Kermit Was Wrong…It’s Really Easy Being Green These Days!

Recycle-288x300You’ve hopefully read some of our updates on the green business practices of our co-op, and how we’re saving money on energy costs and being thrifty, while also keeping our world safe and clean. Here are some things you can do around home to achieve the same goals.

  1. Catch rain water – for your garden, for your indoor plants. The City of Harrisonburg offers workshops on building your own rain barrels, or you can buy them ready-made at lots of places around the county. Anything free is profit, right?
  2. Compost – Harrisonburg Farmers Market program now allows you to bring your kitchen scraps, veg/fruit skins, peels, cores, seeds; meat scraps – bones, trimmings, grease; and even brown paper towels and parchment paper to turn into valuable compost. OR, do it yourself in a small corner of your yard.
  3. Eat Local – yes shop at Friendly City Food Co-op and look for LOCAL tags in every department and every aisle, but also at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market or your town’s farmers market – they’re all over the place now – Waynesboro, Verona, and Broadway to name a few. OR maybe grow your own – we have seed packs from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a Virginia workers collective in Louisa County, that grow very well in our area.
  4. Recycle – out in the county, we have transfer stations that take all types of plastic, as well as glass, aluminum or tin cans, cardboard, chip board (cereal boxes,) magazines, phone books (why do we still get phone books?) and even shoes and used motor oil. Here in the city, the dump takes most of that, or you can let the city pick up everything in the single stream curb pickup, which was created to increase the percentage of folks recycling here in the city. I’ll let you city dwellers decide what you think of the program and give your feedback to the city officials.
  5. Turn off lights when you leave a room, and unplug appliances (TVs, computers, etc.) when you leave town for vacations. Sign up with your power company for Smart Cooling programs or other such programs which works during periods of high electrical use between June 1 and September 30, your power provider (HEC, Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-op, or Dominion) may cycle your home’s cooling system on and off at defined intervals. Your fan will stay on, circulating already cooled air. This saves you money, and keeps your house comfy.
  6. Wear sweaters, snuggle up with your loved ones, throw on an extra quilt, turn down the heat in winter. Open windows, install ceiling fans to keep some air moving or turn up the AC temp in summer.
  7. Insulate your home. Get a free energy audit from your electric provider to see where your home is “leaking” energy, and increase the thermal layers above and below your living space.
  8. Buy in bulk. It costs less because you’re not paying for branding and packaging. Plus you get as much or as little as you need. No wasted food. Less trash. Save money. Why not?
  9. Extra credit: Learn about your water shed! When rain water runs off of your roof, where does it go? What’s the name of the nearest creek or stream to your house? Follow that downstream on a map to see where your water winds up….
  10. Extra credit plus: Learn the names of all the trees in your yard. Most elementary school kids can name 50 corporate brands by just the logo, but not 10 trees. Can you do better than that?

Peace, love and granola y’all! See you at the co-op.

 

Granola Bars

GranolaBars.blogI personally love granola bars. They make for easy grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks. I recently decided to make my own homemade recipe with a few simple ingredients. These fresh bars are sweet, salty, and both perfectly crunchy and chewy. These little creations are affordable to make. The ingredients do the work in this recipe. All you need to do is mix, chill, and enjoy your tasty bars!

Fresh Medjool dates are the base of these bars and deserve all the yummy credit. Dates have numerous health benefits including a rich vitamin content including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, thiamin, and riboflavin. Dates are also high in fiber, making them a great fruit to be consumed for digestive relief. Spreading fresh date paste on bread or swirled into yogurt are great ways to make a sweet snack from the yummy fruit.

Dates blend down to a moist sticky base which binds the granola bars together well. I’m a big peanut butter lover, so I added extra peanut butter. I was also sure to use crunchy peanut butter for added chunkiness!

Ingredients

½ c. Rolled oats
½ c. Peanut Butter, salted
1 ½ c. Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp. Chia seeds
1tsp. Vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Optional: Chocolate chips

Soak dates in warm water for 10 minutes. Once softened, add the fruit to a food processor and grind down to a paste. The mix will form a moist ball when done. Transfer dates to a large bowl, and mix with peanut butter, vanilla, and chia seeds using a spoon. Next, add oats to the mixture, and stir until ingredients are well incorporated.

Transfer your granola mixture to parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cut into desired bar sizes or small balls. Chill in the refrigerator until the bars have set or approximately 30 minutes. And of course, last but not least – enjoy your tasty creation!
Good luck, and happy cooking!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

FullSizeRender-3-300x291A flavorful dip leaves a lasting impression on guests during a season of potlucks and social gatherings. Spinach artichoke dip is a yummy classic. Most people who dislike artichokes, do enjoy spinach artichoke dip for its flavor and creaminess.
The holiday season is notorious for fattening and high-calorie foods. Additionally, the snacky aspect of dips makes them easy to overeat. This recipe is low-fat and high-protein thanks to the substitution of Greek yogurt and white beans, while being just as delicious.

 

 

Ingredients (Makes 3 cups of dip)

  • 4 cups spinach
  • Approx. 4 cups artichoke hearts (2 cans of artichoke hearts), chopped if large
  • 4oz. low-free cream cheese, soft
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 medium jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 cup, plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup, Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. fresh basil

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan, and sauté onions and garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add artichokes, jalapenos, and ½ tsp. salt.
Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the artichokes are soft. Add spinach, and cook until wilted. In a food processor, blend white beans and cream cheese until smooth.
Remove from processor to a medium sized bowl. Add Greek yogurt, Parmesan, spices, and ½ tsp. salt to the bowl as well. Mix in the artichokes and spinach, and pour into a casserole dish. Cover with foil, and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Uncover and broil for another 5-8 minutes until golden.

I loved how this recipe turned out. It hits the spot just like your favorite restaurant dip, while replacing some of the high-fat ingredient. With healthy twists on classic favorites, indulging during the holidays may be good for your health.
Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

 

MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Turnip Puree

IMG_2990-300x300Is anyone else getting a little bored with roasted vegetables? It seems to me that every simple recipe for root vegetables calls for salt, pepper, and an oven preheated to 350.
Don’t get me wrong, I love quick fixes and simple seasonings… but my taste buds have been needing a change!
Well, my palate found exactly the change it was looking for, as well as the inspiration for this recipe, from Harrisonburg’s Bella Luna.
The local wood-fired pizzeria Bella Luna served a lovely specialty dish: cured pork belly, sautéed spinach, and pickled carrots over a turnip puree… a refined twist on classical fare bursting with contrasting flavors and textures! I was surprised at how perfectly the simple turnip puree complemented the heartiness of the salty pork.
Previously, I had only enjoyed turnips roasted and certainly never cooked with them; but after trying Bella Luna’s pork belly over the turnip puree, I had to give them a shot.
My creative little recipe for mashed turnips and parsnips is probably a bit different from what you may be used to. Turnips and parsnips are starchy vegetables; similar but less starchy than potatoes. They have about a third of the carbohydrate content of regular white potatoes, making them a candidate for a lighter substitute in a mashed potatoes recipe. The result is less fluffy, but certainly just as flavorful. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes often appear in cultural Irish and Scottish cuisine due to their compatibility with the climate of the country. Perhaps a root vegetable mash like this one will find its way to your table on St. Patrick’s Day; a good idea can never come too early!

Here’s my recipe – a delightful way to explore new cooking techniques and discover a fondness for turnips! During the winter months, turnips and parsnips are in-season. You will find them in the produce section.
IMG_3312-300x240

Ingredients

(yields 3-4 servings)
16oz., turnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium turnip roots)
8 oz., parsnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium parsnips)
2 tbsps., unsalted butter
½ tsp., fresh thyme
½ tsp., ground white pepper
¼ tsp., garlic powder
Salt and pepper added to taste

Directions

Peel and chop turnips and parsnips. Add to a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and cook for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain the vegetables, and transfer to a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency.
To make the recipe go a bit further, you could certainly add a few potatoes. I tried to keep this recipe minimal by avoiding too much unnecessary fat and preserving the natural flavor of the vegetables. Certainly these mashed turnips served with a hearty meat or substituted for mashed potatoes in a meal ensemble are perfection.
Good luck, and happy cooking!

 

MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Ginger- Garlic Kale with Mustard Roasted Potatoes

FullSizeRender-4-300x296Every time I walk inside the Food Co-Op, I peruse the colorful array of fruits and vegetables. I’ve been eyeing Lacinato or “dinosaur kale” for a while now and considering ways to cook with it. Read more