Wheatgrass Juice without a Juicer

Being the fiancé of a specialty farmer/gardener there are a lot of interesting edible greens growing in the back yard. Micro-greens, edible flowers, produce, and, wheatgrass. According to Wikipedia: “Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E(alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper,manganese and selenium, and has a negligible amount of protein (less than one gram per 28 grams). Adding other foods with complementary amino acid profiles to this food may yield a more complete protein source and improve the quality of some types of restrictive diets.

Wheatgrass proponent Charles Schnabel claimed in the 1940s that “fifteen pounds of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutritional value to 350 pounds of ordinary garden vegetables”,[3] a ratio of 1:23.[6] Despite claims of vitamin and mineral content disproportional to other vegetables, the nutrient content of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to that of common vegetables.”

Wow! You get a lot of nutrients from wheatgrass, and if we have access to it, why won’t I use it?

We have a juicer, which you will see in one of the photos below, but when we do wheatgrass in it, it just clogs up the blades and makes it hard for other things to get through. You need a special wheatgrass and greens blade to juice greens, which we don’t have. I’ve heard of being able to blend wheatgrass with water and strain it, but I wanted to get more nutrition out of that process, so I used coconut water.

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First, take your wheatgrass and cut it at the base with scissors.

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Cut the wheatgrass, and cut it into about 2″ long pieces and put it in the blender. I was able to blend about a half of a flat at once.

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I found that with a full blender, you need about a cup of liquid to really blend it.

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Once you blend it, on high speed, and for a while, until it blends smooth, you’ll have a small amount of liquid in your blender along with some pulp of wheatgrass.

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I used a simple strainer to strain the juice. Use a spoon to push the wheatgrass into the strainer. You’ll end up with some pulp that looks like what a cat will hack up in the yard, so I’ll spare you the photo.

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The finished product! It smells like a fresh cut lawn, so I recommend mixing it with some juice, or into a smoothie. Enjoy!

Saving Money in the Morning

If you’re making a new year’s resolution to save money, why not start in the morning? Spending money first thing is not only a bad habit to get into, but an easy habit to break with the right materials. I’ve done similar articles on how I easily save $8000 a year by making small changes, and this is one of them.

Coffee / Espresso: 

If you love coffee in the morning, invest a little in your favorite brand, and save yourself some money. I love the coffee maker we got for only $35, (You can buy a one cup espresso maker at Target for the same price.) We also got 2 of the Aladdin mugs that are microwaveable AND fit into my bike beverage carrier, and I got a mug warmer for my desk. We buy 2 lbs of coffee beans at around $18 a bag at Costco every couple of weeks. (Mind you the fiancee drinks about 6-8 cups a DAY, every day, so we brew a lot of coffee.)

Price for maker, ($25) beans, (if we buy coffee every three weeks, that’s 17 two pound bags at $11 each which is $187), two Coffee Mugs ($18) in one year: $230 a year.
Extras include Soy Creamer and Organic Sugar. I also buy a bottle of flavor syrup that lasts me about a year since I don’t use it every day. Cost there: Sugar $10 for large bag at Costco, Creamer $51 a year ($3 each and buy one every 3 weeks or so). Total: $61 a year.

At home coffee a year for 2 people: $357.50, ($178.75 per person)

Compare that to take out coffee for one person,  5 days a week, 52 weeks a year at an average of $4 a piece: $1033.

That’s a savings of $868 a year! Think of what you can get with that money…

Faves: 

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1. Aladdin Mug from Amazon,  2. Mr. Coffee Maker (12 cup, programmable for only $24), 3. Torani Syrup in Caramel, if you want to jazz things up a little bit. This one is from the World Market for $8, 4. Organic Valley Soy Creamer, 5. my Anthropologie Mug,  6. Organic Sugar that we get from Costco. AND if you’re really feeling funky, add some cinnamon, heat and froth the milk before adding it to your drink with this IKEA frother for only $6. 8. I also have a coffee cup desk warmer ($10) to save me some trips to the microwave.

What do you like to have in the morning to get energized? Green Tea? Chai? Or even a nice cup of Earl Gray? Or maybe you don’t drink anything but juice with your breakfast.

Just think of all of the paper cups and sleeves you’ll save by making your own drinks at home. So if you’re a coffee and espresso drinker, Happy Saving!

Field Trip: Love Rock Farm

Last week a few of my fellow coworkers and I took a field trip to an amazing little New Berlin Farm, Love Rock Farm, where we get some of the produce for the Restaurant I’m spending my summer working for. A bit about Love Rock: Love Rock is a CSA and market garden that supplies delicious, herbicide and pesticide free fruits and vegetables to over 25 families and a handful of restaurants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. This will be the CSA’s second season and they are excited to expand their offerings by adding eggs, poultry and flower options to the CSA shares this year.

What is CSA? It’s a Community Supported Agriculture farm where you can either use some of their land to grow your own veggies as a volunteer in exchange for food, and you can also “buy in” as a member to receive a box of produce every week, or bi-weekly for a small price. For those that don’t have the time to shop and want fresh goods delivered, this is a great option.

I knew the farm was run mostly by one person, Drew, our head chef’s brother, but I didn’t realize the size of this farm! He’s working long hours, asking for volunteers in return for produce, and hand picking and delivering produce, it’s like 2 full time jobs!

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This is a view from the backside (yes, I said backside) of the farm. to the left were some abandoned crops that had life in them. Being a CSA farm, you are able to use other’s land to use as gardening space if you have none of your own at home.

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The space was much larger than I had expected for being in the city. It was actually gorgeous, and on a lake.

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It’s hard to tell that’s a lake, but it is.

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The cucumbers were grown in this tent, to contain them. They grow fast, and spread faster.

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Crops that weren’t quite ready yet.

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Baby crops.

cabbage fields

I loved the cabbage patch. Due to obvious reasons that I grew up in the 80’s and had a cabbage patch. We have a dish at the restaurant that has grilled Ox Heart cabbage, pine nuts, and anchovy oil. SO good! If you haven’t thought of grilling cabbage, consider it.

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This reminded me of the Little Shop of Horrors plant.

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Cabbage presentation.

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One of my favorite parts of the tour was the chickens! I got to hold one. There are about 20 chickens there, and one giant rooster that apparently has his “favorite girls” and you aren’t allowed to hang out with them. It’s like chicken drama. I love it.

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Chicken!

Garlic

There was a LOT of garlic. This barn smelled amazing and can definitely ward off vampires. Drew sells his produce at the Milwaukee farmer’s market every weekend.

pulling potatoes

This is Drew’s mother in law harvesting some potatoes. They pulled 150 pounds that day between her, another coworker, and my fiancée. It was cool to see how potatoes just fall off of the bushes they grow from when you pull them from the ground.

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A view from the barn! There are many varieties of tomatoes, but only a few were ready at the moment.

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The beam sticking out of the top window in the barn is used to attach a pulley and bring produce up to the top floor to dry out.

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I had to take a pic of the great vintage pulley.

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Here’s the beam. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day.

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Here’s some of the produce at the street front farm stand. Someone doesn’t watch the farmstand, you leave money based on the honor system. It was refreshing to see people act this way in the Milwaukee area.

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Carrots and Cucumbers and Cabbage, oh my! Drew sent Matt (fiancée) home with a box of amazing produce for a day of volunteer work helping out. A lot of farmer’s offer this as a bargain for help weeding, pulling, and harvesting. It’s totally worth it, just bring water, and sunscreen. He told me that as they got hungry pulling veggies, there was plenty of fresh food to snack on.

Happy farming!

Foraging for Wild Ramps

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The Ramp in it’s natural habitat.

Dating a chef has opened my eyes to many new foods. Truffle salt, sautéed kale, scrambled eggs with sour cream mixed in, and wild ramps to name a few.So, what is a ramp? The wild ramps are a wild onion in the leek family that grow about 3 weeks out of the year then they are gone. They grow wild, in parks, and woods, in moist nutrient rich soil, and if you’re lucky, you can find them in your backyard in the city. They grow sometime in the month of May, depending on what the winter was like. This year, they came later. We are lucky enough to have them grow in his parent’s backyard in Door County. We can only pick them sporadically so they come back the next year which isn’t a problem, because there are too many of them to pick them all!

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All that you see that’s green are Ramps!

Ramps have a mild, onion flavor, rich in a fresh garlic scent when they are fresh from the ground. You can tell if what you have is a ramp or not when you pull it from the ground because of the look and smell. If it smells like an onion, it’s probably an onion. They grow in bunches, and you can’t just pull them, you need a shovel to pull the roots out. (This is a lot of work!) There is a white bulb at the end, and a purple stalk with a dirty thin membrane around the bulb that easily slides off for easy cleaning.

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Here you can see the purple stem and when the white bulb.

What can you do with a ramp? You can cook the WHOLE thing when they are fresh! (After a while the green part will wilt and you should discard it.) Peel the thin membrane off and cut off the roots, give them a wash, and they are good to go. Chop the whole thing and put them in mashed potatoes, or grill the ramp whole and eat next to some good grilled chicken or put on a bratwurst.

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The woods where we found the ramps was pretty gorgeous, even in the beginning of spring when the leaves weren’t on the trees yet.

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Collecting our ramps for later cleaning and distributing.

We sold the ramps to the restaurant we used to work for in Green Bay, and the one that the fiancée works for now. They will turn it into an awesome cream of ramp soup, and the restaurant that he works for now does an amazing ramp pizza with white sauce and mushrooms, a dish with grilled ramps and asparagus with a fried egg, and a wild ramp risotto. The fiancée even dehydrated them and powdered them for a year round flavor additive. If you get to experience ramps at a local restaurant or from a friend, how lucky you’ll be!

Happy foraging!

Breakfast Cookies to the Rescue

I’m always looking for fast “grab and run” food to make ahead of time. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and I can’t skip it! Pre-made foods lets me sleep in just an extra few minutes when I need it before running out the door. But what healthy, well balanced grab and go foods are there? These cookies are healthy (in my opinion) easy to make, and easy to modify.

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This recipe came from Martha Stewart Magazine, but I’ll give you the version that I use based on the recipe I’ve played with.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (or 2 cup each whole wheat and all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter (I use 3 parts Greek Yogurt 1 part coconut oil. NO BUTTER)
  • 3 cups packed dark brown sugar (use less if you desire but brown sugar adds some great flavor)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • THEN THE FUN STUFF!
  • 1 cup total seeds like pumpkin and raw sunflower or nuts (like pecans or walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins or craisins or currants or dried blueberries.
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped other dried fruit (apricots, mango, papaya etc.)
  • 1 cup dried fruit chips (strawberry, banana, etc.)

I also add some flax seed meal, ground almonds, a scoop of vanilla protein powder and you can even add Chia Seeds at the last minute.

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer till light and fluffy. Add sugar, beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time until combined.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until well combined. Add oats, almonds, seeds, coconut, and other goodies (minus the dehydrated chips) and beat to combine.
  4. Form dough into either 8 different – 1 cup size monster cookies  or 16 smaller cookies with 1/2 cup measuring cup. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Top with dehydrated chips and bake for 25-35 minutes. Cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to a week.

Perfect for kids too (they may think they are eating a delicious sweet snack and it’s really quite healthy!) Enjoy!