Thursday, June 17, 2010

eating fresh and local

nothing beats the taste of fresh, local produce. with the growing season upon us, i thought i'd bring forth a produce discussion. please answer the questions in the comments. i'd love to hear from you!

1) what is your favorite local fruit or veggie?

for me it's difficult to pick just one. (i do live in the garden state!=) jersey peaches and tomatoes are delicious, as well as sweet jersey corn.

jersey's local strawberries and blueberries are also quite tasty and abundant this time of year. i like to take advantage of  pick-your-own opportunities and stock up.

strawberries and blueberries with crunchy dried buckwheat

last year john came along to help pick strawberries, and this time little lainie loo kept me company by singing and dancing in the fields. =)

we picked 8 pounds of strawberries, which we used for snacking, ice cream, dried snacks, and rhubarb crumble! the rest were frozen for smoothies, and evergreen from the happy raw kitchen has inspired me to save some for strawberry jelly and raw cream cheese sandwiches. mmm!

2) do you grow any fruits or vegetables? if so, what's your favorite thing to grow? if not, what would you like to grow?

last year i was in love with my lettuce plants (maybe because i'm part rabbit, as my mom says=). this year i'm loving my zucchini! there's one to pick almost every other day, and zucchini can be used so many different ways in cooking and uncooking.

with half of one zuke, a measly little carrot, some sweet peas and cilantro, i was able to spiralize myself a lovely little meal. it doesn't get any more fresh and local than the backyard!

this zucchini pasta was served over an avocado "cream" sauce.

topped with some nut parmesan (almonds and nutritional yeast) - delicious!

next year i'd like to grow yellow squash to go with my purple beans.

i'd also like to plant some blueberry and raspberry bushes this fall. if i lived in the right location, i'd LOVE to grow avocados, coconut, lemons, oranges, bananas, and grapes.

3) what is your favorite way to use zucchini? do you have any unique zucchini recipes to share?

summer finds many up to their elbows in zucchini. i'm amazed at the different ways folks cook with them! when i first heard of zucchini brownies i thought, "now that is just wrong. mixing zucchini with chocolate? what are these people smoking?! (and where can i get some? hehe)"

but i'm so happy i gave them a try, as john and our neighbors rave about them!

these gluten-free zucchini cupcakes were a hit at a child's birthday party last summer. the gluten-free children loved them and were really excited to be able to enjoy some sweet frosted goodness, which is usually off limits.=)

last year i made a lot of zucchini crab cakes. they were scrumptious and loved by vegans and non-vegans alike. if frying wasn't such a mess, i'd make these zucchini zips more often.

... but my favorite way to enjoy zucchini is raw - simply sliced with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

another favorite is carmella's raw lasagna magnifica made with zucchini noodles, warmed in the dehydrator. doesn't this lasagna look baked?

4) do you buy organic produce? are there fruits and veggies you will only eat organic? do you avoid the dirty dozen?

as long as the price is reasonable, i will buy organic. if i need to buy conventional to stay within my budget, i do. to be honest, i sometimes buy non-organic produce found on the dirty dozen list, like local strawberries, blueberries, apples, and bell peppers.

(i'm still wondering why we even allow non-organic and gmo foods in our stores, but it's become quite evident that profit and control reigns over health and wellness in our system.)

anywho, vegan dietitian did a wonderful post on saving money on produce. you can also read my tips in the comments. if you have tips to share, please do!

5) what is your favorite summer meal to prepare using fresh ingredients?

last summer i loved making quinoa salads, especially mango, cucumber, corn, red pepper and mint from the garden. i also enjoyed lots of mint tea...

and minty watermelon soup. no words to describe this one. maybe fresh fruity heaven in a bowl?=)

i have a feeling this one is going to be the summer of soup, as raw soup is so refreshing, easy to prepare, and a great way to use the summer's bounty. the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless, and they need not be made in a fancy blender - any old blender will do.

(some say they don't care for raw soups. i say give them a try in the summer! if texture is an issue try adding something to chew like chopped veggies or wakame. if temperature is the problem, you can heat your soup lightly while stirring to preserve the enzymes - although, you may come to appreciate cool soup in the summer heat!)

southern belles of london soup

this red pepper-based soup is AMAZING. it made me want to get out of my seat and dance - maybe that's why philip named it after a song.=) cilantro and chopped yellow squash were added, as i like something to chew in my soups.

you may remember southern belles of london soup featured at sweetly raw. philip is heathy's sweetie pie, and i was the lucky winner of his new ebook, the raw food salad bar by being the first to submit an entry for her raw ice cream cake challenge!

full of quick creative ways to use fresh local produce, philip's the raw food salad bar is the essential book for summer. (who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the summer? not me!) it's also a must-have for the raw foodist looking for a break from the dehydrator.

the visuals and recipes are so stunning and inspiring that i want to purchase the ebook for one of my readers. i contacted philip and he said he'd like to offer one as well, sooo... 

... i will be giving away 


the raw food salad bar ebooks 

 to kick off the summer of soup (and salads=)!

stay tuned for my first spectacular summer giveaway, and until then, enjoy those local fruits and veggies!=)

edit: nelly is hosting a giveaway of two ani's raw food essentials cookbooks. deadline is tuesday, june 29th.


  1. What a terrific post and I am going to love trying some of your recipes...thank you! Oh, and I am excited about your giveaway....have a great night!

  2. Fun post!

    1) Our local strawberries are amazing and my farmer's market has the best lettuce. Those are my staples right now.

    2) Nope, not a grower. I support my local farmers :)

    3) Zucchini hummus. Yum.

    4) I pretty much only buy organic when possible.

    5) Nori rolls made with whatever I get at the farmer's market that week.

  3. i love..cherries..strawberries..watermelons...sweet corn..sweet peas..

    trying to grow some veggies and watermelons..doesn't look very promising right now..

    zucchini chips in the salads..breaded with brown rice gluten free bread crumbs, sprinkle some olive oil and baked in the oven..i will definitely have to try carmella's lasagna...looks baked...

    i buy many organic items, especially the dirty dozen list...i will not touch berries unless they are organic, celery has to be organic so does kale...i also buy a lot of local stuff...

    take care.

  4. Reading this wonderful post makes me want to go strawberry picking immediately! I'm always torn when it comes to strawberry picking because that's one fruit that I really try to eat only organic. But it's so hard to find organic u-pick locations.

    I basically only buy organic items when it comes to the dirty dozen, but am much more relaxed with the clean fifteen list. I try to buy local when possible but if it's a choice between organic or local, local loses :)

    And like Nelly, organic kale (and any greens for that matter) = non-negotiable.

    Hope you continue to enjoy the bounty yielded by your garden.

  5. fave local fruit is probably cherries becaue they are so unique to washington. but i love all berries! i grew up a jersey girl and love my peaches too!

    i just really grow herbs, sprouts, and maybe a few other things due to only have planters. this year i have some peas growing.

    my favorite way to use zucchini is in raw ritz crackers. i do like lasagne too. you are reminding me i have been wanting to make some lately. i'd like to try carmella's recipe.

    only use nonorganic for berries if i can talk to the farmer. sometimes they are no spray but haven't been certified yet or something. i get nonroganic for things with thick skin like watermelon but i prefer organic if i can get a good deal.

    i am one of those who is not as big a fan of raw soup...weird because i like smoothies and green juice. i only like raw soup if it is warm and has enough salt in it. but watermelon soup sounds good. looking forward to the giveaway!

  6. oh my god just died from all the food porn. your zucchini pasta looks WONDERFUL. i'm going to try your combo of zukes with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper tomorrow, thanks for the lovely idea... good thing i have both sundried tomatoes and fresh basil on hand. i've been using zukes to make raw soups in the blender for the last couple days -- i like to make garden vegetable soup (1 zuke, 1 tomato, 12 basil leaves, some dill, cayenne, salt, 1.5 cup water, 1 tsp miso... i think that's it). it's SO good and it really helps me digest the food better. my favourite local fruit (because technically it is a fruit) are cherry tomatoes right now, because they're in season and the organic ones taste SO incredibly good.

    wonderful post! :)

  7. Lovely, inspiring post!

    Thank-you for sharing, Kelli:)


  8. I enjoy your veggie lessons. Thank you for sharing. Gerry

  9. Great post! Your zucchini pasta looks gorgeous! I only buy organic apples, strawberries, peppers, kale, and spinach however I do, occassionally eat them if I'm out to dinner or at someone's house when I know they aren't organic. For the clean 15, if organic's available or on sale I would still rather get organic!

    My grandmom used to make a chocolate zucchini bread and I was totally grossed out by it when I was little.. but those cupcakes look so good!! Now my tastebuds are much different and I'm sure I wouldn't have a problem with choc + zucc :)

  10. Wow, what a great post! I agree, Summer time produce in NJ rocks! We just picked our first zucchini of the year from our garden, thanks for all the great ideas!! ENJOY!

  11. Raw food makes me so excited. Our farmers market opened yesterday and I could barely contain my excitement...I walked away with strawberries, lettuce and green onions. My fav local veggie would have to be berries or apples in the fall. I have not always been concerned with buying organic but as I eat more and more raw foods I find myself preferring to spend the extra on organic. I would rather spend more on good produce than that new pair of shoes! (never thought I would say that!)

  12. Oh my goodness, girl your food has me hypnotized! Thanks so much for the shout-out :) {{{hugs}}}

    To answer you questions:
    1. Wild berries and dandelion.

    2. Haven't started to plant yet, but want to have herbs and berries and kale.

    3. I like to sometimes use zucchini in place of eggplant in my caponata...and then I call it "not caponata" :) A kind of unique way I eat them is cut up like french fries and dipped in raw ranch dressing.

    4. I buy organic according to what is available. I don't stress over eating conventional produce.

    5. As soon as fresh figs are around, I love to have them with berries and balsamic glaze:)

    Congratulations on winning that amazing looking book by Phillip!

  13. Oh my what a vision..all that fresh, gorgeous food! Oh so amazing!
    1) favorite local fruit/veggie has to be blueberries. I just can't get enough! Seriously, I stuff so many in my mouth when I'm picking them that I look like a!

    2) oh you know I am growing some veggies this exciting! I didn't grow much before but my favorite garden eat is peas...I will ravage pea plants if I have the chance..mmm!

    3) fave way to use zucchini..oh there are too many! I love making Nikki's raw hummus or zucchini bread or even just roasting it a bit on the barbie!

    4)In a perfect world I would buy all organic but I just don't have the funds to do ALL organic. I do try to stick to the "lists" but sometimes it doesn't happen. This week I bought 15lbs of strawberries and I know they aren't organic but I will take the risk once a year! I also buy from a grocery store that grows their own food yet they are not "certified" in a lot of their produce, yet many are grown under the organic practices!

    5) favorite summer meal from fresh ingredients..oh so many- grilled veggies, grain salads, simple fruit salads. I love just eating as many fruits and veggies as possible right from the ground/tree/bush/plant.mmm
    I have been enjoying a lot of fresh mint tea too..the aroma is so delicious and the taste even better.
    I've made one raw soup and it was amazing! I will definitely be making more this summer.
    Can't wait for the giveaway...wahoo!
    Have a lovely weekend lady:)

  14. kelli you totally outdid yourself..
    can't wait for the give away! yay!

    and the zuke uses..omg those cupcakes look amazing as does that perfectly ribbon-ey look on the one plate. ART on a Plate!

    the berries, the produce, all the freshness...amazing! Dont grow my own food bc i am urban but believe in CSAs, farmers markets and friends w/ gardens that have summertime excess...i am making some of your zuke recipes b/c yes, they multiply in your fridge during the summer :)


  15. btw do you eat your green beans raw or steamed? i have been doing raw but have read it's not such a hot idea....maybe?! I am posting about it tomorrow or Monday actually. Just curious what you do.

  16. Girlie, all that you do amazes me!
    I love all the fresh garden goodies and what you've done with them!
    Dried strawberries, OH YEAH! Iv decided that when I go wild blueberry picking this summer Im drying HEAPS of them! :)

    Ive grown up on chocolate zucchini cake - i love it! Always so moist!

    Im so glad that you like the soup and are giving away 2 books! Woo hoo!

    Have a great weekend girlie! Big hugs!

  17. thanks everyone! i loved reading all your responses.=)

    hey averie! some sources say they are toxic raw, but i ate some and felt ok. i do prefer them lightly cooked though so they're not as tough.

  18. Wow, the zucchini pastas with avocado cream looks so delicious. Too bad I can't find organic zucchinis nearby. The only thing I can find are conventionnaly grown from the US, and since I read somewhere that those may be GMOs, I prefer not to buy. In the US, it seems that a law has been passed to prevent the labeling of GMOs, which makes it difficult to know what is and what isn't. I hope Canada (where I live) won't make the same mistake.

    By the way, thaks for the kind words on my blog!

  19. fabulous post, beautiful food, gorgeous pictures.....thank you kelli, love your blog xoxox

  20. Love your zuke salad - I keep forgetting how awesome sundried tomatoes are.

    Along those lines, my current fave is raw tomato sauce: 1 tomato, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup lemon, a handful of basil, oregano, parsley and thyme into the processor with some evoo. Bangin'.


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