Summertime produce makes for a great Mango Chutney

FullSizeRender (10)Attention: summer is beginning to show itself in the produce section!

I recently picked up some mangoes that were on sale, and they looked absolutely amazing. Mangoes go great as a sweet balance to spicy foods, and they are usually found in mild/sweet salsas or guacamoles. I definitely recommend picking up a mango for your next taco night. The sweet mango sugar balances and can even highlights the hotter flavors.

Although I love spicy food, I decided to make a sweet tropical chutney with the mangoes I bought. Chutneys are common to Indian cuisine and usually include spicy flavors, but I wanted to keep this recipe light and refreshing. I also love tropical flavors, and I think something about citrus just sends me to a beach in paradise. Nothing beats citrus flavors on a hot afternoon.

This recipe is so simple, and I love that I was able to include fresh strawberries as well. Strawberries are still in season, so be sure to make the most of the fresh fruits while you can.

Ingredients (makes about 3.5 cups)
2 large mangoes, diced
Approx. ¼ of purple onion, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
½ lemon
1 tsp. lemon zest (approx. ½ lemon)
½ cup strawberries diced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp. salt

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Dice produce and combine in medium-sized bowl. Squeeze lemon juice of half fresh lemon into the bowl. Add chopped parsley, lemon zest, and salt. Taste, and adjust seasonings until desirable.

The sweet mango and strawberries paired perfectly with the fresh parsley. I served my family this chutney over some grilled salmon, and I imagine other fish like tilapia, mahi-mahi, or trout would also taste delicious topped with this perfectly light relish. Another option I recommend is mixing this mango chutney with couscous or quinoa for a refreshing salad!

The ingredients do all the work to make this chutney incredible. You can even serve this as a dip with pita chips.

 

Good luck, and happy cooking!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

IMG_3953May is my favorite month, not only because it marks the beginning of summer, but also because I have many fond memories of strawberry picking in mid-May. Buying local Virginia-grown strawberries here at the Food Co-op is a great alternative to picking your own fruit, especially if you do not have the time to visit a strawberry farm. The strawberries I bought at the Food Co-op were delicious and perfectly ripe.
Strawberries are my favorite fruit. Finding a perfectly sweet, juicy and bite-sized strawberry will just warm your heart in contentment! These fruits are great in smoothies, yogurt, and salads. It is important to eat plenty of raw fruits to allow your body to absorb the maximum nutrients. High in antioxidants like Vitamin C and manganese as well as potassium and vitamin K, strawberries are sweet sources of necessary vitamins that are best available to your body when eaten raw. Pack a cup of strawberries with your lunch, or nibble on them as a sweet snack or dessert!
The season for strawberries peaks in late May, so now is the perfect time to plan out all your favorite fresh strawberry recipes. This pie is oh-so-yummy as a dessert on summer evenings and certainly easy enough to prepare for the next cook-out or dinner with friends. The recipe takes no time at all; in total, I prepared this strawberry pie within 30 minutes. Aside from baking the crust a bit, this pie does not require baking in the oven. I love that this recipe is “no-bake” because this makes it even easier to prepare! The ingredient list calls for a lot of strawberries (about 2 pints of strawberries from the Co-op), packing the pie with lots of the awesome and natural fruit sugars. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients (Makes 1 pie)
2 pints strawberries, sliced (approximately 4 c.)
2 cups sugar
16 oz. or 1 block of cream cheese (best used at room temperature)
1 pie crust, purchased or homemade

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Bake the pie crust at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place cream cheese in the crust. As the cream cheese melts, it will become easily spreadable. Spread the cream cheese to create a base a layer on the crust. Layer the cream cheese with half the sliced strawberries (approximately 2 cups). Create the strawberry sauce by combining the remaining sliced strawberries and 2 cups of sugar in a nonstick pot. Simmer the mixture on the stove to release the natural fruit sugars, and a syrup-like liquid will form. Boil the strawberry syrup sauce for about 15 minutes until the syrup thickens to a sauce. Stir frequently to avoid burning the sugar. Next, pour the hot strawberry sauce over the sliced strawberry layer. Allow the pie to cool for several hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
The cream cheese base layer contributes a great contrasting texture and creaminess to the pie. If your diet does not include dairy ingredients, vegan cream cheese can be made within 48 hours using raw cashews, apple cider vinegar, water, and lemon juice. You can also purchase vegan cream cheese (Tofutti) at the Food Co-Op, which will supply an equally creamy texture.
I bought my own pie crust, but if you are more adventurous than I was feeling, try making your own crust! Recipes for pie crust are not complicated; simply mix several ingredients and bake. However, this process will tack on quite a bit of time to baking. I found my strawberry pie was delicious inside a store-bought crust!
I hope fresh strawberries make it home with you after your next trip to the Co-Op. You will be delighted with the natural sweetness of the little fruits especially in this simple Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie!
Happy cooking!

Granola Bars

I personally love granola bars. They make for easy grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks. I recently decided to make my own homemade recipe with a few simple ingredients. These fresh bars are sweet, salty, and both perfectly crunchy and chewy. These little creations are affordable to make. The ingredients do the work in this recipe. All you need to do is mix, chill, and enjoy your tasty bars!

Fresh Medjool dates are the base of these bars and deserve all the yummy credit. Dates have numerous health benefits including a rich vitamin content including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, thiamin, and riboflavin. Dates are also high in fiber, making them a great fruit to be consumed for digestive relief. Spreading fresh date paste on bread or swirled into yogurt are great ways to make a sweet snack from the yummy fruit.

Dates blend down to a moist sticky base which binds the granola bars together well. I’m a big peanut butter lover, so I added extra peanut butter. I was also sure to use crunchy peanut butter for added chunkiness!

Ingredients

½ c. Rolled oats
½ c. Peanut Butter, salted
1 ½ c. Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp. Chia seeds
1tsp. Vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Optional: Chocolate chips

Soak dates in warm water for 10 minutes. Once softened, add the fruit to a food processor and grind down to a paste. The mix will form a moist ball when done. Transfer dates to a large bowl, and mix with peanut butter, vanilla, and chia seeds using a spoon. Next, add oats to the mixture, and stir until ingredients are well incorporated.

Transfer your granola mixture to parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cut into desired bar sizes or small balls. Chill in the refrigerator until the bars have set or approximately 30 minutes. And of course, last but not least – enjoy your tasty creation!
Good luck, and happy cooking!

Avocado Cream Sauce

FullSizeRender-7-237x300Avocados are a top emerging superfood. The green fruit has become a “hot” food known for being high in healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals. You may be surprised to know that one avocado has more potassium than a banana, as well as four grams of protein! Avocados are also an excellent source of folate and vitamin E.
In the world of cooking and baking, avocados may be easily substituted for butter or oil. Avocados are also highly versatile and easily take on surrounding ingredient flavors. This recipe blends ripe avocados and fresh basil for a light and flavorful pasta dish. Without pine nuts, this avocado pesto is cheaper than homemade pesto, and with avocado instead of butter and whole milk, this recipe supplies nourishing fats your body needs. Avocado cream sauce tastes delicious over rotini or angel hair pasta. It equally compliments blackened chicken breast, salmon filets, or quinoa and roasted vegetables!

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1 large ripe avocado, pitted
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 c. fresh chopped basil
1/3 c. fresh chopped parsley
1/4 c. milk or dairy-free milk
2 tbsps. lime juice
½ tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Desired amount of spaghetti or about 2-3 servings
Optional: grated parmesan and diced grape tomatoes

Combine garlic, avocado, lime juice, olive oil, and milk in a food processor. Blend until thickly mashed. Then add basil, parsley, red pepper, black pepper, and salt. Blend until combined. Cook pasta for approximately 4 minutes. Mix avocado sauce from food processor with drained pasta. Serve warm with sharp grated parmesan and fresh grape tomatoes!
I have made this avocado pasta recipe many times, and it is truly one of my favorite meals. I am always impressed with how elegant this nutritious dinner feels while taking half the time and cost of a homemade alfredo or pesto sauce!
Try this recipe soon!
Happy cooking!

 

MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

FullSizeRender-3-300x291A flavorful dip leaves a lasting impression on guests during a season of potlucks and social gatherings. Spinach artichoke dip is a yummy classic. Most people who dislike artichokes, do enjoy spinach artichoke dip for its flavor and creaminess.
The holiday season is notorious for fattening and high-calorie foods. Additionally, the snacky aspect of dips makes them easy to overeat. This recipe is low-fat and high-protein thanks to the substitution of Greek yogurt and white beans, while being just as delicious.

 

 

Ingredients (Makes 3 cups of dip)

  • 4 cups spinach
  • Approx. 4 cups artichoke hearts (2 cans of artichoke hearts), chopped if large
  • 4oz. low-free cream cheese, soft
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 medium jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 cup, plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup, Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. fresh basil

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan, and sauté onions and garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add artichokes, jalapenos, and ½ tsp. salt.
Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the artichokes are soft. Add spinach, and cook until wilted. In a food processor, blend white beans and cream cheese until smooth.
Remove from processor to a medium sized bowl. Add Greek yogurt, Parmesan, spices, and ½ tsp. salt to the bowl as well. Mix in the artichokes and spinach, and pour into a casserole dish. Cover with foil, and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Uncover and broil for another 5-8 minutes until golden.

I loved how this recipe turned out. It hits the spot just like your favorite restaurant dip, while replacing some of the high-fat ingredient. With healthy twists on classic favorites, indulging during the holidays may be good for your health.
Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

 

MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Turnip Puree

IMG_2990-300x300Is anyone else getting a little bored with roasted vegetables? It seems to me that every simple recipe for root vegetables calls for salt, pepper, and an oven preheated to 350.
Don’t get me wrong, I love quick fixes and simple seasonings… but my taste buds have been needing a change!
Well, my palate found exactly the change it was looking for, as well as the inspiration for this recipe, from Harrisonburg’s Bella Luna.
The local wood-fired pizzeria Bella Luna served a lovely specialty dish: cured pork belly, sautéed spinach, and pickled carrots over a turnip puree… a refined twist on classical fare bursting with contrasting flavors and textures! I was surprised at how perfectly the simple turnip puree complemented the heartiness of the salty pork.
Previously, I had only enjoyed turnips roasted and certainly never cooked with them; but after trying Bella Luna’s pork belly over the turnip puree, I had to give them a shot.
My creative little recipe for mashed turnips and parsnips is probably a bit different from what you may be used to. Turnips and parsnips are starchy vegetables; similar but less starchy than potatoes. They have about a third of the carbohydrate content of regular white potatoes, making them a candidate for a lighter substitute in a mashed potatoes recipe. The result is less fluffy, but certainly just as flavorful. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes often appear in cultural Irish and Scottish cuisine due to their compatibility with the climate of the country. Perhaps a root vegetable mash like this one will find its way to your table on St. Patrick’s Day; a good idea can never come too early!

Here’s my recipe – a delightful way to explore new cooking techniques and discover a fondness for turnips! During the winter months, turnips and parsnips are in-season. You will find them in the produce section.
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Ingredients

(yields 3-4 servings)
16oz., turnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium turnip roots)
8 oz., parsnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium parsnips)
2 tbsps., unsalted butter
½ tsp., fresh thyme
½ tsp., ground white pepper
¼ tsp., garlic powder
Salt and pepper added to taste

Directions

Peel and chop turnips and parsnips. Add to a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and cook for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain the vegetables, and transfer to a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency.
To make the recipe go a bit further, you could certainly add a few potatoes. I tried to keep this recipe minimal by avoiding too much unnecessary fat and preserving the natural flavor of the vegetables. Certainly these mashed turnips served with a hearty meat or substituted for mashed potatoes in a meal ensemble are perfection.
Good luck, and happy cooking!

 

MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Ginger- Garlic Kale with Mustard Roasted Potatoes

FullSizeRender-4-300x296Every time I walk inside the Food Co-Op, I peruse the colorful array of fruits and vegetables. I’ve been eyeing Lacinato or “dinosaur kale” for a while now and considering ways to cook with it. Read more