Spicy Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Golden Raisins

Rainbow chard’s vibrant orange, red and magenta stems are too pretty to toss into the compost. They have a crunchy texture similar to celery and add a colorful confetti-like cheer to this speedy saute. Serve as a side dish with, well, just about anything (it’s especially tasty with our Spiced Pork Roast) or toss with hot pasta and goat cheese for meatless entree.


Nourishing Heroes: Food Advocates Curt Ellis & Ian Cheney

This is the latest installment in our Nourishing Heroes series, in which we feature the individuals and organizations who inspire us with food that nourishes body, soul and planet. Do you know a Nourishing Hero we should feature on NOURISH Evolution? Let us know who inspires you!

If you attended Yale University about 10 years ago, you may have crossed paths with Curt Ellis (above left) and Ian Cheney (right), members of the class of 2002 who combined a passionate commitment to consciousness-raising with a flair for the dramatic. To underscore students’ desire for Yale’s cafeterias to serve food that was minimally processed, pesticide-free and grown in a responsible manner, the two and their cohorts released live sheep onto the campus quad and brought in kiddie pools filled with manure.

“Part of it was to have fun,” Ellis now acknowledges, “but there were definitely politics involved.”

The Brooklyn-based pair has since gone on to interweave politics, advocacy and entertainment in their careers, most notably through the founding of their production company Wicked Delicate Films. Their 2004 release King Corn, produced and directed by Ellis’ cousin Aaron Woolf, followed the duo as they grew an acre of corn in Iowa and then traced its movement through America’s industrial food system. The film picked up a prestigious Peabody Award, and it came out when the cultural zeitgeist was beginning to focus on the multifaceted perils of what’s now referred to as Big Ag.

Ellis says books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation and documentary SuperSize Me were all part of this same general movement toward greater transparency in food production, and within a few years, the growing public consciousness surrounding food issues suddenly picked up enormous traction. King Corn both reflected, and advanced, this burgeoning food consciousness.

Today, Ellis and Cheney work together on several advocacy programs and tour the country speaking at conferences and on college campuses. Each is also the point person for their newest slate of projects.

Ellis, for his part, is a founding member of FoodCorps, a national AmeriCorps public service initiative that will train a fresh generation of young people to work in school gardens, implement farm-to-cafeteria programs and lead nutrition education projects at sites across the country.

“We love working on something that can make such a tangible difference,” he says. “FoodCorps basically provides a troop surge in the response to the obesity epidemic.” (FoodCorps’ first host sites will be selected on Nov. 17.)

Cheney, meanwhile, is focusing on Truck Farm, a new documentary, slated to premiere this winter, that features the 1986 Dodge pick-up his grandfather gave him when he graduated from college. (It’s the same truck Cheney and Ellis drove to Iowa to shoot King Corn.) Cheney has since turned the truck into a green-roofed mobile garden with 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including serrano and poblano peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, okra, chard, kale, lettuce and a wide variety of herbs. Truck Farm (the vehicle) has traveled to 40 schools up and down the eastern seaboard, up the steps of the U.S. Botanic Garden and to the USDA in Washington, D.C. The pair uses the pickup to get people excited about how easy it is to grow food themselves.

The documentary, produced with the help of crowd-sourced funding from Kickstarter and a generous grant from the sustainable clothing company Nau, tells the story of how people around the country grow food in innovative places.

Ultimately, Ellis says, he and Cheney want to inspire America’s young people to pick up shovels and garden or farm–and to see that choice as a dignified one.  The most important message, though, he adds, is: “It’s OK for food advocacy to be fun.”

Meet our other Nourishing Heroes:

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

CSA 101: What is Community-Supported Agriculture?

We talk a lot about connecting with your food and cultivating local sources here on , but a lot of people still counter with “how?” Yes, there are farmers’ markets, and there are gardens for those who have the room. But what to do when the farmers’ market is out of season, or if you can’t make the trip that week? Enter the CSA, or community-supported agriculture.


With a  CSA, you’re helping support sustainable farming by paying a lump sum up front for produce they’ll grow for you in the coming month(s). It’s a win-win: the farmer benefits from a steady income stream and you get a steady supply of locally-grown, farm-fresh produce.

I’ve been psyched about the concept of CSAs for years, but as a professional recipe developer, I’d often be buying out-of-season produce to test (I can’t tell you how many Thanksgiving recipes I’ve tested in April) or need a specific ingredient list, so I held off on actually joining one. But I finally relented last year, and I’m so glad I did. Sure, it’s incredible produce and it feels good to support my local peeps, but there’s also a sort of underlying challenge of “how can I use this?” that’s just plain fun.

If you’re curious about joining one too, read on.

How much do I have to buy?

Each CSA works differently, but oftentimes you’ll pay by the month or quarter. Most CSAs also offer different size “boxes,” depending on how large of a household you need to feed.

What do you mean “box”?

Most CSA deliveries come in the form of a reusable cardboard box, milk or wooden crate.

What do I get in my box?

That depends on both the season and the CSA. Without fail, your box will be packed with peak-of-the-season produce, often picked just hours earlier; last fall our CSA boxes would come laden with kale, cabbage, chard, onions and radishes. But you may also find extra items like farm-produced eggs, honey or jams. Some CSAs are even partnering with local artisan producers to include their wares in the boxes.

What if I don’t want something that’s in there, or can’t use everything that week?

Being part of a CSA does take some getting used to. After all, it’s not like filling a grocery cart where you’re picking and choosing what you want; the choice is essentially being made for you based on what’s abundant in the field. But the taste—and the feeling of being part of your community and supporting a family farm—more than makes up for it.

One thing that helps me stay on top of what’s come in is my handy chalkboard. That way, I can piece together a meal by glancing at what’s fresh in the fridge. And don’t be daunted by unfamiliar items. I’ve found that the farmers themselves are often the best source for ideas—I’ve gotten great recipes for kohlrabi, nettles and more from mine. Just ask.

I’ve also become more resourceful with how I use ingredients. If poblanos show up, for instance, I might toss them in to roast with potatoes, whereas normally it would be spuds alone. If I have a surfeit of cucumbers in the box, I’ll make a jar of sweet-hot pickled cucumbers.

If I join a CSA, does that mean I can’t go to the farmers’ market or start a garden of my own?

Not at all. I find that I don’t buy the volume of produce I used to at the farmers’ market, but I still love to go for the connection, and to pick up things I’m craving that might not have shown up in my box.

Where do I find a CSA?

You might be surprised by how far flung CSAs are now these days. LocalHarvest.org is a great place to start; plug in your zip code and see what’s near you. Call around and get a feel for how each one works and sign up for the one that’s the best fit.

Tiny Cherry Tomato Sauce

This is the perfect tomato sauce recipe to make with that extra pint of cherry tomatoes in your CSA box that’s sitting on your counter. Use it to dress a simple pasta or spoon it over a crispy chicken paillard.


The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook

You may not know food writer Kim O’Donnel personally, but you probably know her work, which has appeared in The Washington Post, Real Simple and, currently, on Culinate.

But we’re really excited about her newest project: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour (Lifelong Books). It’s filled with 52 hearty, bold-flavored menus–enough of a year’s worth of Meatless Monday feasts!–that will appeal to vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Recipes are divided by season, and now that it’s officially fall we’re looking forward to making dishes like Blue Corn Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Whipped Feta or Thai-Style Red Curry Tempeh with a make-your-own curry (I’m on a bit of tempeh kick lately).

Recipes also are designated GF (gluten-free), Kiddo (kid-friendly), DO (dairy optional), V (vegan) and XTRA (leftover bonus) so you can choose dishes that will satisfy everyone’s appetite.

But what we like best is Kim’s friendly, gently irreverent voice that just makes us want to get into the kitchen and start cooking!

Reminder: More Food = More Calories

Here’s a simple math question for you: Which has more calories?

A) A bowl of chili with cheese

B) A bowl of chili with cheese + a small green side salad

The correct answer, of course, is B. But a new study from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management finds that when people are shown an indulgent item paired with a healthier item, they tend to estimate the combo to have fewer the calories than the indulgent item alone.

Volunteers shown the cheese-topped chili alone guessed it had 699 calories, but those who saw the chili with a side salad estimated the overall meal had 656 calories. It was the same case with other indulgent/healthy food pairs. The study’s author, Alexander Chernev, calls this the “negative-calorie illusion,” meaning people think healthy foods somehow subtract calories from indulgent fare. That, he suggests, can have serious public-health consequences.

“Because people believe that adding a healthy option can lower a meal’s caloric content, the negative-calorie illusion can lead to overconsumption, thus contributing to the obesity trend,” says  Chernev.

Among the study’s volunteers, dieters were twice as likely as others to fall for the negative-calorie illusion, which Chernev dubs the “dieter’s paradox.”

That’s why Mindful Meals and Sound Nutrition are among our core topics at NOURISH Evolution. If you really understand your food and pay attention to what you eat, you won’t fall for the dieter’s paradox. In fact, this seems like a good time to revisit Cheryl’s piece, “Making Sense of Moderation” (along with her awesome recipe for Mini Dark Chocolate Puddings with Chocolate Shavings!).

In the meantime, remember, a side salad adds more calories to that cheeseburger. Maybe not as many as a side of fries but, still, more.

Baked Penne and Cheese with Mushrooms

I love homemade macaroni and cheese  (or, in this case, penne and cheese) and wasn’t about to let a sprained wrist get in the way. Pre-chopped onions and mushrooms, pre-shredded cheese, and a garlic press meant I could make this without picking up a knife. A speedy sprinkling of toasted wheat germ takes the place of bread crumbs. You can use any vegetables and any blend of cheese you like–experiment to change up the flavor!



Labor Savers: Prepped Ingredients are the Gimpy Cook’s Friend

Like it or not, when you get some formal culinary training you turn into a bit of a snob. As soon as I polished my knife skills at the Cordon Bleu, I abandoned many prepped ingredients and other convenience items that are the mainstay of time-pressed cooks: prechopped onions, presliced mushrooms, grated carrots, grated cheese, shredded cabbage and such. Whole ingredients are cheaper, higher in quality and have a longer shelf life.

Then I slipped getting out of the shower, sprained my wrist and promptly changed my tune. I learned to do many things with my nondominant left hand, like shift gears in my manual car and flip a quesadilla.

But it’s hard to do much slicing and dicing with your sore wrist in a splint, so I had to revisit these prepped ingredients if I wanted to stay in the kitchen. You don’t need an injury to appreciate these items, though. They come in handy for anyone who’s really pressed for time or simply doesn’t enjoy the prep work of chopping and slicing. That said, here are few things to keep in mind before tossing these into your cart.

Expect to pay more. I know, duh, but buying prepped ingredients is the home chef’s version of hiring a prep cook–you pay for someone else to do the grunt work so you can get cooking. Sometimes the difference is significant. A medium whole yellow onion costs about 12 cents an ounce vs. 40 cents an ounce for diced onions, and you’ll pay more than three times as much per ounce for shredded carrots as for whole. But that’s not always the case–I found that ounce for ounce shredded cheese cost about the same as brick cheese. Sold!

And don’t forget the eco-cost. Sure, with whole ingredients there are unused trimmings, but those can go into the compost. With prepped ingredients, there’s always packaging that may or may not be recyclable.

Choose wisely. For the most part, I was satisfied with the quality of the chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, grated carrots and the like. Hardy veggies like onions, carrots or butternut squash tend to hold up better than more delicate items like apples or watermelon. One major exception: jarred minced garlic. It’s convenient, but it doesn’t retain the bright flavor and color of fresh garlic. For that, I dug my garlic press out of the back of the drawer.

Check for freshness. If convenience products don’t look perfectly fresh, don’t waste your money. Also check the “best by” or packing date. The package of sliced mushrooms I bought was stamped with the packing date and time, so I knew they were really fresh. Also buy from stores with high turnover, so you know items haven’t sat on the shelf too long. Some markets prep their own fruits and veggies on site, which is even better.

Be flexible. You may not find exactly the type of shredded cheese or cut of onion you want, so be prepared to make substitutions.

Use prepped ingredients promptly. Once ingredients are peeled, cut and prepped, they start to deteriorate quickly and don’t have the shelf life of whole ingredients. Plan to use them within a couple of days after buying them.

By now, my wrist is on the mend and I’m ready to pick up my knife again. Prepped foods still aren’t my first choice to use all the time, but now I can appreciate how handy they can be. And you never know, I might need them again.

Hey, I’m a klutz.

Win a Free Cork Cutting Board from Bambu!

UPDATE: Due to some behind-the-scenes technical improvements (woo-hoo!), we’re extending this giveaway for another week. If you haven’t entered yet, be sure to click the link below to join the Thursday Giveaway forum and leave a comment. If not already a NOURISH Evolution member, take a moment to join so you can participate in the forum.

A high-quality cutting board is an indispensable kitchen tool. And if it’s made from sustainable materials, so much the better! That’s why we’re such big fans of Bambu’s cutting boards made from sustainably harvested cork.

This week, we’re giving away a free, 10 x 14-inch cork cutting board from Bambu!

Why cork? It’s lightweight, naturally slip-resistant and anti-microbial (it’s even FDA food-safe). And cork is easy on your knives so blades stay sharp.

But, friends, you have to play to win this must-have piece of equipment.

So here’s the deal. Only NOURISH Evolution members are eligible to win, so now’s the time to join if you haven’t already! Then, head on over to the Thursday Giveaway group in our community area and leave a comment to be entered to win (important: be sure you’re signed in to NOURISH Evolution so we can find you).

Lia will announce the winner in next Friday’s Friday Digest!

Happy cutting!

Nourishing Hero: Chris Guillebeau

We began our Nourishing Heroes series to feature individuals and organizations who inspire us by nourishing body, soul and planet. For this installment, we’re shining the spotlight on Chris Guillebeau, creator of the Art of Non-Conformity Website and author of the brand new book by the same name. Chris gives both inspiration and a soft-yet-pragmatic kick-in-the-butt to people (including me) looking to live life a bit differently. If you don’t know Chris yet, do yourself a favor and check out his website, buy his book, learn through his Unconventional Guides or join him for a meetup on his tour. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you know a Nourishing Hero we should feature on NOURISH Evolution? Let us know who inspires you!

LH – When did the light bulb go off in you that you had a ‘big message’ to share?

CG – It was after I moved back to the U.S. following four years of volunteering in West Africa. In addition to the experience of working in post-conflict settings, I had also been self-employed for most of my life, and I was beginning a new personal project to visit every country in the world. All of those things were fine and well, but I felt like I didn’t have a good convergence point to everything. I wanted to create a platform to help other people live their own unconventional lives, and I wanted to be a writer.

While I was in grad school in Seattle, I thought about it for the better part of two years before actually starting. Then it took me a while after that to find my writing voice, but I kept at it and made sure I never missed a scheduled post. Sometimes the message comes as you work at a project over time, so I always tell people not to wait unless they have a good reason.

Did any ‘gremlins’ try to tell you otherwise, and how did you overcome them?

Most definitely. I think the most powerful gremlins are the internal challenges of fear, insecurity, and anxiety. I wondered if what I had to say would be relevant. I looked around at other people who had been blogging for a long time — would I still be able to grow an audience? Would I be able to stick with it? And so on.

Thankfully, in the end I was able to prevent fear from making my decisions, and I pressed onward. I’m so glad I did! The past two years have been fun, challenging, and meaningful — all good things, I think.

You’ve obviously inspired boatloads of people through your site and, now, your book. Can you give me a story of someone whose life has changed because of what you’ve written?

I want to be careful when talking about change and my influence, because I think people often come to AONC when they are already discontented with the status quo and ready to make changes in their life. So I see myself more as an amplifier than a catalyst in that way.

That said, every day I hear numerous stories, all of which are fun and unique. There is a guy who took his wife to Paris for their 10th wedding anniversary as a result of the travel hacking tips I write about. They had never been out of the country before and were previously planning to go to Georgia — I thought that was a good story.

There are also a number of people who have quit their job and become self-employed (in various ways, from starting a whole business to freelancing) out of their engagement with AONC. Sean Ogle, whom I wrote about in the book, is one of them.

Finally, there are also a lot of fun little-and-big projects that were inspired through the site. In New York last week I met Amy Cao from Stupidly Simple Snacks, who told me about reading AONC and deciding to create a video series of her making easy snacks from her home kitchen. These and many other stories serve as very effective motivation to keep going, and also to keep thinking about how we can make things better and more accessible.

I’ve long believed—and I love that you hold this philosophy too—that in many ways our biggest effect on people comes from simply living authentically and being who we’re meant to be. Can you comment on how you’ve seen that ripple effect build in your life? Can you look back to a single point when you realized this power?

Yes, I agree. I think in my case it started to come in the early point of the blog when I began to hear from readers about the connections that had come about just while I was writing about my own travels. Then I hosted my first group meetup on a visit to New York. I thought maybe 5-10 people would come out; instead, 50 people came, all with interesting stories about how they had connected with the project. That’s when I realized, you know, I think we’ve got something very significant here, so we need to make sure we have a long-term plan.

Do you see food as a way to connect to a culture when you visit? If so, how do you use food to plug in?

Sure! Or at least I should say, I have done that — these days I have a few restrictions in terms of the workload I attempt to manage when on the road and the meetups I do in many cities. I’m also vegetarian, which is almost always workable but does limit me in terms of trying new things. But despite the limits, I do usually meet at least one of my readers and we go on some kind of city tour in more than 20 countries each year, which usually involves food.

In some cases it involves markets; in others it may be more of a cafe culture. In Kuwait it involved a trip to a shopping mall, which may sound odd, but that’s where Kuwaitis go to hang out. I just go along for the ride and try to learn something.

This is a tough one … What’s your favorite dish—from anywhere?

You’re right, that is a tough choice! Wow. Indian food is my favorite overall cuisine, in many different countries, because I can almost always find good options. I’ve had some really great falafel plates in Jordan and Greece. I can always count on good noodles in Hong Kong and apple strudel in Vienna.

But if I had to pick one single dish, my favorite Thai dish is phad kee mao, and the best place I’ve ever had it is from Jhan Jay in my old Seattle neighborhood. I’ve had it for post-marathon food, weekend nights out, and even for takeout lunch during the week. Highly recommended!

Chris … these Veggie-Laden Drunken Noodles are a version of Phad Kee Mao just for you!

Meet our other Nourishing Heroes: