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Four Fail-Proof Tips to Kickstart Healthy Eating

By Claire Admire

Chances are, half of us woke up in the New Year with some lofty goals for the next 12 months. And chances are, most of us have already missed the mark on those New Year resolutions.

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What keeping New Year’s resolutions feels like

The majority of our New Year goals center around creating a healthier lifestyle, like losing weight, establishing an exercise routine, or, finally – FOR REAL THIS YEAR – cutting out bread. If your intention is to change your diet, we have a few helpful tips to keep you on the right path (or get you back on it).

  1. Identify your priorities. Our bodies and nutritional needs vary to a degree, so it’s up to the individual to decipher what “eating better” means. If you haven’t already, start by clearly identifying what that looks like for you. Do you want to reduce inflammation? Eat more seasonally? Cut out red meat? Increase your healthy fat intake? Get clear on your goal and educate yourself around the protocols and risk factors before starting any new diet. Sometimes half the battle can be won just by rephrasing “eat less processed food” to “cut out white sugar”.
  2. Focus on one goal at a time. Some people do just fine overhauling their diet overnight (no really, the rest of us are ecstatic about your most recent successful juice cleanse). Alas, not all of us can forsake refined carbohydrates for a life of carrot sticks and crustless pizza overnight (turns out the concept of willpower is overrated anyway). If you’ve tried elimination diets before (like going Paleo, Whole 30, etc.) with repeated failure, then it may be time to reframe your goal. Go back to your priority list and identify what you would most like to cut out/add in/replace. It can be something so small that it seems ridiculous. For example, if you’ve decided to nix refined carbohydrates, start with looking at just one aspect of that. Keep ordering your hamburger (yes, even with the fries) but ask for the kitchen to hold the bun and replace it with a lettuce wrap. A “small win” (when I order a hamburger, I don’t eat a bun) is much easier to repeat successfully (and feel good about) than demanding your will power handle a statement like “I will never eat bread again”.
  3. Don’t overcomplicate meal planning. You can follow all the food bloggers and Pinterest boards your heart desires, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that eating healthy requires a never-ending rotation of interesting recipes and foods you haven’t heard of before. Or that you have to have the same thing five days in a row for lunch, for that matter. This is the time to find a meal plan (or no plan at all) that works for you, not in spite of you. Cook everyone in your family the same dinner, look into online shopping options like the Little Rock Food Club, and identify healthy meal options at the restaurants you’re already accustomed to eating at. Look for the small wins that are right within reach first, and let the success of those add up. You might be surprised how those seemingly insignificant habits blossom into something much bigger overall!
  4. Boost your body with intermittent fasting. The science is clear: those who restrict their calorie intake to an 8-12 hour timeframe lose more weight than their grazing counterparts. Even if losing weight isn’t ultimately your goal, fasting has been shown to have some extraordinary benefits for our brain function, immune system, and ability to fight off cancer and other diseases. Intermittent fasting, or the practice of cutting off your food intake for 12-16 hours (overnight), is also a sort of shortcut to getting rid of your unhealthy cravings and constant need to snack during the day. You will be satiated more easily and less likely to binge on unhealthy food during the day. Suddenly that spaghetti squash may not be such a battle to eat and enjoy!

Double The Bounty: Reasons to Give

Have you heard? Our GoFundMe campaign for our new software has raised $1,875 in the past three weeks, and every day we’re getting closer reaching our goal of $5,000! And now we have even better news: a generous ALFN supporter has pledged a $1,500 match if we can raise our half before January 18th. That’s right – every dollar you give up until January 18th will be doubled! 

Now is the time to show your support for local food! Here are a three reasons why it’s important to keep the Arkansas Local Food Network around:

  1. We provide income for over 40 farms and small businesses all over the state. In an increasingly commercial food market, it’s more important than ever to make sure we keep small farms in business. By and far these growers supply the most high quality produce and meat, because they are able to keep chemicals and pesticides off of their crops and antibiotics out of their livestock. Keeping these local farms going provides you with more choices about what you want to feed yourself and your family.
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Family farming at Rattle’s Garden
  1. We provide healthy food for the Green Groceries Program. Our partner, Christ Episcopal Church, purchases supplemental groceries to families and individuals who don’t have access to nutritional food. We are proud to be their main food provider, and work on their behalf to secure healthy, sensible groceries from local farmers.

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    Volunteers package food for Green Groceries
  2. We offer fresh food year-round. We are the only year-round farmers market in Little Rock. Not only does that mean that farmers get paid in the off seasons, but you can still purchase local farm eggs, beautiful carrots, and freshly made bread in the middle of January!
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Fresh peppers from Kellogg Valley Farm

International Holiday Recipes

No matter what holiday you celebrate at this time of year, good food is sure to be part of it. This echoes around the world, with cultures serving signature dishes unique to their traditions and diet. We pulled recipes for some of these delicious staples from far away places that you can easily make and enjoy right here at home!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Coquito

Puerto Rico’s Eggnog

eggnog

Turrón de Jijona

Spanish Soft Almond Nougat

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Chiles en Nogada

Mexican Stuffed Poblano Peppers in Walnut Sauce

chiles

Ris à la Mande

Danish Almond-Cherry Rice Pudding

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Töltött Káposzta

Hungarian-Style Stuffed Cabbage

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Contribute to Our GoFundMe!

Ah, technology. Love it or hate it, it’s something that is constantly evolving to be better, faster, and offer more features. The Arkansas Local Food Network has been in existence for a decade, and we’re proud of that! Unfortunately, that’s also how long it’s been since we have updated our online shopping platform. Over the last few years our online farmers market has seen declining sales due to increased competition in our area. We have worked hard to increase our outreach and determine what we need to work on to stay in operation, and overwhelmingly our customers have asked for a more user-friendly and up-to-date website.

We have finally reached a point where we are ready to transition, and we need your help to make it happen! We have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to implement our new software, and we are asking all of our supporters to make a donation and share our campaign with their networks. We will also be hosting a special fundraiser event in January, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and stay tuned for that announcement!

We are so proud to have played a key role in increasing access to local food in Little Rock, and we would love to continue expanding and building on our mission statement. If you support local food, then you support ALFN!

How Local Food Systems Create Resilient Communities

By Program & Market Manager Claire Admire

Research and anecdotal evidence point to the role that strong local food systems have in creating resilient communities. What is resilience? According to the VNRC,

“A resilient community has the ability to withstand, respond and adapt to challenges…from natural disasters to economic, social, and political upheaval. A resilient community thinks long term and is able to reorganize and renew itself, ideally in ways that put it in a stronger position than before the shock.”

You’ll notice that food isn’t mentioned at all in this definition – so why is it one of the keys to stronger, better communities? A safe, reliable, nutritious, and accessible food supply is required for all other systems within a community to work. Here’s why the local food system is the best at meeting those requirements, and why we should support it:

Your food will have a higher nutritional content. Our food has seen an overall decline in nutrients over the past 50 years due to soil depletion from modern intensive agricultural practices. Smaller, local farms generally use sustainable agriculture practices and composting practices and keep their soil’s nutrient levels high, and pass those nutrient benefits onto you.1

You’ll eat more varieties of food. The greater crop diversity found on local farms means more nutritional diversity for consumers and more resilience to pests and drought. You also have the added bonus of eating whatever is local and in-season for your area.

Farmers Markets are accessible. In 2014 there were more than 8,000 farmers’ markets across the U.S., up 180 percent since 2006. Farmer’s markets are usually in community centers easily accessible by foot or bus, which makes them more accessible. In Little Rock there are farmer’s markets in 7 neighborhoods, as well as an online farmer’s market open year-round. And with more farmers markets accepting SNAP and EBT as payment, cost no longer has to be prohibitive.2

The local food chain is stronger and safer. In the wake of so many recent environmental disasters, it’s easy to see why having your entire food supply trucked in from the other side of the country does not make much sense. When communities are immobilized, it’s important to have food nearby, and not have to rely on the Walmart bread aisle.3 One of the biggest safety concerns with the modern food chain is that the product passes through so many different facilities that it is almost impossible to isolate and contain a bacterial breakout before it reaches consumers. Avoid safety recalls and possible contamination (not to mention the legal levels of contamination) by shopping from local vendors and farmers.

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The local food chain is good for our economy. Small scale farmers are at an economic disadvantage right off the bat, because they can’t partake in the subsidies that keep over 50% of America’s arable land covered in corn and soybeans.4 They also have to compete with the artificially low cost of food in supermarkets and chain grocery stores, which makes their prices seem costly to the uninformed consumer. It really does take a community’s buying power to keep these small farms and vendors in business, so use every opportunity you have to shop locally. Even markets in small cities can have economic impacts of over a million dollars.4

 

 

A Message for Our Volunteers: Thank You!

Thanksgiving is in the air! I can’t think of a better way to spend our time than in gratitude. We’re all highly aware of the atrocities and problems that exist in our world – too aware, some might argue. It’s easy to become bogged down in the anxiety that comes with constantly hearing bad news. What can we do to combat this negativity? By giving thanks. By looking for a silver lining and a sliver of gratitude on the most routine days. By celebrating all the wonderful, good things that life brings.

At ALFN we have a lot to be thankful for. We are a small nonprofit that has a big goal – connecting farmers to consumers throughout Arkansas. The Little Rock Food Club, the 501’s only online farmer’s market, is a vital part of fulfilling our mission to bring more local food into the hands of consumers and increase business for local farmers and vendors. As many of you know, every Saturday and Monday we run pick up locations for customers to conveniently grab the groceries they ordered during the week from farms and kitchens all over Arkansas. These pickups require a lot of organization, inventory work, and big smiles. It would absolutely not be possible without the volunteers who show up every Saturday morning to help sort, count, and distribute food to our customers. These volunteers come from all walks of life – some are retired, some are college students, and others volunteer a few hours before heading into their weekend jobs – but they all have one thing in common: a passionate commitment to a healthy local food system.

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Cathi and Jeff make a great volunteer duo!

Since this weekend is our Thanksgiving Market (the last chance for folks to order everything they need for their Thanksgiving meals next Thursday), we’d like to take a moment to formally recognize and appreciate all of the volunteers who spent a Saturday morning with us over the past year. If you find that you are interested in spending a few hours volunteering with us, please consider signing up for a shift. Every shift you volunteer earns you $5 of credit or a month of membership on our online market. No matter how often or how long you volunteer, we are grateful!

2017 ALFN Volunteers:

Amanda Isbell

Angela Gardner

Cathi Watkins

Cyd King

Elizabeth Lee

Fiona Dudley

Heather Paul

Jack Bruno

Jeff Watkins

Joyce Hardy

Karen Huber

Karen Walls

Katelynn Walker

Kathy Rateliff

Katy Elliot

Lamonica Anderson

Lanie

Lauren Palmer

Lauren Robinson

Lynn Frost

Marisa Nelson

Molly Robinson

Samantha Lee

Sandy Haden

Stephen Wild

Sunny Singh

Tamara Robinson

Thomas Herndon

 

Thank you for all you do volunteers!! Keep fighting the good fight.

-Claire Admire, Program & Market Manager17814688_10158753493530122_1551948993460827646_o.jpg

3 Perfect Persimmon Recipes

Say hello to the persimmon, a gorgeous fruit that arrives just in time for fall recipes. If you’ve never enjoyed a persimmon before or attempted any recipes highlighting it’s crisp flavor, now is the time to experiment! We’ve rounded up three great recipes that will make the persimmon the star of your table this week.

Persimmon Bread

from Natasha’s Kitchen

What says “fall” better than a freshly baked, savory loaf of bread? This one is chock full of walnuts, raisins, and – you guessed it – persimmons!

Persimmon-Bread-6Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 cups fuyu persimmon pureed (a little over 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp baking soda, sifted to make there aren’t lumps
  • 1/4 tsp (generous pinch) of salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup raisins

 

  1. Remove tops of persimmon with a butter knife. Cut into quarters and puree.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp vanilla. Mix in 3 cups persimmon puree and the melted butter.
  3. Add 2 tsp of sifted baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp cinnamon and whisk to combine. Whisk in 3 cups flour until blended.
  4. Fold in 1 1/2 cups walnuts and 1 cup raisins until evenly dispersed and divide the batter between buttered loaf pans. Bake for 45 – 50 min or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min then turn out onto wire rack to cool to room temp.

Harvest Cranberry, Persimmon, and Burrata Salad

from Halfbaked Harvest

We promise there’s plenty of room on your Thanksgiving menu to fit this salad in! The colors are gorgeous, and you’re sure to impress guests (or yourself) with how divine it tastes.

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  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • flaky sea salt
  • 3-4 cups baby kale and or arugula
  • 3-4 fuyu persimmons cored + cut into wedges
  • 2 clementines peeled
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 8 ounces fresh burrata cheese torn
  1. Combine the walnuts, pepitas and maple syrup in a medium size skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the mixture becomes golden, toasted and caramelized. Remove the nuts and seeds from the skillet and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl or on a large serving plate, combine the greens, persimmons, clementines and cranberries. Add the torn Burrata cheese and sprinkle on the walnuts and pepitas.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and adjust salt + pepper to your liking. Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve along side the salad. EAT!

Pomegranate and Persimmon Winter Sangria

from Salt & Lavender

This one will have you filling your glass to the brim! Plus, look at how good it looks in a punchbowl. Crème de cassis is a fruit liqueur made from black currants, but you can substitute any other fruit liqueur that you’d prefer.

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  • 2 persimmons
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup crème de cassis (or other fruit liqueur)
  • 1 bottle moscato, chilled
  • Soda water (optional)
  1. Slice the persimmon into thin circles, then cut the circles in half. De-seed a pomegranate to get your 1/2 cup of arils. Add the fruit, including the cranberries, to a punch bowl or pitcher.
  2. Add the pomegranate juice, crème de cassis, and moscato.
  3. Chill the sangria for at least a few hours (if not overnight) before serving (it will still taste good if you drink it right away). You may add a bit of soda water to each glass prior to serving if desired.