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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

Ingredients

Dressing:

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

Salad:

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

Preparation

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.

Tips:

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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