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Six Gourd-eous Ways to Use Butternut Squash

SquashTypes

Photo from Suzie’s Farm.

This week we’re talking all things butternut squash! This lovely pale-colored winter squash has been making your Local Boxes just a little bit heavier, and we’re excited to have it stick around through fall! Winter squash differs from summer squash (like zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan) because winter squash is fully mature. That means it has high levels of antioxidants and other health benefits, and can also be stored for longer amounts of time. The high-fiber, heart-friendly butternut squash are probably the most popular winter squash because of their versatility and ease of use! Butternut squash are sweet, moist, and pleasantly nutty, and are an easy substitute for pumpkin in most recipes. You can store butternut squash for up to one month (or more) in a cool place.

In addition to butternut squash, all sorts of winter squash are starting to come into season! Just like greens (like kale, collards, and chard) you’ll find you can easily swap out different types of squash in lots of savory fall recipes. Acorn squash is another common winter squash variety that is named (surprise!) because its shape resembles an acorn! ICheck it out in the Local Box this week. Did you know pumpkins are also considered a winter squash? It’s true! Cinderella and Pie Pumpkins are the best for cooking (plus make lovely decorations!) Both acorn squash and pumpkins will last for a few months in a cool place- so don’t worry if your Local Box squash start to stack up!

Here are six awesome winter squash recipes to get your gourd:

1. Puree Power. Making your own winter squash puree means you’re just one step closer to homemade breads, soups, and even lattes! Puree any type of winter squash for use in recipes that call for canned pumpkin. Store in your fridge or freezer for preservative-free goodness all season long.

2. Thanks a Latte! Pumpkin Spice Latte fans rejoice! No need to shell out $5 when you can make your own PSL-inspired drinks year round. Try this recipe for a (paleo-friendly!) Pumpkin Latte Smoothie or homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte using butternut or pumpkin puree!

3. Get Baked. There’s nothing quite like spicy winter squash bread to usher in colder temperatures and falling leaves. Use pumpkin or butternut squash purees for recipes like Butternut Squash BreadPumpkin Biscuits, and Pumpkin Waffles with Rosemary.

4. Soup’s Up! One of the most comforting ways to eat squash is in soup form. Winter squash soups are rich, hearty, and nutritious, even without using tons of butter or cream. Try Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Soup and Winter Squash Corn Chowder to warm you up this fall.

5. Fritter Fever! Fritters are just a fun word for a crispy patty. We love ChicOrganicMama’s Savory Butternut Squash Fritters and can’t wait to try squash in a veggie burger, like this Curried Pumpkin Black Bean Burger!

6. Plain and Simple. There’s no need to squish your squash! Sometimes the best way to try a new vegetable is just to simply roast it and try it as a side. The next step is adding your roasted squash added to a salad, like in this Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond. Also, just like summer squash, fill that squash hole with something delicious, like Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Are you inspired yet?! We’ve got even MORE recipes over on the Winter Squash Pinterest Board, and our Local Box bloggers will be keeping us squashed up all season long over in the Recipes section of blog.greenling.com!

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Snake Melon: Cool as a Cucumber

armenian cucumbers

You may not be familiar with the ole’ snake melon, but it’s in your Local Box! Maybe you know it by its other name, the Armenian Cucumber. They look and taste like a cucumber, but these fellas are actually a member of the melon family! Because of this there are a few characteristics that make them different from your everyday cuke:

  • They’re huge! Armenian cucumbers can grow to be as long as 3 feet long so your Local Box cucumber will be much longer than the grocery store variety. Their length can also cause them to curl and “snake” given them a slightly different (and fun!) shape.
  • They can get a bit flimsy…this doesn’t mean they are past their prime though! Unlike carrots and other veggies where limpness can characterize a lack of freshness, Armenian cucumbers keep their crunch and deliciousness even with a little wobble wobble.
  • Peel-ease don’t peel!Cucumbers are known to have a bit of a bitter skin, but luckily these cukes are actually melons. They’ve got thin skin, sweet flesh, and extra crunch – everything that makes cucumbers delicious!
  • King of Crunch. We might have already mentioned it, but our favorite part about Armenian cucumbers is their crisp nature. While every cucumber has a bit of crunch to them, these two-toned striped cucumbers have that extra crispness that makes them stand out in green salads, potato salads, sandwiches, cold noodle dishes and more. Use them just like a normal cucumber and get ready for that crunch!

Need more ideas for cucumbers? Check out our blog!

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Save the Date: Fresh Jujube Dates are in the Local Box!

jujube

We’re welcoming a newbie to the Local Box this week–Jujube Dates! These small fruits, also known as Chinese dates, are both a popular snack and nutritious food, praised in classics of herbal medicine. This traditionally therapeutic fruit is now grown locally and is a delicious treat served both raw and dried. As one of the sweetest fruits, dates are rich in carbohydrates and provide your body with a healthy source of energy.These aren’t the dried, soft dates you may have encountered in the bulk section of the grocery store, however- the texture and flavor of fresh dates more closely resemble that of an apple. They also have a crazy long shelf life (up to 8 months in an airtight container in the fridge!)

Our local dates come from Lightsey Farms in Mexia, Texas! Lightsey Farms was founded in 1918 by Eric Lightsey. Now it’s run by his granddaughters, Mary and Lisa Lightsey Hadden. Lightsey sits on over one hundred acres of land, and the family grows multiple varieties of pears, dates, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, peas, veggies, and more! Some of the fruit trees are over 50 years old. Mary says the farm has been around for so long because the sandy, clay soil has been taken care of so well. Thanks to Mary, Lisa, and all the folks at Lightsey Farms for all your hard work- we can’t wait to try these dates!

As the saying goes, “Three jujubes a day keeps the doctor away!” Here are our top ways to serve this natural, GMO-free candy in your Local Box:

1. Blogger Jacqueline Pham uses fresh jujubes for her Fresh Jujube Tart with Walnut Cream recipe and it’s heavenly. She explains how these dates are less date-y and more like an apple, making it perfect in this tart.

2. This Chinese Chicken With Red Dates And Mushroom seriously couldn’t be easier. Throw all the ingredients in a pot, wait 30 minutes, and dinner is served! (Almost as easy as our slow cooker meal kits…)

3. Love dried dates? You can dry your fresh dates easily in your oven! Heat it to about 150°F, and arrange the fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. The fruit should be left to dry for about a day. (But it’s usually a good idea to shut the oven’s power off intermittently, as the idea is not to cook the dates but rather to dehydrate them.) Check on the dates periodically, and turn them every few hours to make sure that all sides are exposed to the heat evenly.

4. Yaksik (약식) – This authentic Korean sweet rice dessert uses dried jujubes for a super sweet and light treat.

Have you tried Chinese dates before? Share what you’re making this week with us on Facebook and Twitter with the #LocalBox hashtag!

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Choose Your Wieners Responsibly This Labor Day!

hot dogs

Not all wieners are created equal! We love hot dogs- but no one wants a side of cancer-causing preservatives with their hot dog. Luckily, Greenling only carries Organic hot dogs. Organic hot dogs are free from dangerous nitrates and nitrites commonly found in traditional hot dogs. Instead, they use a combination of celery juice, lactic acid (from beets!) and sea salt! This magical, more natural solution also makes hot dogs a juicy pink, instead of rubbery brown.

Once you’ve chosen your organic dog (did someone say turkey dog?), it’s time to look for a bun. There is no reason to start with a tasty wiener and then choose an inferior bun. That’s why we work with local bakery, Sweetish Hill. Choose from wheat or white buns, both on sale this week! Hot diggity dog!

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to get creative with your wiener. Make a healthier dog with (dare we say) fresh veggie toppings, plus local and organic condiments! Or if you need some inspiration check out these tasty combinations our DFW Yolkal Marketer put together. How are you dressing  your dog for Labor Day? Lettuce know on our Facebook Page, Twitter or in the comments below!

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Making the Most of Your Local Box

It’s easy to get excited about all the goodies in your Local Box! But sometimes it can be difficult to decide how you’re going to allot the items for the meals of the week.  Here are some guidelines to extend the life of your Greenling Local Box contents from me, a Local Box veteran! Do you have any tips? Tweet, post on Facebook, or comment here!

1. Be Nosy. Find out what’s coming in the Local Box before it shows up! Whether you’re on a weekly schedule or if you just pick and choose when to place an order, you’ll want to prepare for the upcoming week. Every Friday afternoon, you’ll see a list of contents for the upcoming week in the newsletter (aka the Field Report!) as well as listed here on the website for each city. This step should be completed by Sunday morning.

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2.  Be Lazy. Being Nosy (Step 1) allows you to be lazy in the coming week by MEAL PLANNING!  Sounds daunting, but it’s really word association food game… and much more fun than that spreadsheet you’re working on at the office on Friday afternoon. Just think: leeks… potatoes… hmmm…. potato leek soup!   Come up with 3 dishes that use some or all of the ingredients.  The Greenling recipe blog and previous Local Box meal plans are full of ideas if you’re stumped, especially for those exciting in-season items. Don’t worry about writing down the recipe, just bookmark it for later.

meal-planning-weekly-menu

3.  Be Greedy.  Don’t forget that you can add items to your Greenling order! Now’s the time to do it, since you’ve done the meal planning and you know what you need. Local chicken, canned tomatoes, local cream, herbs, Texas olive oil? They’ve got you covered!

3.  Be even Lazier! The day your Greenling Local Box arrives, plan a quick dinner that does NOT involve your new Local Box. This can be a night for takeout or leftovers or what’s left of last week’s Local Box. I like this quick dinner night because it leaves me lots of time in the evening to prep for the week ahead!

4.  Be Annoying.  Open your box. Take a photo. Instagram, Tweet, and Facebook the heck out of it.  This is a very important step. These veggies are super fresh and just begging to have their photo taken. Plus, you can use Greenling’s Refer A Friend coupon and get 10% off for doing it!

5.  Be a Grown Up.  Just this once, get a head start on your weekly meals! Take a look at the Local Box insert and follow instructions for storage. Should that tomato be refrigerated? No sir! Upon arrival, most veggies can be cleaned and prepped.  Give all the lovin’ you can to those veggies… your spouse can wait.

  • Leeks, spring onions, and greens (spinach, kale, etc.) should be rinsed in cold water in a large bowl.  The dirt will quickly settle at the bottom of the bowl. Leeks need a little more attention.  After they are rinsed, shake out the excess water.  The greens should be cradled (yes, it’s a term of love) in a paper napkin to absorb moisture, and stored in a plastic container, plastic bag, or in the vegetable drawer in your fridge.
  • For veggies with greens, separate the edible greens from the root. Wash the greens (not the roots) and store in separate plastic bags in the refrigerator.
  • Fruits with skins need a quick rinse (tomatoes, avocado, mango, etc). Yes, even if you don’t eat the skin (like mangoes) rinsing is recommended!
  • Berries, peaches, and other soft fruits should be rinsed only right before consuming. Take a peek inside the container and remove any mushy or moldy berries.
  • Live plants should be… planted! Most cut herbs should be stored with a bit of water in a jar, and loosely covered in plastic.
  • If you know you’ll be making something that requires cooked root veggies (potato salad, beet pizza, carrot & avocado salad, etc.), you can always roast, bake, or boil a few days in advance and store in the fridge. This is a great solution for lunchtime salads and quick weeknight dinners!

strawberry kissing melon

6. Be Partial.  Use the Local Box insert to judge what to eat first, and how to store your fruits and veggies. Generally speaking, soft veggies and thin greens should be eaten first.  That’s okay though because the other tough leaves and root veggies can handle the favoritism.  They have a thicker skin. Root veggies and collard or mustard greens have a longer life.  Take this into account when you are going to Be Lazy (Step 2).

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7.  Be Frugal.  You are going to use every single bit of that box. You paid for it, farmers and harvesters worked hard for it, and it’s something good you’re doing for the environment and your body! Eat the greens and the roots- yes, even carrot tops are totally edible. Keep those extra peels and cores and ends to make easy vegetable stock. Make shredded salads, pesto, and/or garnishes from the extra greens. And if you find you have more pesto, soup, stock, etc. than you can eat in one week, just freeze it! Homemade frozen meals from your Local Box are an awesome way to get away from the sodium and preservatives found in packaged frozen food. Plus, you’ll be able to eat seasonal goodies like frozen berries and fresh pesto year round!

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8. Be courteous.  Leave your empty Greenling box along with any of the cooling packs on your doorstep for the next round. You might even leave a nice non-meltable treat (biscotti? a travel mug?) for the Greenling Delivery dude/dudette to show you appreciate him/her. It’s hot out there!

tip

You should tip for delivery and dashing good looks… don’t you think he deserves a tip?

 

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The Buzz about Round Rock Honey!

The health benefits alone (helps with allergies!) should convince you to invest in local honey, but when it tastes as good as Round Rock Honey, you shouldn’t need any convincing. Konrad & Elizabeth Bouffard are all hands-on, from the harvesting of the hives to blending the honey to teaching beekeeping classes to the public. BEElieve us, Round Rock Honey deserves all the buzz.

RR-Honey-3-frame

Round Rock Honey has hives located all over Central Texas, with each area bringing their own distinct flavors. They strive to keep the bees as undisturbed as possible, and therefore drive all over to collect the honey and bring it back to a central location instead of trucking in the bees. Konrad takes pride in blending the honey from the different areas to create a balanced, delicious treat. “We don’t heat or filter the honey, instead we harvest the hives then separate the honey by centrifuge at room temperature to preserve all the natural enzymes, pollen and floral essences honeybees put into it, creating the highest quality flavor.” 

RR-Honey-Liona

Round Rock Honey is proud to practice “natural beekeeping”. Because bees are able to roam as they wish, the Bouffards make sure none of their hives are located too close to any pollutant sources (farms that use pesticides etc.). They also test their honey regularly to ensure the best product is reaching the public. RR Honey regularly goes on “rescue missions” to remove unwanted hives from homes and businesses and relocate them to one of their locations.

Greenling-in-Bee-Suits

Time to suit up! Round Rock honey not only brings us delicious local honey, but they offer beekeeping classes as well! For the month of September, we are giving away two tickets for an informative hands-on beekeeping class at their Round Rock Honey location. During Greenling’s visit, we were able to “suit up” (pictured above) and visit the hives. It was an amazing experience, and we’d highly recommend it to anyone. A close-up of the hives and bees was certainly BEEautiful. Click here to enter!

 

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