Get In The Greens!

by Sarah Paxson If you are like me, you have complained no less than two times a week, every week, for the last couple of months about the lack of fresh produce in the grocery stores. "That's it! We're doubling our tomato garden this spring! We're buying blueberry bushes! I mean, what are we supposed to eat?! We're going to starve!" I protested to my husband. (I may have a problem with exaggerating.)

Of course there are options for fresh and local produce, especially in the Piedmont where the weather is warm enough to grow food year-round. For instance, greens. My weekly CSA box is exploding with greens as of late. And the grocery stores? Fuggedaboutit!

But how can greens get added into our diets without becoming redundant  The key is creativity. Everyone knows how to make a salad with a wide assortment of greens (and some delicious goat cheese). But what about incorporating greens into a more unusual places-- like breakfast?

Take eggs, for instance. You can saute spinach with diced onions in a skillet, mix some eggs in a bowl, add them to the skillet, and serve with a little cheese and a whole grain English muffin. Or, turn it into a breakfast burrito by adding some beans and salsa and wrapping it in a whole wheat tortilla.

Or what about making a Coconut Kale Smoothie, using coconut milk, cocoa powder, chia seeds, banana, cherries, and kale? Chock-full of vitamins A and K, not to mention antioxidants, this smoothie is the perfect mid-morning snack.

Jump outside the box and find new and delicious ways to incorporate greens into your every day diet!

Farm It Forward

Through the Farm It Forward Partnership of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), Advocates for Health in Action, The Produce Box, and WakeMed’s Energize! program, four families currently enrolled in an IFFS Cooking Matters for Families course have been taking home Produce Boxes each week to practice the skills they are learning in class. The theme for session two of the six-week course was Try It, You’ll Like It, and boy did we!  Using fresh, local tomatoes and red peppers from the Produce Box, four families worked together to prepare a delicious salsa and homemade tortilla chips.

The goal of the lesson was to discuss ways families can incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into their diets.  These families shared some great ideas based on the CSA shares they received from the Produce Box the week before.  One mom added blueberries to her oatmeal for the first time!  Another couldn’t quite use all the green beans, so she froze them to enjoy later this summer.   A teen in the class used the veggies to make the healthy mini-pizza recipe we had prepared in the first Cooking Matters session.  And we were all blown away by one participant’s amazingly simple method of cooking corn in the microwave.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with next week!  Thank you, Produce Box!

What is That Thing?

Photo by SimplyRecipes.com

This week, the infamous Kohlrabi arrived in my CSA box.  My boyfriend, sheltered from all things farm and garden, was the first to encounter it.  His reaction, "What is that thing?"  Laughing, I explained to him that this veggie is a relative to cabbage and cauliflower, sweeter than a potato, and similar in texture to most root vegetables.  Kohlrabi is now in season in the Piedmont, and because the "What is that thing?" response is unfortunately common, you can get it for a pretty cheap price.  Visit any farmers' market in the area, or your local grocery store and look for some Kohlrabi to purchase.  All of us at Cooking Matters, Food Matters, and Shopping Matters want to encourage you to try new foods, experiment, and keep things fun!  Checkout the link below for some clever Kohlrabi recipes.  I made the Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw.  Yum!

Kohlrabi Recipes by Simply Recipes

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's Cooking Matters Celebrates Families with AHA and Energize

Congratulations to all those who graduated from our most recent Cooking Matters course! The program, which began six weeks ago as part of a collaboration between Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Advocates for Health in Action, and Energize, gave five families the opportunity to take advantage of free CSA memberships coupled with cooking and nutrition classes. Led by IFFS’ UNC nutrition interns, Katrina and Maria, and Chef Lynn Edgar, participants were taught how to create nutritious and tasty meals using ingredients from their own CSA boxes.

This past Tuesday evening marked the final Cooking Matters course for this program, and families arrived to find their CSA bags filled potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, swiss chard, cucumbers, bell peppers, and a special gift from Tarheel Foodie, Susan Sink - , sundried cherry tomatoes.

As students arrived, they formed into two teams. Chef Lynn supervised one group in the kitchen as they chopped basil, garlic, onions, and chard, than moved to the stovetop where the vegetables were sautéed and where two different tomato sauces simmered away. All these toppings went onto lightly toasted whole-wheat pita rounds, along with some shredded mozzarella cheese, and three trays full were placed in the broiler so that the cheese could melt.

Meanwhile, in the dining room, Katrina and a handful of students in charge of the evening’s dessert, shredded zucchini, measured flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, and lined muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. A couple of tweaks to the original chocolate cake recipe (substituting apple sauce for some of the oil and adding zucchini to the batter) made these cupcakes low in fat, nutritious, extra moist, and so good that almost everyone went back for seconds.

Low Fat Chocolate Cake Recipe

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp canola oil

3 tbsp apple sauce

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cold water

1 cup shredded zucchini

non-stick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a mixing bow.
  3. Mix oil, vinegar, vanilla, applesauce, and water together in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Mix in zucchini.
  5. Coat an 8-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into greased pan.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes on middle rack of oven, until the center is firm, and a toothpick inserted and removed comes out clean.


Over dinner, Maria discussed various nutritional topics with the families and shocked us all with a compilation of nutritional facts from various fast food joints (turns out, a large milkshake from Baskin Robbins can have as many as 1,900 calories!).   Maria also introduced MyPlate, a helpful way to visualize the correct amount of servings from each food group should be present at each meal.

Though last night marked the last Cooking Matters class, the families will continue to receive CSA shares for the next two weeks. IFFS was happy and proud to be able to partner with these families and organizations and produce yet another successful series of Cooking Matters classes! We would especially like to thank Ben’s Produce and New Grass Gardens for supplying the CSA shares and AHA for helping make this happen.