Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mother Nature's Green Garden Pasta

Hey everybody! Today's post is a recipe that I tried out the other day for a rehearsal dinner. I used fresh spinach and mushrooms from my delivery of produce from Full Circle Farms in this dish, and it turned out very well. This is extremely healthy and is packed with a bunch of different vegetables, plus you can freeze the sauce and reheat it when you need a quick meal. Also, its green color against the red peppers and tomatoes looks super pretty.

Mother Nature’s Green Garden Pasta
Serves 6 – 8


1 (16 oz) package whole-wheat spaghetti
10 crimini mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 roma tomatoes, diced (for garnish)
A couple handfuls of Italian parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)

For the Green Garden sauce:

1 bunch spinach, coarsely chopped
½ cups frozen peas, thawed
¼ of a large yellow onion, cut into large pieces

1 medium-large zucchini, cut into large pieces

½ cup Italian parsley
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
About 2 – 3 cups of water
Salt and pepper, to taste


1.      Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.

2.      Using a damp paper towel, gently wipe off all of the mushrooms to remove dirt. Cut the ends of the stems off of the mushrooms and cut each mushroom in half vertically. Thinly slice the mushrooms.

3.      Combine all of the ingredients of the sauce in a high-speed blender and puree until very smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding water. The more water you add, the runnier it will be, and you can decide how runny/thick you want it.

4.      Heat the olive oil in a large skillet at medium-high heat. Add the peppers and sauté for about one minute. Then, add the garlic and the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the garlic is golden brown. Remove from heat.

5.      Combine the noodles with the sautéed vegetables and 2½ cups of the green sauce.  Mix well. Top each individual plate with diced tomatoes and parsley. After dinner, freeze the remaining pasta sauce in an ice cube tray. This way, you can reheat it and have it on pasta for quick lunches and dinners.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Hey everybody! As promised, here is my Sunday blog post. I'm starting rehearsals for Godspell tomorrow, and this week, I've been creating some quick and easy dinners that I can make in the morning and take to rehearsal. Here's one of the recipes I created. It's simple to make, packed with protein and vegetables, and has the perfect balance of textures and flavors. The soft beans and the crunchy celery pairs really well with the sweet bell peppers and pungent onions. The amount of sandwiches you make depends on how much filling you put on the sandwiches.

Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Serves 6 – 8

12 – 16 slices organic multigrain bread (such as Dave’s Killer Bread)
6 – 8 slices butter lettuce, washed
For filling:
2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans
½ cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
3 celery stalks, finely diced (keep the leafy green tops!)
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 roma tomato, finely diced
¼ of a large yellow onion, finely diced
½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
The juice of one lemon
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste


1.      Place the drained and rinsed chickpeas in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the garbanzo beans until they are mostly broken apart, but pieces of chickpea are still evident.

2.      Stir in the remaining ingredients for the filling. Adjust the seasonings accordingly.

3.      Assemble sandwiches by placing a few heaping spoonfuls of chickpea salad onto the bottom piece of bread. Top with a lettuce leaf and the other slice of bread. Serve.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oxbow Farm

Hey, everybody! I haven’t posted in a few months and I’m a terrible person…. School, theatre, and dance have taken up all of my time for blogging. Now that it’s summer, I’m going to try and post every Sunday!

Last Wednesday, my Girl Scout Troop took a tour of Oxbow Farm in Carnation in order to complete our “Sow What?” journey (a pre-requisite for the Girl Scout Gold Award). Oxbow Farm is a CSA farm that sells organic produce. In addition to being a CSA, they also provide produce to local restaurants, such as Zaw Pizza and Café Flora. We learned a lot about how a small farm is run on our tour. After our visit, our leaders asked us some questions about our visit. Below are our answers.

What was your favorite vegetable to try at the farm? Do you think it tasted better than its store-bought version? Why or why not?
Our favorite vegetables at the farm were peas and carrots. We thought that they tasted fresher and crisper than the peas and carrots that you find at the store.


Do you wish that your family would join a CSA or start shopping at farmers’ markets? Why or why not?
We would be more likely to go to a farmers’ market than join a CSA. By going to the farmers’ market, you can buy local, organic produce and support farmers. However, a CSA is a bit of a hassle when you have a busy schedule, because it’s hard to find time to pick up the boxes of produce from the drop-off locations. Also, there are some weeks when you don’t have very much time to cook, so some of your produce from the box would go to waste.

What was your favorite thing that you learned about how a small, organic farm like Oxbow is run?
We enjoyed learning about Oxbow’s methods of organic pest control, such as the bug vacuum and decoy plants. The bug vacuum is used at night when the bugs come out, and it sucks up all the bugs to keep them off of the plant. Also, decoy plants were planted at the ends of the rows. The decoy plants were more desirable to the bugs than the actual vegetables (like lettuce and radishes), so the bugs would stay away from the vegetables that Oxbow wanted to sell.
A chart with information about harvests and deliveries

Name one thing that the farmers do to the plants or soil in order to improve growing conditions. Did you know this before? Why was this interesting to you?
At Oxbow, they use a cover crop in order to improve conditions. Cover crops are crops that are easy to grow, don’t require much water, and are very low maintenance. When the cover crop is done growing, they till the plant into the soil, which puts lots of nutrients into the soil during the winter when the plant decays. We didn’t know about this particular method until we went to Oxbow, and we found it interesting because it’s one of many ways that you can improve crops without using chemical fertilizers.

What did you learn about the farmers that work at Oxbow?
We thought it was really interesting that most of the farmers at Oxbow were women. 70% of Oxbow employees are women. It proves that as long as you have the determination to work hard and improve the food system, you can run a farm no matter who you are! 
Arwin, the amazing female farmer who led our tour

Would you want to work on a farm like Oxbow? Why or why not?
Some of us would be interested in summer internships, but most of the troop members think that they would get bored when working on a farm. Being a farmer is a lifestyle, and a lot of our girls don’t necessarily have the passion for farming. That’s totally fine. However, we all enjoyed visiting the farm.
Why do you think buying local, organic produce is important?
Buying local, organic produce is important because it supports local farmers and the local economy. The produce is fresher, and it’s healthier because it’s free of chemicals. Also, local and organic produce is better for the environment. This is because it doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to your plate, and no harmful chemicals are used.

Did visiting Oxbow inspire you to change the way you shop for produce? Why or why not?
Some of our girls would like to buy more local food in order to help the environment. Plus, we’d like to eat fresher food, like the produce at Oxbow.

Did your visit to Oxbow Farm inspire you to tell your friends about CSAs, local produce, and organic farming? Why or why not?
Not really. I personally try to inspire my friends to eat local and organic produce, but that’s because I have a passion for healthy food and improving the food system. The other girls in our troop don’t have that passion, which is fine. However, they are willing to make changes for themselves and become aware about food, which is a great step to take.

Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Oxbow and all took something away from the visit. My family joined Full Circle Farm (a farm that delivers organic produce to your door – however, it is not a CSA) because Oxbow inspired us to join a CSA/something like a CSA. If you’re interested in visiting Oxbow Farm, go to for more information.

Please follow this blog, subscribe to me on YouTube, follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page, and share this with your friends! I will be posting every Sunday from now on. I’ve also decided that publishing a cookbook is unrealistic while dealing with high school, so you’ll see a lot more recipes from me because I don’t have to save them for the cookbook anymore. Thanks, and stay healthy!