Saturday, December 27, 2008

Love those podcasts: A new radio show - 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!

Here's your chance to tune in to a new radio show called "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life", on Saturday mornings for the live broadcast or whenever you wish by downloading the podcast! This new Chicago weekly show is hosted by Dave Grotto, RD, author of the book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.

No matter when you're reading this blog entry, you've missed both the debut and the second live show on Saturday morning, December 27, when Dave interviewed special guests Ginny Erwin, RD and Chicago's Chef "J" about eating and preparing fish that is both healthy and delicious. However you always will have three great ways to listen to Dave's guests, including hearing the recipes discussed:

• Hear it live at 8:30am CST on AM 1160, WYLL (Chicago)
• Hear it streaming live at 8:30am CST at WYLL
• Catch the podcast after the 'airing' date at Radio Show Website

I have known Dave Grotto for years. He is an experienced and popular Chicago-area radio host, Registered Dietitian (RD), author, and friend. In addition, he is one of just a handful of people I know who can always provoke a feel-good belly laugh from me, so expect a great entertaining radio show that will be packed with both helpful and healthful information about tasty food that is also good for you!

Check it out!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Trio of Hummus Recipes

Party time tomorrow night. I was wondering what I could bring to share with our neighborhood friends and realized I was still thinking about Beet Pesto, a delicious dish I had to eat last week at our Michigan Lady Food Bloggers cookie exchange. I have a recipe for Beetroot Hummus and beets still ready to use from our Thanksgiving CSA share from Tantre Farm. In addition, I have a recipe for Carrot Dip and carrots still ready to use from our CSA share. Light bulb moment! These recipes are easy, beautiful, and delicious. I'll make my typical hummus also for a real feast for the eyes and tummy. Thus a trio of hummus recipes it is.

The first two recipes both have a root vegetable base instead of garbanzo beans, a beautiful and healthful way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. The Beetroot Hummus and Carrot Dip recipes were graciously shared by Chef Sue Bender, owner of Rocksalt Restaurant in Orewa, New Zealand, where my husband and I had a lovely meal in 2003. We licked the platter clean when first served the beetroot hummus as an appetizer (called an entreé or starter in New Zealand). Our waitstaff was so surprised that she asked if we would like to sample another variety of hummus being made for tomorrow's menu and brought us the carrot dip. By the time she was back to ask how we liked that one, our dish was again licked clean! :-) Both the carrot dip and beetroot hummus recipes are very different, but both are simply delicious. They will look beautiful on a buffet table served with cut up vegetables, small whole wheat pita, or crackers. Enjoy, enjoy. I should have taken a photograph of my red finger from licking the food processor clean after making the beetroot hummus today! It is that good. :-)

Carrot Dip

2-1/2 # carrots, peeled and chopped in 1-2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. whole cumin
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
small amount of salt and pepper


Roast in oven at 350 degrees all above together until caramelized and soft.
Then puree in food processor or blender with the following:
2-3 Tbsp. fresh gingerroot, grated
1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup water (add slowly, adjusting to reach consistency desired)
Makes ~ 3 cups. Allow to set several hours for flavors to blend.

Beetroot Hummus

2 pounds beetroot - wash well, cut off tops and small root (I only had ~1/2# of beets so I scaled back this recipe proportionately)


Roast in oven at 350 degrees with 1 Tbsp. brown sugar until able to be pierced through with a fork. Cool.
Puree in blender or food processor with the following:
(you may wish to first slip the skins, but I didn't bother since the beets were well washed)

1-1/2 Tbsp. tahini
1 medium clove raw garlic
1-1/2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. water (adjust, adding more or less to reach desired consistency)
Makes ~ 2 cups

Lastly, I have included my trusty recipe for hummus that is on my website. It is one of the most frequently visited pages on my website, so I thought I should include it on my blog, too. Although making hummus at home is much cheaper than store-bought, hummus can be found in most grocery stores now in the deli section, which is an easy way to first try it. In addition, I often purchase it pre-made when traveling. There are many varieties. It is a very healthful alternative to most other spreads and dips. To make it at home, follow the basic recipe that follows and then make your own variations.

Hummus (Standard recipe)

2 - 15 oz. cans of drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best, but bottled will work okay)
2 - 3 cloves of fresh garlic
3 Tbsp. Tahini (ground sesame seeds - found in all health food stores or in the health food section of your grocery store)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
dash of salt

Put all ingredients in your food processor or blender. Process until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary.
Many variations can be made on the basic recipe. After the garbanzos are smooth, use a wooden spoon to mix in chopped chives, chopped sweet or roasted red peppers, or chopped spinach. Be creative. This recipe (using 2 - 15 oz. cans of hummus) make a lot. If this is your first time making it, try cutting the recipe in half.

I use hummus as a spread on all of my sandwiches, on bagels in place of cream cheese, on baked potatoes instead of butter or margarine, as a dip with vegetables, and even instead of mayo when making salmon salad. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes I even just eat it with a spoon (yes I do!). :-) It is not an exaggeration to say that I eat hummus almost everyday and never, never, never get tired of it.

I'll put these three different types of hummus on a large tray with a variety of dippers and some fresh herb sprigs for color. I don't expect much to be remaining after the party. And if there is, so much the better for me as I'll enjoy eating all of these varieties of hummus the coming week.

Healthy foods, good friends, life is good. (I love those t-shirts, hats, etc!) In fact I have a "life is good" t-shirt that shows a dog in snow with a frisbee. Well, I happen to have a photo taken today of exactly that! So please indulge me - here's Kaya saying "What lame leg? You're the one who is so slow. I'm sure I'm part Husky! I LOVE the snow, let's GO!" Yes, life is good, especially when your dog (in spite of her lame leg) is a poet!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cancer Survivors: Don't wait for "data mining" to find you!

An article was published this week on-line in the December 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology showing a diet high in vegetables, fruit, fiber and somewhat lower in fat cuts the risk of breast cancer recurrence approximately 31%, but only in a sub-group of women who were not experiencing hot flashes when they began the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Trial. In addition, further "mining or drilling down" into the results showed that the WHEL Study diet also helped reduce the recurrence risk 47% for those women who were already post-menopausal when entering the study.

These secondary results follow the main findings of the original study reported last year, the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Trial (WHEL), which compared the effects of the two diets on cancer recurrence in more than 3,000 early-stage breast cancer survivors. That study showed no overall difference in recurrence among the two diet groups. In spite of these negative and disappointing overall findings, I have already commented on the WHEL study several times in the past with the basic message of "don't stop trying to eat an ultra-healthy diet!":
What do the WHEL Study and the movie Sicko have in common?
The WHEL Study results - well................
Additional thoughts about the WHEL Study results
Walk-wok: Learn from those survivors who are N=1
Good questions that made me think!

If you are a cancer survivor, I still recommend across the board that you take your cancer diagnosis as a wake-up call, a "teachable moment", even a gift, to take the time necessary to evaluate what changes in your diet and life will help you first recover from your cancer therapies but then achieve optimal health and wellness, in other words, "be the best you can be for as long as possible". :-) Don't wait to see if a diet and lifestyle study will be done for your type of cancer or for any "data mining" to see if an already published study will demonstrate that your particular cancer sub-group will benefit from making healthful diet changes.

An editorial accompanying this article says that medical oncologists should be counseling their patients about diet. Hurray!! but good golly, I had to chuckle - don't wait for that to occur or expect your oncologist will have much knowledge or time to help you assess, prioritize, and develop strategies to optimize your diet, nutrition, and lifestyle choices. Hustle yourself off to a Registered Dietitian (an RD, hopefully one who is certified in oncology nutrition with the CSO credential), and if your cancer center does not have one (or two or three!), please speak up and start asking and asking and asking again "Why not?" :-) What is your cancer center waiting for?

Lastly, speaking of waiting, don't wait to make diet and lifestyle changes until after you write out your New Year's Resolutions. The rest of your life is waiting for you right now!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let the freezing begin!

It is finally really winter here in Michigan even though we have a few more days before that long, grey season technically begins. Yesterday I harvested what I now believe will truly be the last kale of the season (although I think I said that at least once before!). I posted a winter photo at the top of my blog of some of our kale as it looked yesterday in our community garden, and that photo is already out of date with the fresh snow we are receiving tonight. I knew winter had really come when harvesting my kale yesterday by how frozen solid the garden dirt had become, and the straw that is covering our garlic and some kale was a frozen web that I could not easily disrupt to harvest kale underneath.

I picked kale and filled a huge canvas garden/shopping bag. Actually, I did not pick the kale but rather, I snapped off frozen leaves and stalks like I was shattering fragile glass stems. When I got home from our community garden, I quickly rinsed about half the bag full of stiff kale leaves under cold water, then very simply braised all of the rinsed kale by heating a small amount of olive oil in a huge soup pot, adding the rinsed kale leaves to the pot, stirring the kale constantly in the oil until the kale warmed up and reduced in size. Then I added a bit more of water to the pot, covered it, and let the kale steam away for just few minutes until it was thoroughly heated through, wilted, but still completely bright green in color. At this point, I usually would have added a splash of balsamic vinegar, but instead I wanted to use up the remainder of the bruschetta/red pepper sauce that I made earlier this week to serve with kale balls. Admittedly, although I happen to love eating plain kale, most people would probably want a complementary flavor such as some type of vinegar or the scrumptious bruschetta sauce to be tasting along with the hefty flavor of kale (even sweetened from the cold weather).

I kept the rest of my frozen fresh kale right in the canvas bag and put it out in our "winter refrigerator", i.e., the garage, to use later in the week.

To freeze kale, you can try what I have already done when we had so much kale to harvest that even knowing fresh kale seems to keep forever, I decided
to "let the freezing begin."
Here is what I did:
• Put on a big pot of water to boil.
• Wash kale.
• Tear or cut into 2 inch strips or manageable sizes (I did not freeze the big thick stems from the curly kale).
• Fill sink with cold water, including as many ice cubes as you have on hand.
• Place the cut kale in boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
• Take kale out of pot with tongs, a colander, and/or slotted spoon.
• Put hot kale in cold water and swish around.
• Take kale out of water. Measure either 2 cups or 4 cups and place into freezer bags.
• Mark freezer bag with date and type of greens.
• Drain any excess water off greens (save for future soup broth!)and bag.
• Press any excess air out of bag and freeze.

I also did this exact procedure to freeze lamb's quarters (a very healthy and delicious weed!) in the spring. You can see from these photos that a huge bowl of cut or torn kale turns into 2 full quart bags of frozen kale. I expect to use this kale later this winter, either as yummy braised kale with many variety of seasonings or as an addition to soups, stews, stir-fry, filling for quesadillas, adding to frittatas, toppings for baked potatoes, etc, etc.

One of my "tricks" as a long-term cancer survivor has been to always have future events to plan and/or look forward to. Now I am looking forward to spring to see which of our kale plants make it through a Michigan winter to give us an early gift of spring food without the work of planting and waiting and then the ultimate gift of free seeds to start all over again!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recipe: Red Cabbage Soup

Again, this is a recipe created by poking around the frig this morning to find what is hanging out in the nooks and crannies, still left from the big influx of food before Thanksgiving or already in our freezer/pantry ready to use. I want to make sure that all the veggies that came with our Tantre Farm Thanksgiving CSA share get used for something delicious to eat, not "worm food" (yes, my husband has a vermiculture tub - i.e. worm composting - in the basement) or outside in our compost pile.

We frequently eat a supper of a hearty home-made soup, salad, and whole grain bread. Tonight I made this filling, delicious, beautiful, and healthy red cabbage soup, which we relished and ate with the remaining kale balls and bruschetta/pepper sauce, along with whole wheat bread. In addition, my husband thought it appropriate that we had a glass of red wine with our red soup. Yum, yum, yum! We finished our meal with the small pieces of chocolate that came in the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers' stocking at our cookie exchange last night. Thanks, Patti!

Red Cabbage Soup Recipe - Ingredients:

* 4 cups homemade veggie broth (here is when I use my red homemade veggie broth that included beet peelings)
* 4 cups water (I filled up and thus rinsed out the quart-size yogurt container used for my homemade broth to make sure every little bit of homemade broth was in the soup!)
* 2 cups tomatoes, chopped fresh or canned (1 pint or 15 oz can)
* 1 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional) - I used ~1 Tbsp. of my dried tomato/veggie broth recipe that came with my food dehydrator
* 1 medium size potato, scrub and chop into small-medium size pieces (~ 1 cup) - I used 3 smallish purple potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
* 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika (truly, I am experimenting with adding this to almost everything these days!)
* 3-4 cups cabbage shredded or thinly sliced red (or green if that is what you have on hand)
* 1 can (~2 cups) drained red beans (kidney beans, red beans, adzuki, pinto beans, or ½ cup dry red lentils - I purchase my dried organic beans in bulk and cook them all at once, then freezing them in 1 cup portions to pull out of the freezer to quickly add to recipes just like this)
* chopped fresh green herbs for garnish (I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Dandelion Haven.) I did not use the rosemary in my south-facing kitchen window but tried the spicy marjoram I brought in the for winter for a less intense but still flavorful and colorful garnish on top of the soup. I purchased this marjoram plant at the Farmers' Market in Plymouth, MI on an outing with some of my dietitian friends, so I enjoy nurturing it each day as a reminder of those great friends.


1. In a large soup pot, combine the water, broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped potato, bay leaf, salt, and seaonings.

Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Add the cabbage, beans or lentils. Heat just until cabbage is slightly wilted but still a bit crunchy and also until beans are heated through and/or lentils are cooked. Remove the bay leaf, top with a garnish, and serve.

Looks and tastes great topped with the cut fresh herbs, some unflavored yogurt or a sprinkle of baked and chopped pumpkin or squash seeds.


Our food blessing tonight:

As thou has set the moon in the sky
to be the poor man's lantern,
so let thy Light shine in my dark life
and lighten my path;
as the rice is sown in the water
and brings forth grain in great abundance,
so let thy word be sown in our midst
that the harvest may be great;
and as the banyan tree sends forth its branches
to take root in the soil,
so let thy Life take root in our lives.

~~Hindu blessing

I've only seen rice growing from the air, flying over Arkansas. I was fascinated to see a rice plant from root to flower last weekend made out of glass. When visiting Boston for my cardiology check-up, we went to the Harvard Museum of Natural History specifically to see their glass flower exhibit. Rice and a few additional examples of various food plants were included in this incredible collection of more than 830 glass flowers! Cancer has taken me places I would not have expected to be, such as this museum on the Harvard campus. Being open to, accepting of, even embracing the "unexpected" ways that cancer has enriched and brought abundance to my life is one way that I feel "Life" has taken root in me, for which I am very grateful. I hope the challenges in your life also bring opportunities and joys to you. :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Recipe: Kale with a bit of this and a bit of that!

This recipe could also be called cleaning out the frig, freezer, or just downright "fast food". It starts by needing to eat quickly, having stuff in the frig, freezer, or pantry available to use, and not being afraid to throw things together without "needing" a recipe.

Here is what is in our meal:
(1) A whole grain starch/carbohydrate - bulgur wheat fits that bill, and quickly, too as it can cook up in a short amount of time compared to brown rice. So does 100% whole wheat bread I had made a few weeks ago, cut sections into manageable sizes and put into the freezer.
(2) Garbanzo beans for a healthy vegetarian protein source plus lots of fiber and multiple additional health-promoting phytochemicals. These are easy to keep on your pantry shelf already pre-cooked. I buy them dried in bulk and then cook them all before freezing in 1 or 2 cup portions, ready to make my own hummus or throw into a dish like this.
(3) One 15 oz. can of organic diced tomatoes (yes I do have a few canned tomatoes on my pantry shelf in addition to our home-made canned tomatoes).
(4) Fresh kale (of course!) - just wash, chop, and add to the stewed tomatoes to cook.
(5) A bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese for flavor
(6) Top with some crunch, using our own roasted squash seeds (now that we are doing that, which is so easy!, I don't think we'll ever compost those seeds again.)
(7) Seasonings of your choice - curry, smoked paprika (I am now hooked on this - thanks, Graham B!), powdered garlic and/or onion, etc.

Instructions are easy.
• Start bulgur cooking - basically I add 2 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of bulgur, let sit for 20 minutes, if all water is not absorbed, put into a colander and drain.
• Wash, remove the tough stems, and chop a "bunch of kale" - which is 3-4 cups
• In a 3 quart saucepan, combine tomatoes, garbanzo beans, kale, seasonings and heat through until kale is wilted but still bright green.

Layer as follows:
Tomato mixture
Squash seeds

I served this with whole grain bread, olive oil for dipping, and homemade applesauce (not pictured).

This easily serves 2 people with plenty left over for a lunch or two later during the week.

Yum, yum, yum - quick, too - our own fast food with a little bit of pre-cooking. This recipes shows the advantages of cooking "extra" or cooking ahead whenever possible. In this case, any extra bulgur will be frozen ready to use at another meal, the garbanzos easily came out of the freezer to be added, the squash seeds were cooked after a previous meal while the oven was still warm, the tomatoes and applesauce were made last fall, etc, etc, you get the idea!

No recipe, at least no cookbook!, required for this meal. Be creative - try your own hand at creating a healthy recipe or meal from "this and that"!

I'll end with this short blessing of thanks for our food:

God who invites us always to spiritual delights,
give blessing over your gifts so that might deserve
to partake in the blessed things which ought to be
added to your name.

Let your gifts refresh us, Lord,
and let your grace comfort us.
~~Early Christian grace (6th century)

Yes, this was a refreshing meal, reminding us of our many gifts.

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Recipe: Kale Balls

This recipe was a result of a "nudge". Our group of Ann Arbor (now renamed to Michigan) Lady Food Bloggers met for a cookie exchange last night. A few of us volunteered to bring a savory appetizer, to counter both the temptation and taste of all that sweetness in front of us. One of my sister bloggers, Mother's Kitchen, asked if I was going to bring an appetizer using kale. We still have a very large amount of fresh kale from our winter garden in Michigan, so yes, the challenge was on to figure out what to bring using kale as an ingredient.

After much thinking and browsing the internet, I finally (duh!) remembered one of my own favorite cookbooks Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables by an Ann Arbor author Linda Diane Feldt. It took no time at all to find a recipe for kale balls, and thus my recipe is a variation of and was inspired by the one in this book. So thanks go to both MK (Mother's Kitchen) and Linda Diane Feldt.

Kale Ball Ingredients:
• 8 cups chopped raw kale (remove large tough stems, but keep small tender ones) - I did use my food processor for this step to save me time even though I love to chop, chop, chop with my chef's knife
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
• 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder (more if your family really likes garlic, like mine)
• 1/2 teaspoon low sodium tamari
• 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds

Steam the chopped raw kale (I used a steamer basket) for just a few minutes to wilt but still maintain bright green color. The 8 cups reduced to 4 cups after steaming (4 cups pictured in this photo along with a jar of the Bruschetta-in-a-jar recipe). Save the water in the bottom of the pan in your freezer for future soup broth.

Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl, then add all other ingredients (except kale) and mix together. Finally add in kale and mix well. Don't be afraid to use your hands at this step to evenly mix everything!

Line one cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon and your hands, make 25-30 kale balls. I made 28 balls, each about one inch in diameter or about the size of a walnut in the shell.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until they just start to brown. The bottoms of the balls were brown after 20 minutes in my oven, were holding together and rolling around the cookie sheet, plus well heated throughout, so I called them done.

Bruschetta-pepper sauce ingredients:
• one 8 ounce jar of Bruschetta in a jar (recipe at Mother's Kitchen blog)
• equivalent of one roasted red sweet pepper (can be frozen/thawed, freshly prepared, or from a jar)

Throw all of this into a blender and mix until either smooth or just slightly textured. I took most of this sauce to the cookie exchange, but we used the rest of it to dip roasted vegetables in at supper. True confession time - My husband thought it would be funny (and a great testimony to how delicious this sauce is!) to post up a video on my blog showing me licking the very end of this sauce out of the bowl. :-) Without all this fuss, a great marinara sauce would also taste terrific with these kale balls. (photo: although these might look like salmon filets, these are 3 pieces of organic roasted red sweet peppers, still a bit icy, that I made in September).

So enjoy, enjoy, enjoy yet another way to eat kale and just visualize all those cancer-fighting and overall health promoting molecules that kale hides inside its beautiful leaves just working their way throughout your entire body!

I'll close with the photos of the delicious cookies we made and exchanged last night and one of the best succinct quotes I have seen in a long time, found by our host Patti who writes the blog Teacher in the Hood. It certainly fit the spirit of the evening.

My friends are my estate.
~~Emily Dickinson

I would add that my friends are essential ingredients in my recipe for a happy, healthy life!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm tasting garlic!

Oh yeah! Dick and I had dinner with a good friend in Boston last weekend who told us that she regularly eats 8-9 cloves of garlic each week. (we knew we were in good company even before she told us that!) Tonight was our first night home to fix a meal. We laughed remembering our friend's comment as we added up the number of the garlic cloves we were each eating tonight.

Here's what we did. First I took 2 pieces of pink salmon out of the freezer this morning, not knowing how I would prepare them tonight. However, when poking around the frig to see what was available and/or needed to be used up, I found about 1 cup of left-over cranberry chutney and 6-8 smallish roasted garlic cloves. I smooshed the garlic cloves, added them to the cranberry chutney, spread the whole mixture over the 2 pieces of salmon, added a couple of tablespoons of water to a shallow baking dish, covered the dish with foil and stuck it in the oven for ~30 minutes at 350 degrees (more than needed).

In addition, we finished up the kale slaw my husband made before we left for Boston, which contained several cloves of minced fresh garlic in the whole recipe. Lastly, we came back from 5 days in Boston to find that we needed to use up some of the potatoes and all of the rutabagas from our Thanksgiving CSA food, so my husband made one of his all-time favorite foods, which is the filling for traditional pasties as made in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (no need to bother making the crust, although admittedly, I look forward to stopping at Suzy's just west of St. Ignace, MI for her delicious vegetarian pasties when we travel between Ann Arbor and northern Wisconsin.) Rutabaga, onion, several varieties of potato with their skin, Worcestershire sauce, lots and lots of freshly ground pepper (if you look closely, you can see it in the close-up photo) plus yes, fresh garlic are in his recipe.

Each item on our plate could have been a standout taste-wise all on its own. As it was, I looked at my plate and could not decide where to start because I knew that each dish was going to be downright tasty! In addition, all together, we figured we ate at least 4 and probably 5 cloves of garlic (each!) tonight. Good thing garlic is one of the healthiest and delicious foods on the planet. With our friend Anne, we decided that we should just keep encouraging everyone to eat garlic daily, and then no one would ever need to worry about the smell of garlic noticeably oozing from the pores of their skin!

It felt great to be home, cooking our own food. Our blessing tonight felt like it should have been an ode to our own organic, home-grown garlic!

O heavenly Father, you have filled the world
with beauty and provided us in abundance.
Open your eyes to behold
your gracious hand in all your works;
that rejoicing in your whole creation,
we may learn to serve you with gladness.
~~ Book of Common Prayer (16th Century)

Our travel to Boston is now an annual trip for me where I see a cardiologist who has extensive experience evaluating cardiac function in (now adult) childhood cancer survivors whose hearts were damaged by the cancer therapies that helped to cure their childhood cancer. I feel lucky to have found this cardiologist (who even knows my cardiologist here in Michigan), fully understand that I am dealing with what my husband like to call "the problems of success", but I confess that it is no picnic to travel, undergo the testing, hear the mix of good and not so good news, and then come home to follow up with my "stable" of docs here at home who help keep me duct-taped together for another year, and hopefully even many many more years of beauty, abundance, more garlic, more kale, more cooking up new recipes, friends and family, and helping others as we all share life's journey together. I can do that with gladness. :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tantre Farm's Thanksgiving CSA Share

I could have easily titled this post "A Cornucopia of Beautiful, Delicious, and Lovingly-grown Food!" This is our first year to purchase Tantre Farm's Thanksgiving CSA Share, and I'm glad we did. Using many of these veggies, some of our own, plus a locally raised turkey permitted us to have a Thanksgiving feast that was nearly all produced within our own county.

Here two photos of all the food from the CSA share spread out on our kitchen table, followed by a list of everything we received. Do you recognize everything you are looking at in the photo? Can you match what you see with the list of veggies? I feel like the only items we purchase at a regular supermarket these days are necessities like laundry detergent, sugar, flour, and something like parchment paper, certainly not something necessary but helpful for baking.

BEETS You will receive Red Ace (round, smooth, deep red roots with sweet flavor and medium-tall)

BRUSSELS SPROUTS tiny, green cabbage heads with mildly pungent, mustard-like flavor. You will receive some of these loose in a bag and some of them will still be on the stalk.

RED CABBAGE a sweet cabbage with red leaves that are tender and crisp with a good amount of vitamins A & C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

CARROTS (Mokum) a very sweet, slender, "pencil carrot" with edible green leaves.

CAULIFLOWER, ROMANESCO lime green, spiraled heads with pointed, spiraled pinnacles; crisp and mild.

CELERAIC (Celery Root) knobby, brown root; tastes like strong celery and parsley mixed; useful as an herb and as a vegetable; high in carbohydrates, vitamin C, phosphorous, and potassium, and small amounts of vitamin B, and iron.

GARLIC (we certainly did not need any more garlic but I know we'll use this, too - besides Dick can do a taste comparison between his own and Tantre Farm's.

KALE You will receive Red or Green Curly (well-curled, red or blue-green leaves) and Lacinato (dark green, noncurled, blistered leaves, but heavily savoyed).

ONIONS You will receive Spanish Yellow (sweet, medium-sized, dark yellow-skinned onions) and Mars Red (purple-red skin with sweet flavor).

ITALIAN FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY a fresh herb with flat, glossy, dark green leaves, which has a strong parsley/celery flavor for use dried or fresh.

PIE PUMPKIN bright orange skin with dry, sweet flesh

POTATOES: You will receive 2 mixed bags of the following:
•Russian Banana Fingerling (an heirloom potato with small, banana-shaped tubers with yellow skin and light yellow flesh; used by chefs for its delicious flavor and smooth “waxy” texture that doesn’t fall apart when cooked; good baked, boiled, or in salads)
•Rose Apple Finn Fingerling (
•Swedish Almond Fingerling (dry, golden-fleshed heirloom fingerling from Sweden; perfect baked, roasted, or mashed)
•Yukon Gold (yellowish brown skin with yellow dry flesh and pink eyes; long storage and good tasting; perfect baked, boiled, mashed or fried)
•All Blue (an heirloom potato with deep blue skin and flesh; moist texture; perfect in salads, baked, or boiled)
•All Red/Cranberry Red (an heirloom potato with bright red skin covering rosy flesh; smooth, moist texture ideal for boiling, roasting, or sautéing).
•Butte (russet baker that is highest in vitamin C and protein; great baked, mashed or fried).

RADISHES (D'Avignon) also called “French Breakfast”; traditional variety from Southern France; 3-4 inch long root that is part red with a white tip and tapered to a point). *Tops are edible too & good in soups and gravies.

RUTABAGA purplish skin with yellow flesh; thought to be a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and resembles a large turnip (3 to 5 inches in diameter). (my husband's favorite!! - absolutely necessary if you make authentic pasties as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

SPINACH crisp, dark green leaf best eaten raw or with minimal cooking to obtain the beneficial chlorophyll, and vitamins A & C.
(The spinach was eaten that day, first raw, just nibbling the leaves and then steamed for dinner - too, too good to let sit around in the refrig!)

TURNIPS You will receive Scarlet Queen (large, flat-round, sweet, crisp, white flesh with spicy, red skin—in mesh bag without greens) and Hakurei (white salad turnip with round, smooth roots that have a sweet, fruity flavor with a crisp, tender texture. You will receive some without greens in a mesh bag with Scarlet Queen variety. You will also receive some white turnips with greens in your box. Hairless greens are good in salads or sautéed with roots.

WINTER SQUASH You will receive any of the following varieties:
•Acorn (small, green ribbed squash with pale yellow flesh)
•Butternut (light, tan-colored skin; small seed cavities with thick, cylindrical necks; bright orange, moist, sweet flesh; longest storage potential of all squash)
•Delicata (small (1 1/2-to 2-lb.), oblong, creamy colored with long green stripes, only slightly ribbed; pale yellow, sweet flesh; edible skin; best eaten within 4 months of harvest)
•Black Forest Kabocha (smaller size kabocha; dark green, flat-round fruits; buttercup size with no button on end; orange flesh is medium-dry & sweet)
•Confection Kabocha (gray, flattened, buttercup-size fruits; dry taste directly after harvest, but outstanding sweetness and texture after curing for a few weeks; good for long storage)
•Sunshine Kabocha

Just for fun, here are some photos of our Thanksgiving food: the turkey (and my husband Dick) from Harnois Farms, the potatoes ready to cook, the red turnips, and our kale salad (yes those are pomagranate seeds on top, which along with the salt, pepper, olive oil and wine vinegar were just about our only non-locally produced foods used for this meal!)

A feast for all the senses including the heart!

Our grace at this meal:

Thank God for home,
and crisp, fair weather,
and loving hearts
That meet together –
And red, ripe fruit
And golden grain –
And dear Thanksgiving
Come again!
~~Nancy Byrd Turner (1880-1971)

Yes, we should all be so fortunate to share a Thanksgiving meal of delicious, healthy foods with those we love this year and be able to look forward to next year, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD