Friday, June 27, 2014

Hungry Runner: CSA and green smoothies

I am fortunate to belong to a CSA with my parents and sisters, which means that my fridge is full of fresh vegetables from May through October.  If you're not familiar with the concept, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) connects local farmers to consumers.  Consumers purchase a share or a half-share and receive weekly produce directly from a farmer in their area.

We've belonged to Shared Bounty, a CSA based in Troy, MO, for the last five years.  During that time, I've learned that fresh produce tastes infinitely better than almost anything at the supermarket, and I've discovered many new vegetables (Japanese turnip, anyone?).  I've also learned more about the seasonality of different crops.  Born and raised a city gal, I had never before given much thought to the time of year at which different crops were harvested.  Now that I'm better informed, I've come to expect many greens, like kale, bok choy, and swiss chard, in the spring, and I look forward to enjoying squash and sweet potatoes in the fall.

A view of Jim and Ramona's farm.  I love that I know the names of the people who grow our food.

CSAs require an adventurous approach to cooking since you do not get to select your produce each week.  Instead, you receive whatever is freshest and ready to be picked at that moment.  It's been fun to search through the contents of the cooler on Saturday and make plans for the week based on what we find inside.

Each spring, I'm surprised by the abundance of greens we receive.  I've gathered some great recipes for preparing the greens, like kale chips and grilled bok choy.  This year, however, I tried a new tactic: green smoothies.  I recently got a NutriBullet, and I've gotten hooked on making smoothies.  CSA greens are perfect for making a delicious and nutritionally dense smoothie.  My approach to smoothies is surprisingly relaxed given my Type A approach to nearly everything else in my life.  With smoothies, I look in the fridge and toss in whatever suits my fancy.  My typical green smoothie looks something like this:

  • 2 handfuls of leafy greens
  • half of an apple
  • 1/3 or 1/4 cup of blueberries or strawberries
  • half of a banana
  • 1 Tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of water, depending on desired thickness
I wash the greens and the fruit and then add them to the large NutriBullet cup in the order listed above.  I turn it on and let it pulse until the ingredients are well combined, usually about 15-30 seconds.  I'm sure this process could be adapted to other blenders, too, but my experience is just with the NutriBullet.  These smoothies are one of my favorite post-run treats.