You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ category.

Cinnamon Raisin and Banana Bran Muffins

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp orange zest

1 ½ cup bran cereal

½ cup raisins

1 cup milk

¼ cup coconut oil

1 egg

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup whole rolled oats

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line a 12 cup muffin tin.

Mash the bananas and mix with the cinnamon, ginger, zest, bran, raisins and milk,  Let sit until the bran cereal has started to soften and break down (about 15 min).  Meanwhile mix coconut oil with the egg until well combined.  Add softened bran mixture to egg mixture and combine.  Add flours, oats, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the banana and egg mixture and fold together until just incorporated.  Spoon batter into lined muffin cups (about ¾ full).  Bake for 15-22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean.  Let cool slightly, remove from muffin tin and enjoy.

 

Carrot, Zucchini & Applesauce Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 cup date sugar

½ cup coconut oil

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 eggs

3 cups grated carrot

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

¾ cup raisins (optional)

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line 24 muffin tins. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl.  In a smaller separate bowl combine the date sugar, coconut oil, applesauce and eggs, mix to incorporate.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Stir in carrot, zucchini, coconut, raisins and walnuts.  Divide batter into muffin lined muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.  Let cool slightly, remove from muffin tins and enjoy.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Healthy Homemade Banana Bran Muffins

The muffin top: dreaded or almighty – extra belly weight or the better half of a sweet breakfast bread? As far as I am concerned, the whole terminology uncertainty is rather unfortunate. How did we get so wrapped up in the muffin top conundrum and forget about the integrity of the whole muffin? At what point do we examine the flavor, health benefits and textural appeal of the whole muffin or the strength and health condition of the whole body instead of criticizing or over-praising just one part?

Both the literal and figurative muffin tops can be detrimental to overall health and wellness. The nutrition facts on a “healthy bran muffin” I investigated at the local grocery chain contained 275 calories and 28 grams of sugar per serving, which is only half the muffin.

This means the average muffin consumer is going to get 550 calories and 56 grams of sugar in the first meal of the day. Research from the Mayo Clinic has revealed that excess belly weight significantly increases the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.

In fact, it may be the conventional muffin that plays a role in the unhealthy development of a muffin top. Starting your day with a muffin like this one is what I am tempted to call healthy eating suicide. After a night of rest your body’s internal systems are starving for nourishment to provide the energy and nutrients it needs to function at top speed throughout the day.

The refined carbohydrates (aka sugar as soon as it hits your mouth), added refined sugar and flavorings provide only a sugar rush and crash.  Not only are you hungry for more hardly an hour after eating, your metabolism is clamoring to maintain regular function.

However, I am a big fan of muffins and a homemade muffin is a whole different animal, as far as I am concerned. Homemade muffins can actually be a healthy and easy breakfast food to have on hand throughout the week. Muffins don’t have to cause muffin tops, and muffin tops don’t have to be the only decent tasting portion of the muffin. Using whole grains, nuts, seeds, flax, bran, fruits and vegetables in your homemade muffins can help you create a more wholesome and good tasting food all the way through.

Whole grains will help slow down digestion, prolong energy release and jumpstart the metabolism. Added nutrients from dried or fresh fruits and vegetables will add nutritional value to promote strength, satiation and healthy function throughout the day. Flax seeds, nuts and seeds contribute healthy fats and oils your body needs, as well as some beneficial protein and nutrients.

Forget your predispositions about the chalky bran muffins of your past, adding bran and other fibrous ingredients to your muffins in balance with some added moisture from mashed bananas, applesauce or yogurt will create a fiber-filled and delectable finished product. Fiber will aid in digestion and keep you satiated for a longer period of time.

Muffins are an easy project I like to undertake about once a week so we have some healthy breakfast alternatives on hand for rushed mornings or weekend brunches. My favorite recipe, by far, is made with banana, cinnamon, raisins, bran, whole wheat and oats. It stays moist and fresh for days and requires no added sugar. Check back Thursday for the recipe and some other muffin inspiration and until then, whatever you do, don’t even think about laying your hands on a store bought muffin!

There is nothing like a perfectly prepared burger, preferably medium-rare on a toasted whole-wheat bun, but with no mayo. Instead, stout and stone ground mustard, a thick layer of crisp dill pickles, lightly caramelized red onions still warm from the pan, fresh tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, a few leaves of butter lettuce and more ketchup than I would like to admit.

This is precisely the problem. I love the hand-packed, well-seasoned and grass-fed beef burger that I make at home; a far cry from the conventionally sold stacks of horrifyingly thin and colorless rounds separated by white waxy papers. Call me a burger snob all you want but, in my defense, I take comfort in knowing that the meat I put in my body is 100% meat, from a good source and not pumped full of additives, antibiotics, preservatives and artificial flavoring.  Not to mention the perfect personalization of toppings, in just the right amount and order that creates the perfect bite all the way through.

You don’t have to buy a whole cow to have easy access to grass-fed beef (see my previous post on the health and environmental benefits of grass-fed beef). Heritage Meats in Rochester, WA is an artisan butchering company that specializes in organic, locally grown and sustainable meats and supplies a great assortment of grass-fed beef products for Full Circle’s Green Grocery program. For your first spring BBQ or family burger night, add some healthy protein to your farm box and forge your own better tasting burgers. All the meat products supplied to Full Circle from Heritage Meats are pasture-raised and grass-fed in Washington, and better for you and the environment than mass-produced, grain-fed beef products.

This weekend, at what I called “the great burger-off”, my thankfully patient friends were presented with a buffet line of toppings and slightly enormous grass-fed beef patties (seared quickly and broiled with a thin layer of sharp cheddar).  Before anyone could get a bite I snapped photos and made note of topping combos and quirky burger making practices. Here are a few of the combinations that made us smile and a secret patty packing recipe that makes the most tender and tasty burgers, as far as I am concerned, on the entire planet.

My Backyard’s Best Burger Patty

(Makes appx. 6 big patties)
2 lbs ground grass-fed beef
½ large yellow onion, finely diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed through a garlic press or finely diced
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Chaloula (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 slices of sharp cheddar (or your choice of cheese to melt on top)
Mix all ingredients by hand in a large mixing bowl, making sure to incorporate well.

Form 6 equal palm sized rounds of the mixture (making more or less depending on the size of patty you want).  Pat the rounds out by hand and sear for 3 minutes per side on a hot grill (or until your desired doneness).  Before removing from the grill melt your cheese of choice on top.  Serve immediately with an array of the following:

Killer Topping Combos:

  • Grilled sweet or red onions, blue cheese, avocado, butter lettuce, spicy aoli
  • Sautéed Cremini mushrooms, feta cheese, grilled peppers, red leaf lettuce, basil aoli
  • Fresh sliced tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, fresh picked basil leaves, avocado, roasted red pepper caponata, butter lettuce
  • Slightly melted brie, thin slices of fresh granny smith apple
  • Fresh pesto, spinach, fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato slices
  • Swiss chesses, sautéed mushrooms, sauerkraut and spicy whole grain mustard
  • Pickled red peppers, butter lettuce, fresh mango chutney
  • Grilled zucchini, balsamic roasted onions and blue cheese

Everyone is telling you that whole grains reign nutritionally supreme, but what they are not telling you is that it is easy for “whole grains” not to live up to the nutrient rich, good-for-you standards they are held to. As I explained on Monday, processed whole grains in packaged foods like cereal, cookies and crackers, are hardly better than their refined counterparts.

Unfortunately, there are some setbacks to natural whole grains that can inhibit the nutritional benefits if not properly prepared. Enzyme inhibitors and natural substances that the plants use to protect their seeds can almost completely prevent the digestion and absorption of whole grains. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to soak all grains before cooking them.

Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium,copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important pre-digestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures. – Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon

Soaking grains will help those who have digestion troubles by easing the labor of grain breakdown and absorption. For every grain eater, soaking will benefit your body by providing more accessible and digestible nourishment.

Soaking is an easy process that can be done several days beforehand.  In a large, non-reactive bowl, soak your grains in water with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice, vinegar, keifer or buttermilk (to provide an acid that works to neutralize the nutrient blockers).

After 12 to 24 hours rinse your grains and prepare as instructed.  For baking purposes it works well to soak your grains in the liquid (buttermilk, yogurt, milk or non dairy alternative) called for in the recipe.  After soaking add the rest of your ingredients and prepare as instructed.

Here are two of my personal favorite soaked whole grain breakfast treats!

Creamy Morning Oats with Fresh Fruit

3/4 Cup Organic whole rolled oats
1 Cup Organic unsweetened plain keifer
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ Cup fresh seasonal fruit of your choice (pears are a great pick in the winter and blueberries are my summer favorite)

Combine all ingredients except fruit in a medium sized ceramic or glass bowl. Cover and soak overnight at room temperature.  In the morning add fresh fruit and enjoy!

Unbelievably Fluffy Whole Grain Waffles

2 Cups whole-wheat flour
1 ¼ Cup plain keifer or ¾ cup plain yogurt to ¾ cup milk
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 eggs split into yolks and whites
½ cup vegetable oil

Combine flour and keifer or milk and yogurt in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add baking powder, salt, sugar, egg yolks and vegetable oil to flour mixture and mix to incorporate.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold in egg whites gently in three parts until just incorporated. Do not over-mix the egg whites in the batter or the fluffy consistency will be lost. Pour waffle batter onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Serve immediately with fresh fruit, yogurt or syrup.

The status of grain in the modern diet is debated as if it held a place in office: should it be impeached from our dietary guidelines, should we use it to solve world hunger or should we blame it for the obesity of a nation and the degradation of worldwide environmental systems?

Some nutritional scholars believe that grains should be avoided completely, arguing that our bodies did not evolve to digest grains and they cause a downward spiral in many facets of your internal health. Ancient Eastern medicine traditions, on the other hand, hold grains as an important element of dietary balance. Recent western medicine research has popularized “whole grains” to an almost divine status; launching campaigns that assure dieters and skeptics that anything labeled whole grain is an automatic health food.

You are confused? So am I. Avoiding grains completely is difficult and may not be the best option, but popular refined forms of grain are digging a rut into the health of many. I am going to venture out on a limb and say forget it: forget the great debate, proceed with moderation and, as always, keep in mind that whole foods are always better than their processed counterparts. Somewhere in-between the “whole grain” coco puffs and the Paleolithic style no grain diets there has to be level ground:  a few whole grains from natural sources, a few indulgences and a happy and healthy body.

Figuring out how grains fit into your lifestyle and how they impact your health as an individual may be the best place to start. Pay attention to how you feel after eating a particular grain and make note of whether it was processed, whole, soaked, raw or cooked.  You may find that some grains like quinoa, whole oats and millet are easier for your body to digest and provide more prolonged balanced energy.

There is some truth behind the recent “whole grain” campaign phenomena in that whole grains contain fiber, nutrients and protein that improve the way your body digests, uses, and stores grain-based foods. Whole grains have also been shown to play a role in helping improve cognitive function and mood. However, alleged “whole grains” in your honey nut cheerios, are probably not going to do the deed. The processing and additives that go into cereals, breads, cookies, crackers and the like are more than enough to destroy the health benefits of a natural whole grain.

Proper grain preparation methods are crucial to the health benefit they impart and may alleviate the health issues that grain opponents cite. Not eating packaged and processed grain products and taking the time to prepare whole grains at home is necessary to help your body absorb the nutrients. Soaking grains overnight helps germinate the dormant energy of the seed, release nutrients and ensure proper digestion.

Breakfast is the often the best (and most delicious) time to indulge in some healthy whole grains. During sleep your body’s systems slow down and burn energy reserves for basic function so it is important to wake up the process by providing healthy fuel. Whole grains provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to get your metabolism running and to power all internal organs for full daily function. But, no matter what the health claims a cereal box says, steer clear and start experimenting with homemade whole grains instead.

Soaking old-fashioned rolled oats in almond milk with a dash of cinnamon is one of my favorite easy go-to’s.  Check back this Thursday for some easy at home and on the go healthy grain preparation tips and recipes.

Full Circle’s booth at the annual Flower and Garden show, held at the convention center in downtown Seattle last Tuesday through Sunday, was a great success.  Thanks to all of our current members who stopped by for a visit and for contributing some great feedback and encouraging comments. We love to hear about your stories, recipes and Full Circle favorites.

Over 200 people signed up for our raffle and the new faces and interests were great to see. If you’re interested in trying out our Farm-to-Table delivery program, don’t forget to use your promo code and sign up this week to receive a discount on your first delivery. We’ll be sending you an email soon with the promo code as a reminder! We are always excited to have new members on board supporting and sharing the benefits of delicious and healthy food.

Those who hadn’t heard about our green grocery program looked excited to see the variety of meats, cheeses, milk products, dry goods and specialty foods on display at the show. Our display highlighted just a few of the many organic and artisan foods we offer through the grocery program that can be added to weekly orders.  For more information on what we offer check out our web page – (http://www.fullcirclefarm.com/additional.html) or log in and explore on your member homepage.

Members and non-members alike, it was great to see all of you out and about last week. Check out our Facebook page for more special events, weekly updates, fun competitions and great deals.

Getting outside for a walk, hike, ski, bike, snowshoe, run, climb or whatever the activity of your fancy, is often put on the backburner when the winter months are especially dreary. However, as the days get a bit brighter, longer and warmer, I hope that everyone takes advantage of the extra moments to enjoy some fresh air. Fortunately I have squeezed in some time in the mountains to soak up some snow and sunshine, but the rigor of hiking ridgelines and skiing down has definitely asked more of my body than the short run or yoga class I have gotten in the habit of doing.

Fresh air, exercise and complete healthy exhaustion plasters an irreplaceable smile across my face and is a good way for everyone to keep their bodies strong, immune systems healthy and minds focused. The only problem is keeping enough fuel in the body to make it through the day and to nourish strength and renewal. I know first hand that, as hunger surges through my body, anything seems like good momentary satiation. Cookies, hot chocolate, candy, energy bars and sweet juices or Gatorade provide instant satisfaction but are not the best choice of nourishment and leave me clamoring for more only a few hours later.

Sugar filled foods marketed as energy bars and drinks provide quick results because sugar is burned quickly and creates instantaneous energy. However, sugar does not provide prolonged energy and sends the insulin system on a roller coaster ride in attempt to control the surge. Consistent use of sugar as an energy boost can be an unhealthy habit that deposits empty calories and can have negative effects on your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Sugar doesn’t adequately replenish the nutrients lost during exertion and fails to re-fuel and nourish the active body. In addition, processed ingredients, preservatives and artificial flavorings are not the nourishment your body needs after a rigorous day.

Home made energy bars are a great alternative to store bought bars and can be healthier, tastier and made just the way you like it. Sugar can be replaced by honey, agave, fruit purees or nut butters. Add protein with nuts or quinoa. Dried fruits such as apricots, dates, cherries and raisins are packed with natural sugars and nutrients like potassium, iron and beta-carotene that fuel and nourish your body.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for you to try, or mix up a batch of your own and get your body outside for a day of fresh air, exercise and adventure. The dates in these conveniently bite sized treats are packed with potassium, which your muscles need during exercise to help maintain normal contraction and to balance potassium levels to keep blood pressure steady. Dates are also a great source of Iron, vitamin A and tons of healthy fiber. Paired with almonds for a bit of heart healthy fat and lots of protein as well as a dash of cardamom for an authentic sweet flavor, these little energy treats pack a healthy and delicious boost of energy anywhere and anytime.

Almond Cardamom Bites

1 cup toasted slivered

¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped dates

Zest of one orange

½ cup dried unsweetened coconut

Chop almonds into smaller pieces after toasting (don’t do this in a blender because they get too fine). In the bowl of a standing mixer, or by hand,mixthe almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, dates and orange peel. Mix until dates have softened and mixture is combined into a thick paste-like consistency. Form date mixture into ping pong ball sized rounds and roll in coconut (or press date mixture into a small baking pan and spread to a uniform ½ inch thickness and sprinkle with coconut). Enjoy immediately or wrap tightly and save for up to 10 days. Enjoy!

Sugar laden sodas and artificial fruit juice stand by, Kombucha is taking over and it’s a healthy liquid revolution. Whether you’ve only tried it with your nose upturned to the slightly bitter tang, or take it down by the bottle on a daily basis, it’s hard to ignore the boom that this fizzy, healthy touting tea is creating. As I am discovering with my first home brewed batch, Kombucha is also an easy at home project that results in a great tasting and good for the body refreshment.

Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink that is thought to have originated in Russia in the late 19th century but can also be traced back to ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Made from a tea and sugar brew left at room temperature to ferment for several weeks, Kombucha brewing techniques have been passed down through generations of people who have held the drink in high esteem and attributed it with potent health giving properties.

In our modern adaptation of the drink, fruit juice flavorings have been added to the traditional tea base to create colorful, flavorful and popular drinks. However, because of Kombucha’s relatively recent re-popularization and the difficulty of studying a constantly changing food with live cultures that differ depending on the preparation method and huge variety of beneficial bacteria that can inoculate the beverage, It has been difficult for researchers to provide scientific support for what specific impacts Kombucha has on the body. Nevertheless, Kombucha producers list vitality, energy, immunity, digestion and appetite control as some of the benefits of their products and consumers are buying it. The general consensus of regular Kombucha drinkers is positive, linking it to personal well-being and many stories of major health changes and noticeable benefits.

In my own experience with semi-regular Kombucha consumption, I do notice a slight energy boost, a sense of lasting satiation and calming in my digestive tract. But, as an opponent to sodas, Kombucha is mainly a healthier way for me to satiate the occasional hankering for a refreshing fizzy drink and is a healthier alternative to coffee when I need an afternoon pick me up.

Despite the lack of research on Kombucha directly, several health benefits can be confirmed by its probiotic contents that have been researched extensively in other fermented foods such as yogurt and keifer. Because Kombucha is a raw and live fermented food, it is known to contain billions of probiotic cultures linked to a myriad of health benefits. The positive impact probiotics have on digestion, immunity, inflammation, detoxification and nutrient absorption is reason enough to take a few sips of Kombucha on a daily basis.

Brewing your own Kombucha at home, as I discovered this week in my first trial run, is pretty easy. The first, and most necessary step is getting a “baby” or “scoby”. The baby is a round gel like patty that forms on the surface of the Kombucha during fermentation and contains billions of probiotic organisms. You can get a Kombucha baby from a friend or order one online.

To start, brew a large batch of your favorite tea, steep it with a small amount of sugar (1 C. Sugar/3 Qts. H20-sugar is important to fuel for the fermentation process) and cool the brew to room temperature. Pour the brew into a large clean jar, carefully place the baby on the surface and secure a tea towel or cheesecloth over the jar opening and walk away. Kombucha brews best in warm, dark places but will eventually ferment just about anywhere you leave it. The longer you let it sit, the more carbonation and less tang you will get. Just make sure you let it ferment for at least a week so the cultures of beneficial bacteria have ample time to develop.

Bottle, refrigerate, and enjoy!

More Great Kombucha Info!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can drive to the store, park your SUV, load a grocery cart with soda pop, candy bars, potato chips, and juice in the box, while sporting the latest and most fashionable outfit and still claim to be “green”, “organic” or “sustainable”.  The marketplace that continues to engulf our everyday lives has certainly caught on to the rising demand for a more natural lifestyle.  What started with a search to define food grown without chemicals in a more earth and health-friendly manner has ballooned into a whirlwind of green labeling.  The issue now is, with the words organic, green, natural, sustainable, healthy and eco-friendly plastered across millions of products, how do you distinguish the true ground breakers from the impostors?

Solving this question was the topic of the most recent Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco.  The Sustainable Foods Summit is a series of meetings bringing together leaders in the sustainable food industry to discuss top issues concerning sustainability and eco-labeling.  Full Circle’s Frank Paganelli had the fortunate opportunity to attend this round of discussions, focused primarily on what role labels play in the food industry.

In an industry that is looking more and more towards the triple bottom line (taking ecological and social performance, not just financial performance into account) do labels already in place address sustainability from both the business and consumer perspectives?  Or, is there a market for a new labeling system that certifies the sustainable business practices coming into play?  Frank was thoroughly impressed by the number of respectable companies who came together to address these questions and assert a common goal.  In our evolving food system it is a necessity to measure impact, socially, ecologically, locally, abroad and upon all employees in order to create a mission, metrics and labeling system that ensures all measures are properly accounted for and communicated to consumers.

“The fact that so many companies are making the triple bottom line their mission, and numbers are growing, must signify the beginning of a revolution,” said Frank.

The biggest question to address, Frank explained, is how to certify what you are doing as a company.  Numerous bodies and organizations such as the Food Alliance and the Stewardship Index are already in action, but does creating individual mission metrics for your own corporation make more sense and allow you to set higher standards?  At Full Circle sustainability initiatives are well in place; rooted beneath the company from the very beginning, but without labels to quantify success.  To start, Frank has returned from the summit with goals for the upcoming year that will help measure and certify Full Circle’s actions. Measures such as the carbon emissions saved, land conservation, community education and food bank donations.

Companies such as Stone Bird Flour, Honest Tea, Organic Valley, Theo Chocolate and Strauss Valley Creamery have set high standards in the industry and are bounding ahead with new goals and labels to ensure consumers are well informed about the product they are purchasing. Positive energy and motivation is coming from all directions as the food industry revolution continues to evolve.  For Full Circle, Frank noted, it is important to work ahead of the mainstream and continue to make progress, not just with new ways of labeling and ensuring products and services, but with every bite of quality food made available to a growing number of conscious individuals.

Learn more about the Sustainable Foods Summit and take part as a consumer to ensure the companies you support are upholding their claims and making progress to create a more sustainable food system.

Attention all foodies, eaters, cooks, members, prospective members and anyone looking for a reason to get in the kitchen and challenge your skills or learn something new.  Starting on February 4th Full Circle will be hosting the first Farm-to-Table Meal Challenge; challenging you to make your best meal out of as many Farm-to-Table box ingredients as possible.  Whether you need a challenge to get you learning more about preparation and cooking methods, want a little inspiration to get in the kitchen cooking healthier meals or just plain want to show off your culinary skills and knack for using every last bit of your farm to table box, taking part in the Meal Challenge will be a great inspiration with tasty rewards.

Here’s the scoop:

This challenge is open to all active Full Circle members. (Not a member yet? Click here to become one.) For the week of February 4th -11th place your box order and make whatever changes you normally would to your order contents.  What you get in your box will be the base of ingredients you use for your meal.  If you anticipate needing any other ingredients, add them to your order in Green Grocery as additional points will be awarded for Green Grocery items.

Sometime during the week set aside an evening, or a morning if brunch is your specialty, to prepare a five star meal using as many ingredients from your box as possible.

Submit a list of your Farm-to-Table box contents for that week and your recipes (don’t forget to highlight which items come from your Full Circle order) to us by e mail  – check out our Facebook page for complete entry details  and email address – and our panel of judges will select the first, second and third place winners.

Our judging panel includes a talented chef with 20 years of experience in the industry, a veteran gourmet foodie and baker extraordinaire, and a very special but extremely picky 6 year-old.

Winners will be selected on a point basis.  Our creativity, edibility and simplicity categories will be judged on a sliding scale from 1-10.  5 extra points will be rewarded for submitting a photograph along with 5 points if our youngest judge deems your dish delicious.

A note to those who are tempted to throw your whole Farm-to-Table box in a pot, add water and call it a meal.  Though simple, this will score low in the creativity category. Our simplicity category is intended to keep your recipes from being too extravagant or chaotic, so using your ingredients thoughtfully and simply will be to your benefit.  At the end of the competition we are looking for some great recipes that we can share with everyone; recipes that can be re-created at home and will stand the test of time and ease.

The selection of prizes is well worth the work, check out our Facebook page for complete rules and prize listings.  For me, even without a prize, a challenge that gets me motivated to plan, prep and cook a healthy meal is enough to get me going.  Sometimes a bout of friendly competition can be just what it takes to put your resolution to cook more, eat better and make the best of local and seasonal produce into play.

Not to mention, the collection of great recipes we amass and share with you in the weeks following will come in handy next time you are at a loss for what to make for dinner.

Tie up your aprons and get cooking!

For all the rules, regulations and final details visit our Facebook Page!