• 21May

    Good morning to everyone – hope the weekend was a good one! Mine definitely started on the right foot last Friday, as I was able to volunteer and serve food with some other GMM staffers at a Senior Garden Party! This event was hosted by the partnership between our parent non-profit, OpenHand Atlanta, and TrulyLiving Well, which hosted the event at their Wheat Street Garden site.

    Needless to say, it was a very nourishing day for this Customer Service Rep…and in more ways than one!

     

    Nourishment #1: Setting foot into Truly Living Well’s Wheat Street Garden.

    The last time my shoes were tracking farm dirt was when I was saying goodbye to the fine folk up in Waxhaw, N.C. It felt good to be back among raised beds, greenhouses, lots of herbs, and rows of crops. What is it about rows of crops that nourishes the soul? Probably even more so, when the backdrop is urban Atlanta. In short, it was a great start to a great morning.

     

    So much green! Deeeeep inhale.

    Raised beds vs. urban Atlanta. Farmers doing their weeding thing.

    Flowers in full bloom. Greenhouse in the background.

    By the time I arrived at the event to serve lunch, more than 250 of Atlanta’s senior citizens were already gathered and seated in the shade of large tents, overlooking the farm site and market stand.

    Nourishment #2: A whole lot of wisdom and accumulated years and experiences in one place.

    Seniors shared their memories about food sources of past decades – family gardens, community meals, home-cooking – and Rashid Nuri explained Truly Living Well’s attempt to bring fresh produce back to the inner city through its community-supported agriculture and educational programs.

    Even Ms. Ricks, a centenarian guest who won a basket of veggies from Truly Living Well, took center stage to divulge her secrets to longevity: “Go to Sunday School! Praise the Lord! And get out and stay busy!”

    So we talked about how the seniors can best take care of their health today, even through programs like Open Hand Atlanta’s freshly prepared, home-delivered meals and its core focus of Comprehensive Nutrition Care.

    “What do you see when you look in this basket?” Charlotte Hayes, Open Hand’s Senior Director of Program and Policy Development, asked as she walked between the senior citizens seated under the tent.

    They saw vegetables in the baskets. They saw health.

    “Well, I see a rainbow,” Charlotte said about the colorful basketful, pulled straight out of the TLW garden.

     

    Which brings me to Nourishment #3: That fresh, nutritious food.

    Good nutrition leads to good health, and good nutrition comes from good food. Truly Living Well grows good food. And the Open Hand/Good Measure Meals chefs and dietitians know how to cook this good food right.

    We served sautéed dark green Kale and Swiss Chard salad seasoned with garlic and lemon dressing. Tangy, sweet apple and cabbage slaw. Cous cous mixed into warm greens. Fresh potato salad. Bright red tomato sauce over chicken breasts. And on and on. The fruits of the harvest, so to speak.

    Preparing the Kale and Chard salad.

    GMM/OH Executive Chef Lamar Palmer with the chicken and apple cabbage slaw.

     

    Jess Parsons serving lemonade to the party guests.

    And after the feasting, and after the learning, and after the strolling around the garden grounds, there was only one thing left to do: Dance.

    Nourishment #4: The Cupid Shuffle.

    This group was not ABOUT to call it quits after cleaning their plates. They danced, and danced, and danced, until buses arrived to escort them back home.

    And naturally, we joined in.

    Dietitian Rachel Stroud and GMM VP Jess Parsons + honored senior citizen guests and caretakers = Party Win.

     

    Happy Monday, y’all! Visit your local farmers markets this week and eat to your good health. And definitely spend some time dancing with your senior friends.

  • 13May

    Are you searching for a new frozen fruit dessert recipe? I’ve got one for you – it’s called “Tri-Color Fruit Terrine”. This recipe was prepared by my classmates during the “Flourless and Frozen Dessert” practicum at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. It was of my favorites because it’s simple, looks impressive, contains antioxidants, fiber-rich fruit, and it would be deliciously refreshing on a hot summer day.

    The version we made in class was layered with cherries, strawberry- banana and pineapple-banana.

    To make your own version, choose three frozen fruits – any will work! Puree each one separately in a blender and place them in individual covered containers in the freezer to harden for about 20 minutes. Line a terrine or loaf pan with plastic wrap. Remove one of the fruit purees from the freezer and spoon it into the bottom of the pan. Use the back of the spoon to spread the fruit puree into a flat layer. Place the pan in the freeze for 20 minutes to refreeze the layer of fruit. Repeat this step, using a different color of fruit for each layer. To serve, turn the pan onto a serving platter and pull and remove the plastic as the frozen fruit slides out. Slice and serve immediately.

  • 07May

    In case you’ve missed it, one of the highlights of our new Spring/Summer menu is Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  Until recently, I always bought this favorite of mine at the store and left the roasting of the peppers to the chefs at Sabra, Tribe, Athenos, or my local grocery.  Last Friday, that all changed.

    Our cooking demo at the Cancer Support Community Atlanta this month includes wholesome foods for brown bag lunches and highlights roasted red peppers as part of two recipes – a Quinoa Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  So, at the end of last week, it was time to test the recipes AND for me to finally learn the “how to” of roasting red peppers.

    I’m embarrassed to say I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner.  I wanted to eat up both peppers I roasted simply by themselves – they were fabulous!

    Want to try this for yourself?  Check out my steps below (and forgive my amateur photography…).  And stay tuned next week for the recipes from our demo.


    Step 1:   Preheat oven to 450° F.  Wash red bell pepper(s), cut in half, remove the seeds and stem, and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, with inside of pepper facing down.  Brush the outside skin of each pepper with olive oil.


    Step 2:  Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until the skins have darkened and peppers are tender. Remove from oven.


    Step 3:  Place the roasted peppers in a glass dish and cover to steam for 10-15 minutes.


    Step 4.   Peel skin away from peppers and you are ready to eat or use in recipes.

  • 05May

    I have a new appreciation for pasta after learning about it during the Pasta Course in the Chef’s Training program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. There are two main types of pasta – fresh and dry. Both can be appreciated for their unique qualities. Fresh and dry pasta have similar ingredients – ground grain or flour, sometimes eggs, sometimes water, and sometimes oil. These ingredients are mixed together to create a dough that is cut into different shapes, using special machines. The difference in these two types of pasta comes mainly from how they are produced.

    Dry pasta is commercially produced. It is known for its ability to be cooked “al dente”. This means that it has more bite and texture when cooked properly. Dry pasta becomes hard in the drying process and requires a longer cooking time than fresh. It has a fairly long shelf life and should be stored covered at room temperature. To cook dry pasta, place it in boiling, salted water for about 6-15 minutes (depending on variety) and drain.

    Fresh pasta cooks much faster – in about 2-3 minutes, but “al dente” is harder to achieve because the texture of fresh pasta is much more tender and delicate. Fresh pasta has to be handled with great care and has a much shorter shelf life (only 1-2 days). When cooking, it’s best to lift the pasta up and out of the cooking water, instead of draining  it, to ensure that the noodles don’t stick together or fall apart. The greatest advantage of fresh pasta is the opportunity for the cook to create various combinations of flavors, flours, and fillings.

    I had the opportunity to practice my creativity during the pasta course at Natural Gourmet Institute. Our instructor taught the class techniques for making fresh pasta and the group practiced by making fettuccini, angel hair, lasagna, tortellini, cannelloni pasta, ravioli, and gnocchi. It was a lot of fun and not as hard as I had imagined.  We were encouraged to get creative by changing the types of flour (whole wheat, semolina, spelt, buckwheat, and cornmeal) and flavors (fresh herbs, spinach, saffron, tomato, black pepper, beet, mushroom, and eggless). Each version was unique and delicious in its own way.

    The next time you purchase pasta or are trying to decide between fresh and dry – ask yourself if you want an al dente texture or if you want a more delicate and soft texture. Also, look for pastas that use whole grain flours that provide some fiber. This will help you feel fuller and eat less. The portion of pasta should look like a side-dish that occupies no more than a quarter of your plate. You can stretch the portion size by mixing in your favorite vegetables, fresh herbs, beans, lean meats and toppings.

    Wondering about the different shapes of pasta? Click here

    What to learn how to make fresh pasta? Click here

    Need ideas for pasta recipes? Click here

    What to learn about the taste comparison of whole grain dry pastas? Click here