Cold-Kicking Tea

This post is inspired by my day home sick from work. ‘Tis the season for colds, coughs, and sore throats. My sick day plans include cuddling with my dog and drinking tea constantly. Not just any tea, but a homemade concoction that keeps me warm, soothes my throat, and helps me get well asap.

Cold-Kicking Tea | The Fresh Day

My cold-kicking tea is made from honey, ginger, lemon, and apple cider vinegar. Each ingredient has its own unique health benefits. Together, steeped in hot water, they taste like a delicious tea that is medicinal in all the best ways.

Honey is known to be a great sore throat soother; you can feel its effects immediately. It is also an effective cough suppressant and helps calm inflammation in the throat and nasal passages.

Ginger is delicious for anytime, but has a whole slew of health benefits as well. When it comes to colds, ginger helps with headaches and dizziness in addition to being anti-inflammatory. Keeping ginger root in the freezer extends the life so you can always have it on hand. I peel and chop the root into small pieces before freezing to make it easy to throw into tea or breakfast shakes.

Lemon juice is a common addition to tea, and these days, simply hot lemon water is also very popular. Lemon’s list of health benefits include bringing down a fever and soothing a sore throat, making it a smart choice when looking to knock out a cold.

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits that have led it to gain quite a fan club. Fermented using a mother culture and a process similar to kombucha, apple cider vinegar is full of probiotics, supporting digestion and the immune system. Drinking apple cider vinegar is also a home remedy for nasal congestion, and mixing it into a tea makes it go down easy.

Cold-Kicking Tea

Makes 1 pot (about 4 cups)

Ingredients
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with the mother (like Bragg’s)
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tbsp honey
• 2-3 1/2 inch pieces of ginger, peeled

1. Bring water to a boil. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small teapot or other heat safe container.
2. Add boiling water and stir to combine ingredients and dissolve honey. Let steep 5 minutes before drinking, and get well soon.

Green Breakfast Shake

My typical weekday breakfast is a green shake. It’s a habit I got into from an annual cleanse I do (more on that later), but kept up because I love starting my day with fruit and vegetables rather than grains and starches. Shakes are super healthy, tasty, and easy to make, as long as you have 5 minutes in the morning.

Green Breakfast Shake | The Fresh Day

I tend to bring my shakes wherever I go; they’re also the perfect breakfast to eat on the run. Friends have asked me what’s in them and how I make them, looking for healthy options, working around food allergies, or just intrigued.

The base recipe is very simple, made up of a few staples I keep in the house. Each day I mix it up a bit, depending on my mood and what’s in season. However, one thing remains consistent – there is always baby spinach. It’s my favorite part. Nutritionally, spinach is off the charts. But raw, in a shake, baby spinach is virtually tasteless. So much so that I play a game with myself, seeing how much spinach I can put in before I dislike it. Still haven’t gotten there.

Green Breakfast Shake | The Fresh Day

Green Breakfast Shake
(naturally raw, vegan, and gluten-free)

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients
Base:
• 1 apple, roughly chopped
• 1/2 cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, etc.)
• 1 generous handful of baby spinach (regular spinach will NOT taste as good)
• 1/4 cup raw almonds, or 1 tbsp almond butter
• 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
• 1/2 cup water, or non-dairy milk (almond, soy, etc.)

Optional additions, chose one or more:
• 1 tbsp fresh ginger
• 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 scoop of non-dairy protein powder (non-GMO soy, hemp, etc.)
• Stevia or honey to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary to get your blender going.

Enjoy! Switch the recipe up next time to find your favorite combo and to keep things interesting.

Green Breakfast Shake | The Fresh Day

Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

Bagels and lox. A glorious combination, and I think most would agree. After being faced with the need to eliminate gluten, bagels are pretty high up on the list of things I miss. Most gluten-free bagels I’ve tried are pretty much bread with a hole in the middle. Fills the void, but doesn’t fill it well.

Homemade Gravlax | The Fresh Day

The online market of my CSA carries some products from local gluten-free bakeries, which is pretty awesome. This includes bagels from Sweet Note Bakery, a Philadelphia company that specializes exclusively in perfecting the gluten-free, New York style bagel. They are also soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, and non-gmo, garnering some serious respect. Even better, they are the best tasting gluten-free bagels I’ve had, with a chewy texture that’s amazingly close to the real thing.

The best thing to put on these bagels? Salmon, of course. Gravlax is cured salmon, like lox, but without the smoke. I brought home a big filet of wild-caught salmon from the Italian Market with just this purpose in mind. It’s an easy recipe that I like making just because it’s SO cool to be able to cure your own fish. Like ceviche or other raw applications, I suggest starting with the freshest, highest quality fish you can find (though sushi-grade is not necessary).

Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

Makes 4 servings (this recipe can be scaled up depending on the size of the salmon filet)

Ingredients
• 1.5 lb filet of salmon, skin on
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped, or 2 tbsp of dried dill

Equipment
• 9 x 12 glass or ceramic dish
• plastic wrap

Homemade Gravlax | The Fresh Day

1. Prepare salmon by trimming if necessary and making sure all pin bones are removed.
2. In a small bowl, mix salt, sugar, pepper, and dill. Spread half the mixture in the bottom of the dish.
3. Place salmon skin side down on top of the curing mixture in the dish. Sprinkle remaining mixture evenly over the top of the salmon and gently rub in.
4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 3 days, turning over the salmon each day. (The curing mixture should have turned to liquid.)
5. At the end of the third day, gently rinse the curing mixture off the salmon. Thinly slice, removing from the skin. Serve with lemon, capers, maybe some creme fraiche or cream cheese, and bagels, of course.

A Day at the Yogi’s Table

It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than with an hour-long yoga class and a delicious, healthy chef-prepared meal. Conveniently, that is the very experience Onna Hepner and Stacia Nero put together for their guests at the Yogi’s Table.

A Day at the Yogi's Table | The Fresh Day

This past weekend, I had to pleasure of attending the Yogi’s Table, a yoga and dining event series recently featured on Be Well Philly. I was pumped to be a part of the experience, and to represent my CSA, Philly Foodworks, who provided local produce and products that were featured in the brunch prepared by Onna.

The event was hosted in the studio space of Full & Happy, a small supper club and cooking school Onna formed after years of working as a chef and food stylist. She transformed the apartment below her own into an enchanting yet functional space where the Yogi’s Table events have been happening monthly since May. Scheduled around brunch or dinner, the event starts with a challenging yet relaxing yoga session from Stacia, who is also an instructor at several studios in the city. As the class comes to an end, Stacia brings in freshly made green juice from the kitchen. The room is then transformed from yoga studio to dining room, thanks to some ingenious homemade portable furniture. The meal begins with a brief cooking demonstration, and Onna is enthusiastic about including some education in the experience. She told our group about the wonders of farro and barley – grains that are virtually foolproof and impossible to overcook (but note, they do contain gluten). Onna was careful to ask about food allergies up front, and the meal included options that suited us all.

Yogi's Table | The Fresh Day

Once we sat down at the table, we were joined by Onna, Stacia, and Onna’s assistant (who also happens to be her mother). The atmosphere was like a family meal – casual, comfortable, and conversational.

“I want people to leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and like they just did something great for themselves” Onna said,  “I also want them to learn something – about cooking, about food, about yoga, about themselves. We also love the idea of bringing eight strangers together for a really special experience- who knows who you might meet or where the conversation will lead?”

I have to say, Onna achieved exactly what she set out to do. The Yogi’s Table is a uniquely enjoyable experience, and a moment in time that allowed me to focus on my own well-being.

Email onna@fullandhappy.com for more details, or visit the website. Tickets are $50, which includes the hour-long yoga class and the meal.

Upcoming classes are:
Thursday, December 11th 6:30 pm (there’s only two spaces left for this date!)
Thursday, January 8th at 6:30 pm
Thursday, February 5th at 6:30 pm

Kitchen Sink Shakshuka

There’s a little place in Old City called Cafe Olé, just around the corner from where my office used to be. It’s one of the best lunch options in the area, mostly because they have plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. My order was usually a salad, but every time I went in I saw people with a big bowl of what looked like tomato sauce and smelled like heaven. It was only so long before I had to try the dish for myself, and that was my introduction to the wonderful world of shakshuka.

Kitchen Sink Shakshuka | The Fresh Day

Shakshuka is a dish with a diverse ethnic background. Variations exist across different cultures, but it is generally a middle eastern and north African dish. Essentially, it is eggs poached in a tomato stew – a winning combination, but not something I had thought of before. It is traditionally served for breakfast, but for me, it is the perfect meal for anytime.

The basic tomato stew presents an opportunity for lots of additions. I’ve had versions with chickpeas, potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and more. So when I had farm fresh eggs, a can of tomatoes, and an excess of eggplant that needed to be cooked, shakshuka was the answer. It is a great one pot vegetarian meal, and a flexible recipe to keep on hand when you’re looking to use up the veggies you have left from your CSA share.

Kitchen Sink Shakshuka

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1/2 lb of mixed mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
• 1 spicy pepper, chopped (try a poblano or cubanelle)
• 2 eggplants, roughly chopped
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp coriander
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp oregano
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• 1 28 oz. can of diced plum tomatoes
• salt and pepper to taste
• 6 large eggs
• cilantro for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic, mushrooms, and pepper. Let cook for 2 minutes, then add eggplant, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Sauté until all vegetables are soft and cooked through, adding more oil if necessary, about 20 minutes.
4. Pour in can of tomatoes and stir well. Add salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Use the back of a spoon to make small indents in the stew and gently crack an egg into each one. Season each egg with salt and pepper.
6. Carefully transfer the skillet into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
7. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve with bread for sopping up the sauce!

Make Your Salad Bitchin’

I eat a lot of salads. They’re a quick, easy meal and one of the best ways to appreciate the taste of fresh from the farm CSA produce. But as much as I love veggies, for me, it’s the dressing that can make or break the salad. Give me a good, hearty but healthy dressing and I could eat a whole head of lettuce, no problem.

Bitchin' Sauce Inspired Salad Dressing

This past May when I was visiting cousins in San Diego we went to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market. It was pretty incredible, offering a different range of products than what we get here in Philly. We bought fresh dates, green juice blended with coffee, and live sea urchin – so cool. As we were walking through, my cousin told me there was this stand with dips I just had to try. We made our way down to the Bitchin’ Sauce stand and helped ourselves to samples. Delicious. The vegan, gluten-free, almond based sauce tasted like nothing else I’d had before. Rich and savory, definitely umami.

Once back in Philly, I looked up Bitchin’ Sauce so that I could make my own interpretation. I thinned it out to create a creamy salad dressing that made me want to lick the bowl, and I’ve made it many times since. The best part is how healthy the dressing is. Mostly almonds, it’s thick and satisfying without adding any oil or mayonnaise. Now I end up making salads just to satisfy my Bitchin’ Sauce craving.

Bitchin’ Sauce Inspired Salad Dressing

Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 cup almond butter
• juice of one lemon
• 2-3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp of soy sauce or gluten free tamari
• 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
• 1/2 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp coriander
• 1/2 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp chili powder
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• salt to taste

Equipment
• Blender

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until dressing is a smooth, even consistency, about 1 minute.
2. Enjoy on a salad, as a vegetable dip, or any other way you chose. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

sauce

Heritage Farm: Providing More than Produce

Heritage Farm is one of the largest urban farms in Philadelphia. You’ll find their produce at the farmer’s market, in your CSA, and at your favorite restaurants (hey, Russet). All pesticide-free, organically grown vegetables, fruit, and mushrooms. They even run their own compost on-site.

Heritage Farm

This week, I spoke to Adrian Galbraith-Paul, one of two farmers there. What I learned was how impressive Heritage Farm truly is, not just for it’s size and admirable practices, but for its role in the community and helping people rebuild their lives.

The farm is located on the campus of the Methodist Home for Children, a nonprofit that “provides life enriching services to children, adults and families as they face the challenges of limited resources, increased poverty and homelessness, disability, deficits in education and behavioral health services.” These services include housing, child care, education programs and more. The campus is home to many young women who age out of foster care, single mothers, and their children. Not to mention, a beautiful, bountiful three acre urban farm.

The huge variety of produce grown there includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, kale, collards, swiss chard, baby greens, and cucamelons. Thirty percent of this produce is donated directly to the Methodist Home for Children, where residents have the opportunity to learn about nutrition and how to cook the fresh food they receive. Heritage Farm also provides jobs to residents. “For many of them, it is their first job,” said Adrian. In addition to the skills it takes to run a farm, “they learn responsibility.”

Heritage Farm

I’m writing this post because I want to shine a spotlight on a spectacular urban farm and nonprofit working towards an inspiring mission. Next Thursday, October 2nd is the second annual Heritage Farm Fare, a celebration of the fall harvest and an opportunity to raise the funds needed to operate the farm. The event will feature local restaurants and vendors including Russet, Bar Ferdinand, Di Bruno Brothers, and Weckerly’s, serving tasty plates with the beautiful setting of Belmont Mansion and a view of the city skyline.

My CSA and partner Philly Foodworks is one of the sponsors, and will be running a charitable farm stand at the event where all proceeds are donated to Heritage Farm.

Join us for what is bound to be a memorable evening, and be a part of making good things happen in the Philadelphia community.

Photos courtesy of Adrian’s Instagram.

Spiced Swiss Chard Kimchi

Swiss Chard Kimchi

I had my first taste of kimchi in the summer of 2012 at food festival in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It was Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi,  a brand made locally in New York City from a traditional Korean recipe. Ever since, I haven’t been able to live without it.

Kimchi is spicy sour fermented cabbage, and the national dish of Korea. Like other fermented foods, kimchi is full of probiotics that encourage digestive health among other benefits. Over the past few years, I have made a fair share of my beloved Korean kimchi at home. It wasn’t until recently that I thought, why not apply the same fermentation method to other leafy greens? Some experimentation led me to this swiss chard version, which is pleasantly simple and incredibly tasty.

For those who haven’t fermented vegetables before, this is a great recipe to start with. It is super easy to make and produces a mildly tangy yet flavorful result. But I must warn you, fermentation is highly delicious and highly addictive.

Swiss Chard Kimchi

Spiced Swiss Chard Kimchi

Makes 2 quart size jars

Ingredients
For Brine:
• 2 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
• 4 cups filtered water
For Kimchi:
• 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, shredded
• 1 hot pepper, diced (I used a cubanelle)
• 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp cumin
• 1 tbsp paprika
• 1/2 tbsp cayenne
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (or carrot tops if you have them)

Equipment
• 2 very clean quart sized mason jars
• 2 sandwich sized plastic bags

1. Make the brine by combining salt and water, stirring until salt is completely dissolved.
2. Combine all kimchi ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
3. Divide the kimchi mixture in the two jars. Pack down tightly using the back of a spoon.
4. Pour brine over vegetables until they are completely submerged. If there is leftover brine, it can be kept in a jar in the fridge and reserved for another use.
5. To ensure the vegetables remain submerged, create a weight using a plastic bag. Open the plastic bag and push the bottom into the jar, then fold the top of the bag down over the outside of the jar. Fill the bag with some water or additional brine, then screw on the cap of the jar.

Swiss Chard Kimchi
Plastic bag jar weight for submerging vegetables.

6. Leave the jar of kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 3 days, in an area that does not get sunlight. Once done fermenting, remove the plastic bag weight, put the cap back on, and store in the fridge. Enjoy your kimchi at any time starting now and for up to 3 weeks!

Eggplant & Pattypan Baba Ghanoush

Eggplant and Pattypan Squash

A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon something truly amazing.

I had just made hummus using Michael Solomonov’s technique for the first time. His most important tip? It’s about the tahini, not the chickpeas. So the following day, I picked up Soom tahini, Solomonov’s brand of choice that is made right here in Philly. Naturally, I had to try some with a spoon when I got home. Holy crap. Soom is so good, my definition of tahini has forever changed. Luckily, Philly Foodworks carries Soom, so I can get it delivered in my CSA every week (but I’m trying not to go through it that fast).

Soom Tahini

Next, I had to figure out what to make with it, immediately. I had also brought home some eggplant and pattypan squash, so I opted to try a non-traditional baba ghanoush. It was a very good decision. Using half eggplant and half summer squash makes for a light, airy, super smooth baba ghanoush. If you don’t have pattypan on hand, try the recipe with zucchini or yellow squash.

Eggplant & Pattypan Baba Ghanoush

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients
• 2 small eggplants (about 2 pounds)
• 1 patty pan squash (about 1 pound)
• olive oil for roasting
• 2 cloves of garlic
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1/3 cup of tahini (Soom preferably)
• salt and pepper to taste
• cayenne to taste

Equipment
• blender

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the pattypan squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub with oil, and place face down on an oiled pan. Roast for 45 minutes.
2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the eggplant. Keeping eggplants whole, rub the the skin with oil and place on another oiled pan. Once there are 25 minutes remaining for the squash, put the eggplant in the oven as well.
3. Remove both the squash and eggplant from oven once the flesh is very soft and the skin has begun to char. Let cool.
4. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and put into the blender. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend until smooth, adding water if necessary to thin out to desired consistency.
5. Transfer the baba ghanoush into a serving bowl and drizzle with additional tahini and olive oil.
6. Serve with pita, and ideally, some Israeli salad.

An Exciting Announcement

I’m a big fan of Philly Foodworks. You may have noticed, as I mention my CSA or its delicious contents in almost every post on here. So you can imagine my delight when a conversation with them went from “we’re out of doughnut peaches” to “would you like to work with us?”

I most definitely would. So it’s happening!

Philly Foodworks

As a part of a partnership with Philly Foodworks, I will be writing recipes each week featuring ingredients from my CSA share. This falls right in line with the content I am already posting, and will guarantee you all get a new recipe each week featuring the best local and seasonal products. There are several reasons I’m so excited about this partnership. For one, Philly Foodworks provides many of my favorite local products, including everything from peaches and sweet corn to Food & Ferments sauerkraut and gluten-free bagels. But even more impressive is the organization’s mission to “unite producers and consumers in order to increase access to good food for all Philadelphia residents while supporting the business of producers that care about their craft and the communities they work.” And they’re killing it, by doing things differently than any other CSA before them.

Their cover story in this month’s Grid Magazine explains, “The consumer still pays in advance, so it remains economically beneficial to the farmer, but they can choose what they want, when they want it, making it less rigid. Philly Foodworks currently offers food from more than 30 producers within a 150-miles radius of the Philadelphia area. But it isn’t all about consumer choice. Ultimately their goal is to strengthen the bond between the rural grower and the urban buyer. Philly Foodworks is also trying to create a marketplace for the fledgling specialty food producer. “

Philly Foodworks is going beyond the scope of a conventional CSA to make a serious impact on the community of Philadelphia. I’m proud to be working with their team. Not to mention, happy to reap the benefits of being a member and cooking up tasty recipes to share with you!