As promised, we’re back with more food goodness courtesy of the lovely Holly Davis. She kicks things off with the low-down on eating local and then, as an added bonus, shares her recipe for “Veggie Tex Soup,” which, it should be noted, I’m planning to make this weekend. Done and done.
Take it away Holly.
By Holly Pellham Davis
As a little girl, much of my summer was spent at my grandparent’s house in Louisiana where I learned to pick and shell peas, shuck corn, share crops, and bait a hook with my big daddy. (I shot squirrels, tried snuff, and was almost bitten by two poisonous snakes too, but we’ll save that for another day.) The lessons I learned there about food and farming are part of the foundation for which my “food beliefs” are built. Those tenets include:
- “You are what your food eats.”
- Respect the land, Earth and water sources.
- Rotate your crops and do not “till” the soil.
- Use nature’s pest control. Keep all synthetic fertilizers and pesticides out of your garden, home and body.
- Take care of the livestock, chickens that you have by treating them with respect and allowing them to breathe, roam and live freely. Feed them what nature intended them to eat. Grass, bugs, non-GMO, no pesticide hays and grain etc… (not corn, poop, antibiotics, and hormones.)
- Store food for the winter.
While I know that most of us do not have an acre garden in our backyard (much less cows and chickens roaming around), we can still strive to feed our families with foods that meet these standards. Here are a few suggestions:
- Purchase local organic produce. This is much easier for vegetables, eggs, chicken, and beef than for fruit (at least here in Texas). Choose organic first, then the closest source possible. Over 80% of our domestic fruits and veggies are from California.
- Check out your local co-op sources. If you can find one that is organic and consistently meets expectations with variety and quality, consider it a gold mine! You can often source raw goats milk, raw honey, eggs, and grains through the same farmers for a one-stop shop. If you’re a meat eater and live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, try Eat Wild to locate nearby grass fed beef.
- Join a community garden. Not enough room for a garden, but your inner green thumb is calling? Locate a community garden in your neighborhood and lease a plot. It’s a fun way to grow your own when you’re lacking space.
- Proceed with caution at farmers markets. Many vendors are simply conventional produce re-sellers at local farmers market stands. Investigate their boxes in the back of the stand or look for stickers on their produce. (Dead give away.) Also keep in mind that local farmers in Texas are usually conventional farmers. (Common crops include, peas, tomatoes, okra, onions, peppers, melons, and potatoes.) Ask the vendor specifically if they use insecticides, herbicides, or pesticides on any crops on their farm. Only select and purchase foods you are certain have been grown organically. For example, some peaches in East Texas are heavily sprayed with pesticides. While I love local farming and grew up picking peaches in orchards, these pesticides are unacceptable. Opting for a store bought, USDA organic peach is a better choice. Support organic farmers.
- Purchase organic, pasture raised eggs. You can get these at your local organic market (my favorite are from Vital Farms) or locate a local farmer that sells them. In addition, only consume organic chicken and grass fed organic beef (skip pork altogether) in order to protect yourself and family from vaccinations, antibiotics, and hormones. The story of the modern day chicken and egg is one that plays more like a science fiction movie.
- Eat in season. By choosing local, organic foods, you are following the natural, seasonal cycle. (Mother nature plans her crops in sync with our needs.) For example, heavy vitamin C cold fighting oranges and grapefruits are in season January to early spring, just when we need them most. Likewise, heavily satisfying and comforting potatoes, squash, and pumpkin are welcome fall arrivals. Beautiful red strawberries make their early debut in time for Valentine’s Day, and nothing refreshes more than a plate of garden fresh tomatoes or juicy watermelon in the hot days of summer. Remember to stock up, put up, and freeze foods when they at their peak for later use. I keep my freezer stocked with organic berries, okra, corn, peas, and green beans. I love to use them in smoothies and soups during the winter months.
Hmmm… a big pot of soup is sounding really yummy right now. Here’s my go-to soup recipe for your eating pleasure. Let me know how you like it!
Clean Fresh Living’s Veggie Tex Soup
- 1 29oz can of black beans (Eden Organics), rinsed and drained
- 1 32 oz box low sodium, organic free range chicken broth (Imagine)
- 1 26 oz box or glass jar of chopped or diced organic tomatoes (Eden Organics)
- 1 16 oz jar of medium salsa (Whole Foods 365)
- 1 large organic yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves organic garlic, minced
- Handful of organic cilantro, chopped
- 3/4 c of reverse osmosis water
Choose two or three:
- 8 to 10 oz frozen organic corn (In-season or put up)
- 8 to 10 oz frozen organic okra (In-season or put up)
- 1 fresh organic zucchini quartered & 1 fresh yellow squash quartered
- 8 to 10 oz frozen green peas and carrots (In-season or put up. I also love Columbia River Brand.)
- 1 organic rotisserie chicken (not in plastic to go container) from Whole Foods. (Pull meat off bone and shred.)
- 3 organic chicken breasts boiled in water, then shredded
- 1 lb ground meat such as buffalo or organic grass fed beef (*If using Ground Beef or Buffalo you will need 4 Tbsp Taco Seasoning (no MSG)
Set stove top to Med-High Heat. Using a large cast iron pot, brown your ground beef or buffalo. After the meat is browned, drain off the fat, set meat aside, and lightly wipe the inside of the pot. Add diced onion to the pot and sauté. After onions are soft and translucent, add the minced garlic, careful not to burn- should only take a minute. Add meat back to the pot. Sprinkle the meat with 4 tbs Taco seasoning, coating evenly, then adding 3/4 c of water. Stir to blend, reduce heat to Medium about 3-5 minutes. (*If not using beef or buffalo, add 1-2 tbs of Olive Oil and sauté the diced onions then the garlic. After the garlic is cooked, add the shredded chicken to the pot.)
Add rinsed & drained black beans, (you can cook dried beans also) salsa, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Stir. Add a bit of freshly cracked pepper. Let cook on medium for about 15-20 minutes to blend flavors, then add your veggie choices to the pot. Stir, place lid on pot and let cook over low-medium heat (so that nutritional value in veggies are not lost) for about 15-20 minutes, add cilantro and your done!
Great compliments to this meal include:
- Fresh chopped avocado
- Fresh squeezed lime
- Additional fresh cilantro (great immune system booster)
- Fresh grated (rBgh free) Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese
- Sprouted grain tortillas
- Organic blue corn chips
Be well, Live well.
Holly Pellham Davis is the founder of Clean Fresh Living, Inc., a service focused on educating consumers and families on the importance of healthy, organic, sustainable living for life and generations to come. You can hear more from Holly on her Clean Fresh Living blog, twitter, and Facebook.