Think Inside the Box

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Kim Harshberger

Last fall, I made some sweeping changes to my family’s diet. With a husband who has a family history of diabetes and arthritis, growing kids, and me constantly feeling crummy, I decided to look deeply at the one thing we do every single day: eat.

I wouldn’t say that we ate particularly poorly up to this point. But we did eat out quite a bit. And we did eat quite a few convenience foods, and lots and lots of carbs. And… maybe our diet wasn’t as well rounded as I thought it was.

I suppose this is something that has always been simmering in my brain. So, I began to read. I started with blogs, like 100 Days of Real Food, and My Whole Food Life.

Blogs led to books, which I devoured. And working at a library made that really easy. I first read Rich Food, Poor Food. Where I learned more about micro-nutrients, phytic acid, and all things organic. That led to Wheat Belly, Nourishing Traditions, Salt, Sugar, Fat, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, In Defense of Food, and Good Calories, Bad Calories.

I consumed them all in a matter of weeks. Each book provided me with an ah-ha moment. Here are the main philosophies I adopted (over time) and try to adhere to whenever possible:

  • Eat LOTS more vegetables.
  • Reduce carbohydrates, mainly wheat.
  • Reduce processed food.
  • Eat organic.
  • Eat local.
  • Cook from scratch.

A variety of beautiful produce received in my weekly garden boxes. | www.scld.orgIn order to up the quantity of vegetables my family consumed, I looked into various outlets to receive high quality organic (or safe) vegetables on a regular basis. After exploring the organic vegetable section of local grocery stores, and looking into CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), I finally settled on paying for a box of fruits and vegetables, delivered weekly, right to my door.

Doing this has not only added a more consistent supply of fruits and vegetables to our household, it has also introduced us to a wider variety of produce than if I were picking it out at the store. Several vegetables I’ve received had never crossed my plate before, including: leeks, daikon, celery root, chard, and beets. I now look forward to each box and the variety within. Although, I don’t think I will ever look forward to hacking apart a gnarly celery root.

I have also learned to plan my meals and eating around what I have, instead of always running to the store for things that I want, thus widening my repertoire of standard recipes. I now have several go-to recipes in my box, based on some of the common (or less common) vegetables I receive.

For example, I make an adaptation of this Chicken a’la King from Living Nutrition, because it uses up leeks, peppers, and mushrooms. I also make this Cuban Picadillo recipe from Skinny Taste, with the tomatoes, cilantro, and onions I have received. Both are recipes I likely never would have tried if it hadn’t been for my garden boxes.

Today, I am going to share my summertime specialty with you: homemade coleslaw; using purple and green cabbage, carrots and apples from my most recent boxes. This is a family favorite and gets my kids to consume mass quantities of leafy greens. The dressing is slightly sweet. I add lots of celery seed because that contributes the main flavor, but if it seems like a lot to you feel free to dial it back to taste.

Summer on a Plate: Tri-Color Coleslaw recipe | via Spokane County Library District

Tri-Color Coleslaw

Makes: 8 servings
Serving Size: about 1 cup

Approximate Time: 20-30 minutes



3/4 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/8-1/4 cup of sugar (to taste)

½ -teaspoon sea salt

1-teaspoon celery seed

½-teaspoon dill


6 cups loosely packed shredded green leafy vegetables (Use any combination of green cabbage, purple cabbage, broccoli stems, and/or bok choy)

2 cups loosely packed shredded carrots

1 apple chopped into bite size pieces

Optional Additions:

Dried cranberries

Sunflower Seeds


To prepare dressing:

Combine all dressing ingredients in a mason jar or measuring cup and whisk until smooth. You can store this dressing in the fridge for several days or add immediately to your shredded vegetables.

To prepare salad:

Shred the vegetables with food processor, mandolin, or by hand. Transfer to bowl and toss with dressing to coat.


It really tastes best if the flavors are allowed to combine for at least an hour. The salt will also bring some of the water out of the cabbage making it a little saucier. Stir a couple times and serve it cold next to something hot of the grill.

There you have it. Summer on a plate!

Kim Harshberger

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