Coconut Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potatoes, oh how much I adore you. The nutrient-dense starchy root vegetable gets me through the rough winter with its sweet, yet tough skin. My favorite vegetable is great in soups, stews, or just simply roasted by itself. When cooking sweet potatoes, I like to keep it simple by using ingredients that will elevate its sweet, rich starchiness. The following recipe is quite adaptable as it would be great with other hardy vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin, or carrots.

Coconut Ginger Sweet Potato Soup:

Serves: 1-4 people

sweet potato soup ingredients.jpg

Ingredients:

3 medium sized sweet potatoes

1 sweet onion

1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

3-4 cups vegetable broth

1 can of coconut milk (optional)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Salt to taste

  1. Place a large pot on the stove at medium heat.
  2. Chop and dice onion. Peel ginger root and dice. Chop sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes.
  3. Add coconut oil to pot. Stir in onion until translucent. Add ginger and salt to taste. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add cubed sweet potatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add vegetable broth.
  5. Let pot come to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. After cooled, pour sweet potatoes with broth into a blender or food processor. If you have an immersion blender you could use that too. Add additional salt to taste.
  7. Blend until soup is silky smooth
  8. Stir in coconut milk if desired
  9. Eat!

sweet potato soup.jpg

I tasted the soup without the coconut milk and immediately fell in love with the rich velvety texture from the sweet potatoes and the nice bite from the ginger. Adding coconut milk would mellow out the spiciness from the ginger, so do so if you’d like or otherwise enjoy it on its own!

How do you like to cook with sweet potatoes? Let me know in the comments below!

-Jenn

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What’s in Season: February

 

It’s been a while since I last posted so I thought I would revamp my blog and give you some updates!

To summarize the last few months, I started grad school at NYU Steinhardt’s Food Studies program, said goodbye to Atlanta and hello to the Big Apple. Living in NYC has been an incredible experience so far as the city has no limits when it comes to food and culture.

As my second semester begins, I will be documenting my experiences through this blog along with ideas such as how to eat healthy on a student budget, urban gardening tips and tricks, and other things related to the local food community in NYC.

So to start off, here is a guide to what produce is in season in February. Although crops vary from season to season, this is a quick overview of what you might typically find at a NYC farmers market (most from storage) in the last month of winter.

What’s in Season in February:

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash

A delicious way to enjoy these cold-hardy root vegetables is to roast them. Below is a recipe that is inspired by one of my favorite salads served at the cafe I work at in Chelsea. I love topping this salad off with an egg to make it more of a delicious and filling meal. I hope you become addicted to this as much as I do!

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Harissa Dressing

Serves 1-3 people

Ingredients:

-1 acorn squash

-1 head of cauliflower

-1 bunch of kale

-1 can of chickpeas (or 1/2 cup dried, soaked and boiled)

-1 red onion

-1/2 cup of almonds

-harissa powder (learn how to make the North African spice mix here)

-olive oil

-1 tbsp honey

-lemon juice

-salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering in foil.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the harissa, olive oil, honey, salt, and lemon juice. Set the marinade aside.
  3. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and chop into 1/4 inch cubes. Cut the cauliflower into florets, and chop the onion into large sections. Place the vegetables and chickpeas on a baking sheet.
  4. Pour the harissa marinade over the vegetables and use your hands to toss until they are evenly coated.
  5. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until tender and the edges have achieved a nice deep brown color.
  6. Meanwhile, prep kale by cutting stems off and chop leaves into small pieces. With your hands, massage the kale with olive oil and salt. Set aside in a bowl.
  7. After vegetables are done and cooled, toss with kale and almonds.
  8. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

roasted-veg

What is your favorite way to cook winter vegetables? Let me know in the comments below!

-Jenn

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Container Gardening: Herbs and Vegetables

houseplants-in-kitchen

If you live in a small space or apartment like I do, planting vegetables may seem daunting, but it is fairly easy. There are a variety of plants that thrive in containers. Creating a container garden is a great way to grow your own vegetables and herbs, whether you’re short on space, don’t have a lot of time, are new to gardening, or simply want an easy way to add to your existing garden area. Container gardening offers opportunities for experimentation, creativity, and personal satisfaction.

If new to gardening I would suggest starting off with herbs and then try your hand at growing larger vegetables.

Herbs: Long wooden boxes are great for herbs. Divide boxes into sections or plant individually in pots. Planting a selection of herbs in hanging pots by the kitchen are also useful for any cook.

  • Chives: Partial shade. Use for onion flavor in soups, salads, dressings.
  • Mint: Spreads very easily. Use in teas, salads, lamb dishes,
  • Oregano: Full sun. Water moderately. Trim to prevent flowering. Best with Mexican and Italian cooking.
  • Parsley: Full sun or light shade. Pairs well with meat and egg dishes, potato, and pasta dishes, vegetables, rice, salads, and soups.
  • Rosemary: Full sun. Do not over water. Use leaves to season meats, soups, root vegetables.
  • Sage: Full sun. Use leaves fresh or dried. Use in teas, stuffing, vegetables, pork, poultry, sausage, game.
  • Sweet Marjoram: Full sun. Keep moist. Good indoor herb in cold areas. Goes well with green beans, turkey stuffing, soups, stews.
  • Tarragon: Full sun, partial shade. Anise-like flavor. Used in soups, fish, chicken salad.
  • Thyme: Full sun, partial shade. Keeps best in porous soil that is fairly dry. Pairs well with other herbs-rosemary, parsley, sage, savory, and oregano. Goes well with pork, lamb, duck, or goose. Great for Cajun and Creole cooking.

Vegetables vegetable collage

  • Cucumbers: Needs lots of water.
  • Eggplant: Plant in early spring. Feed with fertilizer every 6 weeks.
  • Lettuce: Sow seeds in early spring. Needs partial shade. Regularly water and feed with fertilizer.
  • Kale: Great decorative container plants. Harvest outside leaves for cooking.
  • Peppers, Green and Red: Water often, but not too much.
  • Rhubarb: Plant roots in late winter, early spring in deep, rich soil mix. Water freely as leaves form. Allow two seasons of growth before harvesting.
  • Squash: Needs plenty of water.
  • Swiss Chard: Easy to grow from seeds. Plant in early spring in a sunny spot. After 2 months, should be able to cut outside leaves.
  • Tomato: Most varieties if staked and supported can be raised in big, deep containers. Dwarf tomatoes or cherry tomatoes grow better in a pot of basket.

Tips:

  • A hole at the bottom of your container is critical. It allows water in the soil to drain freely so adequate air is available for the roots. Make sure to use pots with holes on the bottom or figure out a way to make a drainage hole. Most pots at your local nursery should come with drainage holes.
  • Water your plants frequently. Vegetables in containers need more water because pots tend to dry out quickly. Herbs are generally more drought tolerant. I would suggest watering your pots every day or when the soil feels dry. Just make sure you don’t overwater your plants either.
  • Combine herbs according to their shape. To save and maximize space, plant certain herbs next to each other. For example, pair upright rosemary with creeping thyme.

For more tips and ideas check out Bonnie Plants‘ container gardening guide here.

What plants have you planted in containers? Let me know about your experience with container gardening in the comments below!

 

Peace,

-Jenn

 

 

Bibliography

Sunset. Gardening in Containers. Menlo Park, California: Lane Magazine & Book, 1967. Print.

 

 

Miso Hungryyy

Hi everyone!

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a long time now. I made this soup a few months ago and it was so easy and delicious! I had bought a bunch of miso paste and didn’t know what to else to do with it a part from traditional miso soup. I also had some soba (buckwheat) noodles and veggies on hand so I made this soup which is adapted from a recipe from Food 52. It’s kind of like a mix between miso soup and ramen. The main spice used in the soup is turmeric.

Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. It is what gives curry its bright orange color. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in Chinese and Indian medicine. For more information about turmeric check out WH Foods’ nutrition profile here.

Turmeric Miso Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8oz) package of soba noodles or noodles of choice
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil of choice
  • 2-3 turnips cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • 1-2 bunches of kale or other leafy greens, chopped with stems removed
  • 1 1/2 ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

turmeric soba noodle soup

  1. Heat a tbsp of high-heat cooking oil of choice (I used coconut) into a large pot. Add chopped onions and saute until the onions “sweat”.
  2. Add chopped turnips, garlic, turmeric, and miso paste into pot and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer for 15-20 minutes until turnips are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pot add 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add soba noodles and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse noodles.
  4. Add kale or other greens of your choice to the broth and let cook for a few minutes until leaves are tender.
  5. To serve, divide the noodles among bowls and ladle the vegetables and broth over the top.
  6. To store, add soup and noodles to an airtight container. The noodles may soak up a lot of the broth as mine did, so you might want to store them separately or add more broth when you reheat it.

This recipe is easy to adapt as you could use any kind of noodle, vegetable, or added protein of choice. This would be really good with mushrooms or a soft boiled egg. Hmm I definitely would top this with an egg next time 🙂

How do you like to use turmeric? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Peace,

-Jenn

 

 

Kitchen Scraps You Can Regrow

Did you know that you can regrow certain kitchen scraps? Nature is so cool! By regrowing scraps, you’ll save some money and reduce waste. Some of these require replanting in soil, but for the most part all you need is water, a glass jar or container, and a sunny spot to put them.

Tip: The quality of the plant will determine the quality of regrowth. I recommend using local and organic produce for the best results.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions, and Fennel

Place the white root ends in a glass jar. Eventually green leaves will sprout out the top. Change the water every week or so.

Garlic

You can regrow garlic from a single clove. Plant it in soil with the root end down. Make sure you have plenty of direct sunshine.

Bok Choy, Cabbage, Celery, and Romaine Lettuce

Place the white roots in a shallow bowl of water. After a week or so, transplant to soil. You don’t need to put these plants in soil, but if you do, the leaves will grow to twice the size.

Carrot Greens

Yep, carrot top greens are edible. They can be a little bitter, but taste good when tossed with vinegar, garlic, and other greens in your stir fry. Learn how to regrow them here.

Basil

Regrow basil leaves by placing the cuttings in a jar of water. Make sure to change the water often. Directions here.

Ginger

Very easy to regrow. Place the ginger rhizome (the thick knobby part you cook with) in potted soil with the buds facing up. Ginger likes part shade so it is easy to regrow indoors.

Potatoes

You can regrow the starchy vegetable from any old potato that has “eyes”growing on it.  Cut them into 2-inch pieces that contain eyes. Let them sit out overnight so they dry out, then plant them in soil about 4 inches deep, eyes facing up. You can do the same thing with sweet potatoes, but make sure they are in a sunny spot.

For more detailed information about how to regrow these plants, click here.

Share your experience with regrowing and tips in the comments below!

Peace,

spring onions
Spring onions I’m regrowing in a mason jar on my back porch.

-Jenn

Sources:

 

 

 

 

AmeriCorps Week

Happy #AmeriCorps Week!

This week’s post is dedicated to all the hard working AmeriCorps members who are #GettingThingsDone! AmeriCorps is the national version of the PeaceCorps, with a one-year commitment and three different programs including NCCC, State and National, and VISTA. I’m currently serving in Atlanta, GA as an AmeriCorps VISTA in for the nonprofit Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW). President JFK introduced the idea of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) to Congress in 1963 as a means to combat poverty. I decided to become a VISTA after graduating college because I wanted to give back to the community and gain experience in the non-profit field. I had an interest in food security and agriculture so TLW was the perfect fit!

I serve for TLW because fresh healthy food should be a RIGHT not a privilege for few. TLW is growing not just good food, but good people as well. Through urban agricultural training, gardening classes, and workshops we strive to teach anyone how to grow their own food.

Some of the accomplishments that my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA teammates and I have made this year include:

  1. Expanded the Yo! Boulevard food cooperative to 70 members with 3 cohorts in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. The food co-op is a community of members who meet twice a month to receive packaged goods from the Atlanta Community Food Bank and fresh produce from TLW. The co-op’s goal is to make healthy food, urban agriculture and nutrition education accessible to reduce hunger and improve health .
  2. Won the HERCULES Grant which will allow TLW to plant 15 fruit trees and host 4 community events/workshops.
  3. Community Outreach – engaged and spoke with community members about our markets and programs, gauged volunteer interest.
  4. Revamped our social media presence and e-newsletters.

TLW has been partnering with AmeriCorps VISTA for about five years now. This February, we welcomed four new VISTAs to our TLW family. With a total of 8 VISTAs we are sure to continue #GettingThingsDone!

AmeriCorps VISTA is a fantastic way to help make a difference in your community and gain experience in the non-profit field. I would highly suggest anyone who has the heart and dedication to give back to join AmeriCorps. There are several different programs across the county that you can apply for! Whether you’re interested in education, the environment, health, policy, etc. there is a program out there for you! For more information about AmeriCorps check out http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

If you’re an AmeriCorps member I’d love to hear your story!

Peace,

-Jenn

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AmeriCorps VISTA and TLW staff along with the Yo! Boulevard Food Co-op Members

What’s In Season: March Produce

 

Hello everybody!

I can’t believe it’s March already! It’s been about 7 months since I started my AmeriCorps VISTA service year at Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. I’m more than half way done! Wooh! Time sure does fly by.

March is here which means that springtime is almost upon us. The groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did in fact promise us an early spring 🙂 The sun is rising earlier, birds are chirping, the weather is getting warmer (well, sort of), and soon spring vegetables will be ready to harvest!

So what vegetables are bountiful this time of year?  Well, what’s in season will vary depending on the time of month and where you live. It’ll also really depend on when the farmer planted his/her seeds, weather and soil conditions, etc. I’m writing from Georgia, so your state’s seasonal list might look different.

What’s in Season in March (typically):

March Produce Guide

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Garlic
  • Kale/other leafy greens
  • Lettuce/salad greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Turnips

 

 

Eating with the seasons has many benefits:

  • You may save money. Do you know how much it costs to transport produce overseas to your local grocery? A lot. When you eat fresh, local, and seasonal food, you don’t pay nearly as much for transportation costs.
  • Food tastes better. Fruits and vegetables picked at their peak usually taste much better. Compare the taste of a strawberry in May to a strawberry in January. Definitely not the same.
  • You get more nutrients from your food. Fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients after being picked. More nutrients are lost as they travel long distances.

Those are just a few of the reasons to eat seasonably. I could probably write a whole other blog post listing off the reasons, but I’ll save that for another day.

My favorite seasonal vegetables this time of year are sweet, crunchy carrots. They are amazing when roasted, added to soups, or just eaten plain raw.

Tell me, what is your favorite vegetable to cook with in March?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Peace,

-Jenn