salsas don sebastian local salsas

Authentic local salsa made in Virginia

What a happy zingy way to eat your veggies!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

She was born in Venezuela. Her parents named her America. Later she married Lionel, who comes from Mexico, and she grew to love the flavors of his rich culture. So, no surprise that she’s now handcrafting authentic local salsas and Latin sauces right here in Virginia, right?

The company is Salsas Don Sebastian, which is named after their son Sebastian.

salsas don sebastian local salsas 1

We veggie fairies were all a-twitter when all those amazing salsas made their debut in our home-delivered farmers market. We weren’t the only ones — our members couldn’t get enough of it. Salsa is a delicious mix of fresh vegetables, and that makes it an easy, yummy way to boost your veggie intake. So we had to get the story on this new local salsa that was lighting up our taste buds.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Did you grow up eating salsas?

AMERICA:

Not like this! I got really into salsas after several trips to Mexico, where I was introduced to a wide range of flavors and colors that I was not used to before. I learned that in Mexico, there is a salsa for everything. Mexicans use it as a complement for every dish. As I started tasting salsas, my tolerance of the spices and heat was low. Now, however, I feel like I can actually taste the flavors of the different peppers that are used in the different salsas.

salsas don sebastian local salsas peppers

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How did you make the leap from making it for your family to making it for everyone?

AMERICA:

I have this vein of being independent and intrepid. I love doing something fun, different, creative. We’d been making the salsa forever, mainly because we couldn’t find any authentic Mexican salsas in the market. None of those products were as fresh and filled with exciting flavors as what we were making at home. So, from out of the blue it occurred to me that we might have something here that other people might enjoy. I talked about it with Lionel, but he had a good corporate job and he said, “I’m not going to leave my job to make salsa.” So I said, “Teach me!” Two years later, I quit my job teaching Spanish throughout the Richmond metro area and the rest is history.

salsas don sebastian local salsa

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Making food like this is a very creative process, right?

AMERICA:

It is! I discovered it was even more creative than I thought. You don’t just throw things in the blender. Making it is a science and an art, finding the balance among all the ingredients. Different salsas use different ingredients, and since I use as many locally grown ingredients as possible, they change with what’s in season. So I started making salsa and giving it away and people said, “I’d buy this in a heartbeat.” I put up a post on our Facebook neighborhood page and said, “Hey guys I’m thinking about selling this at a farmers market, would you try some? I just need feedback.” Lots of people wrote back saying they wanted to try it. I distributed it around and it was amazing — all the feedback was positive.

salsas don sebastian local salsas 3

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What did your taste-testers like best?

AMERICA:

Everyone talked about how fresh it was. What I make is very different from other salsas in the grocery store. Read the ingredients and those industry-made salsas have sugar and preservatives. They’ve been shipped from who knows where and then sit on the shelf for who knows how long. I make salsa today and the next day it’s on your shelf.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

I didn’t realize there was sugar in the big industry-made salsas.

AMERICA:

Mine has no added sugar. There are plenty of natural sugars in fresh vegetables. My salsas are also gluten free. And not to mention delicious! We make every batch from the freshest ingredients available that we can find locally. That’s why our salsas are fresher and tastier — because they’re local.

salsas don sebastian ingredients in bowl cropped

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What do you look for in the produce that goes into what you make?

AMERICA:

I go to different farmers markets and I have made very valuable relationships with the local farmers there. When local produce is in season, I source from my friends who farm sustainably. When my must-have ingredients aren’t in season, then I go to my regional wholesaler. Either way, it has to be fresh and it has to be grown sustainably. That’s good for us and for the environment. And I help make sure nothing goes to waste, because most of my produce doesn’t have to look perfect. I’m cutting it up. It just has to taste perfect.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Yeah, we love ugly food, too! So long as it’s fresh and local, it has more taste and nutrients than the pretty produce in the grocery store.

AMERICA:

Exactly. Like the tomatoes I use don’t need to look perfect and the farmers love me for that. The only exception is cilantro. It has to be beautiful and green and perfect because that pop of color is part of what makes salsa so irresistible. But jalapenos, for example, they just need to be hot!

salsas don sebastian local salsas 2

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How do you, the professional, use salsa?

AMERICA:

On everything! Our red salsa is so versatile that it goes with most meats. You can put it on eggs, or just enjoy it as a dip with fresh chips or tostadas.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So who does what at Salsas Don Sebastian?

AMERICA:

I wear most of the hats. My sister helps me with prepping all the veggies and making sure that all vegetables are super clean. Lionel helps when he gets in from work and also sells in farmers markets on the weekends. We work from the same recipes that his grandmother used when he was growing up. So every batch we make reminds him of fond memories from his childhood. Flavors and aromas are very connected to memory and we’re handcrafting happy new ones for our customers every day with our salsas.

salsas don sebastian mexican hats

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Start making your own delicious memories with America’s salsas and Latin sauces. You’ll find them in the Seasonal Roots home-delivered farmers market every weekend. In between you can check out all her latest creations on the Salsas Don Sebastian website and on Facebook.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

how to cook greens

How to cook greens

‘Tis the season for greens!

– Written by Margo L, veggie fairy & neighborhood Market Manager in Yorktown

Greens are loaded with perishable nutrients, so long as they’re fresh like our locally harvested greens. Our farmers are harvesting two types right now. The cabbage family (Cruciferae) includes bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (obviously), collards, kale, and turnips (which have tasty greens). The goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) includes beets, chard, and spinach.

So here’s the inside scoop on the difference between greens and how to make use of them, including how to cook greens.

Beets

Beets are loved or hated. They’re dense and have a strong, earthy flavor. But they’re also full of sugars. Beets can be boiled, steamed, or roasted to be eaten on their own or added to salads. They can even be used as a sweetener when baking certain desserts. Beet greens make an excellent salad green or can be sautéed or steamed.

Bok choy

Bok choy is sweet, crisp, and mild tasting. The stems are juicy and sweet and take a few minutes longer to cook than the mild-tasting greens. It’s delicious in stir fries and soups.

Broccoli

Broccoli crowns can be eaten raw, or cooked along with the stem. Just discard the shard tip, then slice the rest of the stem and steam or roast the slices longer than the crown, which needs only brief cooking. Bake broccoli into casseroles or add to soups and stews.

Cabbage

Cabbage, when overcooked, emits hydrogen sulfide (the rotten egg aroma), ammonia, and other foul smells. But cooked with care, it’s delish. Add it to soups or baked dishes, or simmer, sautée, or steam it. Eat it raw in slaws and salads, or use the leaves to wrap up a savory filling. Savoy cabbage, by the way, is the one with extremely crinkled leaves.

Chard

Chard, including lovely rainbow chard, is almost as quick cooking as spinach. You can steam, sautée, or braise it, or add it to soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaf and stem can be prepared together or they may be cooked and served separately.

Collards

Collards are actually a mild tasting variety of kale. Leathery looking but tender after an encounter with heat, they both do well when you slice them into slivers and cook them briefly. They’re commonly cooked with smoked meats, onions, chiles, garlic, and vinegar. But they’re also good with ginger, coconut, and spices like turmeric, coriander, cardamom, and cumin. Raw kale is good in salads or hide it in a smoothie.

Spinach

Spinach is a delicate veggie and best when lightly cooked, just until it begins to go limp. Its mild flavor absorbs any seasoning and its leaves have a velvety quality. Just wash it well, shake off most of the water, and put it in a hot pan – the moisture clinging to the leaves will be sufficient to wilt it. Spinach can also be eaten raw in a salad or smoothie.

Turnips

Turnips, in this case salad turnips, taste similar to a radish – earthy, crunchy, and peppery. Eat the roots and greens raw in a salad, or slice and sautée them.

So eat your greens, enjoy the flavors, and feel oh so very virtuous!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

kale recipes

These kale recipes make kids love kale

The right kale recipes made me, a grown woman, love kale, too!

– Written by Meredith M, veggie fairy & neighborhood Market Manager in Northern Virginia

– Photo by Sherri B, veggie fairy & Area Manager in Richmond, whose son can’t wait to sink his teeth into some fresh, local kale

I’ve never been much of a “routine” person, despite my best efforts. However, every Wednesday after I complete all my deliveries I do the exact. Same. Thing.

Upon returning home, I unload all the boxes my members have given me to reuse and recycle (thank you!) Next, I head to my kitchen, where I unload and put away my own basket of goodies — everything but the kale and an apple (or a handful of grapes in the summertime). Then I proceed to make my favorite lunh…

Have you always read about the numerous health benefits of kale, but just didn’t have that easy, go-to recipe that you would want to regularly use? Well, I’ve got that recipe.

Start by tearing up a TON of kale from one of our local farmers. Don’t be timid. This recipe is so good you’ll want more.

Top your heaping plate of kale with a sliced Saunders Brothers apple of your favorite variety. I’m partial to the sweet tartness of the Piney Golds at the moment.

Next, toss on some pecans, craisins, and blue cheese, feta, or goat cheese — whatever your preference.

Lastly, drizzle some delicious homemade vinaigrette. You can whip up a vinaigrette using extra virgin olive oil, local honey from Alfredo’s Beehive, salt, pepper, and some of that apple cider vinegar you’ve been choking down through tears ever since you read about that miracle potion. Go ahead and make a big batch of this vinaigrette. It lasts a long time in those mason jars you hang on to “just in case,” and it’s fabulous on a basic spinach, cucumber, and strawberry salad. So good! Here’s the step-by-step:

VINAIGRETTE

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c ALFREDO’S BEEHIVE honey
1/4 to 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

(Kale salad recipe thanks to Homemadefoodjunkie.com.)

Ever since I began making this salad, I’ve been craving it. And I bet you will too. This one even made the cut for my Thanksgiving menu, and the competition was stiff — a heated battle between the kale and all the usual hearty stuff… but the kale won. It’s not easy being in the line-up alongside mouthwatering mashed potatoes, cherry pie, and the best corn casserole you’ve ever tasted, yet this salad still holds its own. But I digress.

Looking for a saltier alternative? That brings us to the next step in my Wednesday routine. I heat up the oven and use the rest of that curly bunch of greens to make chips!!

The spicy kale chip recipe I discovered long ago has never failed me. I tweak it here and there, but it comes out great every time. Even my harder-to-please family will chow down on these! I also recommend making kale chips when you need to use up the rest of your kale the day before Delivery Day to make room for the new bunch you’re about to receive. These zingy, savory chips disappear fast.

KALE CHIPS

(adapted from Ohsheglows.com)
1/2 bunch local kale leaves (approximately)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear into large pieces.
3. Place kale in large bowl and massage in the oil until all the nooks and crannies are coated well. Combine all seasonings in separate bowl, then sprinkle on kale and toss to combine.
4. Spread kale onto the baking sheet in a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 12-15 minutes until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal. I bake for 25 mins total in my oven.
6. Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in! Enjoy immediately, since they lose their crispiness with time.

There are lots more easy recipes to help you get in the kale habit on the Seasonal Roots Pinterest kale board.

And if you want to learn pretty much everything there is to know about kale, check out the Happy Happy Vegan blog for a deep dive!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

eat local deer run farm

Eat local and you’re eating the results of local weather

Hey, where did all the local green beans go?!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

If you like green beans, yet have no green beans on your plate this Thanksgiving, that’s good news. It’s a sign that you’ve chosen to eat local food – the freshest, most nutritious and flavorful food you can get.

Right now there are no locally grown green beans to be had. Our Farmer Connector Sam searched all over Virginia. No luck. So there were no green beans for Thanksgiving in our home-delivered farmers market, as you may have noticed. You also may have noticed a lot of rain this year. Those two things are connected.

In parts of Virginia, 2018 has been the wettest year on record. Check out the photo at the top of this post. That was the scene at Deer Run Farm in Hanover, Va., after a heavy spring rain. Not much sun and too much mud!

Some plants love to hydrate. Others, like green beans, not so much. Bean plants prefer their soil evenly moist to max out their growth and bean production. Drying out stunts them. If it doesn’t rain enough to keep the soil moist, that’s easy to fix with a drip hose.

It’s much harder to do anything about too much rain. Excess water deforms plants or makes them prone to disease, covered in yucky fungal growth. And downpours can wash away soil nutrients before the roots have time to absorb them.

So when you sit down at your Thanksgiving table this week, give thanks for the beanless proof that you’re eating the healthiest food you can get… fresh, locally grown veggies.

And here’s hoping next year brings good green bean weather!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

legacy roasting fair trade coffee

Virginia fair trade coffee roasters

Legacy Roasting brews up coffee with a conscience

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

Want to feel good about your cup o’ joe? Make sure it’s sustainably and responsibly sourced.

One way to do that is to look for the certified Fair Trade label. Fair trade coffee means the coffee beans were sustainably grown by small-scale family farmers who got a fair deal.

Another way to make sure it’s responsibly and sustainably sourced is to know your coffee roaster. The only way you can know them is if they’re local. Here at Seasonal Roots, our Farmer Connector Sam knows all the local coffee roasters in our home-delivered farmers market. As a result, we know they’re committed to using beans that were grown and traded in a way that’s good for the environment and the people who do the farming.

legacy roasting & jolly roasters fair trade coffee

The newest local coffee roaster in our market is Legacy Roasting in historic Hopewell, Va. That’s Larry of Legacy Roasting on the right with a longtime member of our market family, Jolly Roasters. We talked with Larry of Legacy Roasting, so you can get to know one of your local coffee roasters, too!

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How’d you get started in the coffee business?

LARRY:

I always knew I wanted to own my own business. I just wasn’t sure what kind of business I wanted to run. When I was in college at VCU studying business, I really liked going to my local coffee shop, and I thought, “This would be cool to own but I don’t know what it takes to own one.” So I started The Java Blog. I’d give coffee shops reviews in exchange for letting me pick their brain. Pretty soon I knew this was what I wanted to do, but I didn’t have the $30,000 to $40,000 that it would take to open one.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So how did you get around the startup money obstacle?

LARRY:

Well, about that time I reconnected with my old friend Josh. We hadn’t talked since third grade. It turned out he was the roast master at a well-known local roaster in Richmond but he had to step away due to his health. I had the business knowledge and I wanted a shop, and Josh had the production know-how and wanted a coffee roasting operation. Together we had it all covered. So four years ago we just started small. We bought a small coffee roaster — just the machine, not a whole company! — and set up our operation in my parents’ garage in Cheseterfield.

legaacy roasting fair trade coffee 1

We sold our coffee at farmers markets…

legacy roasting virginia farmers markets

…and we did the roasting in the backyard, even in the winter. One time, Josh says, “Larry, it’s starting to snow,” and I go, “We gotta power through it!” Eventually Josh had to step away, but my dad joined the operation and now we’re truly a family business.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

When did you make the move to Hopewell? And why Hopewell?

LARRY:

We wanted to find a community where we could make a positive impact. Hopewell is the oldest surviving English settlement in the U.S. It’s been there since the 1600s. There’s a lot of history there but it’s been economically overlooked. The nearest coffee roaster, for example, is 30 miles away. So we found our niche. In 2017 I signed a lease in a historic brick building downtown and became the first local coffee roaster in Hopewell’s history.

legacy roasting hopewell va

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What does it mean to you to be a business owner in this community?

LARRY:

For me, coffee is just a segue to supporting the community. For example, we’re exploring starting an internship program on how to build and run a business. There’s definitely interest — this past summer Pathways.VA toured our roasting facility. It’s a faith-based non-profit that’s doing cool things for the community. It was really fun to hear everyone’s passions and the businesses they are working to build.

legacy roasting pathways va

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So tell us about your coffee!

LARRY:

We are passionate about coffee! Everything we do is specialty grade coffee that comes from cool places. We have a couple single origin coffees and also blends. We use quite a few certified fair trade and organic beans, and some shade grown as well. Most commercial growing operations are out in open fields where everything grows faster in the sun and they can make more money. But nature actually intended for coffee to grow in the shade. It grows slower and has time to develop more flavor.

legacy roasting fair trade coffee 2

Our latest blend is Wonder City, which is named after Hopewell’s nickname. It’s a three-bean blend: Brazil Santos, fair trade organic Honduras, and organic Mexico. Another thing about us is that we can customize. Most roasters are doing 30-to-60-pound batch roasts and can’t customize for you. My roasting drum does from two to six pounds. So I can customize based on what a person is interested in tasting. It all starts with a conversation about what they’re looking for.

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We’re welcoming Larry’s Legacy Roasting to our market this weekend, starting with 2 oz bags of Wonder City. Look for it in the Extras section. It’s part of our commitment to bringing you food that’s good for you and the planet from people you know. To learn more, visit the Legacy Roasting website, and check it out on Facebook and Instagram.

legacy roasting fair trade coffee 4

We’ll let Larry have the last word. Here’s what he said on Instagram once:
“I believe coffee has the potential to start open and honest communication. Let’s be real, coffee is the fuel that gets a lot of people started in the day. Due to the impact of coffee, I wanted to be apart of a local community hungry for change using something that positively impacts people. For this reason, I am proud to call Hopewell and the RVA community just that… my home. We are a community of creative, passionate, and just plain awesome people. Plain and simple I believe coffee has the ability to foster a legacy within a community. Will you choose to be a part of that positive change?”

legacy roasting fair trade coffee 3

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

unmoo plant-based cheese lactose-free

This plant-based cheese & butter is delish… and lactose-free!

You don’t have to be lactose intolerant or vegan to love Unmoo

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

Unmoo is a new Richmond company making plant-based cheeses and butter that our Farmer Connector Sam has declared to be, “Amazing!” These artisan cheeses made from the milk of cashews and coconuts have their own unique flavors that people who can’t eat dairy will be grateful for… and the rest of us will want to add to our pizza-, cracker-, sandwich-, and bagel-topping repertoire.

Josh is the man behind it all. Josh loves eggnog. And cheese. And butter. But those dairy products don’t love Josh. Like a lot of lactose intolerant people, the Richmonder can’t eat dairy without suffering some very unpleasant consequences.

So, having studied microbiology, Josh put on his labcoat, gathered milk from cashews and coconuts, and experimented his way to some delicious solutions. First he won over his friends with his lactose-free spiked eggnog. (He was a bartender before he was a scientist.) Then he started working on cheese.

Cheese making is an ancient process of culturing milk. It’s possible to make cheese fast without a culture (plastic-wrapped yellow American slices, anyone?), but using a culture helps good bacteria in the milk flourish and leads to a more fully developed flavor in the final cheese, especially when you brine it and give it time to age, too. That’s how Josh makes his plant-based cheese.

unmoo plant-based cheese cashews

The ingredients are important, too. So the nuts Josh uses are all high quality, fair trade, and sustainably grown — just like everything else in our home-delivered farmers market.

unmoo plant-based cheese sandwich

Plant-based cheese #1: Notz

The first cheese Josh invented is Notz. You can see it in its natural state in the picture at the top of this post. It looks like mozzarella, white and semi-firm. But Notz, which is made from cashews and coconut, has a special flavor all its own — mild and buttery, yet tangy, with a creamy texture. It’s lightly brined, gently aged, meltable, shreddable, and really versatile. You can cut it into thick slices and eat it cold with a fresh local tomato and basil…

unmoo plant-based cheese pizza

…or shred it and serve it warm and melty atop pizza, zucchini, or whatever you can think of. You can even fry it. But don’t tell your doctor.

unmoo plant-based cheese bagel

Plant-based cheese #2: AM

Josh’s next cheese creation is made from cashews. He calls it AM, after the time of day when he recommends you devour it: morning. Slather it on bagels, danishes, toast, or if you’re feeling really decadent and rebellious, cheesecake. AM is raw and probiotic, and brightens with age. The flavor can be described as rich, bright, sweet, and creamy. Use it to dip, schmear, or bake.

He didn’t stop at cheese…

unmoo plant-based butter nutter

Plant-based butter: Nutter

Josh describes his European-style butter as assertive, rich, buttery butter. It’s made from cashews and coconuts and the cashew cream is slow-cultured before it’s churned out. Nutter can be spread, sauteed, baked, or whatever you use butter for.

unmoo plant-based cheese pastries

The results of all Josh’s experiments are delicious — so good you’ll enjoy it whether you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or just looking to expand the cheesy delights in your life. Josh’s locally made cheeses and butter are started to pop up in Virginia restaurants and markets, and we’re excited to welcome Unmoo to our market, too!

Learn more in the Style Weekly profile of Josh and Unmoo.

Check out Unmoo on Instagram and get inspired!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

reuse Halloween pumpkins

5 ways to reuse Halloween pumpkins

Don’t throw away those Halloween pumpkins – they can still dish out more tricks & treats!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

Is there a jack o’lantern sitting by your door? If the nearest cat is less enthusiastic about your pumpkin’s fashion potential than the kitty pictured here, we’ve got 5 other things you can do with it after the trick-or-treaters are gone. So here are our favorite suggestions for how to reuse Halloween pumpkins.

1. Turn it into pumpkin puree

Puree is incredibly versatile. Use it to make pumpkin muffins, breads, soups, even Thanksgiving pie – or if you have a carving pumpkin (which is bred for thick walls, not nutrition or taste) a facial scrub. Puree is simple to make. Just boil, bake, or steam your pumpkin. Good Housekeeping has step-by-step instructions. If you used a real candle in your jack o’ lantern, cut off and discard any burned sections or leftover wax. Puree freezes well for future use. Put it in zip-top freezer bags, filled and flattened for easy stacking.

2. Build a pumpkin catapult

Are you a home schooler or just need to keep the kids (or yourself) occupied for a few hours… or days? This video shows how one teacher turned it into a lesson in both history and physics. And this website provides plans for catapults large and small.

3. Leave it for the squirrels

One person’s has-been holiday decoration is another person’s feast – if you’re a squirrel. Move it away from your front door unless you like passing by an increasingly macabre-looking horror show every day.

4. Make a pumpkin bird feeder

This is a cuter way of letting the critters have at it. All you need is your gutted pumpkin, a knife, some string, and a stick. Oh, and bird seed. Details here.

5. Compost it

Your leftover pumpkin can help you grow your garden next year. Cut it into smaller pieces and toss it in the compost pile, or just bury it in the garden.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

kids eat veggies local food

7 ways I help my kids eat veggies (and fruits)

Ordering them to eat their veggies isn’t one of them!!!

kids eat veggies by MM morgan– By Morgan P, veggie fairy & neighborhood Market Manager in Virginia Beach

In my five years of motherhood, children and vegetable eating have definitely been an unsolved mystery to me. It’s like it’s in their DNA to rebel against at least some vegetables at some age. Just like most parents I know, I want my kids to be healthy and have balanced nutrition. But sometimes it’s a struggle to get those greens in them.

So here are my best tips, tricks, and suggestions to get help kids eat veggies, with or without their knowledge.

1. Let them unpack the box

Since we started getting our weekly Seasonal Roots basket, my 5-year-old gets so excited when she gets to take everything out and put it on the counter. She sorts, counts, and questions. Sometimes she’ll randomly pop a piece of lettuce in her mouth. The worst thing I can do is let on that I noticed! At least with my kid — it would guarantee instant rebellion. So I rejoice inside as my kid finally tries and admits, “I like salad.”

2. Get a Mother’s Helper stool

I have a “mother’s helper” kitchen stool that my 1-year-old and 5-year-old can stand on or sit on to help me cook. This gets them up where they can indulge their curiosity and taste-test everything. Being part of the process gets them excited to try new things. Bonus: Sometimes after taking the ends off a green bean or a radish they pop one in their mouth, or sample a freshly roasted beet.

3. Let them experiment

Sometimes their experiments are successful. Sometimes they learn what they don’t like.

4. Give them a mission

I give them tasks disguised as missions: Put the beets in the water/vinegar cleaning mixture, or lay the squash on the roasting pan after I cut it, etc. — whatever’s suited to their age and ability.

5. Chocolate chips are a parent’s friend

Recently I began adding a few chocolate chips to pumpkin muffins and zucchini bread. That was a game changer! They’re easy breakfast solutions packed with nutrients and a little sweetness. The pumpkin muffins didn’t last 24 hours in my house!

6. Hide the greens

I purée spinach and add it to meatballs. I add kale to smoothies, then freeze them into popsicle molds. My kids don’t like the smoothie texture but most of the time they love the popsicles.

7. Actually, you can hide just about anything

Case in point: I use puréed sweet potatoes to thicken my chili and it is delicious.

There are so many ways to expose children to vegetables creatively! Kids want to help, and when they help create and cook something they wind up a little more excited about eating it.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

home delivered farmers market - open house

Home delivered local food: How it works

Take a tour of the Hub!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

When we hosted an Open House at our Hub in Richmond, more than a hundred people stopped by check out the place where we pack up your weekly orders. They got to talk about local food, sample it, and peek behind the scenes at how our home delivered local food gets from the farm to you. You can scroll down for a photo tour that shows you how it works! But first…

The Open House

home delivered farmers market - open house

We sure appreciated the farmers who took a break from their chores to come hang out with us! They included Jack from Sion House Farm

home delivered farmers market - g flores produce

…and Enrique and Cristian from the Flores family farm, G. Flores Produce.

home delivered farmers market - cattle run farm

Ralph from Cattle Run Farm was there, too, and brought grassfed beef for the sliders.

home delivered farmers market - farmer connector sam

Your Farmer Connector, Sam, grilled up the beef, along with grassfed chicken from Harmony Hill Farm.

home delivered farmers market - corn pool 1

The smaller ones among us dove into a corn-filled kiddie pool, which hid a whole herd of plastic animals.

home delivered farmers market - corn pool 2

Apparently there was a lot of corn splashing going on. After the last cutie crawled out, the corn was donated to Ralph’s pigs, who pronounced it delicious.

home delivered farmers market - fosters catering zee

Zee of Foster’s Catering is a local food artisan — her muffin tops in our home-delivered farmers market have many, many fans. She’s also a member of the Seasonal Roots team, leading the neighborhood Market Managers on Richmond’s Southside.

home delivered farmers market - fosters catering muffins & child

For the Open House, Zee baked up 265 mini muffin samples and gave them all away. Quote of the day: “These are so addictive!”

home delivered farmers market - fosters catering SR cake

Seconds after this photo was taken of the biggest cake Zee brought, the crowd descended… and this cake was GONE.

home delivered farmers market - fosters catering cakes

Zee also raffled off four mini animal cakes — a pig, a kitty, a cow, and a… dragon?

home delivered farmers market - fosters catering winners

A couple of the lucky winners!

home delivered farmers market - happy team

A lot of members of the Seasonal Roots team were there, too. Jamila, in the middle taking the selfie, is our Veggie Fairy Godmother, the one who helps us veggie fairies on our appointed rounds as we take care of members and support local farmers. Zee is on the far left, and between them is Duane, our founder and Head Veggie Fairy. On the other side of Jamila is Sam, your Farmer Connector who vets each farmer and food artisan and chooses what goes in the market every weekend.

And now for…

The Hub tour

Our local farmers and food artisans deliver their local food to the Hub on Monday. As soon as the food arrives, it goes straight into our two big coolers.

tomatoes beefsteak sion housen cropped

One is kept at 50 degrees for tomatoes, which don’t like to be too cold in order to max out their flavor… as well as hardy vegetables and fruits that don’t need to be too cold, like potatoes, apples, and winter squashes. The other cooler is kept at 41 degrees for greens, berries, and the like.

hub outside cooler

People who take the tour in person are always amazed at how big the Hub is. You can see the entrance to the coolers on the right, there. Through that door, the refrigerated areas alone add up to 3,500 square feet — bigger than a lot of our houses.

hub 2

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we set up the conveyor, get out the boxes, pull on our woolen undies, and line up along the conveyor to pack the orders right there in the coolers. Everyone who takes the Hub tour in person says, “Wow, it’s so cold in here!” Especially if they walk in from a hot summer day. But since the food never leaves the cooler until delivery day, it stays cool and fresh until it comes to you.

hub 1

Okay, so most of us don’t wear woolen undies. Or even own them. But hoodies, wool caps, and scarves, definitely.

box and packing slip

Since most of our members customize their basket and order Extras, every order is different. So a packing slip is generated for each order, and we follow that packing slip as we pack each box.

hub 3

It takes about 12 of us to pack up the orders with 8 others helping.

down the line

When the line gets going, a packed box comes off the end of the conveyor every 30 seconds.

quality control

At the end we do quality control, checking to make sure that each order has everything it’s supposed to have.

seasonal roots truck

At dawn on delivery day (Wednesday in Northern Virginia, Thursday everywhere else), we load up the boxes in our trucks and head out to the party stops.

veggie fairy at party stop

That’s where the neighborhood Market Managers in each area meet up to collect their neighbors’ orders.

loading car

They load up their personal vehicles with the boxes and place perishable items like meat and dairy in a cooler in their vehicle. When they make their rounds, they take the perishables out of the cooler and add them to your order when they arrive at your place — keeping your food cool, fresh, and safe from the farm to your door!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

veteran-owned grassfed farm Cattle Run Farm

Veteran-owned grassfed farm is good for America

From the Army to the farm, this veteran continues to serve

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

When Seasonal Roots’ Farmer Connector, Sam, recently visited Cattle Run Farm, LLC, he quickly observed happy, grassfed beef cows grazing the rolling pastures in central Virginia. You can count on Sam to find the best producers we can all feel good about. Cattle Run Farm, LLC, is a third generation family farm and veteran-owned, with the best grassfed beef.

After five deployments and 21 years in the Army, 1st Sergeant Ralph T. Morton retired in 2017, to his family farm in Ruckersville, Va., to help his father and sister with the 175-acre family farm. But his dad’s health was failing, and just two months later he passed away. Through his legacy and commitment to educating the future, Ralph is excited about continuing the family’s farming tradition with innovation and strategic initiatives. Not only does the farm provide grassfed beef, but they produce thornless blackberries, herbs, and vegetables.

Cattle Run Farm teaching 2

In between his daily farm chores, this veteran continues to serve others as he welcomes school groups, 4-H groups, community members, and other veterans to the farm, to engage in non-formal learning opportunities.

Ralph, a 4-H alum himself, and Cattle Run Farm, LLC, are designing an Agricultural Innovation Learning Lab (AILL) to innovate, motivate, and educate youth and families about science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math (STEAM) using agriculture. The primary focus of the AILL is to provide hands-on, real-life application experiential learning opportunities that support social-emotional learning and community development. Additionally, programs are designed to develop curiosity and stimulate critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, while linking key concepts to prior knowledge and practice.

The program will run from July 8, 2019, to August 1, 2019. Start your planning early as they only have 60 slots available. We will keep you posted about the registration process!

Cattle Run Farm teaching

Obviously, Ralph is committed to teaching the next generation, and the Veggie Fairy wanted to find out why.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Why teach children who aren’t growing up on farms about good farming practices?

RALPH:

If we don’t preserve the family farm way of life, we’ll be a dying breed. All our food will come from big corporations, who don’t have the same commitment to good animal husbandry and land stewardship as small farmers do. Therefore, we wonder why we have unhealthy communities. Good agrarian practices lead to good health.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How did you learn about farming?

RALPH:

Farming has been a part of me since I was a little boy. I have been around farming my whole life. I was born and raised here on the farm. I grew up learning from my father and grandfather, and participating in 4-H youth development activities.

My vision is to do the same thing with my children that my father and grandfather did with me. I have four kids — the oldest is in college at the University of Arizona, while the younger three enjoy being out on the farm. As a parent, it’s important to expose and engage children at an early age to help them develop skills, a work ethic, and to have a greater appreciation for agriculture and natural resources.

Cattle Run Farm Ralph & his kids 1

I give our kids animals to be responsible for and they look forward to coming out every day to feed and care for them. Kids are sponges. You show them something one time and they’re saying, “I want do it! I want to do it!”

Cattle Run Farm Ralph & his kids 2

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Why did you choose to stick with grassfed?

RALPH:

For us, it makes raising cattle economically feasible. We have a lot of grass and living outside on pasture is low stress for them. Grassfed means cattle are allowed to forage and graze for their own fresh food. I use a rotational grazing system, using best practices gleaned from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). We took our pastureland and divided it into ten paddocks. Every seven days the cows rotate to a new paddock of fresh grass. This allows the grass to grow back for the next rotation. We do supplement the grass with a little bit of non-GMO grain, that is purchased from our local co-op. Maintaining good animal health requires giving them proper grasses, forages, and legumes which requires good soil health.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How do you keep the soil healthy?

RALPH:

Soil management is a key part of rotational grazing. We use both commercial and organic fertilizers. We are constantly monitoring the health of the soil by taking soil samples twice a year and adding the proper nutrients as needed. We plant legumes such as different types of clovers that naturally release nutrients into the soil through their roots.

Clover is a legume crop, belonging to the bean and pea family of plants. Legumes perform a unique service among the plant world. They fix nitrogen in the soil, transforming nitrogen gas found in air pockets of soil into organic compounds that can be used by plants. They do this by partnering with beneficial bacteria in the soil called Rhizobia, which grows in rounded nodules along the plant’s roots. Once legumes fix nitrogen, surrounding plants can use the nitrogen compounds to fuel growth.

If you just take, take, take from the land and don’t put back, the animals and the grasses won’t get the nutrients they need to grow and produce.

Cattle Run Farm winter

VEGGIE FAIRY:

We see you caring for your cows in the snow. How much do your cows stay outside in their natural environment?

RALPH:

Our cattle stay outside the entire time. Every once in a while, one might get a runny nose which can lead to transmittable respiratory problems – that’s the only time we administer antibiotics. Confinement, once you start confining them into feed lots, they get crowded and hot and it turns into a muddy muck hole. Not to mention a high-stress environment, which causes sickness and impacts the quality of the beef. Cattle turned out on pastures stay healthier and less stressed.

Another health practice for our herd is we fenced off our streams, as cattle like to stand in the water when it’s hot to stay cool. But then they develop foot problems and the streams become polluted, which is not environmentally friendly. So we have natural tree canopies for shade and put in an automatic watering system to ensure they’re consuming fresh water daily.

(VEGGIE FAIRY NOTE: Animals on farms that never give antibiotics may suffer unnecessarily if they do get sick and can’t be properly treated. The opposite problem occurs in conventional feed lots that crowd animals together in an unhealthy environment – often, all the animals have to be given antibiotics all the time just to prevent them from getting sick. As a result, some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, which is making it harder to fight bacterial infections in humans, too.)

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How many cattle to you have at one time?

RALPH:

We run a cow-calf operation, a grow-your-own concept, so we’re not just buying someone else’s calves and fattening them up. We run anywhere from 40-45 head. We “background” all our calves, meaning when they’re ready we wean them off their mothers and condition them for 45 days. This prepares them to be turned out to pasture for grazing. Calves on a good forage program can gain anywhere from two to three pounds per day, which is good basic animal husbandry. The management is very methodical.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How does that compare with feed lot farming?

RALPH:

Finishing cattle is a very methodical process. It takes a great deal of planning and crunching numbers. The farmers who are in the cattle feeding business, operating a feed lot, don’t have much time to get their cattle to a certain weight to meet the packer’s request. They only have a window of anywhere from 120 to 240 days to get a 500- to 700-pound steer to a market weight of 1200 to 1300 pounds. Growth implants are delivered through a pellet under the skin in the animal’s ear. They enhance the reproductive hormones that occur naturally in the animal. In steers implants replace some of the hormones that were removed when the animal was castrated. Implants generally encourage protein deposition and discourage fat deposition. This improves both weight gain and feeds conversion. Fat deposition requires more than twice as much feed energy as protein deposition does. At Cattle Run Farm, we don’t foster these practices.

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So those are just some of the facts that back up what we always say here at Seasonal Roots: Humane farming is good for the animals, good for us, and good for the planet!

Read about another grassfed farm that’s also part of the Seasonal Roots family.

Here are tips for cooking grassfed beef, which is different from grainfed because it has less saturated fat, more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and more antioxidants like vitamin E.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.