Bountiful Baskets

2013-01-12 09.27.42
The fruit half of one week’s conventional Bountiful Basket.

Have you heard of Bountiful Baskets? It’s a food cooperative delivering fruit and veggie baskets, as well as add-ons like whole wheat bread and granola, to many cities in the Western US. Their website is: bountifulbaskets.org

The idea is that by pooling resources, and with some volunteer labor at the drop-off location, fresh produce can be made more affordable. All the ordering is done online, and -here’s the kicker- can ONLY be done between about noon on Monday and 10pm on Tuesday, Mountain Time. And, if you don’t show up to collect your produce within the 15 minute window, it could be donated (I did forget the first time I ordered, but the lady at the drop was kind enough to call me and Mr. Wonderful dashed out to get it for me. Phew!). So if you order, take some advice from the experienced and set yourself an alarm on your phone for the day it arrives!

The whole concept of co-oping is a great idea, and I was pleased to learn that a drop point started in my town in December. Although I hadn’t ordered that week, I ran down to the drop point on Saturday morning and snapped a few pictures of what was being handed out to those that had contributed.

Picture 2203

Each participant gets a basket (literally a plastic laundry basket) with fruit, and one with veggies. They then transfer those to their own bags, or some of the boxes for recycling, and take home the goodies. Above is a picture of two boxes…I’m thinking that each must be one share (having both fruit and veggies) from that day. The conventional produce basket is $15 and upgrading it to organic puts your contribution at $25.

Picture 2198

In addition to your basic basket, you can order add-ons, like this guacamole bag, with onions, cilantro, about 5 avocados, tomatillas, jalapenos, garlic and limes, which runs about $8.50. Also available in December was a Gingerbread House Kit; fresh baked house pieces and fresh icing included. This week, I saw a “Juicing Pack” available with a description of “hoping for apples, chard, carrots, cucumbers, celery, beets, blood orange, ginger.”

And “hoping” is part of this commitment. There aren’t any promises of what you will get. You just find out what comes when you get it. This might be frustrating for some; for others it adds some excitement to meal planning.

Picture 2197

Here’s a picture of the bread pack add-on. These packs of 5 loaves are generally $10; a great deal if this was on your list anyway.

Picture 2200

Here again is someone’s produce basket contents (fruits and veggies in there) with a Granola Pack. I believe I saw the granola listed for $10, with excellent ingredients if granola is part of your diet.

Picture 2201

Most of the produce seems to be standard family fare; persimmons or multicolored carrots is about the extent of the exotic produce.

So…the week after I checked out the goods, I made my first order.

Order #1 -Late December

I chose the organic basket ($25), and there is also a handling fee of $1.50 for every order, organic or not. Additionally, there is a one time fee of $3 to purchase a plastic basket for organization at the drop. Here’s what I got:

Picture 2221

Pineapple, baby carrots, red potatoes, celery, tomatoes, green beans, avocados, pears, 2 kinds of apples. It was late December, so you can hardly blame them that the tomatoes weren’t ripe. The avocados were on the small side, but most of the organic ones I’ve seen are. The pineapple took a couple weeks to ripen. The apples and pears were all delicious, if on the small side. You can see by the packaging on the produce that they came from national organic brands. Also, since this was the “organic box” vs. a conventional produce basket, it came shipped as a box. It was not divided out with the other produce, but shipped from Arizona as a whole box.

I think it was a good price for what you get. Not amazing: local sales on all these products could give better savings, but you’re unlikely to get them all on sale in the same week. I felt that the food was in good condition, and all delicious, or would become delicious with ripening.

Order #2 -Early January

I ordered again, and this time no organic boxes were available, so I went ahead with the conventional ($15). Thankfully I did not forget this time (I tell ya, set an alarm on your phone!) and so I headed down to my local elementary school for the pickup. It was lovely to see so many families coming out on a frosty winter morning to gather fruit and vegetable baskets. And here’s what I got:

2013-01-12 09.29.41
Veggie half of the basket.
Fruit half of the basket.
Fruit half of the basket.

Celery, multi-colored carrots, brusselsprouts, sweet peppers, avocados, tomatoes, grapefruit, bananas (small), oranges, apples, strawberries. A very good deal for $15. They were all in good condition upon arrival, except for the brusselsprouts which seemed to have encountered frost as the edges were slimy as if frozen. I had heard tales that the delivery truck encountered snow and barely got through, so chalk it up to that? The strawberries were not ripe, and after leaving them on the counter for a day, we ate them anyway, since they were going to mold soon. Strawberries aren’t a winter fruit.

In general, I try to eat what is in season. It tastes better, it’s more likely to be grown in the US (avoiding the fumigation upon arrival in the US), and I’m more likely to find organic foods at reasonable prices. Of the foods above in the conventional basket, I regularly buy avocados, brusselsprouts, bananas, oranges, and grapefruit conventional, because they have less pesticide residues. All the rest I only buy organic, as they are heavily sprayed and/or retain their pesticides after washing. You can download a free guide to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” on Enviromental Working Group’s site, or download a free app to your smart phone which will allow you to look up produce item by item while at the market.

Bountiful Baskets is for you if:

  • You buy conventional produce anyway, or if you would like to buy organic produce, but you don’t have any health food stores near you that carry it.
  • You don’t have picky eaters of specific veggie/fruit allergies in your family.
  • You can remember to order and pickup at certain times each week.
  • You aren’t gluten intolerant, so you can take advantage of all the great deals on bread, etc. which gives you more value for the time you spend ordering and picking up.
  • You have time to volunteer occasionally an hour before pick up time.
  • You enjoy the challenge of working a broad selection of produce into your weekly meals.

Bountiful Baskets is probably not for you if:

  • You want to buy mainly local, in season, or small-footprint organic.
  • You have fruit or veggie intolerances so you’re not able to eat some of what comes each week.
  • You cook “month at a time” style, or in other ways which require certain specific ingredients.
  • You can’t remember to order or pick up. 🙂

Clean Eating Day 21 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130121-223109.jpg
Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, orange slices, hot tea
Lunch
Veggie soup, leftover Asian Meatballs or hot dog or apple chicken sausage, apple slices
Dinner
Beef goulash (shredded beef stew), rotkohl (spiced red cabbage), spiced winter squash, green beans, sautéed crimini mushrooms

When I was newly married, my husband (aka Mr. Wonderful, a German) asked me if I could learn to make a German meal and a few German desserts. This was a tiny bit overwhelming to me, since I was raised on mainly American, Mexican, and Italian fare.

So I started reading about German food, and I invited myself over to the home of a German gal I’d met through a Bible study. She taught me goulash and rotkohl, which has been my go-to German meal since. (Thank you, Kathleen!)

(I also make a few German desserts… All in gluten free versions now.)

Oh, and my kids have now “left France and gone to Germany” in school studies. German food. Perfect timing.

Beef Goulash
2-3 lbs steak or roast meat, fat trimmed, cut in chunks
Lard
1-2 onions, chopped
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Bay leaves
In a large heavy enamel lidded pot, brown meat in lard over medium high heat. Add salt, pepper, onions and bay leaves. Allow onion to begin to caramelize, then add 1/2 cup liquid (beef broth, water, or red wine). Turn to low and simmer for two hours with lid on, or until meat is falling apart and shreds. Remove any remaining gristle or bones, and add another 1/2 cup liquid, and continue to cook on low heat until liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaves before serving.

I used red wine in the beef today. This is not approved on the whole30 diet, however, I was cooking grassfed beef (a very large chuck steak and a small tenderloin) and Mr. Wonderful really prefers to have a marinade type flavoring whenever we eat this beef. I’m not so sensitive to the stronger flavor of grassfed, but it is often gamey to his taste. He heartily endorsed the flavor of tonight’s beef though.

20130121-225748.jpg

Rotkohl
In large kettle, sautéed in 2 Tb ghee:
1 sweet onion, chopped
When translucent, add:
1 head red cabbage, finely sliced
1 large apple, cored and sliced
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, cloves
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, cardamom
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
Simmer until apple and onion are soft and can be mashed into the cabbage, liquid is mostly absorbed, and cabbage is purple throughout. Serve hot.

20130121-230641.jpg

I baked sweet meat squash for this dinner. These squash are so huge! I thought it was so cool that the skin came off the squash so cleanly when I lifted it off.

20130121-231115.jpg

Clean Eating Day 20 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130120-235801.jpg
Breakfast
Scrambled eggs (yep, that was all…busy morning getting out the door to church!)
Lunch
Leftovers!
Dinner
Asian Meatballs with dipping sauce, butternut squash fries, blooming onion (or at least my first attempt)

20130121-000024.jpg
Roasted Onion and Sweet Fries
On stovetop melt:
2 Tb ghee
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tb olive oil
Use an apple slicer to cut a sweet onion into wedges. Separate layers and dribble marinade between pieces.
Peal and cut a butternut squash into French fry size pieces. Toss remaining marinade on pieces and place in a single layer on papered baking sheet. Roast at 500 for 15 minutes, turn up to broil and broil until pieces are brown and just starting to blacken. Serve immediately.

20130121-000629.jpg

Clean Eating Day 19 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130119-204657.jpg
Breakfast
Banana Soufflé with berry compote, turkey sausage, orange slices
Lunch
Veggie soup with approved chicken sausage or approved hot dog
Snacks
Almonds, bananas, apples, raisins, soaked and dried walnuts
Dinner
Brat Roast, sauerkraut (live probiotics) Dijon Mustard (Germans call it senf…say “zenf.” More fun than “mustard,” right?)

20130119-223751.jpgBanana Soufflé
Heat oven to 400. Place glass 9×12 inch pan in oven with 2 Tb ghee.
In blender, mix:
3 ripe bananas
6 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
When oven is hot and ghee is melted, remove pan and swirl ghee onto sides and over bottom of pan. Pour batter in pan, bake for 20 minutes, or until brown and crispy at edges. It will not puff up like a standard soufflé. Serve immediately with berry compote.

Yum…this was so good. I made two pans for all 7 of us.

20130119-221512.jpg
Brat Roast
Preheat the oven to 475.
Place on parchment papered baking sheet:
6 Bratwurst (mine made by local health food store and contain only natural pork and herbs and spices, and salt)
1 acorn squash, in 1/2 inch slices
1 sweet onion, pealed and sliced
4 apples, cored and chunked
2 Tb olive oil
Sprinkle of coarse Celtic sea salt
Sprinkle of fresh ground proper

20130119-223145.jpg
Toss together to distribute olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet; I had enough here to need a second baking sheet.

Place in hot oven for 15 minutes, then remove, flip brats, and return to oven for 5 more minutes. Turn on broiler and broil each pan for approximately 5 minutes, or until the onions are looking a bit charred but sausages are not yet blackening.

Serve immediately, with senf and sauerkraut.

Wow, the sweet onions in this dish were so amazing…actually it was all so good. Mr. Wonderful named it as his new favorite meal. 🙂

Clean Eating Day 17 and 18

20130118-194111.jpg
I’m combining yesterday and today’s menu, since they are nearly identical. For yesterday’s dinner I made an extra large crock pot of Italian Chicken Stew, since we were expecting friends to visit today and I love a dinner of leftovers to take pressure off my afternoon. Why don’t I do that more often?

This afternoon, I sat on my front stoop with my friend Annie, tea cup in hand, and talked godly mothering as the low winter sun made long shadows on bleached trees and fields. It was lovely.

Breakfast
Hot tea, Scrambled eggs, half grapefruit, turkey sausage patties
Lunch
Veggie soup with avocado, chicken apple sausage or hot dogs, banana, apple slices (today our guests brought apple, berries, and cabbage to share with our lunch)
Dinner
Italian Chicken Stew (picture above, recipe below)
Steamed broccoli and sautéed crimini mushrooms (last night)
Steamed green beans (tonight)

Italian Chicken Stew
Layer into crockpot:
2 Tb organic olive oil
5 very large chicken breasts, frozen
1 Tb Organic no salt seasoning (Costco)
1 Tb Real Salt
3 Tb Italian Seasoning -less if yours does not include garlic, and add garlic (Oregon Spice Co)
2 tsp basil
1 can (14oz) diced organic tomatoes (TJs)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (TJs)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (TJs)

Here is a picture of the ingredients minus chicken…I always love a visual aid when I’m looking for something specific!

20130118-205537.jpg

Turn crockpot on high for 2 hours, then reduce to low for 3 more hours. Cut/shred chicken into smaller chunks, and adjust salt. Leave lid tilted to allow steam to vent, and leave on low for another 1-2 hours to decrease liquid before serving.

Clean Eating Day 16 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

Breakfast
Hot tea, Scrambled eggs, half grapefruit, turkey sausage patties
Lunch
Veggie soup with avocado, hot dogs, apple slices
Dinner
Taco Bowls: Ground beef fried with Oregon Spice Taco Seasoning, over lime juice tossed shredded cabbage with avocado and Pico de Gallo

Taco bowls have become a Wednesday night tradition. They go together quickly after I’ve been out doing my errands, and before the kids head out to AWANA.

Sorry; in all the rush, no photo.

Clean Eating Day 15 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130115-233932.jpg

Today is the halfway mark! We have made it through 15 days of clean eating, with 15 left to go.

We celebrated by talking about the foods we are going to be able to eat again when the 30 days are over. Although my kids started spouting off foods we never ate anyway…Mac and cheese…donuts…I brought them back to reality with the idea that we will slowly add in the foods which are best for us, starting with SCD yogurt. (Yogurt cultured for 24 so it’s completely digested.)

Then we made a calendar (above) showing the days completed, the days to go, and our “coming off” foods.

Day 1: plain homemade yogurt (probably in smoothies)
Day 2: honey
Day 3: banana splits (this is really just combining the yogurt and honey into frozen yogurt, atop bananas, with homemade chocolate/coconut oil/honey syrup, chopped almonds, and a cherry on top)
Day 4 will be Super Bowl Sunday, so I’m sure potatoes (chips) will be our big addition that day, as well as more dairy (cheese, hard)

But for now, we are dairy and sweets free. Here’s what we ate today:

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs and turkey sausage, hot tea, orange slices
Lunch
Veggie soup and hot dog, avocado
Snack
Apple slices, almonds
Dinner
Roasted chicken, roasted brusselsprouts, roasted acorn squash mashed with ghee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pear cider

Clean Eating Day 14 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130115-231315.jpg
Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, topped with pork breakfast sausage fried with diced apple, orange slices
Lunch
Veggie soup, and hot dog or last of the sliced steak, apples
Dinner
Pumpkin soup with Italian chicken sausage, cashews

Dinner was supposed to be a chicken broth soup with Italian sausage and kale (with a salad on the side)…but turned into a disaster after the kale I added to the soup was super bitter…I quickly strained all the broth, but some bitterness remained. Adding a can of pumpkin and half a can of coconut cream brought back its sweetness. By that time, I barely got it to the table…so we ate it alone without salad. But it was filling and the baby ate 3 bowls! I’m giving the recipe without the mishap.

20130115-231935.jpg

Pumpkin Soup with Sausage
2 qts homemade chicken broth
1 sweet onion, puréed
2 Tb ghee
Celtic sea salt to taste (at least 1 Tb if broth not salted)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can pumpkin
1/2 can coconut cream
1 cup roasted sweet peppers, chopped
1 lb Italian chicken sausage (Isernios chub from Fred Meyer)

Sautée the onion in ghee in a large kettle. When browning/caramelizing, add broth, pumpkin, paprika, and coconut cream. Bring to a simner. Fry up the sausage in a skillet, when brown add to soup with the roasted peppers. Season with salt, starting with a half Tb and adding to taste. Add pepper if desired.

Here are the sweet peppers I roasted yesterday.

20130115-233256.jpg

Clean Eating Day 13 [SCD, GAPS, Whole30]

20130113-230812.jpg
Sweet peppers, roasted at 550 for 10 minutes.

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, orange slices
Lunch
Glass carrot/apple/celery juice
Early Dinner
Green Onion Soup, Steak and veggie wraps with paprika aioli
Late Snack
Almond butter, apple slices, banana

Using the veggie pulp from juicing seemed like a good way to wrap up our leftover steak from Friday, since I didn’t have any lettuce leaves in the house.

20130113-231210.jpg

20130113-231217.jpg

Veggie Wraps
4 cups pulp from juicing 2lbs carrots, two apples, I bunch celery, sliced to avoid long celery fibers
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond flour
2 eggs
Mix all ingredients and roll out thinly on two parchment lived baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until browned and crisp at edges.

20130113-231747.jpg

Paprika Aoili
Melt 2Tb ghee, stir in 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp paprika
Place 1 egg at room temperature in blender. Drizzle in 6 Tb olive oil. Drizzle in ghee mixture until emulsified

Assemble finely sliced veggies and cold steak: tomato, cabbage, cilantro, onion, avocado, roasted peppers.

20130113-232609.jpg

Fill wraps with Aoili, steak, and veggies.

I tried to roll up the wraps with all the goodies inside, but this didn’t work very well as the veggie wraps break easily. I learned it was better to cut smaller strips and fold the wrap in half around less filling.

20130113-232934.jpg