The blueberries taste like blueberries…but the zucchini tastes like PIZZA!

Last weekend, I headed out to Kendall’s Blueberries to pick as many as I could! It is nearing the end of the season and I wanted to score some fresh, chemical-free, and affordable berries for the upcoming winter! This farm, a blueberry farm, located in Hastings, MI, offers $1/lb u-pick berries! So, of course, my roommates and I headed out there on a beautiful Michigan Saturday! It was a bit of a drive, just under an hour from our home, and well, it was mostly beautiful (once we got off I-94). Image

One of my roommates…he liked eating over picking…but I forgave him!ImageAnd a beautiful bush filled with the delectable fruit of the earth!ImageJust a few rules, about picking blueberries to freeze or can:

1. Take more time picking, less time prepping. Notice the little stems, well those don’t make good smoothie additions, so be mindful when picking, or your prepping takes a LOT longer.

2. You’ll learn to appreciate those blueberry pickers. This was not an easy taste. Despite eating a handful or two throughout the few hours we were there, I picked for just over 2 hours. Together, we picked about 12 pounds.

3. Processing blueberries isn’t easy either. Okay, well it is easy, but time consuming. I chose to freeze my berries…so after washing them, drying them, and spreading them out in one layer, on a baking sheet (with edges, always with edges), and waiting about 30 minutes per load to freeze…it took me 7 hours to process all of these babies!

4. Enjoy! The best part about processing the berries was eating them throughout the prepping stage. I may have ate close to a pound, but they were great!

5. Always look for local, chemical free. I’ve learned from research and first hand experience that organic isn’t always the best choice. USDA Organic certification is expensive. Supporting local, chemical-free farms is a better option. So support away!

Just a day later, my mom had me pick up her CSA share as my parents were heading out on vacation. Well, since it was a full share, I had about 12 zucchinis, 6 cloves of garlic, 10 hot peppers, 2 pints of blueberries (like I needed more, but oh, they were eaten!), 5 bundles of greens (kale, swiss chard, and collard), 6 heads of broccoli, and random other stuff I’m forgetting…well what do you do with ALL this food? Pinterest. Pinterest your heart out until you come up with enough ways to use it all before you waste any delicious produce. And what did we Pinterest – Zucchini Pizza. After reading several recipes, I decided to get going…and here’s what happened:

ImageI started with a sauté of garlic, onions, thyme, basil, and oregano in olive oil. After that became aromatic, I added in some red bell peppers and hot peppers. This would be really tasty with mushrooms and/or olives (according to my roommate, I don’t like either). ImageAnd then you add in some meat! If you eat meat, eat “organic“, grass-fed, local meat. We had a delicious sweet Italian sausage from Bear Foot Farms. I supposed you could use a meat substitute, but I don’t really believe in that (a topic for another day). ImageWhile the meat and veggies are cooking…cut your zucchini in half, scoop out the seeds, and microwave them for about 5 minutes at power level 5. So, for the past 4 years, I haven’t had a microwave…and I don’t really think you need one. However, this helped to soften the zucchini so it would cook quicker. I think steaming it could have worked too…but Pinterest said to microwave.

Oh yeah, and preheat that oven to BROIL!ImageAnd then, you start the filling process! I drizzled a little olive oil on the zucchini, then a little bit of tomato sauce…and then I stuffed them full of the meat and veggie goodness, added a little more tomato sauce, and then smothered in parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Toss this baking sheet into the oven, on the top rack (or bottom broiler), and keep your eye on it! You want that cheese to be perfectly browned and crispy, but not burnt.ImageMozzarella melts really well, so it is a good way to get that crispness. And who in their right mind doesn’t like crispy cheese???ImageAnd then dig in! Granted, this isn’t the most beautiful looking and easy to eat meal…but my God was it delicious! I think I’ve found a way to replace the pizza I crave. A pretty healthy alternative. And it is perfect to reheat! I wrapped up the leftover boats in tin foil, and brought them to work. Preheated the oven to 350 and let them bake until they were warm! Perfection! And everyone in the office was jealous.

I was thinking about other things you could stuff in there to make it a few times a week…here is what comes to mind:

  • Mexican style – with more hot peppers, black beens, and wild rice – top with some yummy cheese and guacamole! Now that sounds amazing!
  • Greek style – orzo pasta, feta, olives, you get where I’m going…
  • American style – grains, veggies, something plain and simple (we’re boring, get over it).
  • Whatever the hell you want style – fill it with your favorite anything! The spicier the better, as the zucchini soaks up flavor and it is perfect!

I guess I’ve had a pretty good week, filled with yummy, local food. However, I did suffer from a migraine for three days and I’m finally feeling better (which is why this blog is slightly delayed). I’m getting back in to hot yoga and that makes me very happy. After work, I’m heading over to Barnes & Nobles to pick up a edible plant guide. What else, oh yes, I’m participating in a photo-shoot with weekend for a friend’s company, iWooLoo, to empower women of all shapes, sizes, and colors to love themselves and reach self-actualization. This will be interesting. I’ll be practicing posing all day tomorrow!

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Simple, quick, & perfect: Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Sometimes we need a little sweets, especially on a long and chilly Friday in Michigan. I’ve been using this chocolate chip cookie recipe since I was little and it is so easy!

Mix together butter/oil – you want at least half 1/2 cup butter, and then enough oil/shortening (coconut is great in this) to equal a full cup…with a cup of packed brown sugar and a 1/2 cup white sugar. Add in a bit of vanilla and almond extracts – add enough to suit your tastebuds! Almond is my favorite :)

After that gets well blended – smooth and mixed together – crack in two eggs. Then mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour (I use spelt flour) and a 1/2 tsp of baking powder. Blend together – should be firm but moist (that’s what he said, hahaha) and toss in some chocolate chips – as much or little as you want. I shoot for about 4 chips per cookie – so a full bag or a cup and a half! You could add nuts if you want!

Ohh I guess I should have had you preheat the oven to 375… Or a smidge over (hotter makes then the thin and flat style, how my family likes then). Divide cookie dough into the size of cookie you like – average is about a spoonful. Don’t grease your cookie sheet either! Pop in the oven for 8 minutes, or until golden brown edges appear.

Sometimes, if they are still a little puffy, I poke then and let the cookie sink and seal – makes them slightly brittle but so good! Take off cookie sheet and let them cool for 5 minutes… It’s hard but so worth it! Serve with a big glass of fresh, raw milk and enjoy!

Raw milk may not be legal in your state. Here in Michigan, we are able to herd share and get raw milk. So, basically, my family pays a certain amount per month (or year, or whatever you work out with the farmer) and you own this cow (or goat). Then that money goes to helping the farmer care for and milk the animal and give you your milk! This is legal in Michigan but not federally. I think I will work on a post about raw milk because, well, it’s an interesting topic!

Happy Friday!

A few good meals!

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It has been a really busy few weeks so I haven’t posted in a while – but here are two of my recent meals. The zucchini boats and risotto are from a local restaurant called Fieldstone Grill! Every Monday they offer 40% off with a Millennium Card so I try to make it out an enjoy an awesome meal for a low cost!
The fruit was my breakfast this morning – so delicious! I love summer time and the bounty of fresh fruit it brings!
Looking forward to a lovely weekend including Art Hop, Greensky Bluegrass, the KIA Art Fair, star gazing, and spending time with a certain special gentleman!
Until next time, love yourself & others and be pure!

Sunday Dinner with Dad & Office Necessities

20130506-084308.jpgSo, how do you make sure that you’re keeping healthy while at work? Bring stuff from home! Here’s a look at my office necessities – apple cider vinegar and honey, grapefruit, apples, chia seeds, trail mix, Mag/Cal, to-go french press, and my coconut oil & vanilla extract coffee blend. Since this is only my second week working in the office, I’m sure I’m missing some essentials – but time will eventually bring about all things necessary to function in the office. 20130506-084335.jpgI had a lovely weekend – a great show on Friday night with my girlfriends down in Three Rivers…then Saturday I had an eventful day – starting off with a bike ride to the Farmer’s Market (first one of the season – it was amazing!), then looking at some houses, a few garage sales, lunch at Martini’s, and a glass of wine on my lawn with my best friend and his boyfriend. Later on, I went out for a drink with some girls I went to high school with and we had a good time.

Sunday came quick and my other best friend and her son came over, we went to breakfast at Food Dance, then headed over to Chenery Auditorium for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performance of Peter and the Wolf. It was an excellent time and we enjoyed a nice walk to and from in the sunshine. After that, I went over to my parent’s house to do some laundry. My mom is out of town so my dad and I cooked dinner together (shown above). We had gluten-free spaghetti with homemade meat sauce (spicy sausage from a locally raised pig, and dandelion as the secret ingredient), a delicious salad – greens, carrots, sunflower seeds, and bacon, spritzed with lemon juice, olive oil, and Himalayan salt…and of course, a glass of red wine. It was delicious and I enjoyed a night in with my pops.

So – now it is Monday morning – the 2nd week of May – and time is flying! Hope this finds you all well. Stay pure, be healthy, and ALWAYS love yourself & others <3