Tag Archives: Cooking my way through our CSA

CSA Cooking Week 1: Getting a toddler to eat more veggies

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Roasted RadishesRoasted Radishes, photo by Kate Chan

This spring my Love and I have decided to try using a few local food sources more consistently as a means of improving our health, modeling healthy eating for the girls, and primarily – to encourage our little whippersnappers to eat their veggies!  Now don’t get me wrong:  both of the babes eat healthy.  They *love* tofu (in soups, baked, fried, stir-fried, etc), carrots, zucchini, beans, corn, peas, yogurt, fruit of all kinds, brown rice, etc.  However, we noticed that they would also both choose to live off of tofu and fruit (with sides of steamed rice) if we allowed it.

Their eating wishes got us thinking about what WE were eating.  While we eat asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, corn (oh yea – the chicklet LOVES corn on the cob), peas, etc, the Chicklet  has begun to resist veggies…. especially green veggies.  If there is a speck of green in it (like the day I put chives into the scrambled eggs), Z refuses.

Really though, I am lucky. She does eat a fair amount of veggies.  It’s just getting harder to go with the flow with what we eat.  As of right now, she will eat:  edamame, corn on the cob, black beans, refried beans (does that count??), peas (sometimes), quickly stir-fried zucchini/carrots, jap chae (Korean sweet potato noodles with veggies and beef), Mexican rice with veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc).

What I would like her to do is eat a bigger variety.  That means that we need to do the same.  We realized that we are a little stuck in our veggies routine too.  As a family, we needed to step up our veggie game and get walking/moving together. We are big believers in the family dinner (we all cook and eat together everyday) and want to carry that further.

So, we decided to tackle the goals head on. Here are the steps we are taking as a family to get ourselves eating healthier and living healthier.

Step One:  The fruit comes out for dessert after veggies and meat/tofu/fish/protein has been eaten.  With the fruit bowl looming in sight, she is suddenly motivated to eat her protein/veg a little better.  Not perfect.  But we are getting there.  After all, half the battle is training US to do the right thing.

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  Really, I think this step is helping me more than her.  I can clearly see now that she WILL eat some vegetables (although anything “green” is still *out*).  She will eat them – or at least taste a few bites to appease me and get to her beloved fruit plate.  So now that I see what veggies she DOES eat more clearly, I can continue to find new ones for her to munch on.

Step Two:  We found a local group that sells foods from local producers/farms.  They are “like a grocery store, but more local; like a CSA, but more flexible, like a farmer’s market, but more convenient” and all of this with a pickup location that is minutes from my work and my house!  (Sweet, huh?)  Basically every Thursday-Monday, I can log in to their site and view what local producers have to offer.  These offerings include a huge range of items:  from pastured eggs (to which we are now addicted – OH MY DELICIOUS), organic fruits/vegetables, local coffee roasters, gluten free breads/muffins/waffles (yes, gluten free!), to-die-for roasted nuts,  grass-fed local meat (beef, pork, poultry), etc all delivered/picked/etc within 24 hours of our Thursday pickup.  So far, we are completely addicted.  It has taken me a bit to figure out the process.  I’m not used to “grocery shopping” a week in advance like this.  However, we are on week three of using this resource, and it DOES make my life easier.  It’s SO smooth to stop on my way to pick up the girls after work, scoop up delicious local foods and head home.  Tomorrow is my next pick up.  We ordered our first fresh, naturally raised (pastured) chicken.  While it is not in our budget to purchase meats like this often, we are looking forward to the treat.  A fresh, local, pastured roasted chicken?  What a way to kick off the weekend, huh?  (Wanna come over too?)

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  She helps me pick out (and has helped pick up) the foods we will try or eat when we log in.  After the first week, she was curious enough to want to try the fresh pea pod shoots (not what we expected).  So far, since our growing season is really just now producing goodies, this is just picking up speed for us.  I’m sure we will order as the growing season continues.  (Or as our budget allows!)

Step Three:  We signed up for a CSA.   A CSA is “Community Supported Agriculture”.  Basically, we have “contracted” for a “share” of vegetables from a local farm to be picked up weekly.  Our CSA will run through October – about 22 weeks of goodness from our local organic farm.  Our share price is working out to be about $22 a week.  There were a couple of reasons that we jumped in to a CSA that we had not initially thought we would do.  Here are the pros/cons as we saw them:

  • PRO:  Option number #2 didn’t seem to have the “surprise” factor that we were looking for.  Opening the CSA box is like Christmas, we don’t know what we are going to get – so we let Zoe open the box and we get excited with her as she explores through the box.  Our first box had the best fresh carrots in it.  I told Zoe about growing up and picking carrots out of my uncle’s garden as a child.  We washed and peeled a carrot as we talked.  After I took a crunchy bite and remarked about how sweet it was and that it was “crunchy like an apple”, she was in.  She’s now eaten a fresh carrot for an “after school” snack everyday this week. (I count this as a success as all previous other veggies that she would eat are cooked.)
  • CON:  The “surprise” factor for the adults.  We are not fans of a huge variety of things like:  radishes, arugula, kale, chard, etc.  The night before our first CSA box pick up, we actually had a little “buyer’s remorse” from the sign up/deposit.  We wondered if the veggies would get eaten or if they would languish in a corner of our fridge until one of us just composted them.  We freaked.  And then we bit the bullet and went down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up our first box.  And guess what?  We got radishes and arugula in our first pickings!  Lord help us, we celebrated with Zoe upon opening the box and each of us mouthed “Ay Ay Ay!” Radishes!” to the other.  But never fear, I posted a radish question on the Gluten Free Gobsmacked Facebook page and we were rescued.  I roasted the radishes and they were fabulous.  Probably not a weekly request, but definitely tastier than anticipated. :D  And now… on to the arugula.  Somehow, some way… I will make it work for us.
Step Four:  We signed up for milk delivery.  Holy beans!  I had no idea how fabulously easier it is NOT to have to run to the grocer at 4:45PM to two crabby kidlets in two after work in search of milk.  The cost?  Truthfully, it costs me about 10 cents more per half-gallon than it would to buy the same at the local grocer.  Not too shabby.  I would have gladly paid someone that 10-20-30 cents when we’ve had the after work shopping to do JUST to have the milk appear on my doorstep.  And guess what?  It appears in the morning before we leave for work.  (God bless those work hours!)  We’ve now signed ourselves up for the weekly dairy delivery that I can alter/order/change-up as needed.  It is currently rocking my world.  I can’t wait to see how it saves me when the baby starts drinking milk too this July.  Good lord – the sheer number of gallons of milk + trips to the grocer = many morning blessings and cheers for the Milk Delivery guy.  (Thank you, Brandon H, wherever you are!)
All of these steps are making my life more interesting and honestly, less stressful.  While the new challenge is to stay on top of the pick-ups/deliveries and ordering, we are making head way.  It’s all still new and I want to make sure we are sticking within our food budget while we experiment with our different avenues of food sources.  In the last three weeks, we have been to a standard grocer twice.  Once for dish soap and tofu and the other was a trip to my beloved gluten free market for flours/pasta and Amy’s frozen dairy-free/gluten-free burritos.
So, here’s to changes.  And to cooking my way through our CSA box.  I think I will try to post some recipes from our CSA experiment just to keep you all updated on what we are doing.  (And hopefully to get some more ideas on what to do with this stuff! LOL!).  Our first CSA box included the following:
  • radishes
  • roasted these, see below
  • carrots
  • eating these 1 by 1, raw for snacks
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eaten Korean BBQ style as wraps with grilled chicken
  • green leaf lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • iceberg lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • spinach
  • stir-fried with fresh organic ginger, garlic and GF soy sauce
  • arugula – 
  • HELP! We have a relatively “huge” bag of this peppery bugger.  Tips, anyone??
  • joi choi (like bok choi)
  • On the docket for tomorrow’s menu; stir-fry style
  • mint (which, when I said, “oh yum, Mint!” made Zoe dig in the box looking for a peppermint candy…)
  • Plans:  tzaziki and watermelon-mint salad, maybe a mint lemonade for me on Friday.
Any tips for that arugula?  Please post them here on the Facebook page.  I’m dying.  We are really challenging ourselves NOT to waste the foods we receive through these fabulous local, organic sources and ,more importantly, we want to model veggie-love and healthy eating for our little ones.
So… here’s what I did to the radishes to get them worked in to our dinners.  And just to let you know, I did eat a raw radish.  I rather liked the crunch, but the 10 minute later weird heat in my mouth was exactly what I don’t love about them.  Ah well.  I’ll keep trying them raw.  Maybe I’ll grow in to it.  But if there are more in my CSA box next week?  I’ll be making more of this:

yum

Roast Radishes
-Serves 2.5 as a side dish
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh radishes
olive oil
salt
pepper
garlic powder
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
fresh chives
butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Clean and trim the radishes.
  3. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, red onion, and garlic powder.
  4. Roast in oven for 13-18 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown (see photo).
  5. Remove from oven, toss with a bit of butter and some fresh chives.
  6. Serve warm.
NOTES:  Next time radishes show up in our box, I might just season these guys with a little pasilla chile powder and serve with some homemade chive-sour cream and buttermilk dressing.  Oh yes.  That is sounding good to me now! :)