One Pot Eggplant and Rice

Since we get 90% of our groceries at the farmer’s market, we always eat what’s in season. I only rarely cook eggplant, but I was starting to get sick of summer squash, so I decided to check out some recipes to add it to our weekly menu.

Turns out, eggplant is AMAZING on the grill brushed with olive oil and garlic. So simple, yet so good. I’ve also used it in place of pasta for lasagna noodles. Thick slices make yummy mini pizzas, but perhaps one of the favorite ways I’ve discovered is this One Pot Greek Eggplant and Rice adapted from OMGFood.com.

It sounded like a great option for using not only eggplant, but also the leeks and cabbage we needed to cook up. Plus, who doesn’t love only one dish to clean?!

Jake and I both loved it! It’s hearty and filling, and will be especially perfect when the nights get cooler. We enjoyed a bowl each for dinner, along with lunch the next day, and even froze some for a quick weeknight dinner when we’re short on time.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
  • 1½ cups thinly sliced leeks (you could use chopped sweet onion instead)
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced
    2 vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    4-6 garlic cloves, minced
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper
    1 tbps dried Greek oregano
    1 cup long grain rice
    2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    1-2 tablespoons minced parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice the eggplant crosswise in ½ inch slices, then cut into 1 inch pieces.
3. Preheat oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat.
4. Add eggplant and stir to coat with the oil. The eggplant may soak all of the oil; this is okay. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and continue to saute until the eggplant has softened.
5. Add onions and saute for another five minutes.
6. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook for an additional minute. Season with the remaining salt, black pepper, and oregano.
7. Add rice and stir to combine.
8. Stir in chicken stock. Place in the oven, uncovered, and bake for thirty minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
9. Remove from oven and let cool. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Garnish with parsley and serve!
Vegan friendly: Use vegetable stock

Meat lovers: Try adding a fried egg or spicy Italian sausage

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to say no to pumpkin pie for breakfast if there’s one in the house. So instead, I make this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie to satisfy my sweet tooth and get my fall fix.

Enjoy this 5-minute smoothie in the morning for fiber to keep you full until lunch, or try it after a workout for a boost of potassium!

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Ingredients

  • 1 small banana (I keep some in the freezer for smoothies)
  • 1/2 c milk (preferably organic, not ultrapasteurized)
  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1/2 c pumpkin (Read here how to roast pumpkin)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 scoop plant-based protein powder (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg

Blend ingredients together and enjoy!

 

How to Roast Pumpkin

fall-ingredientsFall is my favorite time of year, and Colorado never disappoints. Cozy sweaters and crisp mornings. Gorgeous aspens dripping in gold. Gathering with friends around warm fires. Perfect climbing weather. And of course, amazing food.

Autumn has made it’s way to the farmer’s market, where we’re starting to see apples, pumpkins, and winter squash. So over the weekend I grabbed a couple sugar pumpkins and roasted them to use in everything from oatmeal and smoothies, to pies and breads, to stir fry and curries.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite fall dishes, but today I thought I’d start with the basics of how to roast a pumpkin. Sure, you can just buy it in a can, but nothing beats the fresh flavor and texture of making your own. It’s really not as difficult or time consuming as you’d think. Plus, you get to spend a morning or afternoon at the market and support local farmers.

img_2063 First, you have to start with the right kind of pumpkin. While the large jack-o-lantern style variety might look beautiful, it’s best reserved for decoration. Smaller pumpkins, called sugar or pie pumpkins, are the best variety for baking for both their flavor and ease of handling.

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, start by cutting a small slice off the top to remove the stem. Next, cut the pumpkin in half.

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Then use a spoon to scoop out the stringy pulp. I like to scoop it straight into a colander, so I can rinse and save the seeds for roasting as well. Yum!

img_2068Cut the pumpkin halves into wedges. Arrange the wedges skin side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the flesh with extra virgin olive oil and place in the oven. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until fork tender. After the pumpkin has cooled, remove the skin.

Using your pumpkin

Pumpkin is so versatile. It can be enjoyed sweet or savory. You can cube your roasted pumpkin to use on salads, in stir fries, and curries (Stay tuned for my Pumpkin Okra Curry recipe!). Or you can puree it to use in soup, pumpkin ravioli, pies, breads, smoothies, and more. It freezes well, so make a bunch all at once to have throughout the fall and winter.

Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin

A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which can help improve eyesight.

It is low in calories and rich in fiber, helping you to stay full and maintain a healthy weight.

The beta carotene that gives pumpkins their orange color (as well as carrots and sweet potatoes) is an antioxidant that is thought to prevent cancer, enhance sight, and protect skin from wrinkles.

They are also high in Vitamin C, which we all need as cold and flu season approaches.

So, ditch the PSL and get your pumpkin fix fresh for an abundance of benefits.

 

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/pumpkin-health-benefits_n_1936919.html

Are Healthy Harvest’s olives really that different?

garlic olive slider

It seems everyone loves olives these days. While people might have once only been familiar with canned black olives or the pimento stuffed versions in martinis, most local grocery stores now carry a wide variety of olives at “olive bars.”

So what makes Healthy Harvests olives different?

Karl, olives, greece
Karl

Unique Heirloom Variety

Both our green and black olives are Koutsouralia olives, an heirloom variety of Kalamata olive that account for less than four percent of olive trees in Greece. 

 

 

jake in olive orchard
Jake at the olive estate in Greece in 2015

Farm-to-table

They have been grown with care and picked by hand for four generations on a 160-year-old organic estate in Sparta, Greece. We have sourced directly from this family for nearly 10 years. No distributor, no middle men. Just one small family business supporting another. Also, we sell out of each year’s crop, so you receive only the most recent harvest.

lemon-treesSimple Ingredients

Our olives contain no additives or preservatives and have never been processed with lye. Our green olives contain only lemon juice, spring water, sea salt, wild savory, and organic garlic or wild Greek oregano. Our black olives are brined in organic red wine vinegar, spring water, and sea salt.

Both the lemon and red wine vinegar brines are made from organic fruit grown on the same estate, and the mineral-rich sea salt is hand harvested from the Mediterranean Sea.

healthy harvest olive oil coloradoNutrient Dense   

Not to mention, at 6% sea salt, they’re considerably lower sodium than store bought varieties. Cold brining in sea salt ferments the olives, meaning they require no refrigeration.

But perhaps the biggest difference is that because our olives are completely raw and unpasteurized, they still contain live active cultures from fermentation that help your body’s digestion.

Federal law requires that olives sold in stores must be pasteurized, or boiled at up to 280 degrees to kill dangerous bacteria. However, the heat also damages the healthy bacteria and most of the nutrients.

Since our olives are only available at farmer’s markets, we have the unique opportunity to offer them completely raw. In their original state, they are full of free radical fighting antioxidants, healthy fats that protect your brain and keep you full, and other vital nutrients like vitamin E, iron, copper and calcium.

healthy harvest golden olive oilLife-changing Flavor

 

Finally, our olives are recently harvested, hand-picked when perfectly ripe, raw and unpasteurized, low-sodium, and contain pits, which all add up to out-of-this-world flavor you would never find in stores. Our customers tell us on a weekly basis that our olives are the best they’ve ever tasted.

Try for yourself and share your thoughts in the comments below!

Mediterranean Diet reduces risk of Alzheimers

A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in July confirmed that following the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) slows cognitive decline and can lower the risk for Alzheimers.

The study was a systemic review of research over the past 15 years to understand how the MedDiet affects cognitive processes over time. They define the MedDiet as “abundant consumption of plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The MedDiet is also low in dairy, has minimal red meats, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.”

When looking at the risk factors for cognitive decline, they found that the risks are linked to other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, suggesting that lifestyle changes and interventions could lower these risks. Additionally, the study proposes that “age is associated with increased oxidative stress and free radical damage. Inflammation and oxidative stress may therefore be critical targets for the amelioration of declining health and brain function across the life span, which can potentially be addressed through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.”

Because of extra virgin olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant content, many studies have sought to confirm the link between consumption and risk reduction.

The study listed many other risk factors in the decline of cognitive processing speed, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases and ultimately found that many aspects of the MedDiet lower these risks.

“The MedDiet has been reported to be protective against diseases associated with chronic inflammation, cancer, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive disorders (57). A diet with the nutritional qualities of the MedDiet has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels, considered a risk factor for age-associated cognitive decline (58, 59). The MedDiet pattern is largely void of refined sugar, cholesterol, and trans fats, aspects of diet that are considered to be associated with poor cognitive outcomes in older age (60, 61); with saturated fats impacting negatively on learning and memory and the potential for increasing metabolic distress (62). ”

Lastly, the study described that changing diet not only slows degeneration into dementia and Alzheimers but actually improves the brain’s function.

So while we can’t avoid aging, we can give our body the best nutrients possible to keep it functioning at its highest potential. It’s time we take responsibility for our health! Eat well friends!

 

 

Spiced Peach Oatmeal

peach-oatmealSure, those little packages of oatmeal can seem super convenient for weekday breakfasts. But making your own homemade oatmeal from scratch is quick and easy. This healthy breakfast tastes like dessert and a hot meal is always a great start to the day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 ripe peach, diced (I don’t even bother peeling mine)
  • handful chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • pad of butter (preferably organic and grass-fed)
  • sprinkle of brown sugar

Combine oats, peach, nuts, chia, and cinnamon in small pot. Cover with water and cook over medium until desired consistency. Transfer to bowl and top with maple and brown sugar. Optional: Add a couple peach slices for garnish. Finish with a pad of butter for extra rich creaminess.

Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

Summer’s nearing it’s end, and while I gleefully look forward to the golden carpet of falling leaves, I won’t give up summer without squeezing in a few more peach recipes.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, I beg you, don’t miss peaches from Morton’s or Rancho Durazno (available at the Denver Union Station and Boulder Farmer’s Markets) before they’re gone. Or do, because you’ll never be able to eat a store bought peach ever again. Seriously, one bite of their dripping juicy gold will change your life.

Anyways, next time you’re at the market, grab some spinach and arugula, some peaches, and some Haystack chevre (soft goat cheese).

Ingredients

  • a few handfuls of spinach
  • a few handfuls of Arugula
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 large Peaches, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Honey (raw, unfiltered; best from a farmer you know)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Wash spinach and arugula thoroughly and combine in large bowl. Slice Peaches. Toss almonds, peaches, and goat cheese in with greens. Whisk olive oil with balsamic vinegar, honey and salt and pepper then drizzle over salad (you may have extra dressing leftover). Serve with warm bread.

Notes: Try grilling the peaches for an extra special touch. If you need more protein, grilled chicken, quinoa, or sliced prosciutto make great additions.

5 Minute Mediterranean Antioxidant Salad

IMG_1825I have a confession…despite my love of healthy, easy cooking, I’m really no good at writing recipes. In our house, we just throw together ingredients without much care for measuring cups and precise directions.

If we need some inspiration, we might look at a few different recipes and then wing it based on our preferences and what ingredients we have on hand.

I think one of the reasons people seem to be cooking less (other than perceived busyness) is the fear of perfection. What if I don’t have that exotic ingredient? What if I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly? We don’t have to be gourmet chefs here. Delicious, healing food is as simple as starting with really good ingredients.IMG_1822

So for this recipe, don’t take the amounts too seriously. Only you know what YOU like! Like more tomatoes? Awesome, go crazy! Hate chickpeas? Leave ’em out! (Although, you’re missing out 🙂 )

For me, sometimes I want a big salad of hearty greens. Other times, I want mostly “toppings.” That was the case for this Mediterranean Antioxidant Salad. In a bout of salad boredom, I was craving mostly good stuff with just enough kale to make it more hearty, filling, and of course, nutritious.

The ingredients are sturdy enough to last a couple days in the fridge so you can make it ahead and enjoy as lunch the next day. You can even dress ahead of time. It will soften the kale instead of making the whole thing soggy. The Lemon Garlic Brine adds a ton of flavor without a ton of sodium – plus, it’s full of digestive helping probiotics. And a drizzle of olive oil will keep you fuller longer.

So gather the ingredients and toss ’em all together until it looks like the ratios that make YOU hungry!

IMG_1802Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 white or red onion, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Green or black olives
  • 2 cups kale, washed and finely chopped
  • Lemon Garlic brine
  • Healthy Harvest olive oil
  • Feta

(Try adding avocado for a unique twist!)

Instructions

Combine veggies. Top with crumbled feta. Drizzle with Lemon Garlic Brine and Healthy Harvest Olive Oil. Salt and Pepper to taste.

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Post your comments and favorite throw together salads below!