I try to tell people that I have this curse. It's called frugality. It can be a blessing at times, and I'm grateful for how God has wired me. And in most cases it is beneficial to those around me. For example, I price match my groceries each week. This week I'm running a bit late and am going grocery shopping today. The ads always change over on Wednesday, which is when I usually shop, but I'm dangerously low on bananas. If you know me, you know what a travesty this is. ;)
So this week, these are the specials I'm going after:
Bananas - .33/lb
Tomatoes - .33/lb
Avocados - .33 each
Mangos - .50 each
Celery - .33 each
Broccoli - .50/lb
Fuji - .33/lb
Grapes - .88/lb
Bell Peppers - .88 each
I'll get the rest of my produce from farmers markets, CSAs, and the organic isle at Sprouts. These are the deals I'm going after to save money. All of the produce above will be conventional, which isn't ideal but the prices allow me to buy organic at other times. I'll try to post these sales every week. :)
We have a beautiful harvest for our CSA this week! I wanted to share what we got in our basket, and remind you all that this is ORGANIC, LOCAL produce…which when you buy at a farmer’s market or in a store, is twice this price. We pay $20 a week, three weeks in advance, to help support our local farmer so she can invest that money back into the planting…a wonderful cycle.
First, we got a small bag of fresh herbs: basil, oregano, chives and mint. Now with all of these, you can leave them out in the AZ sun for a day or two until they are nice and crisp. Then, grind them down (mortor & pestle, food processor, blender, etc.) into powdered spices! OR you can use them in your dishes. Now, fresh herbs are WAY more potent than dried...you don't need much. Start with one leaf and taste. It's easier to add more than to take away. Second, we got 4-6 carrots. They would be great for dipping, or eating by themselves. They are also fun additions to MANY meals. We use them in my Asian class that's on Tuesday if you'd like to sign up for it. The reason I like this CSA so much is the incredible greens we get. This week it was kale. Don’t know much about kale? No problem! It is particularly rich in beta-carotene (which protects against diseases of the skin) and the carotenoid lutein (which prevents damage to the eyes), with seven times the beta-carotene and ten times the lutein of broccoli and carrots combined! Just one cup of raw kale contains 15% of the recommended daily value of calcium and Vitamin B6, 40% of the magnesium, 180% of the Vitamin A, 200% of the Vitamin C and a whopping 1020% of the Vitamin K and 45% of it's calories are PROTEIN! Now that you know it's a POWERHOUSE of nutrition, I would suggest making a green smoothie out of it (that's the easiest way to eat it). Now it's a mild green, like spinach, but still be careful not to overdo it...work your way up to a couple cups of kale in your smoothies. Also good for smoothies: cabbage. Wait, Haley...it's not very green! That's okay, check this out: It is impressive with high content levels of calcium, iron, iodine, potassium, sulfur, and phosphorus. In the vitamins department, it is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K and folic acid. This is NOT a mild green...less is more when adding it to smoothies. Feel silly with only 1/2 a cup of cabbage to the whopping 3 cups of fruit? Well, that cabbage is blended and broken down and already half digested...you're getting MUCH more nutrition than if you had simply eaten it straight. :) I'm taking mine to the Asian Night on Tuesday and we'll use it for the lettuce rolls...so we'll do cabbage rolls instead. So yummy! It make a great wrap, good salad additions, and again...it's awesome for smoothies! We also got a huge bag (3-4 pounds) of green beans, 3-5 small red and orange bell peppers, a quart baggie of small sweet peppers, 2-5 small red onions, a huge cucumber (not sure of the variety yet), and a large bulb of garlic (which I will use up quickly!). We also received 3-5 cobs of corn…yum! I remember eating my first cob of fresh raw corn and thinking, “why do we cook these?! They are so sweet and juicy raw!” No wonder we add butter and salt after cooking…we lose all the flavor! I’m excited for the fresh, tree-ripened peaches we got today. Realize that they were picked TODAY…RIPE…unlike the ones at the store picked months ago green. Eat them as soon as you can. J At last, but not least, we got a 4-7 pound watermelon. Some of these are really huge! We also offer a “family” basket that contained items that are easier for the “cooked” family than the “raw” family, like potatoes, eggplant, etc. This week they got sweet potatoes and cage-free/free-range eggs. They just get less greens and didn’t get a watermelon.
Isn’t that a HUGE amount of food?! And organic! And local! Too good to be true! Nah, I love it. I’ve been organizing this CSA for a couple months now and I’ve never been disappointed with my basket. Sure, it doesn’t last me the whole week and I need to supplement with more fruit, but I use the whole thing. And if you have any bad items (once a watermelon was overripe, and the tomatoes doesn’t last too many days), my farmer at Horny Toad Farms will replace it for the following week. J I can’t help it…I love this. Good, inexpensive food? I’m in heaven.
If you get a CSA bag and need specific recipes for any particular thing, please message me. I'll let one or two recipes slide for free. ;) AND, we use four of these ingredients in my Raw ASIAN Night on Tuesday. Speaking of which…
Raw ASIAN Recipe Night SUCCESS!
The first Raw ASIAN Recipe Night was on Saturday and it was incredible! I love making these dishes for myself, but I don’t make them all that often…I have a good variety so I don’t wear out good meals. The day before, I was typing up the recipes for the class and started drooling…so I made my own Lemon Ginger Lettuce Wraps. Okay, I used collard leaves, because they are just way easier to wrap and less messy to eat, and I definitely doubled the garlic. They were SO good.
On Saturday during the RRN, we started with the orange broccoli (my version of orange chicken). The orange sauce is so incredible I had a few people licking their plates afterward. The second dish was relabeled by one of my friends who attended: “Where’s the beef” & Broccoli over “Un-noodles”. Again…delicious, pretty, and filling! When we got to the third dish, people were already starting to complain that they wish they hadn’t eaten dinner beforehand. We finished off the night with the Lemon Ginger Lettuce Wraps. It’s almost an Asian DIY (do it yourself) burrito. You start with this, add some of this, and top with the dressing. Definitely a little messy with lettuce. I’m looking forward to taking my cabbage from my CSA bag and using it instead. Cabbage is already the right shape, so we’ll see how that goes. Yum! I’ll also be using the garlic, the carrots, chives and red onions that night as well. So if you come on Tuesday for the second Raw ASIAN Recipe Night, you’ll be getting fresh, local, organic produce. Oh, and did I mention that I sent several people home with containers of food as well? That’s right…next day’s lunch! Man, maybe I should raise the price of my classes! ;)
I've sat down to blog every day this week and have just had enough time. So, I think I'll have to break this blog into two. This one will talk about my last Pie Raw Recipe Night, the current CSA goings on, and website fun. The next blog entry will talk about new and exciting foods, fun creations, and lots of new & yummy pictures. :)
Raw Recipe Night: PIES
Since it takes a little time for the pies to chill, I usually make a couple before the class so we have some to sample and take home. Yup...you get to take food home with you!!! The first picture is the lemon pie that I absolutely LOVE and decorate all pretty. If you remember it from the first class, I made it into an American Flag for the Fourth of July. The last picture is the pie we made in class that one of the attendees bought and took home with her. The second picture is six little chocolate mousse pies I made for the class, thinking I was going to have quite the crowd...but unfortunately several people were no shows, so more for us to share! The third picture is the delicious peach cobbler that continues to be everyone's favorite. Not only is it delicious, but it's super easy to make! In fact, it's so easy, I thought I would share it with all of you. Almost everyone who came to my class has been making their own peach cobblers, and I love how excited they get to be eating a raw creation that they can make themselves. So here you go:
· 6 peaches
· 1 C pecans
· 6-7 dates
· ½ C raisins
· Pinch cinnamon
Blend half of the peaches with raisins and cinnamon. Chop the rest of the peaches and stir them into the peach sauce. Process the pecans and dates with cinnamon and crumble on top of the peach mixture. Enjoy!
This is our third week of the CSA I've been organizing here on the west side of the Valley of the Sun (a.k.a. Phoenix, AZ). :) It will be the last basket for those who started at the beginning, but I don't make everyone wait for each campaign, you can join in whenever you like. Some people get 1/2 a basket each week, some get two baskets every other week, and I have two who have prepaid for three weeks but had to go on vacation so will continue to get baskets when they return. If you simply want to try it for a week to see if you can use all the produce, that is fine too...I've had three people do this and always come back for more. :) You get much more than $20 worth of produce...and it's organic!
This Thursday we should have Anna Apples and peaches, which I've been eagerly anticipating for some more peach cobbler. Yum! If you ever sign up for a basket and aren't sure what to do with your produce, please ask...and I can pass along lots of recipes to help out. I'm looking forward to August...my farmer loves preparing foods for the raw lifestyle, so she's been planting lots of greens (yay!), and will soon be sprouting! Yum...organic sprouts...I cannot wait!
Last, but not least, I've been making some changes to the Living Raw By Grace website. If you have noticed, we now have a STORE! Oh, don't get your panties in a bunch. ;) Lots of people have asked about my appliances, the books I recommend, and where to get certain foods. Well, I'm now working with Amazon to supply you with all of these for very low prices. One of the reasons I love Amazon so much is that you can buy USED goods there! My recent used purchases: wireless mouse for my laptop (works wonderfully..for ridiculously cheap), and an FM transmitter for my Ipod in my car. Amazon sells everything, I absolutely love them...so why not make it even easier for you?!
Also...If you take a look at the calendar page, I've uploaded an actual calendar that makes it much easier to see when classes are. If you want details on each class and would like to prepay and register, just scroll down and find the class you want.
I've combined the Links & The Gallery page to make room for the store, but I hope it won't make much of a difference. :)
I've been kicking around the idea of buying my website so that it's simply LivingRawByGrace.com. Whatcha think? Would it make it easier to recommend? It's about time to reorder my business cards as well...I'd love feedback on those as well. Here they are:
So much to talk about!!! This may be a very long blog post, beware. ; ) First and foremost, I need to share about the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I belong to. Pretty much, you prepay for organic produce to keep the farmer, well..farming. The farmer I work with, Stella McPhee from Horny Toad Farms, is so generous with her produce it's a steal! The amount of produce she sells for simply $20 is remarkable. I got my first CSA basket this past week: an Armenian Cucumber (these are so cool...crazy long and they look like flower petals when sliced - check out the pictures!), four regular cucumbers, eleven Anna apples, five peaches, five tomatoes (Heirloom, Zebra, and Roma), a bag of mixed greens (basil, mint, chives, lemongrass, beet tops, and purslane), four grapefruits, a bunch of carrots (a dozen with greens attached - which I like in smoothies as well), a four pound watermelon, eleven onions (white, red, and baby), seven different peppers (mild and hot), and a potted chive plant - that you can cut the tips off to eat and it will continue to grow! I can't believe how much I got for such a reasonable price...and all organic to boot! No wonder I can't help but share it with everyone I know!!! And the fun thing is that it isn't set in stone...I have different people doing different things. One person is getting two baskets in one week and then skipping the next, another is getting half a basket at half the price, etc. I love that I can work with people to help make everyone happy!
Raw Recipe Night: Pies!
My third Raw Recipe Night was held this past Saturday. It was my first dessert class, and pies are the perfect beginning into raw desserts. They are ridiculously easy to make with simple ingredients. The first we worked on was a Lemon Meringue Pie. Since it was Independence Day weekend, I made mine into a lovely little flag. Cute, isn't it? :) This is the most inexpensive, delicious, and the easiest to make. Two ingredient crust, four ingredient filling...takes less than five minutes to make.
The second pie was a delicious Chocolate Mousse. It was originally planned to be an apple pie, but I think I'll save that for the holidays and introduce everyone to raw chocolate. ;) It's made with young Thai coconuts, which are fun to open and sample...and the water is incredible. You'll learn all about them at the class. That's the fun part of the Raw Recipe Nights. First and foremost, you learn how to make simple healthy food. But there is also TONS of info given out, all prompted by what we are making, the foods that we work with, and any questions that arise. :)
The last dish we created was a peach cobbler. This one is ridiculously easy and has three different components: sliced peaches, peach sauce, and a pecan crumble on top. Yum! You can do this cobbler with any fruit you enjoy, but it's peach season so we will take advantage of fresh, inexpensive produce! Oh, one last thing. If you are interested in coming to the next RRN featuring pies on July 12th, make sure you sign up, prepay or let me know that you are definitely coming...it's filling up very fast. I'm praying I don't have to turn anyone away at the door...
Raw Potlucks (a.k.a Rawlucks)
Last, but not least....there is one topic I don't think I've mentioned before in my blog: raw potlucks. This is where a group comes together and everyone brings a different raw dish...pretty self explanatory. There are seven or eight different Raw Potluck groups in the area and they all hold different kinds of potlucks. Some are small (10-20 people), some are large (100-200 people), some have themes (ice cream, chocolate, etc), and some host classes (kind of like mine). I attended one for the Fourth of July last evening. It was a Raw Ice Cream Party. You could either bring ice cream/sorbet/or supplies, or you could offer some money. It was also a pool party/fireworks party as well. It was held right off of Squaw Peaks, which is a small mountain range in Phoenix that you can hike...breathtaking views and the weather was just right. I brought my Vitamix and made banana based ice creams: Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Blackberry. They went FAST! There was also lots of different ice creams, many sorbets, and some syrups, sauces, and nuts to garnish with. I ate far too much, which is usually what I do at potlucks (because there is so much to try!). Someone had brought a watermelon, so I made some watermelon/mint juice for everyone to refresh themselves after all the ice cream sampling. There are three reasons to go to these potlucks (in my opinion). First, the food: there are always dishes that I don't make (either they have exotic ingredients, take too much work, or I simply don't need more than once a year). The food is simply incredible...and since there aren't many raw restaurants in the area, it's a great way to eat food that I didn't have to prepare personally. ;) Second, the people: everyone is excited to meet others who share the same passion for raw foods, the same open minded stance regarding health, and the incredible energy we all possess even AFTER we fill our bellies. Third, there are almost always fun activities as well. Last night we had a swimming pool with a diving board (which I had LOTS of fun on...pictures might come later) as well as fireworks, some raw groups go on hikes, there are retreats up north in the mountains and forests and down south in the hot springs, trips to the Grand Canyon, and at one of the potlucks I went to someone was using flaming nun chucks. Never a dull moment at one of these get togethers. ;)
Raw Recipe Night SUCCESS!
The first official Raw Recipe Night hosted by Living Raw By Grace kicked off on Saturday, June 12th and the second was on the 21st. They both featured Raw Dips/Spreads/Dressings. I loved choosing dips as the first class, because you don't have to be raw in any aspect whatsoever to enjoy a dip. You can even eat them with crackers and chips, but it's a wonderfully healthy addition to your lifestyle. It's also a very simple raw meal...you grab some carrots, broccoli, celery, and/or cucumber and your dip of choice, and voila...you've had a raw meal! They were all either nut, seed, or bean based, which is your protein and complex carb (for those who like that full feeling) in their natural state, which also included all the vitamins and minerals that you usually cook right out and end up in the boiling water. Featured was a cashew "cheese" sauce, a garbanzo bean hummus, and a sunflower seed garlic spread, all with less than ten ingredients and taking less than five minutes to make. No cooking/baking/grilling = no waiting! I usually keep 2-3 dips in my fridge at all times as a quick meal or snack. I have at least ten more dip recipes, so I may do another dip class in a few months. This was by far the easiest raw dish class. The next will be a bit more involved, but still very easy. We'll be making pies next weekend, and I cannot wait. Raw desserts are by far my favorite to make and share, since they don't taste "healthy" at all. :) We'll be making a Lemon Meringue, a Chocolate Mousse (it was an apple pie I decided to replace), and a peach cobbler. Since the first class is during Independence Day weekend, I believe I'll make my lemon meringue pie into a flag. :) Can you tell I'm excited?!
I was hoping to post pictures when I told everyone about the class, but I haven't gotten them downloaded yet...I need to bring my own camera to the next one...or someone should come take pictures for a free spot! ;) ;) Speaking of spots, there are only around ten spots per class (to keep it cozy and the costs down), so if you are interested, make sure you prepay to save your spot! The second pie class is almost full!
During each class you get a cutting board and knife, (oh yeah, I put you to work! - no really, when you take part of the creation, it's more 'yours') a recipe sheet and pen (to take lavish notes), and a sample of the dish while we make it and some to take home (either bring your own reusable container or buy one at the class). You can ask any and every question you can think of...and I'll try to pay attention to what I make while I talk. I still haven't mastered that yet, and every so often I slip and lick my utensils. ;)
Feel free to visit the Calendar for a list of upcoming classes and you can register directly on the website through Google Checkout.
Local, organic CSA
Horny Toad Farms supplies the produce at the farmer's market that I attend every Thursday night in Peoria, AZ and I have gotten to talk to the farmer, Stella, quite frequently about personalizing the produce she brings. I use greens like most people drink soda, so I'm always interested in organic greens. She usually supplies me with chard and lettuces, for ridiculously cheap prices for organic produce. This past week she mentioned her CSA, which is simply a prearranged, prepaid basket of produce that she delivers weekly. It's 8-10 different items in varying quantities that will change every week, depending on what is in season and what she harvests. I love that her farm is in Phoenix, and you can't get more local than that! The price of the basket is $20, which is cheaper than any CSA in the area (believe me, I've looked), and it's delivered to the Farmer's Market that is ten minutes from my house. Well, I'm sold! In fact, I have to share this with everyone! Stella tends to run at least 5-10 different farmer's markets in the valley, which keeps her plenty busy, you know...besides running her farm. So, I decided to help her out (I love the idea of helping a local farmer!!!) and organize the CSA at this farmer's market. I already have three that have prepaid and can't wait to see her face when a dozen people show up for her CSA this Thursday.
Yes, this Thursday we are starting it up. :) We will prepay for the first three weeks, so $60. You can pay by check or cash when you arrive on Thursday to pick up, or I can make a button on my CSA info page on my website to pay through, just let me know. You can choose from two different baskets: a raw basket which contains mostly vegetables and fruit that you can eat raw, or the regular basket which contains things like potatoes, onions, eggplant and other things that you would use very sparingly, if at all, in raw dishes. Each week you will receive the pick of the pick regarding produce (the leftovers will be sold at the farmer's market). After the first week, I am planning on holding a quick little class on what raw dishes you can make with the produce in your basket. Something simple, and possibly some recipes to try out on your own with the produce you get. Also...if you cannot make some week, or Thursday nights are difficult for you to commit to, I can always take your produce home and meet you somewhere (or you can come to my place) to pick up in the next few days. Just realize that I have VERY limited fridge space...so it will have to wait out for you in my laundry room (dark and cool...hopefully will help your produce keep). :)
LRBG is BUSY these days. If you are interested in the CSA, please contact me as soon as possible. If you miss this week's deadline, I'll let you know and get you signed up for next week's. You can always email me at LivingRawByGrace@mail.com, or contact me through my website, or visit my facebook page whether you want to sign up for a Raw Recipe Night or the CSA.
For those who are not in Phoenix, CSAs are everywhere and the organic produce is usually much cheaper (not to mention healthier) than what you find in stores. Check it out!
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.