In 2010 my friend Dana and I co-created monthly circles for families called BabyNet Community. At one of our very first meetings, we encouraged people to bring their favorite, kid-friendly snacks. The power of watching someone else eat healthy foods (and enjoy it) was apparent. Moms were so excited to see their kids eating peppers, squash, and zucchini.
What helped make those healthy snacks a hit was Dana’s homemade ranch dressing. It's a staple in our home, and our farm members are always excited to receive it in their share. To this day, anywhere we do veggie sampling, we still offer it with a side of this tasty ranch. It's famous.
Dana’s homemade ranch recipe:
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream or buttermilk
½ teaspoon each, dried
Parsley, Chives, Onion, Garlic
¼ teaspoon dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
Something as simple as having a delicious dip or dressing can go a long way for encouraging people to try a new veggie. Around our house, it's helped me get a quick lunch of cut-up vegetables and ranch on the table in just a few minutes. It's also a fast and delicious favorite when we attend gatherings and want to make use of all the veggies in the fridge.
As we transitioned to sourcing more of our protein from local farmers we knew that someday we would be raising our own. Fortunately, we had been offered the advice to slowly phase into protein once we became more established as full-time fruits and vegetable farmers. It's proved to be useful advice.
We raise about 24 hogs and 600 chickens here on the farm to feed about a dozen households and ourselves. We are in the process of adding in beef cattle and eggs as well. Until then, we can work with neighboring farms to source what isn't raised here.
Good quality protein is such an essential part of a healthy diet. Thankfully, fats are getting less of a bad rap and folks are realizing that they make you healthy, happy and I believe, wise. The Weston A. Price and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing traditions are a great place to begin if you want to incorporate more healthy fats and animal proteins into your diet.
Bone broth is a staple with proteins as is steak, pork chops and roasted chicken as a quick and easy dinner plan. We use the crockpot or Dutch oven to make roast beef or pork shoulder at least one day a week. Organ meats such as liver and hearts and chicken feet are also growing in good old-fashioned popularity as we recognize their nutritional value.
Roast with Veggies
3-5 pound roast
1 quart bone Broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven (or the crockpot if that's easier). Place on low heat for 6-8 hours.
In 2009 Nathan and I took the “eat local challenge,” a nationwide campaign that aimed to encourage households to commit to as much local food as possible. Some folks committed to a meal a week or even a day. Being an all or nothing kind of gal, I went all in, every meal for a month. That quickly became every meal for the summer until fall. As winter approached I wanted to continue, but, at the time, there were no winter markets and in fact very few options for locally, seasonally grown produce.
When Community Farmers Market opened their year-round doors in 2011, we found ourselves in a haven of winter options just as we as farmers started extending our season. A staple on the seasonally sourced winter menu is cooked greens.
Nathan learned how to grow as many different varieties as possible and out of necessity I've learned how to cook them. I love surprising folks with my favorite mustard green recipe because it quickly becomes one of their favorites too.
Sautéed Mustard Greens
Mustard greens (several large handfuls)
Salt to taste
Brown bacon in skillet removing bacon once crisp (I often use bacon fat from the morning’s breakfast), then sauté onion in the same pan. Wilt as many greens as will fit in your pot or pan over the hot grease and onion. Add bacon back in as garnish and drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar. We love the fig balsamic from Stuarto’s Olive Oil Company (locations in Bowling Green and Lexington, KY,).
After formula feeding my first child, we were surprised when our daughter Elizabeth was born and refused both bottle and pacifier. I began an exclusive breastfeeding relationship with her that I wasn't prepared for. I was encouraged by those in public health that our bodies were designed to prepare this food--something I had never considered before. When it was time to start solids, knowing that breast milk was the best first food, we looked to locally, seasonally grown fruits and vegetables as the next best food thanks to support from the local health department and the WIC program.
Years later, when we discovered that Lilah had severe food sensitivities and leaky gut, an important part of her healing protocol was nourishing broth and real food. We now know that broth is the best next food for babies, and we're sure to make sure that Sterling ate plenty when he began solids. It's also the perfect nourishing food for anyone with illness, sensitivities or digestive upset.
At least a few times a year—and always in January—our family allows our tummies a break by following a diet rich in bone broth, healthy fats, and vegetables. The new year, followed by the busyness of the holiday season, makes for perfect timing.
Classic Bone Broth
Salt and peppercorns
2 gallons filtered water (add more as needed)
Broth is a simple food requiring only what you have on hand and time. The base can be whole chickens, leftover bones, fish heads, chicken feet or any other leftover meat, bone or marrow from earlier cooking. Most often, I just take a whole chicken and combine it with onions and other vegetables we have available. Cover with water, bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 12-24 hours. The chicken can be removed and used in other meals (we normally shred it for a nourishing chicken salad). Over time you will learn how you prefer your broth. Just get started!
Broth keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. It's perfect to drink daily or as needed for healing. It’s used in so many soups, stews and other recipes that it makes a great staple to keep on hand.