Sweet Kale and Onion Salad

1 bunch organic kale

2 small organic onions

1 32-ounce container of organic Vegetable Broth (I used Pacific)

1/4 cup Maple Syrup (Plus more if you like it really sweet like I do)

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)

Looking around the garden today, I noticed how much kale we STILL have to use and also all of our onions that have been coming in. I’ve been hesitant to pick them because they seem so much smaller than the ones you see at the grocery store, but they were ready to use and ever so tasty! I love to keep my recipes simple and easy but still super yummy so I thought I would stay true to the tasty organic vegetables I decided to work with. I only added a couple more ingredients. Since I’ve had a bit of a sweet tooth lately, I thought I would add some natural sugar to make this salad a little sweet but still packed with antioxidants! 

First, gather your veggies and cut them up! Just pull off the kale leaves the way we did in our kale chip recipe (see below).

Next, boil the vegetable broth - with a little bit of olive oil if you desire.

Add the vegetables to the broth and boil them on high for fifteen minutes. Add maple syrup and boil for another five minutes. Remove from heat (and add a little bit more maple syrup if you wish, but it should be sweet enough!)

Try some hot or put it in the fridge to serve a little chilled the next day! It can taste like a warm pseudo soup or a marinated salad! Enjoy!

Tomato Salad

2 cups organic cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 large organic cucumber, sliced and cut in half

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste 


Our garden has been growing like crazy! There have been so many new plants coming in! I picked our first cucumbers from our cucumber plant, which has been spreading in surface area for the past week, overflowing from the raised beds. The two I picked were huge! Our cherry tomatoes keep turning red, begging to be picked. So the normal conclusion? Tomato Salad, of course! If you grow cucumbers and tomatoes, this is a simple and easy way to enjoy fresh organic produce from your garden!

First, wash off your produce and set them aside. As you do so, make sure to admire the bright colors!

Grab your other, non-garden ingredients and set them aside for easy access.

Cut up your veggies, toss them in a bowl, add some salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar (or balsamic or apple cider if you’re feeling especially healthy!) and toss it all together and… 

Voilá !

Enjoy your yummy summer salad with some friends! 

Kale Chips

1 Bunch Kale (15-20 leaves)

2 TBSP Olive Oil

Sea Salt to taste

Our Kale is finally ready for harvest! Hillary and I are so excited to see all the GREEN filling up our beds lately. Our leafy kale is especially green next to my teal sweatshirt and green nail polish!

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I thought making kale chips this week would be super yummy! They’re so simple and delicious to the last crunch.

After picking off a good size bundle of kale (15-20 leaves), bring them back to the kitchen and start rinsing them off! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Begin pulling the leaves off the stems!

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Lay the leaves on a cookie sheet, spread out nice and even.

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Drizzle around 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the kale. Make sure you get every leaf!

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Grind up some Sea Salt all over, depending how salty you want them.

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Place them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until they are crispy.

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Take them out and enjoy a healthy alternative to chips! 

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Hopefully we will be experimenting more will Kale next week too! Enjoy and look out for other ways you can use your kale from the garden!

"Organic," "Locally Grown" & "Plant-Based Diet"

In a world where there is constant information being thrown at you, hundreds of different magazines educating men and women on health science and restaurants, advertisements and labels being thrown around, deciding what to put in your body can be overwhelmingly confusing. 

First of all, we do live in a busy time where fast and cheap food usually isn’t associated with the best nutrition. Even when consciously deciding to eat healthfully, it can be hard to know what exactly you should be eating. Labels like “Organic” or “Locally Grown” or “Non GMO” can be confusing when you aren’t sure exactly what they mean. You trust advertisements to reassure you that what you are putting in your body is going to nourish you, but in order to really make the best decision, we have to look at these labels more closely and figure out why eating a “organic, locally grown plant-based diet” is actually one of the greatest gifts you can give your body.

While Hillary is the biology major (all scientific experiment questions go to her), we are both very interested in nutrition and enjoy eating A LOT of vegetables. I am a vegetarian while Hilary likes occasional chicken and fish. I go in and out of veganism but the bottom line is: WE BOTH CAN’T GET ENOUGH PLANTS IN OUR DIET!

One of my favorite parts of working in the garden is being able to see my food from the very beginning. Ever wonder where that banana you’re eating is coming from? Where it was grown? Who touched it? How did it make it into your kitchen?

Hillary and I talk about that all the time! So we absolutely loved being able to see organic farming from preparing the soil through harvest. We know the exact compost and organic fertilizer that nourishes our soil. We plant the seeds right on our campus. We watch our plants grow without conventional pesticides. Then, we pluck our produce right from our beds and eat it, fresh, on the spot.

It’s magical to me!

"Organic" essentially refers to the way plants are grown and processed. Organic farming is separated from conventional farming in the way that organic farming does not use synthetic pesticides and does not genetically modify the plants’ DNA. Organic fertilizers have ingredients like chicken feathers, which take longer to break down than synthetic fertilizers, and are less concentrated so they benefit the plant over time as the bacteria in the soil break them down. Rather than spraying plants with chemicals like synthetic pesticides, organic pesticides can even be made at home using organic material such as garlic!

Organic farming opens a whole new world of possibilities for creativity. From compost to fertilizer to pesticides to disease control, farmers are always looking for new ways to produce the best plants using organic matter that is most healthy for the plant. I like to think of organic gardeners as plant doctors or plant nutritionists. 

Not only is farming “organically” good for the plants’ health, but it is better for the environment and, most importantly, you! Organically grown food is in it’s most natural state, locking in the most nutrients without chemicals and they even taste significantly better (the biggest difference I have tasted so far are organic strawberries in comparison to conventional strawberries - the former are so much juicer and more delicious!). 

Before you bite into your next piece of produce, ask yourself where it came from and what it had been through in order to get into your hands!

That brings us to our next label: “locally grown.” Locally grown foods are foods that have been planted, grown and harvested near the area it is being sold. In some cases, like ours, produce can be grown right on your campus. Locally grown food can also be grown a few towns over or even just over a state line. The idea behind locally grown food is that you know exactly where your food is coming from but also self-sustainability and local economies flourish. By buying locally, you are enhancing the production, distribution and consumption of a food economy in a smaller community rather than on a larger scale, where you are not sure exactly where food is coming and going from.

Locally grown foods are usually more fresh and organically grown. Locally grown foods are not always organic, but check out local farmer’s markets near you and find out where your food is coming from in your community!

Lastly, a “plant-based diet” refers to the majority of foods one eats. A diet more concentrated on fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes is plant-based (vegetarianism, veganism or even a little bit of animal protein) while a animal-based diet includes many foods that come from animal fats and protein. 

Plant-based diets usually have more fiber, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants than animal-based diets. While some may think plant-based eaters do not get enough protein, there are plenty of plant-based proteins that replace animal protein - such as quinoa, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Even fruits and vegetables have more protein that many people think, such as broccoli, avocado and spinach (which also replaces iron!). Plant-based diets also tend to be somewhat lower in caloric intake and saturated fats. 

Diets that are plant-based are overall better for your health because they replace fatty foods and junk food with fresh fruits and vegetables that offer the best nutrients for a well-functioning body. They tend to give you more energy and many are cancer-fighting, immune-boosting, antioxidant producing and heart disease reversing! Even if you don’t become a vegetarian or vegan, incorporating more fresh produce in your diet can do wonders for your energy level, blood pressure and overall health. You will FEEL the difference!

Hopefully, this post helped you get a better idea of what it means to eat organically, locally and plant-based and how eating this way (in our garden) is really the best way to be eating! Try the recipes we made think more about what you put in your body! 

Hillary and I love learning to be more self-sustaining and reaping the health benefits of our beautiful campus garden!

Herb-Infused Olive Oil

Since many of our plants are still little seedlings or still growing, Hillary and I wanted to make something using herbs. Since we were making a poster for the Freshman Orientation Fair at our school, we thought it would be cool to have a “Name That Herb” Station next to our poster, where we would offer olive oil infused with herbs fresh from our garden to be served with bread. 

The recipe is so simple!

2 tbsp fresh herb of your choice

1/2 cup olive oil

Once you chop up your herbs and add them to the oil, let them sit for at least a few hours. We let ours sit overnight in air tight containers!

We used:

Thyme

Rosemary

Chives

Chives seemed to be least popular while the Rosemary seemed to be most tasty and Thyme somewhere in the middle. We kept it simple in this recipe for practicality, but if you can use parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and even some garlic! It’s so easy to make herb-infused olive oil that you can use for bread dipping, salad topping or even to coat bread before you toast it in the oven! 

Experiment a little on your own and see which you like best!

Vegan Swiss Chard Dip with Garlic Scapes

Makes 24 oz worth of dip

¾ raw cashews, not soaked

¾ cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 chopped organic garlic scapes

2 cups organic swiss chard

sea salt & ground black pepper

When harvesting the swiss chard, cut at the bottom of the stem. When harvesting garlic scapes, snip from bottom of the stem.

 

Rinse the swiss chard under water.

Begin boiling water in a large saucepan (add enough water to cover the chard fully). Once boiling, put the swiss chard in stem first. Reduce to simmer. Simmer the stems for two minutes. Put entire leaf in the water and boil for two more minutes.

Remove from heat. Squeeze out excess water gently and set aside.

 

Use a food processor or blender to blend the cashews, milk, lemon juice, garlic scapes, salt and pepper together until smooth.

 

Add swiss chard and pulse once or twice, to keep the dip at a chunky consistency.

 

Serve with fresh, whole grain bread!

Chamomile Iced Tea

Makes 1 Gallon

½ cup organic, locally grown chamomile

6 quarts of boiling water

Use locally grown honey to sweeten*

Harvest chamomile and let dry for 48 hours (or until chamomile is dry to the touch and petals are falling off)

           

            To Harvest:

Pick chamomile 2-3 inches below the flower

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Bundle the flowers so each bundle is about an inch around. We made nine bundles. That will be more than enough! (You can probably get away with 3 bundles for this recipe)

Hang the bundles upside down in a dark, warm and dry area. We used the shed in the garden.

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We dried the chamomile for 2 days.

Pick the flower heads off the stems and measure out ½ cup worth of chamomile.

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Boil 6 quarts of water.

Once boiling, pour ½ cup chamomile in the boiling water and let it boil for about a minute.

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Remove the water from heat and let the chamomile steep for a few more minutes. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the flavor!

When you’re ready to strain your tea, use a large sieve or tea strainer and pour the tea through the strainer into a gallon pitcher.

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*If you wish the tea to be sweetened, it would be a good idea to add a couple tablespoons of honey while the tea is still warm!

Put the tea in the refrigerator and wait until it is cooled to serve.

Serve with ice cubes and cut up lemon!

 

            Hillary and I brought this to our first Lunch in the Garden party at our garden on campus and it was a hit! This caffeine-free tea is great for a relaxing time as we admired the plants we planted this past week!