings are not a healthy choice due to soybean oil.   

Why don't we just make a simple dressing at home in a couple of minutes so we know exactly what we are eating on our salad?  I have four options for you. A Simple Balsamic Vinegar dressing, homemade ranch dressing, honey mustard dressing, and Divine Blue Cheese dressing with no mayo.  So whatever your preference, these are a quick solution to a delicious and healthy way to dress a salad.  I will address healthy oils and fats in an upcoming blog but right now lets just use the best quality extra virgin cold pressed olive oil that you can find and a good quality balsamic vinegar.  If you splurge a bit here and get one that is aged, it is very much worth the improvement in taste :) 

Simple Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

2 cloves garlic pressed for finely chopped
2 tsp organic sugar or honey
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked if possible
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
4 Tbsp Olive oil

Makes 1/3 cup

add sugar or honey to the garlic and press it with a fork to make a paste
I like to do this in a small jar with a lid that you can shake
Add the salt and pepper and olive oil to the jar and shake it up to emulsify

For a variation, add some Dijon mustard or coarse grain mustard.

Honey Mustard Dressing -  Alton Brown

5 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

combine ingredients and whisk to blend.  Wonderful on Spinach salad.  Topping ideas - sliced mushrooms, sliced boiled eggs, bacon or turkey bacon crumbled, sliced sweet red or yellow bell peppers, avocado slices.  This is a delicious salad and simple dressing :)

Blue Cheese Dressing with no mayo

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

combine all ingredients except blue cheese in a blender until smooth.  Add blue cheese and pulse once or twice to mix but you want it to still be chunky.  Refrigerate to chill.

If you are a ranch dressing fan and just cannot do without it, then check out the Pioneer Woman's Recipe for Ranch.

The only issue I have with it is using store bought mayonnaise, so learn to make your own !  It isn't hard and I like to use grape seed oil to make mayo.  Ok, another blog post, another time, but you can do it !  Just eat real food and know what you are eating :) 




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Simply real blended food, Day 1

The Farmer in Dale loves to tell people about real organic food.  How it is raised, grown, processed and consumed.  It seems like lately, I have had many people tell me that they just don't know how to eat healthy.  They don't know how to "cook" or prepare many of the veggies I grow.  Could I help them simply to make some changes to a more healthy diet?  How do they start?

I recently posted this on my fb The Farmer in Dale page and I thought it was such and easy way to make some changes toward better eating. 

Real Food in 20 weeks  (

1. Pick one processed food you/your kids eat
2. Pick something REAL to replace it
3. Repeat for 20 weeks.  Keep a list
4. Look back and be proud

My exercise class is one group that has asked for some help to learn to "cook" and incorporate more healthy foods into their diets.  I decided to start with a Blended "green" smoothie drink.  People often tell me at the farmer's market that they don't eat leafy greens, or don't know how to prepare them.  Getting raw fruit and veggies into a blended drink could not be an easier way to consume greens. 
You don't need to own a fancy juicer or blender like a VitaMix, although those are nice.  Just a regular blender will do if you don't over pack it and use enough liquid to help it incorporate all those veggies into a palatable drink.

Here is what you need:  Organic if at all possible,  1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 apple cut into a few pieces.  Smaller pieces if you have a regular blender but just put into the blender and add some water or coconut water or even juice.  Blend to a liquid stage and then add 1 raw beet quartered, the tops of the beet if they are there, and a handful of greens like kale, swiss chard or spinach.

This is your basic Green Smoothie, although it might actually be Red if you use the beet :) 
There are many variations to this.  My daughter loves to add a banana.  I love to add half a cucumber with the skin on and a handful of parsley or cilantro.  The combinations are endless, but the sweetness of the apple, beet, and/or banana will be enough to entice any kid or adult to drink their veggies and get a lot of raw enzymes and nutrients in a glass.  When would you ever sit down and eat 1 carrot, 1 celery, 1 apple, 1 beet, and a handful of greens for a meal ?  Probably never, but what a great way to start or end your day.  :)  Many people take this with them to work in a glass jar for lunch.

You can wash your greens, tear off the tought middle stem and tear the greens into pieces and put them in a ziploc bag to freeze.  You can also peel a ripe banana and break it into three or four pieces and freeze that for a smoothie.  I buy organic strawberries or blueberries when I can get them and wash them, lay them out to dry on a towel and then freeze them for smoothies.  I also like to pour my blended drinks over ice, especially if I didn't use any frozen fruit or veggies and then squeeze fresh lime juice on top. 

My passion if real organic food.  Life giving, nourishing food.  I am a Weston A Price fan, a Nourishing Traditions cookbook owner, a maker of fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.  I am also a farmer.  I raise pastured Dorper sheep, cattle and chickens for meat and eggs.  I grown veggies and fruit and love seeing a sustainable farm grow and nourish people. 

I would like to give 19 more ways in the next 19 weeks to help people transition to real organic foods.  Simple cooking tips and methods that will be easy to incorporate into your life and make a difference in your health and the health of your family and those around you.  Get started blending !

Sonii, The Farmer in Dale