Friday, 16 March 2012
Misty Spring Morning at the Farm
Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity
You'll have to look closely to find the cattle on the ridge, hidden by the gray mist. The weather has been so warm, while the ground is still cold so clouds of misty fog have been scattered in the nooks of the farm every morning.
In winter, the cattle are fed large round bales of hay (organic, made from the cultivated fields maintained for the purpose of creating winter grass hay for our herd). They can't graze when the ground is snow-covered. But as soon as the snow cover is gone, their natural instinct is to roam freely and attempt to graze. Although they have to return to the areas where their round bale feeders are located to get enough calories, you can still find them wandering around the center pasture 40 acres throughout the day.
Cattle are actually very smart, it's said that their brains have as many sulci as human brains. And we know they have retained knowledge (memories). Of course, it's common knowledge that cows and their calves identify and "know" each other. But they also know toxic from edible plants and remember their favorite grazing spots and watering sites.
They also form relationships and organizations within the herd. We love to watch the cows define an area of pasture to be the "nursery" and then "assign" each other to watch the babies while the rest go off to eat. They often enlist 1 year olds and sometimes we'll even see a bull supervising in the nursery when they join the herd for the Summer.
Right now at the farm, it's preparation for delivery. The calves should be born in April and May. We have later deliveries because USUALLY it's still quite cold in March in northwestern Illinois and our cows deliver outside. And, we want to prevent undue stress on our calves. But, it looks like this year, weather won't be an issue.
Though I suspect one year with an early Spring will not make us change our plans. We haven't had a problem yet and other farmers have lost calves to freezing, something we would never risk.
Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the early Spring and get other chores and garden prep done.
Just resist the urge to plant!
Posted by Karen
at 11:27 CDT
Updated: Friday, 16 March 2012 11:31 CDT
Saturday, 10 March 2012
This weekend we have to "Spring forward" something I always dread since I really feel the loss of even one hour when my days start so early. I envision chasing out of the house in the darkness, grabbing a couple of coffee for the car and...
...A Carrot Apple Nut Breakfast Muffin to boost my energy...with nutrients!
This recipe calls for things you probably already have at home and does not add any more sugar than that which is in the "No Added Sugar" apple pie filling and the carrots. My particular brand of pie filling has 42 grams of carbohydrates--but that will be divided between 30 muffins!
Yes, this recipe makes 30 muffins--you can easily share with your friends and family (like I plan to do--I know a lot of people who will have the same time adjustment problems I'll have.) OR you can half the recipe or freeze extra muffins for the future.
BTW- if you are coveting that giant mixing bowl, I bought it at Sam's Club for $10--it's perfect for these large recipes and a godsend for large batches of granola.
Carrot Apple Nut Muffins
4 medium carrots
1 (20 oz) can of NO ADDED SUGAR Apple Pie Filling
Shred the carrots and add the pie filling in a large bowl. Take a spoon and using the edge, cut up the pie slices into chunks.
Mix and blend in:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine in a separate bowl:
2&1/2 cups of flour
2tsp baking powder and 2 tsp baking soda
Mix the combined dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just mixed in--remember overmixing makes tough muffins--
Finally, mix together 1/2 cup milk with 2 tbsp cider vinegar and stir into batter. And then stir in 6 oz. chopped walnuts.
Distribute into muffin pans that have been prepped with spray baking oil (my preference) or muffin baking liners.
Bake in 350 degree oven about 25 minutes until done. They'll spring back when done. Cool at least 5-10 minutes on counter before removing from pans.
Posted by Karen
at 10:30 CST
Updated: Saturday, 10 March 2012 10:57 CST
Friday, 9 March 2012
Veggie Pizza (from canned vegetables?)
This pizza set up looks pretty good, doesn't it? It's even more inviting when you realize you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator right now.
First, remember that you need to get proficient at rolling out your own thin crust pizza from prepared dough you can find in the freezer section of your local grocery or from prepared mixes--or you have to substitute the low carb, high fiber tortillas for your base.
That aside, let's concentrate on the pantry items. As you can see, they're mostly canned items. Why am I excited about using canned veggies? Because some veggies are even healthier for you AFTER the canning process than before, like tomatoes whose phytonutrients are more bioavailable after cooking, than raw.
This pizza uses:
Pesto sauce, pressure canned in a jar
Canned black olives, drained and chopped
Canned, diced tomatoes, drained
From the freezer, chopped spinach (always keep frozen chopped greens available to sneak in soups, stews, pizza) .
Also from the pantry- finely chopped onion
From the refrigerator- some shredded Italian cheese
Easy, huh? And, you've got everything available right now, don't you? I could have opened a can of chopped artichokes--that would've been good, too!
A bit more about canned foods...
The commercial canning process also destroys harmful bacteria. While we certainly wash all of our raw vegetables, there's always some residual bacteria left, the world (and your kitchen counter) isn't sterile. But subsequent appropriate cooking takes care of those bacteria. And your own gut acids and enzymes work on most of the rest. That is, unless you are on certain medications or have an immune deficiency or low white blood cell count--that may compromise those protective mechanisms. Then, you really should be careful about eating anything raw!
But you don't have to worry about compromising any nutritional value in eating commercially canned, organic fruits and vegetables. And, you'll find that you have a large assortment of items available. We're in a rut in the Midwest now--no local fresh veggies or fruit. Everything is imported from southern growing zones. The farther away from home you go, the less traceable the source, in general. Granted, I still marvel at the generally wonderful food safety profile the industry has, but don't discount the canned foods either. It's a good time to explore them until your own garden is sprouting.
Posted by Karen
at 08:54 CST
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Black Bean Stuffed Peppers
I'm sticking with the Black Bean to star in this recipe. I'm so impressed by the nutritional value of black beans, the high fiber content vitamins and protein, who can blame me for focusing on it? If this recipe is made without the little bit of cheese on top, it's even vegan! And, because it's still Lent, it's a great Friday no-meat recipe!
Black Bean Stuffed Green Peppers (for 2, adjust as needed for more)
Prep a Pyrex baking dish with a little spray canola oil.
Wash 2 green peppers, slice off the tops and remove the center veins and seeds, and the stem from the top. Use a small paring knife if needed.
Prepare in a separate bowl, 1 cup of reconstituted, cooked dry black beans or 1 (15.5oz) can of rinsed and drained black beans.
Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1/2 small onion and 1-2 cloves of garlic. Saute these in a small pan in 1-2 tbsp olive oil until the vegetables are soft. Add these to the beans along with any residual olive oil in the pan.
Stir in 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, salt to taste, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp dried oregano.
Fill the green peppers with mixture, replace the pepper tops and place in the baking dish.
Pour 1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce (plain or with any seasonings, it won't matter) over the stuffed peppers.
Add a sprinkle of shaved parmesan, or any shredded cheese over the tops of the peppers acc. to your preference--this can also be omitted, if keeping vegan.
Tent the peppers and pan loosely with Aluminum foil and bake 45-50 minutes until the peppers are cooked.
Serve over brown rice or barley or mashed, steamed cauliflower, as desired.
Posted by Karen
at 10:22 CST
Thursday, 1 March 2012
Black Bean Soup for a Crowd
Black Bean Soup for a Crowd
Is Winter over yet? Not really...
We left Chicago yesterday at 62 degrees to end up at the Farm 32 degrees and sleeting. The distance between the two isn't that far, but the weather variability in the months of February and March can be dramatic.
Winter is not over, so you might want to make a nice healthy soup to share with friends, neighbors, your work crew. Here's a recipe I recently made for the ER.
Black Beans are the star of this soup and for good health reasons. Did you know that Black Beans are a nearly perfect source of high, indigestible fiber and high protein—about 15 grams of each in a 1 cup serving of beans. Black beans are also high in phytonutrients and anthocyanin antioxidants, B vitamins, trace elements and may even have some protective benefit for type 2 diabetes. This is related to the finding that black beans may have a natural inhibitor of alpha amylase which breaks starches into sugars. Because it's inhibited by black beans, it slows down the release of sugar from the starches in the beans, making the release of sugar through the digestive process slower.
There is also a little caveat here--for this food and other foods that are high in protein and fiber, both of which take longer to digest-- don't eat this and then undergo extreme exercise. You may have stomach cramps when blood is shunted away from the GI tract to muscles in sports like running and cycling. So, eat it after exercise, not before.
“Black Bean Soup for a Crowd” is a recipe that starts from dried black beans, so you need to account for the soaking time. You can also proportionally reduce the ingredients if your crowd is smaller. This will make about 6 quarts of soup. I usually transport the soup, divided between 2 gallon stackable containers to the workplace, then transfer to a large crockpot (lined for easy cleanup)--put crockpot on “high” setting and it will be ready for the lunch crowd.
Black Bean Soup for a Crowd
2 lb. Black Beans, dried : Soak in 12 cups of water overnight 8 hours.
Rinse the beans thoroughly and drain. Divide beans into 1 enormous soup pot OR 2 pots for easier control.
Add 2 large cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes AND 2 additional cans (using the 28 oz. tomato cans) water
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prep and finely chop:
4 stalks of celery
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
Saute these ingredients together in a little olive oil, until soft. Add the ingredients and the olive oil to the soup pot while it is simmering.
Add salt, red pepper flakes to taste.
When the soup has simmered about 1 hour and beans are soft, shut off the heat. Take your immersion blender and run several times through the soup to break up a lot of the beans. You do not have to puree the entire soup, but break up a lot of the beans to give it a rich texture.
The last step is to stir in 1 bunch of chopped cilantro and the juice from 2 freshly squeezed limes.
If you'd like, you can garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a simple, warmed corn tortilla on the side.
Posted by Karen
at 08:24 CST
Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2012 08:42 CST
Friday, 24 February 2012
Vitamins--Are you getting Yours?
Many of you know that I have co-authored a couple of books on healthy eating and weight loss. In both “The GO Diet: The Goldberg-O’Mara Diet Plan” and in “The Four Corners Diet,” my co-authors and I have tried to emphasize two important concepts in human nutrition: (1) high intake of carbs is linked to hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain and (2) any human diet should provide complete nutrient needs from natural sources.
The “Pharmafoods” part of the story is critical to healthy eating. I believe our human population suffers from nutrient deficiencies that may be contributing to our overall health.
So, today’s BLOG POST concerns the vitamin subset of “Pharmafoods.”
I think my inspiration came at the check out lane at a major food store yesterday. I had to pick up a few last minute items for a dinner party tomorrow. Specifically, I had to buy kale for a side dish I was making. But I also did some other stock-up purchases and went to the check out lane. It turns out that the register computers had gone down and the lanes were all backed up. That gave me a few extra minutes to check my emails and then, to check out other peoples’ carts.
The first thing I noticed was the amount of processed food items that people were purchasing. I’m not talking about frozen vegetables but processed things like soda, frozen pizzas, frozen meals, baked goods, cereals, and canned foods. Almost nothing was fresh or fresh-frozen. Then, I started to think about the nutrient content of those items. And, I looked in my own cart to find low carb, high fiber bread and buns, high fiber “organic” cereal—and checked the labels. Sure, they sounded good and they were even labeled “healthy.” But the labels proved they contained extremely little or NO vitamins or nutrients.
Certainly we know that vitamin deficiencies are direct causes of certain diseases- B vitamin deficiencies are the most well-known of these syndromes (thiamine deficiency and cerebellar degeneration, pyridoxine and infant seizures, B12 deficiency and anemia, for some examples.) An excellent summary resource for vitamin and nutrient related neuromuscular syndromes is provided by the Washington University-St. Louis link. (If you’re a health professional, it’s pretty eye-opening and will make you wonder how much more we miss as subclinical presentations.)
We also know that vitamins cannot be engineered by the body, they must be consumed (or injected in the case of some vitamin replacement needs). Vitamins are necessary in the development, maintenance, and repair of human cells. They are co-enzymes and anti-oxidants. The dietary anti-oxidants are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids, isoflavones, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins. The antioxidants work by delaying/inhibiting oxidation or by slowing oxidation by removing the substrate or resultant oxygen “free radicals.”
I want to give you some homework and resource links listed at the end. I hope my experience in the check out line inspires you to look at the nutrition labels of your processed foods and to look seriously at your menu planning and see if they measure up to the standards we need for optimal health for ourselves and our families. Then, do a little soul-searching and figure out how to fix your menus. Today, I’m making the “Anti-oxidant Soup” recipe archived under “Recipes” in this blog. It’s also a Lenten Friday—which means vegetarian or fish—so, I’m good for today.
At the least, you’d better consider a daily, good quality multi-vitamin and micronutrient supplement. The only problem with relying on supplements is that they are largely unregulated and you can’t be sure of their bioavailability. They do need to be taken WITH food in order to be absorbed. But who can guarantee? It’s better to look at natural sources.
Link to the Institute of Medicine Nutritional Guidelines for daily intake of Nutrients This table will give you reference amounts of nutrients. Please note that these are recommendations for daily intake. Since many micronutrients are not stored by the body, you can’t eat a month’s worth one day and nothing for the rest of the month!
Link to USDA Nutrition Fact Sheets for Dietary Supplements: Click on the item in the alphabetized list on the main page, then click on the item again on the next page to display the fact sheet.
Link to Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheets. Follow the same 2 step process as above to get to the individual fact sheet that you want.
Link to Botantical Reference Fact Sheets. Follow the same 2-step process to get to the individual fact sheet that you want.
Whole Foods has a very good link for consumer education with great fact sheets on essential nutrients. Click on the page below and then use click on the fact sheet you want from the alphabetized list. Note that Vitamin B3—Niacin—is listed as “Niacin” and not under Vitamins.
Posted by Karen
at 09:04 CST
Updated: Friday, 24 February 2012 09:30 CST
Friday, 17 February 2012
Enchiladas and Black Bean Salad
Here's a great low carb dinner that's fairly quick to prep, whether serving a couple or a crowd. Multiply as needed.
Enchiladas (makes 8-10 filled)
Prep a Pyrex baking dish with canola spray.
Brown and cook thoroughly, 1 lb. ground beef (or substitute ground turkey or tofu).
Add 1 can of drained tomatoes with chilis.
Remove from heat. Add about 2 oz. shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese and 1/2 can of Salsa Verde enchilada sauce (green sauce). Mix all together.
Divide filling into 1 package of Low Carb Tortillas (8-10 in a package depending on manufacturer). Roll and place edge side down in pan.
Cover filled tortillas with remaining 1/2 can of enchilada sauce and top with additional 2-4 oz shredded cheese and freshly chopped cilantro.
Bake for 40 minutes in 350 degree oven until heated through and cheese is melted.
Serve with this quick salad of Mixed greens and herbs. Dress with lemon juice and oil, (remembering to "fatigue le salad" by tossing 40 times)! Top with 1/2 can of rinsed and drained black beans. (Reserve additional beans in the refrigerator for another salad or dish.)
Plate with extra salsa or sour cream, as desired.
Posted by Karen
at 16:59 CST
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Drs. O'Mara made the paper
I know this is a bit of personal indulgence, but--Donna Vickroy captured what we feel is the essence of a strong marriage in this article.
We've spent virtually our entire adult lives as both married and as physicians. Our farm is indeed our parallel career path and evolves out of the same value system and respect for life, reason, logic, belief in eternity and faith in God.
Posted by Karen
at 08:35 CST
Saturday, 11 February 2012
I can't believe it's already time to start picking out your seeds, but it is...
Here's a photo of the first set of seeds I've bought for this season. I'm picking out seeds that I will be sowing directly into the soil, so it's going to be a few months before I actually plant them. I just have to get them snagged before they're sold out. All of the above seeds have relatively short plant-to-germinate-to-pick times. Our growing season in northwestern Illinois is painfully short, but all of these plants work fine.
For tomatoes--I think I'll wait until I see what seeds are already in the soil and waiting to sprout this season. I can alwas put plants in later if last year's seeds fail me.
I will likely put banana pepper and eggplant plants in later. I have an amazing Mexican stuffed banana pepper recipe to share with you this Summer--I made it for the entire ER last year when dozens of banana peppers ripened simultaneously.
Still have more seed shopping to do--some short carrots and Spaghetti squash would be nice, and of course, I still need the onion and garlic sets, the rosemary and lavender plants...I am so excited that most of my herbs are perennial woody plants and will be back again this year.
More to share, but --fair warning: Get those seeds soon or the selection will be picked over or gone!
Posted by Karen
at 16:36 CST
Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2012 16:49 CST
Friday, 10 February 2012
This Pizza looks very tempting, doesn’t it?
Hard to believe it’s vegetarian. In fact it packs a lot of vegetables in a very sneaky way…hidden under the cheese. The only caveat is not what you put on the pizza, but the crust that holds it together.
If you are very skilled at working with dough, you can use the standard Hot Roll Mix, and after the first rising, divide the dough in half. Freeze half and use the remaining to make a 16 inch pizza (that’s the giant one you see in the picture. This pizza crust will have 150 carbs in the entire crust, or if sliced into 8 generous slices, then about 19 grams per slice. If you serve this pizza with a dinner salad, even a very hungry adult can’t eat more than 2 slices.
Still, you may want to conserve carbohydrates even more.
If so, I would suggest that you make individual pizzas using a high fiber, low carbohydrate tortilla shell. Here’s a photo of one of my favorite low carb tortillas. Use the same ingredients listed below but divide by 4 individual pizza.
Either way you go, I’ve included the carb count for the pizza toppings, based on what you’d need to put on the 16 inch mega-pizza, assuming you’re serving it to 4 hungry adults.
Vegetable Pizza (serving 4 hungry adults)
Amount Measure Ingredient
1 16 inch Pizza Crust
4 oz Pizza Sauce
10 oz cooked, drained spinach
1 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
4 oz canned, chopped mushrooms, drained
4 oz canned, roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
1 small finely chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
Build the pizza by first applying the sauce, then distribute the cooked spinach, red pepper and mushrooms. Toss the fresh baby spinach leaves on top for additional texture. Then add the cheese. Finally top with finely chopped onion and fresh garlic and sprinkle a few dashes of chili powder across the top.
Bake freshly made dough crust about 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees. But a individual pizzas built on a tortilla shell will be done in about 10 minutes. Either way, let pizza stand a couple minutes before slicing.
Vegetarian can be addicting--just watch your crust!
Nutrition (calculated from all recipe ingredients, excluding crust, for ¼ of the pizza, that is, 1 expected serving size )
Calories From Fat: 71
Total Fat: 8.2g
Posted by Karen
at 12:54 CST
Updated: Friday, 10 February 2012 13:11 CST
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