Even though we’ve still got peppers on the market, it’s that time of the year. Get ready for greens and more greens and soups and more soups. Here’s a few recipes centered on items you can get in the ALFN online market:
Natural State Microgreens was founded by Stephanie Spencer in 2019 at their home in Scott, AR. After working as a cardiac RN for 27 years, Stephanie was ready for a change and was interested in exploring the connection between food and health.
Ironically, Stephanie’s husband Paul developed pre-diabetes about the same time she started Natural State Microgreens. They reversed this common condition in 4 months by switching to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and from then on, Stephanie was hooked! She got a Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies offered through Cornell University. Stephanie has been teaching “Plant-Based Transformation for Beginners” classes since the beginning of 2020 and has recently transitioned the course to an online self-paced format. You can view a free one-hour webinar about the health benefits of plant-based nutrition in preventing, improving, and even reversing common chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, and more at naturalstateplantbased.com. Research has demonstrated that the best way to prevent devastating complications of COVID-19 is to correct underlying chronic diseases NOW!
Stephanie loves microgreens because studies have shown them to contain 4-40 times more nutrient density than their mature raw counterparts. We like to think of them as “hyper-concentrated” vegetables!
Superfood Rainbow Mix is a best-seller containing 10 different microgreen varieties including celery, arugula, and two radish varieties for plenty of flavor and kick. It also contains micro broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, amaranth, cabbage, and buckwheat lettuce. This mix is very popular with restaurants to use on top of salads and main dishes, and for adding unusual flavor to sandwiches.
Broccoli Sprouts are another top-seller for their impressive health benefits. They have been extensively studied by researchers at Johns Hopkins University (and elsewhere) for their anti-cancer stem cell and DNA repair properties. Click here for a good summary of the research on broccoli sprout benefits. Researchers have been frustrated at their inability to turn the active compound in broccoli sprouts-sulforaphane- into a stable pharmaceutical form for cancer trials, but you can just cut out the middle man and eat this superfood in its natural form! Ask Stephanie for her Morning Energy Smoothie recipe with broccoli sprouts. You can also grow or sprout your own broccoli with kits that Stephanie sells.
High Protein Pea Shoots are the live and un-oxidized version of “Vegan Protein Powder”. Sunflower shoots are another high protein popular microgreen. Sun shoots are crunchy and go great in a Nut-butter Pita Sandwich: Add to whole wheat pita pockets: your favorite nut butter mixed with a little honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. Add Granny Smith apple slices, diced celery, sunflower seeds, and sun shoots!
Micro Cilantro and Micro Dark Opal Basil have intense flavor and are available year-round in the micro-form. These herbs also contain very high levels of Nitric Oxide which repair damage to the lining of our coronary arteries.
Stephanie also sells cloth face masks (washable 100% cotton with a filter pocket, adjustable ear cords, and a wire moldable nose bridge) in many different patterns. She recommends cutting a surgical mask in half and inserting it in the filter pocket to add 2 extra layers of cotton in addition to the surgical mask protection when indoors. Remember that surgical masks need to be replaced after 4 hours of continuous use!
Stephanie lives with her husband Paul, 2-3 boys (one is at UCA now), and a Great Pyrenees on 15 acres in Scott, AR. In addition to microgreens, they keep bees that are raised with love and forage off of the wildflowers of the Arkansas River Lowlands. They also have an AirBnB (click here for link) on their property in the middle of a pecan orchard (sorry, 2019 is the “off” year for pecans) which has been really popular for folks wanting to get a break this year and relax in the country.
Stephanie thanks all of her customers at ALFN for helping to keep her business afloat through the COVID crisis of 2020. God bless all of you good souls who support local agriculture!
Dandelion! Oh Dandelion! We love you so! But whatever will we do with you? According to the Real Food Encyclopedia, “Raw dandelion greens have a lot of Vitamin K, necessary for blood coagulation and bone health. The greens are also a great source of Vitamins A and C, and a decent source of iron, calcium, Vitamin E, potassium and manganese. The leaves even have a little bit of protein.” But this backyard buddy can be bitter and somewhat of a culinary mystery.
At a recent market event, we decided to dive into dandelion, thanks to a hearty donation of greens from Arkansas Natural Produce (ANP). The ANP greens are quite different from the backyard variety, much larger and milder, but still full of dandy dandelion goodness! But we couldn’t stop at one green because there’s too many yummy varieties available – we added some baby kale and spinach salads to the mix. And of course there were the apples from Drewry Farm & Orchard that we threw in as well! For our culinary-inclined readers and those of you that joined us at the event and are craving those recipes, here are the foods we shared:
#1 — A delightful smoothie of: 1 cup watercress; 1 cup dandelion greens; 2 cups strawberries; 1 cup pineapple chunks; 2 sprigs basil; 2 dates (pits removed); and 3 cups water. This smoothie was unbelievably refreshing, and formulated for healthy joints! The recipe was found in Green Smoothie Prescription. Don’t quote me, but I believe we added a bit of local mint to ours – we couldn’t resist.
#2 — Super juice made from dandelion, apple and ginger also served as a refreshing treat for members to sample.
#3 — Dandelion salad, recipe found HERE – This one was a definitive hit!
#4 – Easy Baby Kale Quinoa Salad – The baby red Russian kale offered at the market is a bag of very young, tender kale. Make a pot of quinoa, let it cool, and throw it a bowl. Add a mix of chopped baby kale, green onions, parsley. (These greens serve as the base of the salad.) From here you can go anywhere – depending what’s in the kitchen (or on the market)! The salad pictured below added orange bell, chopped kalamata olives, and feta. The feta and kalamata or black olives become central to this style of quinoa kale salad by adding the salty flavor. To dress the salad, sprinkle salt and pepper and then drizzle olive oil and white wine vinegar directly over the top. Go light first, and add to taste. This salad will keep in the fridge for a number of days and serves as a good go-to salad snack! Tip: If you can’t get ahold of ANP super young baby kale leaves, use any kale leaves. Chop bigger/older leaves finely, dress early and allow leaves to marinate 30min-1hr before serving.
#5 – Easy Baby Kale Fruit/Nut Salad – Chop baby kale, add parsley and mint. Cube an apple. A one ribbon cut or shredded carrot. Add one handful of dried cranberries. Throw in a handful of slivered almonds. Dress with a citrus vinaigrette – basic recipe found HERE. This version was built around availability of Drewry Farm apples, but the same salad can be built around strawberries, blueberries, or oranges. Vary the type of fruit and nut utilized to experiment with flavor combos.
#6 – Last – But Definitely not least – Sesame Soy Spinach Salad – This salad is built around the dressing – Recipe found HERE! Important note: Try rice vinegar instead of white vinegar (much milder) and use local honey and maybe even a bit of brown sugar (deeper flavor than white sugar) to sweeten. The salad we sampled was a bed of spinach with orange bell pepper and toasted sesame seeds. Recommended variations can include red bell, cucumber, and crushed peanuts. Or try oranges and chopped roasted almonds. Dress and serve immediately (This one won’t keep overnight!) If you don’t already stock the staple ingredients for a basic sesame soy dressing in your kitchen – please do. This dressing can drive a salad, a noodle dish, grilled chicken, or even a cucumber-peanut salad! If you really want to “go nuts” about this dressing – add peanut butter and a bit of water , and Voila! You’ve got peanut sauce.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this recap of the tasty samples we served at our January market event. Check us out to get these greens and so much more!
One delicious aspect of ALFN’s online farmers market is the near-year-round availability of typically summer produce (peppers, eggplants, etc.) from Arkansas Natural Produce (ANP). Because they grow in hoop houses, they can often provide peppers and eggplants much earlier and much later in the season – yum! (Keep your eye out for their early spring Romanian peppers.) Throughout the year you can get their incredible fresh herbs and greens at GoALFN.com. This ANP Farmer Profile was created for ALFN by Amie Lein, our Program & Market Manager…
Arkansas Natural Produce, aka Jay and Deanna Fulbright and family, have been in the farm business since 1988. However, the seed for gardening (pun intended) was planted in Jay when he was a little boy helping his grandfather in his big garden in Cotton Plant, Arkansas. Since then, Jay and Deanna have been growing everything from arugula to zucchini. Their favorite things to eat are their salad and micro greens. All of their produce is super fresh, has great flavor, and as a bonus, no nasty chemicals on it.
The best thing about being a farmer, Jay says, is producing truly beautiful and delicious vegetables or fruit for people to enjoy. And his least favorite? It’s when they have issues that prevent them from providing enough produce for their customers. Lucky for us, Arkansas Natural Produce has several greenhouses that allow them to generate a supply of out-of-season vegetables that we can buy year round.
Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock. It is a tall (6 ft) annual tropical herb cultivated for its edible green seed pod (there is also a red pod variety, which turns green when cooked). It has heart shaped leaves (one species is cultivated for its edible leaves), and large, yellow, hibiscus-like flowers. The seed pods are 3 – 10 inches long, tapering, usually with ribs down its length. These tender, unripe seed pods are used as a vegetable, and have a unique texture and sweet flavor. The pods, when cut, exude a mucilaginous juice that is used to thicken stews (see Gumbo), and have a flavor somewhat like a cross between asparagus and eggplant.
Lady’s fingers. Just one of the many names given to okra pods in English-speaking countries (Great Britain first and foremost). In fact, the slender, delicately tapered pods recall the shape of a woman’s fingers.
Nutrition. Largely made up of water (90%), with a fair content of carbohydrates (7%) and proteins (2%), okra befriends the figure-conscious because it is low in calories (100 g add up to just 33 kcal) and fats, but at the same time it is rich in fibre, vitamins A, C and K; it is also an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Quality. When buying okra, choose medium-small pods because they are more tender and less stringy. Okra is generally green – make sure it is a nice bright even shade, with no blemishes or colour alterations – but on some markets it is also possible to find the red and burgundy coloured varieties. Top quality okra must be firm and springy when you handle it. Only the pods are sold on our markets but in the countries where it is grown and picked, the leaves are also consumed: they are excellent for eating raw in salads and may also be boiled or pan tossed, in the same way as spinach leaves.
Seeds. The dried seeds may be roasted and ground for use as a coffee substitute. In fact, when coffee imports were impeded by the American Civil War (1861), the Austin State Gazette reported that “one hectare of okra plants is able to produce sufficient seeds to replace those of fifty coffee plants, with a product that is identical to the coffee imported from Rio”.
Emeril Lagasse. Stewed and spiced, but also marinated in buttermilk before being fried and served with a Creole sauce, the famous bayou blast; or alternatively, okra is fried and served with shrimps or crabmeat, as in gumbo with shrimps, or with chicken and smoked sausage. These are just some of the recipes containing okra presented by Emeril Lagasse, a celebrity US chef who, in recent years, has become the number one authority on Creole and Cajun cuisine.
Gumbo. In this unchallenged icon of Louisiana’s Cajun cuisine, okra appears as one of the most widely used thickeners, on a par with filé powder (sassafras) or roux (flour and butter). It is the opinion of food archaeologists that this tasty recipe dates back to the XVIII century as a variation on a stew common among the Cochtaw Indians (from the territories of what is now Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana), who used to thicken it with “kombo”, today’s filé powder obtained from dried and ground sassafras leaves.
Vocabulary.Okra, gombo, lady’s fingers, bhindi, bāmiyā; but also krajiab kheaw (Thailand); okura or kiku kimo (Japan); gambô, quibombô or quiabo in Portuguese; oh k’u ra (Korea), grønsakhibisk (Norway); bomiyon in Uzbek… It would be a massive job to list all the names for okra used throughout the world: a full list can be found here.
Did you know that when you buy locally grown produce, you’re making a choice to do something that’s better for you and your family, but that also benefits your community and the environment? Well it’s true. Not only do you prevent the negative consequences that come from shipping, trucking and flying produce long distances, but you also boost the health and economic and cultural vitality of your community in ways you might not have thought about. Here are ten ways, both direct and indirect, that buying locally grown produce like Plenty’s benefits everyone.
Local is supporting your community.
Local leads to less waste.
Local is more nutritious.
Local contributes to cleaner air.
Local is safer.
The longer food is stored, the greater the risk it will rot or become contaminated. That’s why so many fruits and vegetables are treated with fungicides, disinfectants, gas, fumigants, coatings, and other chemicals. Buy local and you won’t have to worry about what’s been done to your food in the name of preservation.