Why Buy Organic Milk?

22 11 2009

Organic Grass for Organic Milk

Perhaps it dates me, but I remember when organic milk first appeared on the store shelves. I know it was in the early 90’s here, because the arrival was quite a spectacle. I was cooking at the Coop, and the BGH/BST issue had gotten alot of press. There was a fight going on, as the powers of industrial food tried to slip yet another unnatural chemical into the food supply. Hormones, antibiotics, and scary ingredients in the feed given to conventional dairy cows were not secrets, and people were justly concerned.

I don’t think the dairy industry really realized who they were up against. The were messing with Moms.

When the organic milk began trickling in, it sold out immediately. The storekeepers had to create a system, allowing the customers to form a line for the milk, and rationing out one half gallon per customer. The job of handling the customers, mostly Moms, was a tough one. Angry women argued over their place in line, haggled to try for more milk, and went to pieces if they didn’t get there soon enough. Harried Moms, toting crying babies and diaper bags glared at anyone associated with the store as if we were hoarding in a time of famine. But that was not all. Everyone who had jobs and couldn’t come at the morning milk delivery time was mad, too. There just wasn’t enough organic milk to go around.

The same instincts that drive a she-wolf with pups to rip your throat out were coming out in the dairy aisle. But you know what, those Moms were on to something.

A recent Dutch study confirms what so many of us suspected. There is a real difference between organic and conventional dairy products, and it makes a huge difference in your health. The study followed 2500 pregnant women and their children for the first two years after they were born. Some of the women consumed only organic dairy during pregnancy and breast feeding, and gave their babies organic when they were weaned. The rest consumed conventional.

Researchers found infants raised on organic dairy products are 36% less likely to suffer from allergies in the first two years of life.

Study author Dr Machteld Huber of the Louis Bolk Institute, said: “There was a clear relationship between organic dairy use and less eczema. According to the  British Journal of Nutrition the researchers think the reason for this is the higher levels of beneficial essential fatty acids in organic dairy.

It’s important to understand that we are talking about grass fed dairy, not just the American legal terminology for organic, which may or may not include pasture. Eating grass and clover is the way that cows get the Omega 3’s, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, and extra Vitamin A and E. For more information on this, click the link below, to read an article put together by researchers in Iowa.


Of course, for many years, frustrated mothers have been taking their children off dairy completely, and that is another option. Dairy allergies are common and quite debilitating if left untreated. Living the dairy free life gets easier every day, with new “milks” and “creamers” appearing on the shelves. My favorite these days is So Delicious brand coconut and soy based milks. The coconut milk is not the rich canned product, it has been skimmed down and made into a milk that has no beany taste, but plenty of body and creaminess. The creamer is divine.

If you go dairy free, make the effort to get the EFA’s that the organic milk delivers. There is an algae based Vegan Omega 3 supplement available now. You can also look to walnuts, flax and flaxseed oil, and eat lots of dark leafy greens to get the fats that pasture delivers to the cow.

And you don’t have to fight the line to get organic or non-dairy milks these days. They deliver plenty, and nobody gets hurt.

Lying to Children, 101

14 11 2009

It might be an obvious thing to say, but when your book comes out, you hope that people will like it. I’m sure that even the most established authors have their dark moments of the soul. Will the critics pan me, will everyone decide that I don’t know what I am talking about?

So, when New Vegetarian started getting feedback, I admit that I took a deep breath before opening the e-mails.

You never know what people will respond to. Would the Sformato connect, or will people all flock to the Tagine? Will the desserts be the big hit?

So, I thought I would share this one.  It seems that when the recipe for Mac and Cheese with Hidden Veggies, one of the recipes from New Vegetarian, was published in the Duluth paper, a hard working day care provider decided to try it out on one of the toughest crowds. Kids. Kids who hate veggies.

I give you the letter:

Ms. Doeden,

I am the owner of an in-home daycare in North Fargo and I wanted to write
you about your recent recipe for mac and cheese that included sneaky
vegetables. I made this for my daycare children today for our lunch and
they absolutely LOVED it! I hadn’t really planned on telling them the
secret in the noodles but they were eating it up so fast I felt I had to
share. Sometimes when I tell the secrets of the hidden good-for-us foods
they immediately stopped eating. Today, however, we had just finished
watching the latest Super Why! episode where Hansel and Gretel learn that
candy is a sometimes food and eating healthy foods keeps us feeling strong
so they just kept on eating. Today’s attendance included 7 children (plus
one infant). Included in that 7 are an 18 month old, a 3 year old, 2 four
year olds, one five year old and one little boy who will soon be 3 and hates
his veggies. He’s only been here for a couple weeks and came to us
absolutely refusing to eat any veggies. He has slowly started tasting but
today he ate three helpings of the sneaky mac and cheese.

I guess I mostly just wanted to say thank you for sharing this recipe with
the readers of the Forum.

Michelle Roeszler
Little Explorers Family Daycare
Fargo, ND

You can imagine how warmed the cockles of my heart are at this moment. I helped fake out a vegetable hating kid, and gave him a dose of cauliflower and carrots against his will.

Bwah-ha-ha. Ex-cellent. My plan is working per-fectly.

That, folks, is what makes this a great job.


Edamame, Easy, Fast and Great for Vegetarians

10 11 2009
Little Green Powerhouses

Easy, Fast, Fun

It’s always nice to see a great food get popular. The sushi craze was mostly good, and recent love for local food is a beautiful thing. Congrats also go to the lovable Edamame pod, which is riding a nice wave of public interest. Credit that sushi trend with bringing the bean along for the ride, introducing aficionados to the mysterious appetizer and making eating a soybean out of the pod look cool.

Like I said, it was mostly good. (except for the tuna population, but I digress.)

Edamame is now available frozen, in or out of the pod, making it as simple to use as frozen peas or corn. Before the sushi boom, it was marketed in Natural Foods type groceries under the nom de plume “sweet beans.” I thought it was funny at the time, that the packaging made it seem like some kind of high protein pea, and you had to look at the fine print to find the word “soy.” Then the sushi bar made the bean synonymous with stylish, light food eaten by celebrities, and the Japanese name stuck.

So, why do the slim and fab love the green bean? Half a cup of shelled edamame has the same amount of iron as a 4 oz chicken breast, 10% of the RDA. It also has 10% of the RDA of Vitamins C and A, both age-fighting antioxidants. For 120 measly calories, you get 11 grams protein, 13 grams carb, 9 grams fiber and only 2.5 grams of fat. So it is a wonderful whole food way to eat lean.

What is also working in its favor is the ease with which it slips into the pantry, and those frozen bags make throwing a few into just about anything effortless. No need to soak, cook, shell or poach, just measure a few into a strainer and run hot water over them, or throw into the pot with the cooking pasta or rice.

I created this recipe to use edamame in a dip, and it has been getting rave reviews all over. Some of you may have had it at a book event or a class, so here is the promised recipe.

Ligurian Hummus in Radicchio or Endive Cups

In Liguria, fresh fava beans are made into a purée for slathering on bread, called Marro. Edamame are a wonderful stand in for favas, and have a sweet richness all their own. Look for the smallest endive and radicchio you can find, for bite sized leaf cups.
Serves about 6
1/2 pound shelled edamamae, boiled and cooled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 belgian endive, leaves separated
1 radicchio. leaves separated
2 medium roma tomato, seeded and diced

1. Boil the beans for 5 minutes just to soften a bit, then drain and cool. In a food processor or blender, mince the garlic. Add the beans and parmesan and purée, pouring the olive oil through the feed tube gradually. Scrape down and purée, season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
2. Serve 2 Tablespoon portions scooped into the wide end of individual endive leaves, or tucked into small radicchio leaves. Arrange the leaves on a platter and sprinkle over tomato. Can be made four hours ahead, covered tightly and chilled.

What’s New About The New Vegetarian?

1 11 2009
The New Vegetarian makes its big entrance!

The New Vegetarian makes its big entrance!

The New Vegetarian is finally out! After the long process of writing, testing, editing, and then just anxiously waiting, my book is finally getting shipped from Amazon and making it onto bookshelves. Whew!

The latest part of the process is, of course, doing interviews and teaching about the book. Just like when my first book came out, I am finding that I learn from the questions and the perspective that others bring to the book. It’s really great fun.

So, when asked, what IS new in the New Vegetarian, I had to think. Firstly, the title originally came to be because it is a series that Chronicle Books (my wonderful publisher) has done for some time. The New This, the New That. When it was suggested, I took it to heart. I’ve been doing the Veg thing for many years, and I thought, yes, let’s really make it new.

The book speaks to a new wave of vegetarian, something different from the sincere-but-clunky way we were doing it 20 years ago. Something more sophisticated, and definitely more global. When Americans go out to eat, they say, hmm, do I want Italian, Chinese, or French? And depending where they live, it might even be, are we up for Ligurian, Szechuan, or Provencal, because travel and immigration have made us much more educated about the foods of the world. Vegetarians have always embraced the foods of other cultures, especially when we could mine them for meatless dishes that were already all worked out and loaded with flavor. So, I filled the book with the kind of exciting, international fare that both foodies and healthy eaters would find appealing.

Another thing that is new in the veg world is the interest of omnivores in eating meatless. The bad economy has suddenly spawned an interest in saving money, and skipping meat is one way to cut back. The environmental crisis is motivating people to look at the carbon footprint of their food choices, and the veg way is a great way to cut the tonnage of carbon that you bestow upon the world. Add the health benefits of skipping all that sat fat and you have committed meat lovers making the effort to eat the meatless meal now and then.

Veg food is just another choice, a healthy alternative. It’s mainstream. I think that’s GREAT. I’d love to be a part of bridging the divisions between the “diet-style camps.” In my professional life, I cross between the high end gourmet world and the crunchy-granola world, and the two are getting more blended all the time. There is no reason that we can’t all enjoy great food. If my recipes can bring everybody together at the table, and delight the omnivores and vegetarians, alike, then I am thrilled. I know they can, because I have been doing it for years.

So, come on in and try the New Veg way, everybody is welcome.

Here is a recipe from the book for you to try. It’s hard to pick, so I went with something seasonal, with my favorite kind of winter squash. It’s a crowd-pleaser, with luscious cheese, crunchy nuts and flaky pastry.

Braised Garlic-Squash Tart with Aged Gouda

(with permission from Chronicle Books, from The New Vegetarian)

The lusty flavors of braised squash, aged gouda and toasted hazelnuts make this tart irresistible. Kabocha is sometimes called Japanese Pumpkin, and is a dark orange, low moisture squash that holds up well for this, but Red Kuri or Hubbard squash would do just as well.

Serves 6

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 stick butter, chilled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water, approximately
1 1/2 pounds kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
2 medium shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces aged gouda, shredded
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off, coarsely chopped

1. Make tart shell: In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Using the coarse holes of a grater, shred cold butter into the flour and toss with your fingers to coat. Cut until mixture is full of coarse lumps. Quickly stir in ice water just until it sticks together and form into a ball. Chill for 1 hour. Roll out and fit into a 12 inch tart pan.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Prick shell all over and bake for 10 minutes, until edges are browned, cool on rack. While baking, sauté squash in olive oil over medium high heat, stirring. After 5 minutes, add garlic and stir. Add wine and cover for 5 minutes, checking at the end to see if pan is dry. When squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife, uncover and cook until liquids are evaporated. Take off heat and cool squash.
3. To assemble, Sprinkle some cheese in the shell, top with squash, cheese and nuts. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden on top.