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April 21, 2017
Your Magic Kitchen: Part 1
By Charis Lindrooth
photo credit Caroline Attwood,
Way back when I was a real CSA member and not a Farmer's wife I received a partial share. Each week I eyed up that box with the goal of finishing it before the next one arrived. This was no easy task for a busy single mom who was working full-time. My then two-year-old was little help polishing off this box. However I wanted to eat more vegetables on a daily basis and this was one of the most simple and inspiring ways to eat more healthfully. Challenging myself to finish my box by the week's end became most of the most satisfying health journeys I have ever faced.
This post is the first in my series highlighting tips to make it easier for you and your family to eat more vegetables. For me one of the biggest obstacles to eating more veggies is the the amount of time it takes to prep vegetables. It's so much easier to slab to throw a slab of meat into a pan and throw a few potatoes in with it and call it a meal.
The first step to eating more vegetables is to take some time to do some vegetable prep before your busy week begins. Wouldn't you be more likely to cook at home and use more vegetables in your meals if your refrigerator was full of perfectly wash chopped and stored veggies just waiting for use. True you still have to do the washing, chopping and storing in advance, unless you're lucky enough to have a sous chef, but this can be done efficiently and even be fun if you involve your kids. My daughter has her own special chopping knife that is kid-safe and yet effective enough she feels involved. I find that her participation inspires her to eat more of these vegetables either while she's chopping them or later when they land on the plate.
So let’s get started. Ideally, you have done some menu planning before your CSA box arrives, but if you are like me, you probably haven’t. That means the box dictates your meals, or to put it more poetically provides inspiration. On CSA day, when you come home with your bag of goodies, stop before you shove the entire bag in the fridge and sit down with a glass of wine. Instead, follow these steps to ensure that you will be using this fresh bounty to the best of your ability.
- Assemble your tools: Clear off a bit of counter space, center a cutting board and line up a series of glass or plastic containers of various shapes and sizes. Have one large chopping knife, and 1 small paring knife and maybe a pair of scissors handy. A roll of paper towels, ziplock bags and a salad spinner are also helpful.
- Assess your CSA box and determine which items might be used for healthy snacking, which might be used for soup, salad or stir fry, and which might be used for smoothies or juicing. If you are already stuck for ideas, fear not, I will be addressing these choices in later posts.
- Chop items for snacking into bite-sized pieces. I like to place mine in a glass container so they are visible and enticing to refrigerator perusers.
- Chop soup, stir fry or steamable items and store in glass or plastic containers with lids or ziplock bags. Some items, such as broccoli and carrots can be tossed into the freezer for future soup. Diced onions and crushed garlic can be stored tossed with a little lemon juice, salt and olive oil and stored in fridge or freezer.
- Wash lettuce or salad mix, spin in salad spinner, and place in plastic container lined with a paper towel. You will be amazed how fresh it will keep. Be aware however that salad mix is more perishable than stiff head lettuce like romaine. Always use salad mix first. In fact I almost always use the salad mix on CSA night. It is only one day old and so packed with so much flavor it needs little else to make it tasty. In the spring I slice a little radish, add grapefruit sections and a bit of avocado for a refreshing side dish.
- Wash and trim smoothie and juicing items and store in ziplock bags lined with paper towels, or take it a step further and can the blender/juicer out, process and freeze in single serving containers.
Yes, this takes time, but it might be only 15 minutes now and the rest of your week is streamlined. And yes, produce that has been chopped does lose some nutritional value, but not as much as produce that you never eat.
We'd love to hear your veggie prep tricks! Comment here or email them to us for a future post!
Know someone who could eat more veggies? Please share this post and tell them about our CSA!
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