Christine’s Crossing

Creamy Vegetable Soup with Kale

Starting today we’ll be featuring Freshness Farms enthusiast and health coach, Christine de la Cruz in a monthly column called “Christine’s Crossing”.  With Christine’s wellness-oriented coaching you’ll learn how to incorporate Freshness Farms produce into everything from soup to main courses to juice and smoothies—like her sneaky zucchini noodles and vibrant beet and carrot juice.  This week Christine shares how to turn a refrigerator bursting with veggies into a warming potful of vitamins and flavor….

I have a confession to make:  as a health coach, I love to eat and prepare healthy food, but I am a lazy cook.  I don’t really like to follow recipes or spend a lot of time slicing and dicing.  Confession two:  I don’t mind eating soup in the middle of summer.  In summer we have a tendency to mostly eat raw or cold foods, which can be tough on our digestion and cause bloating.  Warm soup is easy on our systems, plus it’s really nice to have a potful of something quick and healthy at the ready when we are hungry!  Making soup is a great way to use up any produce we have overflowing—which we can all relate to in the best possible way.  Right now my fridge is loaded with the last great delivery from Freshness Farms, and I want to use up every last bit, while it’s at the peak of freshness.

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Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde Soup

Leaf lovers are grateful to kale and its current rock star status—it’s the darling of restaurant chefs and home cooks, food blogs and magazine spreads.  This jaw-exercising leaf has single handedly dragged greens into the culinary mainstream, when for generations many of us have done our best to avoid them.  The surprisingly revelation that kale is not only nutritious but tasty as well, has opened the door to a whole new ruffly green world populated by the likes of spinach and bok choy, collards, beet greens and more.

Take collards for instance:  they’ve been regulars in kitchens across the globe for eons, from Africa to India, Spain, Portugal and even the American South.  Collards are loaded with good stuff including Vitamins K, A and C, folate, manganese, calcium, iron and even protein.

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Summer Tomato Vinaigrette

Avocado with Tomato Vinaigrette

I’ve said before that summer is the season when I love to corral my kids in the kitchen to tackle a meaningful project together:  fresh lemonade, bread or a fruit pie, homemade jam, even plain old dinner.  What I haven’t confessed is that one of the often surprising by-products of these adventures is how much I learn from them.  Perhaps as much as anyone, especially considering I enter the room with a slightly overinflated feeling of mastery and general air of food know-it-all-ness.  The person with the ideas and answers.  (What?  There are others?)  Yet I can’t help but take pleasure in the topsy-turvy feeling of being hit head-on by the beautifully simple possibilities that flow through younger mouths.  Mouths that know what THEY like to eat, and with taste buds unencumbered by creativity-stifling notions of what-goes-with-what and why.  And, I must admit, why not?

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Late Summer’s Nightshades

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Crostini with Ricotta

With its long, sun-filled days and warm temperatures, one of the great pleasures of late summer is the pepper and tomato explosion ignited in the garden.  Both are members of the sun-loving nightshade family, as are other favorites—potatoes, chiles and Sweet Pepper Plantseggplants among them.  In case you’re wondering, that’s the same family that claims more infamous brethren as well:  tobacco and deadly nightshade.  Though the edible nightshades contain the same alkaloid compounds that render their cousins toxic, in the amounts we regularly consume, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants (any nightshades we find in the farm share) are entirely safe.  And considering the beneficial nutrients they contain, these beauties are healthy choices on an August dinner plate.  Our favorite red ones are loaded with dietary fiber, potassium, A, B and C vitamins, and antioxidant lycopene, known for its heart health and cancer fighting properties.

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Crisp, Crumble, Slump and Grunt

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisps

I love a generous wedge of pie—gooey berries or peach slices nestled beneath a perfectly flakey butter crust.  I dream of making one now and then.  But in the end I usually skip the rolling and crimping and go with a loose sweet crumble topping instead.  If you stand firmly in the team pie camp, you might disagree, but in my casual way of cooking, there’s no better summer dessert than a fresh fruit crisp.

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