It’S Like Christmas With Vegetables

The Healthy Foodie

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Bountiful Baskets is a volunteer-run food co-op that makes it possible to pick up two huge grocery bags full of fruits and veggies for under $20.

Ever find yourself serving the same side of veggies week after week after week?

Broccoli, steamed, dressed with butter and salt.

Peas, steamed, dressed with butter and salt.

Green beans, steamed, dressed with butter and salt.

Zucchini, steamed, dressed with butter and salt.

And then,

Broccoli, steamed, dressed with butter and salt ...

It’s so easy to just pick up the same thing from the market over and over. Habit — so easy to do, but oh so boring.

Makes a person want to give up veggies.

Not a good idea since study after study shows that adding fresh fruits and veggies to the diet helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, while improving digestion and vision.

But what to do to get out of the veggie rut?

First off, don’t despair.

Imagine that eating veggies could be as exciting as opening up a Christmas present. Picture discovering what to do with produce you’d never pick up at the store, fresh coconuts, spaghetti squash, kale, beets, asparagus, or fava beans in the pod. Suddenly, the Internet becomes your favorite cookbook.

Google search: “What do I do with fava beans in the pod?”

Answer: “Par-boil pods and beans. Remove pod. Par-boil again. Remove outer skin on bean. Enjoy the bean inside.”

Lots of work, but an educational experience, too.

With Bountiful Baskets, every other week it’s possible to pick up two huge grocery bags full of fruits and veggies for under $20.

But, there’s a caveat: you never know what you’ll get.

Bountiful Baskets is a volunteer-run food co-op with no contracts. The two organizers, Sally and Tanya, negotiate with produce providers to bring cases to drop-off points. Money is saved because grocery store clerks do not have to restock the produce onto shelves.

The website describes the program further, “Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op is a participatory experience. Participants all save a substantial amount of money on healthy food. In exchange there are no employees to guide participants through the experience.”

It’s easy to sign up on the website, just go online to: http://www.bountifulbaskets.org.

Payson Elementary School serves as the pick up point at a (yawn!) 7:45 a.m. call time.

Volunteers run the whole program. There is a place to sign up to volunteer on the website. Volunteers distribute the produce into baskets that participants pick up with their own bags.

On Saturday, March 15, Carol Rose discovered the joys of volunteering when she said she accidentally showed up early — most other volunteers show up at 6:15 a.m. to meet the truck and distribute the produce.

On the day Rose volunteered, Rim Country residents filled up the parking lot and lined up to find out what sort of fruits and veggies would fill their bags.

“What’s this? Anyone know?” said one Rim Country resident holding up a weird-looking cross between celery and spinach.

“It’s baby bok choy — really good in stir frys,” said another in answer.

“The best thing about volunteering was knowing that I’m going to be helping people to eat better,” said Rose.

EASY BOK CHOY

From Allrecipes.com

1 tablespoon light olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped

8 heads of baby bok choy, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat, and cook the garlic in the hot oil until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the bok choy, and cook and stir until the green parts of the leaves turn bright green and the stalks become slightly translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

From Allrecipes.com

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Lay asparagus onto a cookie sheet

Drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle with salt to taste

Roast for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH PRIMAVERA

From Taste of Home.com

1 large spaghetti squash (3-1/2 pounds)

1/4 cup sliced carrot

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped red pepper

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced yellow summer squash

1 cup zucchini

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Cut spaghetti squash in half; discard seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, and place on a cooking sheet cut side down. Turn oven to 375 degrees, bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the carrot, onion, peppers in oil for 3 minutes. Add yellow squash and zucchini; sauté 2-3 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Reduce heat; add them tomatoes, corn, salt, oregano and thyme. Cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Separate spaghetti squash strands with a fork. Spoon vegetable mixture into squash; sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Yield: 4 servings.

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