Food & Health Archive


Tasty Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

As much as we love pumpkins, sometimes it can be a challenge to figure out how to take advantage of all those nourishing seeds. Packed with rich nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and plant-based omega-3s, these seeds are certainly worth the extra effort in the kitchen.  If you’re tired of the standard roasting drill, try some of the following alternative ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds.

But first, remember to soak your seeds. All seeds, as well as nuts, grains, and beans, have phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that hinder healthy digestion. According to the authors of The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett, taking the 

time to soak and dehydrate your raw pumpkin seeds neutralizes these harmful “anti-nutrients.” Going through this vital process will not only please your stomach, but also improve nutrient absorption. See the excerpt at the end of this post for step-by-step instructions on how to soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds.

Once you’ve properly prepared your seeds, put them to good use in a Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto from Cooking Close to Home or try this Pumpkin Granola recipe from The Heal Your Gut Cookbook.

Granola – makes 1 quart

1/2 cup cashews, soaked 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup pecans, soaked 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
2 tbsp cinnamon 1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until a very chunky paste is formed. Spread on your dehydrator’s nonstick drying sheet and set at 145°F for 12 to 24 hours, stirring once or twice. (Or spread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven on its lowest possible setting for 12 to 24 hours, depending on temperature.) Break up granola; store in an airtight container in the fridge.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nuts and Seeds

Fresh Fig Pecan Bread for the Holidays

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Sure to be a hit at any holiday gathering, master bread baker Richard Miscovich describes this Fig Pecan Bread as slightly sweet, delicious, nutritious, and soothing. Here is the full recipe from his latest book, From the Wood-Fired Oven.

*****

Fig Pecan Bread
By Richard Miscovich

One of my favorite baking books—and one that gives me a lot of inspiration to develop new breads—is The Book of Bread by Jérôme Assire. It’s a beautiful book with great photos of breads from around the world. I was ready to put a dried fruit and nut bread into production when I saw a collection of Swiss breads that included Sauserbrot made with wheat and spelt flours and including chestnut and grape must—unfermented freshly squeezed juice. I dropped the juice and whole wheat flour but added a higher ratio of spelt flour and included walnuts, dried figs, and oats. I immediately recognized it as a slightly sweet bread that was also delicious, nutritious, and soothing. Have it at breakfast, at teatime, or as a bedtime snack.

Be sure to use old-fashioned oats or the thicker, chewy kind you might be able to get through your local miller. “Quick” oats don’t give the bread the same texture and don’t look as pretty on the outside of the loaf. Whole wheat flour can be substituted for the spelt flour, but the taste won’t be quite so distinctive. Whole-grain spelt flour and the addition of a high percentage of pecans and figs will make a denser dough. Be aware that the dough will be delicate and that spelt has a shorter proofing tolerance than hard red winter wheat.

It took me several years to realize I should replace the walnuts in this formula with pecans, partly because a pecan tree grows right next to my ovenhouse. In the fall, local pecans are available at roadside stands and people stock their freezers with bags of the rich nut meats, more milky, tender, and fresh than those available in most stores. Enjoy fresh, local nuts if you are lucky enough to have access to them.

We’re also grateful when somebody drops off a load of pecan wood. The logs split nicely, and the branches can be cut into manageable lengths with a pair of heavy-duty loppers and a reciprocating saw. Pecan wood provides fewer BTUs than oak, which means it is less dense. This is an advantage when a fire is just starting and needs heat to accumulate so that the hot firebox will support a more complete combustion. Oak requires a hot environment to get started, so it’s best to add pecan early on and save the oak for later. The pecan also combusts efficiently—little ash is left over after a load of pecan is burned.

We inherited three fig trees when we bought this property. Mid- to late July is when the figs start to ripen. I like to harvest twice a day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon when the sun warms the sweet and sensual fruit. I so appreciate these two local trees, pecan and fig, that give us beauty, shade, oxygen, fresh nuts, bountiful bowls of figs, and fuel.

Yield: 3 medium loaves
Prefermented flour: 20%
Wood-fired oven temperature window: 425°F to 450°F (218–232°C)
Home oven: Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).

Levain Ingredient Weight (g) Volume Baker’s %
Bread flour 120 1 cup 100
Water 120 1/2 cup 100
Liquid sourdough starter 14 1 1/2 tbsp 12
Total 254

Combine the flour, water, and starter. Mix until smooth. Cover and allow to ferment at 77°F (25°C) for 8 to 10 hours.

Final Dough Ingredient Weight (g) Volume Baker’s %
Pecans, halves 150 1 3/4 cup 26
Figs, dried, chopped 230 1 1/2 cup 40
Water 345 1 1/2 cup 80
Levain 240 *
Bread flour 335 2 3/4 cup 79
Whole spelt flour 123 1 1/4 cup 21
Oats 57 2/3 cup 10
Instant active yeast 2.3 1/2 tsp 0.4
Salt 12 1 tbsp 2.1
Total 1,494.3
Extra oats to roll loaf as needed as needed

* Best measured by weight; volume varies with ripeness.

Desired dough temperature: Adjust the water temperature so the dough is 77°F (25°C) at the end
of mixing.
Lightly toast the pecans, chop them, and let them cool. (Be sure they are completely cool before adding them to the dough so they don’t affect the dough temperature.)
Before measuring the figs, remove any tough stems, chop the figs, and set them aside.

Autolyse: Remove 14g of starter from the levain. Pour the water around the edge of the levain to help release all of the preferment. Add the water and levain to the mixing bowl. Add the flours and oats, but hold back all the other ingredients. Mix by hand or a mixer until thoroughly incorporated and homogeneous, but you needn’t develop the dough at this point. It’s okay if the dough is still shaggy. Cover to prevent a skin from forming and autolyse for 20 to 30 minutes.

Mixing:
By hand: After the autolyse, add the yeast and salt. Mix the dough with your hand and a plastic dough scraper for a minute to incorporate the ingredients.
Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead by hand using the techniques described in chapter 6. Hand mixing will take about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough is going to seem wet, but you’ll see the pecans and figs transform the consistency when you add them at this time.
By mixer: After the autolyse, add the yeast and salt and mix on slow speed for 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Stop occasionally while mixing to scrape the dough off the hook. Reduce the mixer speed to slow, add the pecans and figs, and mix until incorporated.
When complete, the dough will be smooth and slightly tacky; it’ll pull back when tugged. Remember, the dough will develop considerably during fermenting and folding.

Primary fermentation: Place the dough in a covered container and let it ferment for 2 hours, folding once after 60 minutes.

Dividing/preshaping: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into three pieces. Preshape each piece into a loose round ball, and place bottom up on a lightly floured surface. Cover the loaves and let them rest for about 20 minutes.

Shaping: Shape the loaves into bâtards. Roll each onto a damp cloth and then into a tray of oats. Place the loaves seam side up on a non-floured couche. Allow to proof for 1 to 11⁄2 hours.

Scoring and baking: Just before baking, turn the loaves onto a lightly floured peel. Score with three angled cuts across the loaf. The oat coating makes scoring a bit difficult. Be sure to use a new blade and score assertively. Bake in a steamed 450°F (232°C) oven.
Or place in a heated combo cooker, score, cover, and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Indoor Oyster Mushrooms: Big Yield, Small Spaces

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Grow pounds of oyster mushrooms right in your home with fairly little effort and just a small amount of space. All you need is 16 square feet, a few plastic buckets, an organic material to the grow the mushrooms on, like spent coffee grounds, and some spawn. Use recycled or salvaged items and this hobby becomes a low cost investment that produces delicious returns you can eat and share with friends.

In the following excerpt from Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, mycologist and author Tradd Cotter shares his plan for a 4×4 indoor growing system. Also from Cotter’s book, learn how to grow mushrooms on your jeans, seriously!

*****

Urban Mushroom Cultivation
By Tradd Cotter

No forest? No spare garage? With a little creativity, mushrooms are easier to grow in tight places than you might think. You can grow a substantial amount of mushrooms by incorporating them into community or rooftop gardens, or even by growing them indoors in closets and spare bathrooms. Of course, the amount and type of space you might have can vary considerably. Some people have horizontal space; some have vertical space; some may have both. The key is to evaluate your situation—with a site analysis or, if you are indoors, a walk-through—and choose the methods that will help you maximize yields for your given situation.

Indoor Small-Space Cultivation
The most common and efficient mushrooms for fruiting indoors in small spaces are oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.). You’ll be surprised by how little space they take up. You can pasteurize small batches of growing medium on your stovetop. You do not need a humidified room; an extra bathroom or closet works fine as long as you provide a simple humidity tent over the fruiting cultures, so that the primordia don’t dry out and abort.

You can house as many as thirty 5-pound bags of inoculated fruiting substrate—enough to produce 8 to 10 pounds of oyster mushrooms a week—on a five-tiered rack placed near a window, which typically takes up about 6 square feet of floor space and rises to a height of about 6 feet (which coincidentally is very close to the size of a small closet, if you have an extra one you would like to devote to fruiting). Or you can cultivate them in buckets on spent coffee grounds. Wherever and however you grow in your small space, if you’re indoors be sure to provide ventilation to allow for gas exchange, add a fluorescent light if your setup isn’t near a window, and cover the rack or containers with a humidity tent. (I would line the floor and walls with plastic if you are experiencing excessive moisture buildup. The object is to provide extra humidity to the mushrooms, but you also need to protect your structure from excess water to avoid rot.)

The 4×4 Indoor System
This 4×4 system will require about two hours of work per week to maintain, but the returns are worth the effort. You can locate your containers in a closet, spare bedroom, or bathroom, or even outside during warmer months. The system is scalable depending on the container size. I call for 5-gallon buckets here, but you could also use pails from a local restaurant or stacking plastic bins in the 5- to 13-gallon range. Just pick a size that is appropriate to the space you have available and that you can easily fill with the amount of growing medium you can prepare on your stovetop. Oyster mushrooms fruit about three weeks after spawning and can flush at least three times over the course of thirteen weeks, so to keep your operation going consistently, you’ll use as many as fifteen containers. Drill 1/2-inch holes evenly spaced around the sides, about every 6 to 8 inches. Make sure all the containers have secure lids and can be stacked several units high without any danger of tipping.

To begin, procure your growing medium. This can be spent coffee grounds or any kind of pasteurized agricultural by-products, such as grasses and cereal straws. To pasteurize a substrate, heat a large pot of water, three-quarters full, to a near boil, then add dried plant debris such as shredded garden plants, chopped cereal straw, plant-based kitty litter, or any other organic material that can be used to grow oyster mushrooms. Push the floating medium down to submerge it, heating for one to two hours on low heat with the pot covered. Remove from the heat, drain all the water, and allow the medium to cool completely. You may have to pasteurize two separate batches to have enough substrate to fill the container completely; if you want to make it a onetime cooking event and you don’t mind having a smaller harvest, just use smaller containers, such as 2-gallon buckets. If you are having a hard time finding growing media for oyster mushrooms, try pet or livestock feed stores to see if they have any bulk shredded straw pellets (such as the Streufex type); or you can buy bags of wood pellets (for use in pellet stoves). Both shredded straw and fuel pellets are good for oyster mushroom substrate when you mix them with a little shredded alfalfa (from a pet supply store) as a nitrogen supplement.

Mix the growing medium with your spawn. You can do this right in your growing container, but to make things easier I generally mix the substrate and spawn in a larger tub and then transfer the mixture to the growing container. Fill the container, and then label it with the date, the substrate, and the type of spawn you used. (Keep a log and record what you are doing if you wish to improve your yields.) Snap the lid onto the spawned container, and move it to your growing space. Keep all your newly spawned containers under a loose layer of plastic; this forms both the humidity tent and the fruiting chamber.

Once you have a series of containers under way, you can organize them by the order in which you expect them to fruit. Oyster mushrooms will generally pin (begin forming mushrooms) in three weeks. Keep the pinning buckets in the front and any resting or colonizing buckets in the back. Once the mushrooms flush and you harvest them, you can rearrange the containers to position the buckets that will fruit next in the front. If you want to stagger the harvest, once the mushrooms are producing and harvested, let some of the buckets rest and dry out a little, which means pulling them out of the humidity tent and reducing misting for at least two weeks, then return them to the humidity tent and resume misting and watering.

The second flush will typically produce half the weight of the first, and the third will produce half of the second (5 pounds, 2.5 pounds, and 1.25 pounds, for example), so if you are making a container a week, all of the containers will have overlapping flushes producing different amounts. Weigh and add up the yields of each flush every week to see if you are producing too much or too little for your goals.

For calculating yields, after the first thirteen-week cycle, when your system is up and running and you have mushrooms in all stages of cultivation, I would use a starting estimate of 1.75 pounds of oyster mushrooms for every gallon of substrate you prepare every week. So my 5-gallon-bucket system should average 8.75 pounds a week.

The up-front costs for this system would probably run about $170: $65 for buckets, $10 for a shallow tub in which to mix the growing medium with the spawn, $20 for the growing medium, and $75 for three bags of spawn. Of course, it will be cheaper if you use secondhand or salvaged items. During your first thirteen-week cycle you will basically be paying off the cost of any purchased materials, but the return on your investment will only get better after that. Thereafter, your costs for every thirteen-week cycle will be for the spawn and the growing medium (approximately $95, or $7.31 per week).

Given potential yields of 8.75 pounds per week and a value of $10 per pound, this production system can be a good investment. Aside from preparing the growing medium and filling the weekly container, the only maintenance it needs will be to rotate the containers once a week, to mist frequently, and to harvest the wonderful, protein-rich mushrooms—enough for a family of four to enjoy year-round. What is amazing is that this entire system takes up only about a 4-foot by 4-foot space, or 16 square feet, but it can be scaled to produce as many mushrooms as you, your family, and your neighbors can use. And after the buckets are finished fruiting, you can add composting red wiggler worms to produce soil that can be used to grow greens and other vegetables on sunny balconies and rooftops!

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas From Chelsea Green

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Thinking about cooking a pasture-raised turkey this year or adding a new recipe to your Thanksgiving repertoire? Look no further than these delicious dishes from our authors whose books focus on nourishing food and how to produce it sustainably.

Starting with the star of many Thanksgiving tables, Shannon Hayes (Long Way on a Little) walks you through how to prepare a pasture-raised turkey and gives you her favorite recipe for Walnut-Sausage Stuffing, in the excerpt below.

To add some leafy greens and fresh vegetables to the menu, Carol Deppe (The Resilient Gardener, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening) suggests building a salad without the use of dressing. Her technique involves balancing a mix of full-flavored greens and herbs with a variety of other complimentary ingredients to create biodiversity in a bowl.

On to the dessert! Michael Phillips (The Apple Grower, The Holistic Orchard) shares his recipe for Lost Nation Cider Pie. Named after his orchard in northern New Hampshire, this traditional apple pie is made with cider jelly. Making cider jelly is a separate process that may require more time than your normal pie recipe. But, it’s well worth the extra effort.

After that big meal your guests are going to want something warm and relaxing to curl up with by the fire. Katrina Blair (The Wild Wisdom of Weeds) offers a unique recipe you won’t find on many Thanksgiving menus – Thistle Chai Root Tea. Thistle can be found growing all over the country, usually near where people live. Blair says now is a great time to harvest thistle roots while the ground is still moist from fall precipitation. For tender roots, look for thistles that are a rosette of leaves rather than the ones that have already gone to seed.

Thistle Chai Root Tea – Blend all ingredients until fine and then strain for a finer consistency.

2 cups fresh thistle root, chopped 1 tsp cloves
1 cup cashews 1 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup honey 1 tsp nutmeg
4 cups water 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon 1-inch piece ginger

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Chelsea Green!

*****

Pastured Turkey Cooking Tips and Walnut-Sausage Stuffing Recipe
By Shannon Hayes

For the past week, farm families across the country (including my own) have been rising each morning to engage in what has become our own unique, albeit macabre, Thanksgiving Tradition. We are processing our turkeys.

Unlike the factory-farmed birds found in most grocery stores, these birds are usually processed just a few feet from the lush grasses where they were raised, quite often by the same hands that first gently set their newly hatched toes into a brooder, and then carefully moved them, once they were old enough, out to the fields for a few months of free-ranging turkey living. Now that the processing is complete, our birds sit in our coolers and await our customers, who will venture out to the farm for a tradition of their own, retrieving their annual Thanksgiving feast. For those of you who are new to this process, here is a list of tips to guide you through and make sure that you have a delicious holiday feast.

Please be flexible. If you are buying your pasture-raised turkey from a small, local, sustainable farmer, thank you VERY much for supporting us. That said, please remember that pasture-raised turkeys are not like factory-farmed birds. Outside of conscientious animal husbandry, we are unable to control the size of our Thanksgiving turkeys. Please be forgiving if the bird we have for you is a little larger or a little smaller than you anticipated. Cook a sizeable quantity of sausage stuffing if it is too small (a recipe appears below), or enjoy the leftovers if it is too large. If the bird is so large that it cannot fit in your oven, simply remove the legs before roasting it.

Know what you are buying. If you don’t personally know the farmer who is growing your turkey, take the time to know what you are buying! “Pastured” is not necessarily the same as “free-range.” Some grass-based farmers use the word “free-range” to describe their pasture-raised birds, but any conventional factory farm can also label their birds “free-range” if they are not in individual cages, and if they have “access” to the outdoors – even if the “outdoors” happens to be feces-laden penned-in concrete pads outside the barn door, with no access to grass. “Pastured” implies that the bird was out on grass for most of its life, where it ate grass and foraged for bugs, in addition to receiving some grain.

Brining optional. If tradition dictates that you season your meat by brining your bird, by all means, do so. However, many people brine in order to keep the bird from drying out. This is not at all necessary. Pastured birds are significantly juicier and more flavorful than factory farmed birds. You can spare yourself this extra step as a reward for making the sustainable holiday choice!

Monitor the internal temperature. Somewhere, a lot of folks came to believe that turkeys needed to be roasted until they had an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Yuck. You don’t need to do that. Your turkey need only be cooked to 165 degrees. If the breast is done and the thighs are not, take the bird out of the oven, carve off the legs and thighs, and put them back in to cook while you carve the breast and make your gravy. That entire holiday myth about coming to the table with a perfect whole bird and then engaging in exposition carving is about as realistic as expecting our daughters will grow up to look like Barbie (and who’d want that, anyhow?). Just have fun and enjoy the good food.

Cook the stuffing separately. I know a lot of folks like to put the stuffing inside their holiday birds, and if Thanksgiving will be positively ruined if you break tradition, then stuff away. However, for a couple reasons, I recommend cooking your stuffing separately. First, everyone’s stuffing recipe is different. Therefore, the density will not be consistent, which means that cooking times will vary dramatically. I am unable to recommend a cooking time, since I cannot control what stuffing each person uses. Also, due to food safety concerns, I happen to think it is safer to cook the stuffing outside the bird. Plus, it is much easier to lift and move both the bird and the stuffing when prepared separately, and to monitor the doneness of each. Rather than putting stuffing in my bird’s cavity, I put in aromatics, like an onion, carrot, garlic and some fresh herbs. When the bird is cooked, I add these aromatics to my compost heap. The aromatics perfume the meat beautifully, and the only seasoning I wind up using on the surface is butter, salt and pepper.

No need to flip. I used to ascribe to that crazy method of first roasting the bird upside down, then flipping it over to brown the breast. The idea was that the bird would cook more evenly, and the breast wouldn’t dry out. When I did this, the turkey came out fine. But I suffered 2nd degree burns, threw out my back, ruined two sets of potholders and nearly dropped the thing on the floor. Pasture-raised turkeys are naturally juicy. Don’t make yourself crazy with this stunt. Just put it in the oven breast-side up, like you would a whole chicken, and don’t over-cook it. Take it out when the breast is 165 degrees (see #2, above). If, despite the disparaging comments in item 2, above, you still want to show off the whole bird, then bring it into the dining room, allow everyone to ooh and aah, then scuttle back to the kitchen, and proceed as explained above.

Be ready for faster cook times. Pasture-raised turkeys will cook faster than factory-farmed birds. Figure on 12-15 minutes per pound, uncovered, at 325 degrees as you plan your dinner. That said, oven temperatures and individual birds will always vary. Use an internal meat thermometer to know for sure when the bird is cooked.

Use a good-quality roasting pan. If this is your first Thanksgiving and you do not yet own a turkey roasting pan and cannot find one to borrow, treat yourself to a really top-quality roaster, especially if you have a sizeable bird. (I don’t like to endorse products, but I must say that my favorite is the large stainless All-Clad roaster. Last I knew they were still made in the U.S.A. – but then, I bought mine ten years ago, so that may have changed. My mom has other name-brand roasting pans, and they are shabby in comparison to mine. Please don’t tell her I said that….) Cheap aluminum pans from the grocery store can easily buckle when you remove the bird from the oven, potentially causing the cook serious burns or myriad other injuries in efforts to catch the falling fowl. Plus, they often end up in the recycling bin, or worse, landfills.

Pick the meat off the bird before making stock. If you plan to make soup from your turkey leftovers, be sure to remove all the meat from the bones before you boil the carcass for stock. Add the chunks of turkey back to the broth just before serving the soup. This prevents the meat from getting rubbery and stringy. For an extra-nutritious stock, follow the advice offered in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water 30 minutes before you begin boiling the carcass or, better still, use the recipe for chicken stock in The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook. The process of adding acid to the stock draws more minerals from the bones and releases them into the liquid.

Recipe: Walnut Sausage Stuffing (serves 8)

INGREDIENTS
1 whole baguette, chopped into ½ inch cubes and allowed to sit out overnight
2 Tablespoons fennel seeds
1 cup walnuts, mildly crushed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1# Sweet Italian, Hot Italian, or Breakfast sausage
4 Tablespoons butter
4 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or use one cup fresh)
½ cup raisins
2 T rubbed sage
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brandy
6 eggs
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a mid-sized skillet up to a medium-hot temperature.
Add the fennel seeds and allow them to toast until fragrant.
Remove the seeds to a small dish, then add the walnuts to the same hot, dry skillet and allow them to toast 3-5 minutes, taking care to stir them constantly to prevent burning.
Pour the walnuts off into a large bowl.
Add olive oil to the same skillet, then fry the sausage until it is cooked through (about 8-10 minutes).
Remove the sausage to the same large bowl containing the walnuts.
Add the butter to the skillet, allowing it to melt and blend with the sausage drippings.
Add the onions and carrots, sauté 2 minutes, then add the cranberries and raisins and sauté two minutes longer.
Sprinkle the sage over the vegetables, sauté 1 minute, then add the garlic and toasted fennel seeds.
Sauté two minutes longer, then add the entire mixture into the large bowl with the walnuts and sausage.
To the same big bowl, add the bread, chicken broth, eggs, salt, pepper and brandy, and prepare to get messy.
Using your hands (or salad servers), thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, add the stuffing, then cover tightly with a piece of buttered aluminum foil.
Allow the stuffing to cook 35 minutes, the remove the foil and allow it to bake 30 minutes longer, until the top is nicely crisped and lightly browned.

Film Celebrates Life of Food Pioneer Joan Gussow

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

The New York Times has called Joan Gussow the “matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement.” Bestselling author Michael Pollan agrees, saying “Once in a while, I think I’ve had an original thought, then I look and read around and realize Joan said it first.”

This month, a new, 75-minute documentary film celebrating Gussow’s pioneering work will be premiered at the Teachers College.

On Monday, November 17th at 6pm, the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University will present the world premiere of Cultivation, a documentary film by Gioacchino Taliercio featuring the ground-breaking work of Gussow, the Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Education.

Gussow has been teaching the life-transformative course, “Nutritional Ecology” since 1970. With this course Joan pioneered a way to teach generations of nutrition students broad systems level thinking connecting human and ecological health. The film captures the essence of Joan’s teaching and celebrates her continued influence.19.3-M-gussow

She is also the author of the award-winning books Growing, Older and This Organic Life.

Filmmaker Taliercio is an Emmy Award-winning video journalist and graduate of the Nutrition and Education program at Teachers College.

The Tisch Food Center, housed in the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College Columbia University, cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates, with a focus on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. For more information about the Center, visit www.tc.edu/tisch

Tickets for the screening are free but space is limited. To register please visit: http://tccultivationfilm.eventbrite.com

If you would like to tweet about the film, use #CultivationFilm.

How to Use Lambsquarter from Root to Plant to Seed

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Some people might take one look at a patch of lambsquarter and yank it out of the ground to rid their garden or yard of an undesirable weed. Not wild-foods advocate and author Katrina Blair. At her home in Durango, CO, she tends to her lambsquarter and a number of other so-called weeds with the utmost care.

Why, you ask? Because according to Blair’s extensive research weeds are entirely misunderstood plants. In her new book, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, she focuses on the thirteen plants which together comprise a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.

Blair’s philosophy is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our feet, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we could potentially achieve true food security and optimal health.

Lambsquarter is one of Blair’s 13 “super weeds.” You can blend its leaves into a green juice, sprout its quinoa-like seeds and use them in a salad, mash its roots into a cleansing soap, and more. In the following excerpt, learn all about the edible and medicinal uses of lambsquarter and find recipes for a variety of lambsquarter-based foods and products.

Happy foraging!

*****

Edible Uses of Lambsquarter

Lambsquarter is exceptionally nutritious. Our bodies can produce fourteen of the essential amino acids, but eight of them need to be found in external sources. Lambsquarter is one of those valuable sources.

The whitish dust present on each leaf is made up of mineral salts from the soil and is an indication of its mineral-rich value. Often the lambsquarter leaves will taste salty and therefore make quite a nutritious salt replacement or addition to dishes! Lambsquarter seasoning is made easily by drying the leaves and mixing them with other spices.

Lambsquarter is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. For example, 3.5 ounces of raw lambsquarter, which is about 1 cup of greens, contains 73 percent vitamin A and 96 percent vitamin C of your recommended daily allowances suggested by the USDA. It is also a fantastic source of the B vitamins complex including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.

Use Like Spinach

Wild lambsquarter vary in their tastes. The flavor is related not only to different species, but also to the stages of growth and to the soil conditions. In general, however, all lambsquarter leaves are edible. The wild greens can be used just like spinach. They can be eaten fresh in salads, juiced, and added to any recipes that call for greens. They are best eaten when younger, however; when the leaves mature with age, the flavor can change due to a greater potency of oxalic acids. I find that when lambsquarter has built up too many oxalic acids, I experience a slight burning sensation in the back of my throat. This is why I recommend tasting the leaves by themselves before harvesting any quantity of them. This is especially important when making green juices or smoothies. When downing a liquid in several gulps, your body does not have the time to tell you to stop.

Harvest Seeds in the Fall

The seeds make a highly nutritious food staple for multiple uses in recipes. They can be harvested in the fall and ground into cereal or used as flour for bread. Similar to quinoa, lambsquarter seeds can be easily sprouted in one to two days. Add the sprouts to any meal to benefit from the rich nutrients.  Lambsquarter seeds also make great microgreens. They start out small and frail looking but given time grow into healthy plants with delicious flavor.

All lambsquarter seeds are edible; however, some are easier to use for a food staple than others. The wild versions have varying natures of seed production. Some varieties are easy to harvest and separate the chaff, while others are quite difficult. When possible, separate the seed from the outer layer and always taste the wild grains alone before adding any seasoning or salt, to get the true taste of the food. This practice will protect you from overeating something that your body would normally tell you to stop eating.

Wild grains are more potent than domesticated grains and a small amount is often enough to sustain your energy. Another way to increase the seeds’ resources is not to cook them, but instead to sprout them. Sprouting the seeds is a natural way to let the outer layer fall off on its own. Using lambsquarter sprouts is a way to increase seed benefits and sustain your winter storage to last even longer! If wild plants are potent already and go a long way, sprouted wild grains are even more concentrated in nutritional value and truly go the extra mile for supporting your optimal health.

Medicinal Uses of Lambsquarter

Lambsquarter is an important source of food that can be considered a key staple, while at the same time it is also an extremely valuable medicine. When the leaves are chewed into a green paste and applied to the body, it makes a great poultice for insect bites, minor scrapes, injuries, inflammation, and sunburn. The greens are beneficial for soothing arthritic joint pain when chewed into a mash and placed directly on the sensitive areas.

The leaves support the decrease of pain by reducing inflammation and bringing about an increase of circulation.

A tea of the leaves is beneficial for diarrhea, internal inflammation, stomach aches, and loss of appetite. The tea can also be used as a wash to heal skin irritations and other external complaints. Soaking the body in bathwater with lambsquarter tea added will support skin health by toning and tightening the tissues.

The green leaves when eaten in their fresh raw state are particularly beneficial for supporting the healing of anemic blood conditions. The leaves are exceptionally rich in iron and help to increase blood cell count and overall vitality of the circulatory system. The greens and seeds are very high in protein and phenolic content, and also have significant antioxidant capacity for eliminating unwanted free radicals in the body.

The roots contain a significant amount of saponin, which creates a natural soapy quality when mashed or beaten. In addition to the roots being extremely useful in making a cleansing soap, the composition of saponin also creates a cleansing and laxative effect in the body when drunk as a tea. Lambsquarter root tea is helpful for removing excesses from the body by the way of assisting elimination.

The young greens, especially when tender in the spring, can be juiced for their calcium and vitamins A, C, and B complex in addition to vital enzymes, chlorophyll, and trace minerals. The juice has a gentle detoxifying nature. Lambsquarter is an important green in this day and age of accumulated pollution. The greens are valuable for purifying the body of unwanted toxins due to their exceptionally high chlorophyll content. The chlorophyll binds with or chelates toxins that may be stored in fat cells and removes them in the urine. Our body is wise and tends to isolate toxins away from our vital organs by storing them in fat cells. When the toxins are released into the bloodstream it is key to have a source of chlorophyll to bind up the toxins until they are discharged from the body. We want to assure that they are not redeposited in the body while in the bloodstream. Fasting is a beneficial way to detoxify the body; however, because of the concentrations of petrochemicals found in our daily environment, it is wise to avoid fasting on water alone. It is best to have the support of wild greens in the form of dilute juices to protect our cleansing bodies from the potential side effects of environmental toxins causing harm on their way out.

The young lambsquarter green juice is delicious, but when the leaves get older, make sure to taste them first to know if the flavor is agreeable to you. The gentle astringent properties of lambsquarter make it healthy for tightening internal organs as well as externally for skin. The juice makes a beautifying and cleansing body wash. It is also a useful mouthwash for tightening the gums and eliminating bad breath.

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: Lambsquarter Recipes

Move Over Squirrels, It’s Acorn Harvesting Time

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

One thing you can count on this time of year is an abundance of acorns underfoot. Why should the squirrels have all these nutrient rich nuts to themselves?

Acorns are completely edible, according to fermentation expert Sandor Katz, and they have historically been a critical source of nutrition for many native peoples in North America and elsewhere.  In the following excerpt from his book, The Art of Fermentation, Katz encourages readers to tap into this abundant food resource and start experimenting with acorns.

Sorry squirrels.

*****

Acorns, the nuts of oak trees, are edible and in fact have been a critical source of nutrients for many native peoples in North America and elsewhere. In mainstream culture, however, acorns are largely ignored as a food for human consumption. Meanwhile, ironically, the imminent threat of global food shortages is continually being used to justify deforestation and intensifying biotechnology. I’m not saying anyone should subsist on acorns alone, but let’s tap into the abundant food resources we already have rather than acting based upon the myth of overall scarcity.

Acorn Harvesting Tips

Gather acorns in the fall. Reject any with visible worm holes. Air-dry acorns before storing. It is not a problem if acorns have already begun to sprout. California acorn enthusiast Suellen Ocean writes:

I like to gather sprouted acorns because the sprouting increases the acorn’s nutritional value. It is no longer in a “starch” stage, but has changed to a “sugar” stage. The sprouting also helps split them from the shell. It is beneficial because if it has sprouted, it’s a good acorn, and I haven’t wasted time gathering wormy ones. I’ve found that an acorn with a two-inch-long sprout is fine, as long as the acorn nut meat hasn’t turned green. I break off the sprout and continue.

Shell, Grind, and Soak

It is important to note that the acorns of many oak trees contain high levels of tannins and require leaching prior to consumption. To do this, remove acorns from their shells, grind, and soak in water. You can grind acorns dry using a mortar and pestle or mill, or mix acorns with water and grind in a blender or food processor. Acorns should be finely ground to expose lots of surface area, enabling the tannins to leach out.

Acorns can be leached in a fine mesh bag in a running stream (this is the fastest method), or in a series of soaks that can last for a few days. As acorn meal soaks, the meal will settle at the bottom of the vessel and the water will darken. Gently pour off the dark water at least daily and discard. Water will darken less with each soak, as tannin levels decrease. Keep rinsing with fresh water until it no longer darkens. If you wish to ferment acorn meal, leave it to soak a few more days in just a small amount of water after the tannins have been leached.

Acorns can be used to fortify and flavor many different foods. Once I made acorn gnocchi, which were excellent. Julia F. Parker, of the Miwok/Paiute people in California’s Yosemite Valley, wrote a beautiful book about acorn preparation called It Will Live Forever, in which she describes traditional techniques for making a simple porridge (nuppa) using only leached acorn meal and water, which is delicious! And on a website devoted to the language of another California tribe, the Cahto, I came across reference to “fermented acorn/acorn cheese” (ch’int’aan-noo’ool’). I have not found further information on fermented acorn cheese, nor have I experimented, but I include this tidbit in the hope that other acorn-loving fermenters will experiment in this vein.

Capturing Landscape in a Wine: The Unlikely Vineyard

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Is it possible to capture landscape in a bottle? To express its essence of place—geology, geography, climate, and soil—as well as the skill of the winegrower?

That’s what Deirdre Heekin and her chef/husband, Caleb Barber, set out to accomplish on their tiny, eight-acre hillside farm and vineyard in Vermont.

Our farming came from wanting to grow particular vegetables for our restaurant kitchen. Once we started going with the restaurant garden and farm, I also became interested in the process of making wine. I was doing a lot of work representing organic and biodynamic wine growers on our wine list. Intellectually, I knew the whole process of making wine, but I had never done it on my own. I wanted to do that, just for my own edification,” Heekin told Modern Farmer in a recent interview. “In the second year we went to go visit another Vermont vineyard that was making some really lovely wine and it dawned on us. We have a fantastic south facing slope that would be perfect for a vineyard, there are some great people doing it in Vermont — let’s just do it. We left that particular winery with 180 plants that day. We planted that summer. It has been full tilt growing as we go along. We are now in our fifth vintage.”

AnUnlikelyVineyardChallenged by cold winters, wet summers, and other factors, Heekin and her husband set about to grow not only a vineyard, but an orchard of heirloom apples, pears, and plums, as well as gardens filled with vegetables, herbs, roses, and wildflowers destined for their own table and for the kitchen of their small restaurant—Osteria Pane e Salute, a restaurant in Woodstock, Vermont.

But An Unlikely Vineyard involves much more. It also presents, through the example of their farming journey and winegrowing endeavors, an impressive amount of information on how to think about almost every aspect of gardening: from composting to trellising; from cider and perry making to growing old garden roses, keeping bees, and raising livestock; from pruning (or not) to dealing naturally with pests and diseases.

Accompanied throughout by lush photos (Heekin is also an avid Instragrammer), this gentle narrative will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.

An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir by Deirdre Heekin is now available.

Hot off the Press: New Fall Books!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

What better way to ease the transition from summer fun to the fall months than exploring all our exciting new books.

Whether you are looking for the ultimate mushroom guide; take the next leap in permaculture; get everything out of those weeds in your backyard; improve your digestive health or  just curl up with a  memoir — you’ll find that and much more!

For thirty years, Chelsea Green has published books that you will turn to again and again. We don’t cater to fads or trends, but focus on being a resource for a timeless and holistic approach.

Let our new fall releases inspire you with ideas and practical skills!

Happy reading from your friends at Chelsea Green Publishing.

 

Farming the Woods The Heal Your Gut Cookbook Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds Defending Beef Integrated Forest Gardening

Save 35% on our New Crop of Fall Books

An Unlikely Vineyard Angels by the River Slowspoke The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant
Carbon Shock In the Company of Bears Around the World in 80 Plants The Vegan Book of Permaculture

Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only). International orders can be placed by phone (802-295-6300) or email.


Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution.

In Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman — a longtime vegetarian — argues that cattle are neither inherently bad for the Earth nor is meat bad for our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe.

Hahn Niman, a former environmental attorney and activist, dispels popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false.  Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world the author shows how foods from cattle – milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass – are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.

She also criticizes the modern, industrial food system — especially as it pertains to meat production — for being harmful to animals, the environment, and our health. Here’s a short excerpt from the book’s final analysis:

“I will be the first to agree that industrial methods for raising farm animals are indefensible, and I believe all people should join in rejecting them. Having seen it in all its gory details, I have no qualms about calling industrialized animal production a routinized form of animal torture. While Prohibitionists attacking innocent apple trees with axes seem absurd to us today, a lot of discussion over the ethics of meat eating likewise focuses on the wrong villain. Industrial animal production is rightly vilified; animal farming, on the other hand, is not.

What has really fostered my interest in the debate over meat eating is not a desire to encourage meat consumption but a longing for some nuance in the discussion. The issue is far from black-and-white, and polarized camps lobbing accusations at each other only hinder movement toward a better system. Building a food system that is more ecological and more humane is far more important to me than whether or not so-and-so is eating meat.

I believe the real issue is whether we humans are living up to our responsibilities of good stewardship of animals and the earth. Michael Pollan and others have proposed the idea that animals “chose” domestication based on a sort of “bargain” with humanity.  (…) However, it’s reasonable to assume, as well, that animals would never have opted for such an arrangement if torture had been part of the deal. Stated simply: By raising animals in factory farms, humans are violating their age-old contract with domesticated animals.

(…)

Individuals and groups are rightly concerned about adequate food supplies for the future. But they would do well to focus their attention on this imminent crisis, and on the way livestock are managed on the land, rather than on the absolute number of livestock, which has little significance. Properly managed grazing animals are an important part of the solution to feeding the world in the future.”

 For more from Defending Beef, click here to read the Preface and Introduction.

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