by Rachael Lamb
Ok, so it’s technically an herb, and technically the month is pretty much over, but we’ve been ALL about the basil at Farm to Fit this June and thus, it deserves some spotlight!
I worked on an organic vegetable farm in my mid-twenties, which is where I developed such an appreciation for basil. I don’t know why or how, but I never really had pesto until then. My first summer there, I made and ate more pesto than what is probably considered healthy. But hey, I had years of being basil-less to make up for!
On the farm, we devoted a few outside beds as well as an entire 100 ft. greenhouse to the crop. I will never forget the smell inside that greenhouse – it was like stepping into a dream-cloud of brushetta, pesto, and margarita pizza all at once. There are over 150 kinds of basil, each with their own distinct smell which is created by the different combinations of essential oils produced by the plant. The intensely wonderful smell is only part of basil’s beauty. It’s fresh, unique flavor is the perfect companion to tomatoes, cheeses, fish, pasta, zucchini, eggplant, etc. Basil is best preserved when used fresh, or added in at the last moment, as cooking reduces it’s flavor. Another way to store it long-term is to freeze the leaves. Or, make a pesto (like the one below!) and freeze in individual use baggies.
Native to areas in Asia and Africa, Basil was brought from India to Europe in the 16th century. Basil is one of the most important herbs to many cultures and cuisines, including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Laotion. Tulsi, as the herb is known in Hindi, means “Sacred Basil”. The scorpion is historically associated with basil- it was advised to handle basil gently as to avoid the breeding of scorpions. Scorpions were believed to seek out basil pots to rest under, and superstition taught that a sprig of basil left on its own underneath a pot would eventually turn into a scorpion.
Basil has been used as a folk remedy for an enormous number of ailments, including boredom, cancer, convulsion, deafness, diarrhea, epilepsy, gout, hiccup, impotency, insanity, nausea, sore throat, toothaches, and whooping cough. Basil has been reported in herbal publications as an insect repellent. Recent scientific research has investigated the health benefits associated with basil’s essential oils. Studies suggest anti-viral, anti-microbial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of the oils, though further research is still necessary.
Check out Portland’s Farmer’s Market this weekend and bring home a big bright-green bunch. Try it as a garnish on eggs, salad, pizza, or make a fresh pesto. In honor of my basil beginnings here is the first pesto recipe I ever used! Enjoy!
Super Simple Basil-Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups gently packed basil leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2/3 cup olive oil
*For a lower-calorie version, omit/reduce the cheese and oil, and use water!
Process the walnuts and garlic in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. Then, with the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more. Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. (If you’re planning on freezing it, omit the cheese and stir it in once you defrost it.)
by Rachael Lamb
If weight loss is your goal, eating less is probably your best bet. The New York Times just published an article citing studies that suggest exercise doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. It’s an interesting twist in the world of dieting, as it seems like “EXERCISE” has been pounded into our heads as the key to dropping pounds. Of course, it doesn’t hurt and obviously helps keep weight off – as long as the calories you’ve expended are greater than the calories you’ve consumed. Story short: exercise alone will not save the day, nor will it even make a dent in your waistline if that equation gets reversed. The article made a good point – that on average, most people don’t maintain a daily exercise routine long-term, and even those who do are not burning as many calories as they may think. For example, a 30 minute run may burn 350 calories. The same amount of calories could easily be cut from one’s diet by eliminating 2 sodas (or beers – hey, we do live in Portland) per day. The advantage of cutting the calories vs. burning them stems from the fact that most people don’t exercise due to lack of time. Making better dietary choices, and consuming less can be a challenge of it’s own, but it is definitely more efficient!
Easy Ways to Cut Calories EVERY DAY!
1. Keep a Food Journal – keeping track of what you ingest daily can help you find tangible, realistic places where you can cut back. Don’t forget to include condiments, beverages, sauces, and even ‘tastes’!
2. Eat from smaller plates and bowls – you will eat less without even realizing it!
3. Use the Proper Plate Method: Fill half your plate with fresh veggies, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with whole grains. This will keep you full while reducing the amount of calories consumed compared to a plate full of starches and grains.
4. Pre-portion your meals. This may take a bit more time (unless you have a Farm to Fit subscription!) but will definitely keep you from overeating!
5. Eat Breakfast! It’s a proven fact that people who eat breakfast have lower BMI’s and consume fewer calories per day than those who don’t.
by Rachael Lambposted in Healthy Living
It’s officially Summer in a few weeks (though, who would have thought with this recent heat streak?!) and in the spirit of this sunny season here are some suggestions to keep you healthy and happy these next few months!
1. Drink More Water
Drinking water is always a good habit, no matter what the season. Temperatures like we’ve had this week can easily leave one dehydrated, especially when combined with an active lifestyle. And don’t be fooled – thirst isn’t always a good indication of your body’s state of hydration (studies show that by the time we are in our 30’s our recognition of ‘thirst’ is a bit delayed). There is no hard and fast rule about how much to chug per day (because much depends on age, gender, activity level), but on average 8 glasses is recommended.
Another way to tell? – Check your pee! If it’s light, you’re doing good – if it’s dark your body may be in need of some H20!
2. Wear Your Sunscreen/Sunglasses
Protecting your skin and eyes should be a vital part of your summer health routine. Sunscreen prevents sunburn, reduces risk of skin cancer, and helps prevent early signs of skin aging.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
- Water resistance.
Here are some other tips:
- Follow the guideline of “one ounce, enough to fill a shot glass”, which dermatologists consider the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size.
- Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
- Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.
3. Do your work-out OUTDOORS!
1. You’ll save $$!
2. You’ll burn more calories! Your body knows what to expect from a machine – training on varied terrain will demand more of your body!
3. You’ll feel better! Fresh air can be like Prozac! A recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology concluded that “exercising outside creates greater feelings of revitalization, energy, and positive thinking than does working out indoors” After a 30-minute walk in the park, 71 percent of people feel less stressed, while 72 percent of people who take their walks indoors actually feel more stressed.”
4. You make your own schedule. The park, trail, backyard is always ready to go. No class schedules, waiting in lines, stinky gym air.
4. Enjoy Local Fruits and Veggies
The pacific northwest is a food mecca. High quality, huge variety. This summer take a trip out to Hood River and pick your own berries, or stop by PSU’s Farmer’s Market and sample the wide array of locally grown veggies that are available to us in summer. Tomatoes, corn, spinach, broccoli, kale, summer squash, green beans, lettuce – the list goes on and on. We love to use produce from Sauvie Island Organics and Gathering Together Farm!
5. Wake Up Earlier!
There is no better season to get an early start. With five extra hours of sunlight (as compared to a winter day) the opportunities to enjoy the day are endless!
Studies show that waking up early:
-Enhances your productivity
-Helps you stick to a healthier diet
-Gives you a better mental attitude
-Makes it easier to fit in exercise
On top of that, Summer is made for adventures, projects, and grill-outs!
What will you do with your extra hours?!
by Rachael Lamb
This May, you may have noticed a sweet little addition to more than a few of our menu items. Spring onions, (or ‘scallions’, ‘green onions’ ,’bunching onions’, ‘baby onions’, etc.) are the perfect addition to salads, soups, stir-fry’s and sandwiches. We like to use them in the Teriyaki Rice Bowl, as a garnish on the Black Bean Enchilada, or in the Polenta aside the Tuscan Beef Stew – just to name a few! They’re mild, but still flavorful in a way that isn’t overpowering. This is because they are harvested prematurely, before the bulb has time to fully develop that sharp, bold flavor. Green onions are part of the Allium family which contains over 300 species; this also includes Leeks, Garlic, Spring Onions, Shallots and Chives.
What to Look For
Bunches that are firm with bright green stems. Avoid those slimy bulbs.
How to Prepare It
Trim off the roots, then wash. Slice the bulbs and the stems into thin rounds. Green onions are mild and therefore can be eaten raw or cooked. Try them in the cream cheese recipe below!
How to Store It
Spring onions don’t have the shelf life of regular onions, so be sure to store in a perforated bag in the fridge. Or stick the bunch in a jar with in 1-2 inches of water and cover with a plastic bag. Will last 4-5 days.
Scallion Cream Cheese
- 1 package plain cream cheese
- 1 bunch scallions (eyeball it depending on their size; about 5 pieces)
- kosher salt (optional)
1) Set cream cheese out at room temperature in a mixing bowl.
2) Snip the scallions into small pieces using kitchen shears. Add to the softened cream cheese once it has reached room temp.
3) Mix thoroughly; add more scallion to taste.
4) Chill for one hour before serving. Tastes best at room temp.
–Taken from ‘Organicglory’ blog https://organicglory.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/recipe-scallion-cream-cheese/
by Rachael Lamb
The rain has finally started to slow and it is time, once again, to enjoy the product of all those wet,grey sky-ed days: Green EVERYTHING. Wildflowers. Rushing streams. Cool, fresh air. What better way to spend some free time than out exploring the beautiful northwest (or as my Oregon license plate proclaims, the “Pacific Wonderland”)! Not only is nature a wonder to marvel at, spending time outdoors is scientifically proven to release stress, and improve mood. It boosts our Vitamin D levels (essential to our immune systems), promotes eye health, is good for the lungs, improves sleep – the list goes on and on. Even a light walk has immense health benefits. Here are a few spring hikes in the Portland area worth checking out this season!
Angel’s Rest is an exposed bluff on the Western end of the Columbia River George. This summit is characterized by a long, rocky spine surrounded on three sides by cliffs, boasting a striking 270 degree view! While you can’t see any of the Cascade volcanoes from the top, you do get great vantages of Beacon Rock, Silver Star Mountain, and many other landmarks.
Distance: 4.8 Miles Roundtrip
Distance from Portland: 40 Minutes
The Wildwood Trail – Forest Park
The Wildwood Trail begins in downtown Portland and spans 30 miles throughout Forest Park. An abundance of wildlife can be found in Forest Park — the largest urban park in the country. Forest Park’s extensive system of trails, fire lanes and roads provide excellent opportunities for hiking, walking, running, and simply escaping the urban atmosphere.
Distance: 30 miles point -to- point
Distance from Portland: 0 Miles!
This is a stunning low elevation loop in the Columbia River Gorge. In literally a few steps, you leave the modern freeway noise and enter a different world. There are views of three waterfalls and a couple of views of Oneonta Gorge. The trail begins in one of the most scenic trailheads anywhere, at Horsetail Falls. The Horsetail Falls Trail (#438) continues for 2.8 miles, passing under Ponytail Falls, and then crosses Middle Oneonta Falls.
Distance: 2.8 Miles
Distance from Portland: 45 Minutes
This hike is an odd mix of easy and difficult; it’s very short, but also very steep, with loose rocks in places. This is definitely a hike for good boots.
Distance: .6 miles
Distance from Portland: 40 Minutes
On the Washington side of the Gorge, Dog Mountain is a favorite of many. The steep climb is difficult, but worth the amazing views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and the tip of Mt. Hood peaking over Mt. Defiance. Dog Mountain is famous for its abundant wildflowers in springtime – the upper meadows of the mountain explode with colorful wildflowers in May and June.
Distance: 7 Miles
Distance from Portland: 1.5 hrs
by Rachael Lamb
The dreaded word. The thing to be avoided at all costs. There is good reason to fear fat – this country has a higher rate of obesity than any other place in the world, and it’s not because we overdo it on the vegetables. It seems like common sense, from a weight loss perspective, that consuming foods high in fat such as milk, butter, red meat, etc. contribute to weight gain. But what are the true root causes? Does eating fat make you fat? Let’s start at the beginning.
- Is one of the three main macro nutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates).
- Serves both as energy sources for the body, and as stores for energy in excess of what the body needs immediately.
- Fatty acids that are set free by the digestion of fats are called essential because they cannot be synthesized in the body from simpler constituents. There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in human nutrition: alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other lipids needed by the body can be synthesized from these and other fats.
- Some vitamins, (A, D, E, and K) are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
- Plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function.
- Serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases. When a particular substance, reaches unsafe levels in the bloodstream, the body can effectively dilute—or at least maintain equilibrium of—the offending substances by storing it in new fat tissue. This helps to protect vital organs, until such time as the offending substances can be metabolized and/or removed from the body.
(Learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat)
Doesn’t sound so bad anymore? From a scientific perspective it seems that fat has gotten a bad rap. Studies done in the 1970’s concluded that saturated fat was the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, and since then we have removed fat from our diets in an attempt to be healthy. The food pyramid of the 90’s urged us to eat fats ‘sparingly’, while recommending we consume 9-11 servings of bread, rice, pasta A DAY. Interestingly, over the past 30 years fat intake has dropped from 40% to 30% but obesity has doubled! On top of that, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in this country. Was fat framed?
New research has begun to dissect the studies done in the 1970’s, dismissing fat as the culprit. A 2010 study release by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.” (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract) New research points to sugar as the true root cause of obesity and disease. In fact, the low-fat craze led us straight to an increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugar. Even the American Heart Association agrees that sugar is more of a threat than saturated fat. A high-sugar diet increases your insulin levels (associated with some kinds of cancers, heart disease, etc.), compromises your immune system, contributes to weight gain, and is associated with increased mortality. (Check out this article from JAMA Internal Medicine).
This doesn’t mean go out and gorge on hotdogs. Not every source of fat is equal. This study published through the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine found that the consumption of processed meats, but not red meats, is associated with higher incidence of CHD and diabetes.
- Don’t fear fat – it’s essential!
- Spending a little more on food (especially fats from quality sources) is preventative health care!
- Be conscious of sugar intake to prevent risk of CHD and obesity.
by Rachael Lamb
April is the month for Asparagus. It’s bright-green shooting stalk is the epitome of Spring. We’ve spent the past few winter months winding down, conserving energy in preparation for the new birth and regeneration that this season brings us. Many vegetables start to make an appearance about now (onions, leeks, mushrooms, garlic, etc.) – but The Mighty Asparagus is King (or Queen – but we’ll get to that later).
The Asparagus plant has one of the longest growing periods of any vegetable, needing 3-4 years to build well-established roots. It will grow just about anywhere that has a freezing cold winter or dry season. You can start a plant from seed (harder, but more cost-effective), or from a year-old crown (saves time but more prone to disease or weakness). Asparagus is ‘dioecious’ – meaning it has male flowers and female flowers on separate plants. Growing from seed allows you to plant an all-male bed which is beneficial because male asparagus plants put all their energy into producing edible spears. Female plants, on the other hand, put most of their energy towards reproducing, creating berries that fall to the ground and self seed. Well prepared and maintained asparagus beds only increase in production, and can last for as long as up to 30 years!
Not only is this plant not afraid of commitment – it delivers an abundance of nutrition. It gets it’s name from the ammino acid ‘asparagine’, which it is brimming with. Asparagus packs a good dose of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacen, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium. WOW.
Interestingly, there is a recipe for asparagus in the oldest existing recipe book: Apicius’s third-century AD De re conquinaria, Book III. It follows:
6. A Dish of Asparagus, Another Way: Add asparagus tips (that are usually thrown away) to a mortar. Pound, add wine, then pass through a sieve. Pound pepper, lovage, fresh coriander, savory, onion, wine, liquamen and olive oil. Put the purée and spices in a greased shallow pan, and, if you wish, break eggs over it when it is on the fire, so that the mixture sets. Season with finely-ground pepper and serve.
Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/apicius-pandecter-4.php
Copyright © celtnet
Another interesting fact: Asparagus can make your pee smell (if you haven’t already noticed). If you are among the few who claim you’ve never smelled it, that’s because (no offense) you lack the ability to detect the odor, or you lack the ability to produce the odor! Research studies are inconclusive as to why some people produce the odor but can’t smell it – or don’t produce it but can detect it. Check out the BBC’s run-down on these studies here.
And as you begin your transition into spring this year, remember to ‘stalk’ – up on some asparagus.
by Rachael Lamb
Have you noticed the significant difference in our pasta dishes lately?! What has added such flavor, texture, and wholesomeness to our Tuscan Lasagna, Chicken Spiedini, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Turkey Bolognese, Shrimp Arrabbiata, etc? That would be Adam Berger’s hand-made pasta. Farm to Fit has recently made the transition from dry pasta to fresh, local pasta that is made right down the street from us! Adam Berger, the long-time owner of Tabla Restaurant (on the corner of NE 28th and Davis), has launched an organic premium pasta line called “Rallenti” which he serves at his restaurant and which is now available to you via Farm to Fit! I got a chance to chat with Adam this morning at Tabla and learned quite a bit about the pasta-making process as well as the artist himself.
Where are you from originally? “Jersey”
How did you get started doing this? “Well, I’ve been making pasta for 20 years. I graduated from culinary school in Arizona and went straight to Italy, where I worked in 4 restaurants making pasta. We used a crank handled extruder, which can take awhile”
What does “Rallenti” mean? “Slow Down”
What ingredients go into making your pasta? And your gluten-free pasta? “Semolina flour and water – and the pasta I make for you guys is whole wheat so I add in some fresh wheat germ. The gluten-free pasta is made with Bob’s Red Mill rice flour, xanthan gum, and eggs.”
What is the key to making THE freshest pasta? “Using the best flour and eggs. The best ingredients in general. We always use semolina flour – a coarser flour that is only milled in certain places in the U.S. Keeping your attention on what you’re doing. A lot of times your hands are just ‘going’, you can’t really just ‘daydream’ you have to make sure you are keeping attention to detail. Also, being aware of how the environment/weather is going to affect your ingredients. Every day is different. Especially the humidity – a batch of pasta can differ by 25 g of water on different days, depending on humidity.”
How long have you had Tabla? And what sets your restaurant apart from other Portland Italian places? “We’ve been here for 12 years. That’s a good question…I’d say that we are well grounded in authentic Italian technique – – with a 2015 Portland twist.”
Check out Tabla Restaurant at http://www.tablapastaevino.com/ and stay tuned to Farm to Fit’s upcoming menus for more Rallenti-inspired creations!
by Rachael Lamb
We’re super excited to unveil the new face of Farm to Fit!
It’s been a long time coming that we update our logo – a lot’s changed in 3 years. We’ve moved into our own kitchen, outgrown a decent-sized walk-in, and just recently built a shed for more storage space. On top of that, we’ve worked on perfecting our recipes so that Portland can experience how delicious health food can be. Thank you to all of our loyal customers – and welcome to the “new” Farm to Fit (with that same great taste)!
by Rachael Lamb
There is a growing population of Americans who have begun to buck the bad habits that sometimes come with living the ‘fast life’. You know, that daily grind of: up and at ’em out the door – work. school. errands. chores. meetings. phone calls. commutes – and finally home, starving, looking at that empty fridge. We all know how easy it is to succumb to take-out meals or pre-packaged, processed foods that have low nutritional value. Fast food exists on every corner for a reason. It’s hot, it’s ready to eat, and it’s right there. However, we all know the detrimental effects of a fast food diet on our bodies, our local communities, and our conscience. That’s why so many are starting to seek out healthier alternatives. At Farm to Fit we combine the slow and the fast, thus making healthy, hearty eating possible without any time lost. Let us spend the day braising, marinating, kneading, pickling, poaching, etc. so that you have the time and energy to do what YOU do best.
Chef Jeremy often has something stewing overnight in the tilt kettle, and our team of prep chefs are always cooking with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Scones are made from scratch. Beans are soaked. Beef is slow-cooked to shredded perfection. At farm to fit we care to keep the bar high. We provide quality food so you can focus on the things that add quality to your life.
Check out these Portland food-based businesses/organizations with similar philosophies !
1. New American Restaurant – Tasty, sustainable, and wholesome family-style meals that you can order and pay for from your phone or computer.
2. Slow Food Portland – A non-profit dedicated to bringing the Slow Food philosophy to life through:
- cooking, tasting and educational events;
- community discussions and speaker presentations;
- farm, ranch and garden tours;
- happy hours; and
- film and book events.
3. Local Harvest – A national online database listing over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets, along with restaurants and grocery stores that feature local food. Portland, OR shows 298 listings.
4. Portland Area CSA Coalition – An online database listing Portland area CSA’s
“The Portland Area CSA Coalition connects you with your farmer through Community Supported Agriculture. We help people find the right farm for their family, and we help farmers create sustainable, thriving businesses. We believe a vibrant, environmentally sound local food system is created by building relationships between farmers and households through healthy, accessible, local food.”
5. Old Salt Marketplace – Deli & meat shop, supperhouse & bar, event & classroom, and a mid-week farmers market through the summer. EVERYTHING made in-house.Address: 5027 NE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR 97218Phone:(971) 255-01676. Soup Cycle – Fresh, tasty meals delivered by bicycle.Phone: 503-897-8464