Monday, May 30, 2011
Beyond Farm-to-School: Bluebird CSA KidsBox
Recently I've been telling you a lot about CSA boxes. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture; basically, you prepay for a box of fresh, in-season produce grown by your local farmers. I was so excited when I learned that the Bluebird CSA program was coming out with a new program called the Bluebird Garden Fresh KidsBox! The KidsBox is a special box of fresh veggies and fruits especially for kids. Patti Robinson of Bluebird explains, "... the KidsBox is a step beyond farm-to-school... fun to dedicate a CSA box as kid-friendly with a healthy recipe each week that would be quick and easy for children over the summer to prepare using box contents.
Bluebird Garden Fresh KidsBox is available for a summer of affordable, quick and easy meals that can be prepared by children in the kitchen [or on the grill] with the help of a parent. Young people benefit from learning how to prepare garden fresh meals in simple ways for busy lives. The aim is to provide 12 weeks of recipes, courtesy of Chef Lizzie of Lizzie Marie Cuisine, and activities over 2011 summer vacation to pave the way for a lifetime of healthy habits that are a delicious alternative. Contents are suitable for 1-2 children depending on portion size. Included are recipes for kids, Eat the Alphabet game and more. Your child receives an assortment: Honey Straws or Local honeybear [tiny size], Cherry tomatoes, Butterbeans, greenbeans or peas [peas come shelled], Melon [cantaloupe or individual size watermelon], Greens [Dinosaur Kale, spinach, etc.], Berries [berries in season], Fruit [peaches, plums, fruit in season], Corn [in husk suitable for roasting], and Root Veggie [carrots, potatoes]."
I was also really excited when Bluebird presented me with an internship: Bluebird CSA Local Foods System Internship. For the next 12 weeks I'll be writing recipes using the produce found in the weekly KidsBox and the recipes will be included in every KidsBox.
The other day we picked up my very first KidsBox to see what would be included in the box. It was super heavy; 32 pounds of fresh fruits and veggies, just for kids! There was so much yummy looking produce in the box like squash, peaches, mini plums, honey sticks, peach cider and a watermelon! It was also cool because they included a kite to encourage kids to play! I can't wait to see what's in next week's KidsBox!
Be sure to visit Bluebird CSA to order your KidsBox.
Let me know how your kids like their KidsBox and share your recipes with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @TheLizzieMarie.
Thanks for reading!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Recipe: Fruit Cooler
- 2 cup Strawberries, remove green, rinse and cut in half
- 3 scoops Watermelon, use an ice cream scoop
- 1 tablespoon Local honey or organic sugar
- 2 cups Crushed ice
- 1/4 cup sparkling water (I like Pellegrino brand)
- Splash of sparkling water
- Optional: if you have fresh mint, rinse a few leaves clean with water and use as a garnish in your glass
Place first 5 ingredients into blender, blend until smooth. If the ingredients are blending easily, add a little extra sparkling water. Pour into glasses and top with a splash of sparkling water which adds a great fizz to the drink. Add a mint leaf to your glass for a fun garnish. Yields 2 servings. I added a few blueberries to the batch in the photo which was tasty too.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
It's All Greek to Me: The Greek Yogurt Trend
Nowadays I’ve been hearing a lot about Greek yogurt and there are a lot of brands out there. Greek yogurt is different from regular yogurt because it is strained, which removes more water and make the Greek yogurt more thick and creamy. There is also more protein in Greek yogurt than in regular yogurt. Which one should you buy? That’s what I’m here for! I decided to pick 3 brands and critique them on taste, nutritional value and overall yumminess! I’ll then rate the yogurt on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.
The first brand I tried was Voskos Greek Yogurt. The yogurt was light and creamy, and it had a great flavor! One container of Voskos Greek Yogurt has 13 grams of protein, 13 grams of sugar and 120 calories. I give Voskos 8 out of 10.
The second brand I tried was Brown Cow Greek Yogurt. The Brown Cow Greek Yogurt was not as light and creamy. It was heavy and it wasn’t as flavorful. One container of Brown Cow Greek Yogurt contains 13 grams of protein, 17 grams of sugar and 130 calories. I give Brown Cow Greek yogurt 6.5 out of 10.
The final brand I tried was Fage Greek Yogurt. The Fage Greek Yogurt was thick and creamy, and it had a really good flavor. One container of Fage Greek Yogurt contains 10 grams of protein, 17 grams of sugar and 130 calories. I give Fage Greek Yogurt 8.5 out of 10.
There are 3 main things that make these yogurts different. The Voskos Greek Yogurt had its strawberry flavor mixed throughout the yogurt. The Brown Cow Greek Yogurt had the strawberry flavor on the bottom of the cup. Finally, the Fage Greek Yogurt had a little container on the side of the yogurt with the strawberry flavor for you to mix in however much you wanted.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tiny Tidbits: Separating Eggs
I'm really excited to share with you all the launch of my new online video series called Tiny Tidbits! My goal for Tiny Tidbits is to give you quick and easy tips on cooking, exercising and much more. Plus, the videos are all under 60 seconds! Tiny Tidbits is the perfect place to learn what brand of Greek yogurt to buy or even how to wash lettuce the right way. I hope my Tiny Tidbits help bring a dash of flavor and a pinch of health into your life.
Remember: it doesn't matter how much time you have because there's always time to live healthy.
Thanks for reading and look out for more Tiny Tidbits videos!
Monday, May 23, 2011
Interview: Frank Mason - CSAs and Farmers Markets: Hyper-Local or Hardly-Local?
I recently interiewed Frank Mason, who is the creator of the Bluebird CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in Griffin, Georgia. I recently learned the meaning of hyper-local: 'supporting the residents in a community'. For example, the Bluebird CSA sells produce only from Georgia farmers. Another thing I learned is the difference between a CSA box and a farmers market. Customers pre-pay for a CSA box and they can't pick what produce they want in the box, but they get the freshest produce in season from local farmers.
At a farmers market people can pick what produce they want and pay the farmer at the market. Farmer Bob James in Griffin, Georgia explained that there sometimes there is a lot of leftover produce that doesn't sell at farmers markets which is not a good thing for farmers. He said it takes a long time to harvest the items and then farmers sit all day at a market hoping to sell everything. Farmer Bob explained CSAs are great for farmers because customers pay for their boxes first, then farmers know exactly how much fruits and vegetables to pick and deliver so there is no waste like there can be with a farmers market.
Sydney Jarrett - Miss Bluebird Festival Outstanding Teen 2011 crowned by Miss America Organization, Lizzie Marie - founder of Lizzie Marie Cuisine and Frank Mason - founder of Bluebird CSA.
Some friends of mine ordered a CSA box from a different program (there are a lot of new CSA programs popping up all over Georgia). The program they ordered their box from said their vegetables and fruits came from local farmers. However, when my friends opened the box they found rotten celery and discovered that some of produce was from Washington state according to the little stickers on the produce! My family had a very similar experience last year. We went to a local farmer's market--again the people said that the produce was from local farmers--and we bought some fresh vegetables. It wasn't until we got home that my mom realized that the produce was actually from Mexico (the little sticker was there to prove it)! Beware of the faux-local CSA programs out there!
Thanks for reading,
Monday, May 16, 2011
You know how those really experienced chefs don't need to use a spatula, they just jerk the pan to flip the food? After watching my Julia Child The Way to Cook DVD, I was able to flip without a spatula while making Chicken Parmesan! I was kind of nervous because I had never tried it before, but once you do it once, you realized how fun and easy it is! It's easier to flip small, solid things like chicken than it is to flip an omelette or a pancake. My mom tried and she was able to do it too! A tip for practicing this technique is putting some dry beans in a pan and trying to flip those. It's pretty hard since the beans most likely will roll out all over the place (my dogs got a little snack when I tried this).
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Recipe: Chicken Parmesan
My mom recently showed me some of Mark Bittman's online cooking videos. I thought they were great! I found a video of his where he cooked Parmesan Chicken with Jamie Oliver. I watched it and it looked delicious. Mom and I decided to recreate it at home. Here's the recipe:
- 4 thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breast (if thin cut is not available, regular chicken breasts are fine)
- 8 slices Prosciutto de Parma
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, strip leaves off stem
- 2 large fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1 lemon, zest
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Parmesano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- To taste, sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Plastic wrap
Tear off one large piece of plastic wrap double the size of your chicken breast and lay flat on kitchen counter. Place one chicken breast onto center of plastic wrap. Lightly salt chicken then add a little bit of lemon zest and a couple pinches of fresh herbs. Next, grate cheese onto chicken. Top chicken with two slices of prosciutto. Fold over plastic wrap to cover top of chicken. Beat plastic wrapped chicken with a small pan until flat. Heat skillet over medium heat; add oil to skillet. Cook chicken, prosciutto side down first for about 3 - 5 minutes until prosciutto is crispy. Flip chicken and cook about 3 more minutes. Prepare the remaining chicken breasts as above and cook. Delish with a side of steamed asparagus and mashed cauliflower.
You can serve the Parmesan Chicken with any healthy side item; salad, steamed asparagus, mashed cauliflower etc. You can also try making this dish Mexican by using red pepper flakes, oregano and lime zest and using monterey jack cheese instead of Parmesano Reggiano.
I'm also really excited because I'm going to be cooking my Waffadilla recipe at a home-school event for some graduating seniors. It should be a lot of fun, because Waffadillas are the perfect dorm-friendly meal. You can make a lot with waffle irons these days; so far I've made a grilled cheese sandwich, a panini, a calzone and quesadillas! Can you think of any other thins you could make in a waffle iron? Send me a Tweet: @TheLizzieMarie.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
East Atlanta Village Farmers Market
I love farmers markets which are basically markets where different people (some are even farmers, go figure) sell their homemade foods, products and fresh produce. Farmers markets are close to my heart because I started Lizzie Marie Cuisine at my local farmers market. I went to the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market on Cinco de Mayo and I had a blast! Even though the market was small, it was pretty crowded. The main reason I went to the market was to pick up some Flott tuna. Flott tuna is tuna imported from Italy, but instead of the tuna being in water, it's sealed in olive oil! When you cook with the tuna, do not throw out the olive oil because that's the best part! The only place I could find Flott tuna was in Florida, so I was ecstatic when I found a local supplier. I also picked up some vegetarian lasagna which was delicious from Urban Cannibals!
I tried a lot of different foods, too, like a Mexican Coke Float in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. A Mexican Coke Float uses Mexican Coke that has only real cane sugar and no artificial sweeteners. Instead of ice cream, I got lemon-lime sorbet. It was divine! I also tried Beef Stock Jalapeno Peppers boiled peanuts (yum) and a vegetarian taco. Some other things we picked up were pimento cheese with roasted red peppers from Grace's Goodness, Jerusalem sesame and regular sesame bagels, a garlic scape (baby garlic that is green and curly), lettuces and Easter egg radishes (they were pink, purple and white). The Jerusalem bagel (left in photo) was slightly darker than the regular sesame bagel (right in photo) and was a bit sweet. The pimento cheese was amazing on the toasted bagels.
In my online high school, different students run different clubs. I happen to run the Culinary Club. A couple of days after our farmer's market adventure, I asked my mom if she could turn the garlic scape into a couture hat for me to wear during the Culinary Club meeting. My mom clipped it to my hair and it looked amazing! I looked like I was ready to attend the Royal Wedding. Unfortunately, during the middle of the meeting the garlic scape fell out and I was left with oddly-smelling hair. Have you ever made a food-fashion-statement? If so, do tell on Twitter @TheLizzieMarie.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Recipe: Powerhouse Pancakes
I woke up today craving pancakes. Most pancake recipes aren't that healthy though, because they contain a good amount of sugar and no fiber. I then remembered a recipe for healthy pancakes that my dad used to make a lot. I like to call them Powerhouse Pancakes (or waffles). They're super easy, healthy and yummy! Plus they're a great recipe to make for your mom on Mother's Day!
Powerhouse Pancakes or Waffles
- 1/3 cup cottage cheese
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Small handful walnuts or almonds (optional)
- Dash of cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- Toppings: agave syrup, pure maple syrup, 100% all fruit preserves or fresh fruit
Place cottage cheese, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg into blender or food processor and add oats and baking powder last. A hand blender works best. Blend until smooth, the consistency of thick pancake batter. Heat griddle or medium pan on medium heat, add butter to pan. Pan/griddle is ready when you place a few drops of water onto it and water sizzles immediately. Pour batter onto griddle/pan to make pancake. Cook until bubbles appear on top of pancake and edge of pancake appears dry. Flip pancake and cook about 2 more minutes until batter is cooked through. Serve with topping of your choice. This batter can also be cooked in a waffle maker. One pancake is full of fiber and protein which will keep you feeling full for a while. One powerhouse pancake topped with agave syrup is very low on the glycemic index and is great for diabetics. This means the sugar in the agave syrup releases slowly in the bloodstream, instead of spiking really fast like other syrups. My Pa is diabetic and he loves these pancakes.
Yields: 1 serving, double ingredients to make two pancakes
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Interview: Mary Anne
I recently visited my grandparents, who I call Ma and Pa. I also met one of their neighbors, Mary Anne. Mary Anne told me how she watched me on the Rachael Ray show and how she was inspired to make a healthy change in her life. I interviewed Mary Anne about her journey.
1. LM: Why did you decide to make a healthy change in your life?
MA: Actually, for me it has been a life long challenge. I knew I needed to make some changes especially concerning my eating habits. Then I saw Lizzie on the Rachel Ray Show telling America of her concerns about obesity in our society - to see someone so young take on this cause just inspired me! Lizzie inspired me to finally start the change I needed. I had been dragging my feet for several months but seeing and hearing Lizzie challenged me; I joined a weight loss program the very next week.
2. LM: What do you like to do for exercise?
MA: I have to admit I'm terrible when it comes to exercise. I am constantly in motion at work, I do yard work, but have not, yet at least, made a commitment to an exercise schedule. Currently the weight loss program I joined is encouraging us to walk, to start at 10 minutes a day and build up to 45 minutes, 5 days a week. They just gave me a schedule this week with a goal of walking a 5K in May. So, I am going to try to this!
3. LM: Do you have any tips for people going through the same journey as you?
MA: The best tip is just to take 1 day at a time. It is a very tough journey and there are not magic pills; it is just one foot in front of the other. Also, do not give up if you should stumble. Be conscious of the things you eat that make you feel better physically. I have noticed that I feel much better now that I am eating less processed foods. I have fewer aches and pains.
4. LM: What was the most difficult thing for you to overcome?
The most difficult thing is getting started; that first step, and I'm so glad that I live across the street from Lizzie's Grandparents so that I knew to watch the Rachel Ray Show — that was my "ah ha" moment: that got me to take that first step. Then I started to check out Lizzie's website. So now I need to keep overcoming things, like eating less processed foods, taking the time to make things from fresh products and finding more recipes. I'm constantly looking for ways to improve upon the foods that I like so that they are healthier for me. This will be an ongoing journey!
5. LM: Can you share one or two healthy recipes?
MA: One recipe I'd like to share is how I've made having "spaghetti" healthier. Instead of pasta I use Spaghetti Squash.
You can purchase Spaghetti Squash at most supermarkets or produce stands. It is not difficult to cook, simply cut it in half, scrap out the seeds with a spoon. Place it cut side down in a container that can go in the microwave, add 1/4 cup water and cook for 7 minutes. Turn over the squash and see if you can start to scrape the inside with a fork. If it seems a bit tough, cook for another minute or so. Now scrape out the insides, you will see that they come out like strands of spaghetti. Cook your other half.
Now comes the fun part, you can cover it with whatever you like:
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Parmesan Cheese, and butter (I use butter spray) and garlic and parsley
Anything that you might have done with spaghetti you can do with this squash - and the squash literally has no calories. So enjoy!
Thanks for reading!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Scones and Giada
As I'm sure all of you know, the Royal Wedding between Catherine Middleton and Prince William occurred on Friday. I decided that I wanted to watch this event, and my mum suggested we make scones for the morning of the wedding. We decided to make cranberry blood-orange scones. They were utterly fabulous, darling. I quite enjoyed them. This was my first time making scones, and I did need some help from my mum. First, the butter wouldn't cooperate and it wouldn't blend with the flour! Then the dough was very sticky and most of it stuck to the cutting board. Finally, I rolled the dough too thin and had to do the whole dough thing over again! I have to admit, I went a little crazy with dough as you can see in the picture.... but in the end, they turned out splendid.
For dinner that night we decided to have fish and chips. I had been watching a food/travel show and the host went across the pond to England. She had fish and chips, and I said to my mum, "We should try making baked fish and chips!" My mum loved the idea and so we tried it out that evening. We took cod and coated it in Panko, a Japanese style breadcrumbs, and baked it. To make the chips we sliced potatoes very thin and covered drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked those as well. It was delicious!
My dad had to go to England to do some work. One night he decided to order Indian food. You might not know this, but England is known for having very good Indian food! My dad ordered Tandoori Chicken, basically a chicken roasted in spices, naan which is very thin dough with subtle seasonings, kind of like flatbread, and Lamb Vindaloo, a curry-like dish that is usually very spicy. My dad said the Tandoori Chicken was amazing; he said it was one of the best he's ever had. The naan, he said, was delicious as well. My dad said that the Lamb Vindaloo was spicy, yummy and "lamb-y".
This weekend I went to a big cooking event in Atlanta called the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show. My mum had given me tickets to see Giada de Laurentiis, my favorite Food Network chef, cook at this event! Before we got to see Giada, though, we walked around and visited a lot of different food booths and tried some of their food. I tried chocolate-covered toffee, fudge, relish, pound cake, orange juice, bread and olive oil, stir-fry, barbecue chicken with hot sauce, dark chocolate peanut butter and (believe it or not) spicy peanut butter! My favorites were the dark chocolate peanut butter, the barbecue chicken with hot sauce and the fudge. My mum and I did some shopping too; we bought 2 jars of the dark chocolate peanut butter, 1 jar of the spicy peanut butter, some different hot sauces and spices, a garlic peeler/chopper, a cookbook signed by Giada de Laurentiis, and one of Mario Batali's cookbooks. Then we got to see Giada cook. She made orzo with a tomato vinaigrette, salmon cakes and a strawberry parfait with a brown sugar crumble on top. It all looked delicious! I had a wonderful day, and I hope I can go again next year.
Thanks for reading!