A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going upstate to an onion farm (if you follow me on instagram, you saw my instagram story videos of me with millions of onions), and I had a blast. Minkus Family Farms in New Hampton, New York, invited me for the day to check out their onions (yes my eyes were tearing from all these onions) and I had the opportunity to meet other incredible food writers and the founders of this beautiful farm. Today, I’m sharing about this visit to the New York Grown and Certified partner farm and a few food tips just in time for the holiday season. I hope you’ve got some onions and other autumn veggies ready in your kitchen!
New York State Grown & Certified Program
The Minkus family invited me to their farm to showcase New York State farms and farmer’s, participating in the Empire State Development’s New York State Grown & Certified program. This is a new program that’s incredible! Their expertise, passion, integrity and deep commitment to high quality food was brought together to build consumer confidence and trust in the foods we arNew York State Grown & Certified seal at stores and green markets in Spring of 2017e eating. If you’re wondering how to find foods that are grown in this program, you can look for the . The program is a new, state-funded marketing and food certification campaign to educate people like us on the importance of buying local and strengthen our confidence in products grown by New York state farmers. There are 36,000 family farms producing some of the world’s finest foods in New York state. I was shocked to learn that 23% of New York State’s land area (7 million acres) is farmland! And the best part is that New York is one of the nation’s top producers of fruits and veggies! A few of the veggies that are grown in New York are acorn squash, arugula, garlic, green beans, cabbage, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, spinach, beets and kale (plus a whole list of fruits- but we’re not in season for fruit so I’ll leave that out for now!)
The Label Tells a Story
When you see products with the New York State Grown & Certified seal, you know it comes from a local NY state farm with safe and environmentally responsible practices. These days there are all kinds of confusing labels in food stores and markets and it’s hard to know what they all mean and keep them straight! I know I get confused so I can only image how you feel. Because New York State wants to help shoppers find the best food for their families, they created a program that makes it easy to identify foods that you can trust and that are responsibly grown and locally grown. Sounds amazing to me, doesn’t it? This not only helps support local farms, but it also helps you put food on your table that you can feel good about serving knowing that your produce was raised right means you’re getting the best quality- practically from your backyard.
To receive the certification farms must be inspected for safe food handling and environmental stewardship, and their products meet the highest quality standards, which I love to hear! In addition, farms and farmers must currently be certified for Good Agricultural Practices and participate in Agriculture Environmental Management. New York State Grown & Certified is the first state program in the nation to combine modern food safety standards with environmental stewardship to achieve a premium level of certification. By certifying food at this level, the state provides consumers with an assurance of quality in how and where the food is grown and produced. All this is done while promoting New York State farmers who are meeting a growing market demand for foods that are safely handled and grown in an environmentally responsible manner. Sounds like a win-win to me, doesn’t it?
Clean Eating Holiday Tips n’ Ideas
While we’re on the topic of farming and quality foods, I wanted to give you a few of my favorite tips for cookin’ this holiday season. I know you’re all wondering what the heck to make this week for Thanksgiving and I’m sure you’re running in circles in the food stores trying to get your head straight. Am I right? Well, I want to save you some time and effort, so I’m sharing a few tips that can help you this holiday season. A few of these tips are from my cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body.
- Classic holiday foods can be a recipe for disaster when you are trying to eat clean or have food intolerances and sensitivities—pesticide-stuffed turkeys and hams; gluten-filled stuffing; refined sugar–laden cakes, cookies, and pies; soy-laced canned gravy. But with a little creativity, you can tweak your traditional holiday menu into a clean-eating and anti-inflammatory spread. You’ll want to whip up my Epic ’n’ Easy Banana Bread (page 362) and my Grain-Free Nutty Apple Pear Crumble (page 136) for every holiday gathering.
- My biggest clean eating tip for the holidays is to cut the refined sugar. Remove the white sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup from your pantry and replace it with cleaner options such as honey and pure maple syrup. You can easily use these in all of your desserts for the holidays and for healthier alternatives to comfort foods. While you’re at it, remove the alternative sweeteners, which trick you into thinking your food and beverages are sweeter than sugar! These often lead to more sugar and sweet cravings. It’s tough to get off of them- it’s a detox but after a week of detoxing these chemical sweeteners, you’ll feel less bloated and your digestion will be much smoother, as well.
- Quinoa and vegetable-stuffed mushrooms are a great stand-in for the usual glutinous bread-filled mushrooms. Spoon protein-packed quinoa into button mushroom caps and bake until the mushrooms are tender and juicy. Your guests will never know they’re gluten-free! You can also let wild, black, or brown rice have its time in the spotlight in place of the quinoa. Or get a little fancy and swap bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, or large onions for the mushroom caps, stuff ’em to the brim, and then bake away! Top with omega-3 anti-inflammatory ground flaxseeds, and you have a delicious and healthy fiber-filled spin on a crowd favorite.
- Sweet potatoes and pumpkin are great options for Thanksgiving. For a healthy alternative to mashed white potatoes, try my pumpkin puree instead. Add chopped apples, freshly squeezed orange juice, and coconut oil in place of refined sugar and dairy-filled butter found in traditional recipes. Not a pumpkin fan? Opt for mashed yams or sweet potatoes with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. For the creamy taste that no one can refuse, add a splash of culinary coconut milk.
- Wild rice is actually a grass and takes longer to cook than white rice. It’s delightfully chewy after cooking and has a distinct nutty flavor that I love. Pair wild rice with quinoa and serve it as a pilaf, stuff it into mushroom caps for an easy holiday appetizer, add it to soups, or toss it with chopped kale, roasted squash, chopped apples or pears, and toasted walnuts.
And there you have it! There’s nothing quite like visiting a beautiful farm to learn where your food comes from and understand the quality and people that go behind it. Every time I visit a farm, I’m reminded of how amazing Mother Nature is and how so many family farms are doing such incredible work to keep our country healthy while they grow nutrient-rich local produce that we can all enjoy. Be on the lookout for the New York State Grown & Certified seal at stores and green markets in Spring of 2017.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Empire State Development. The opinions and text are all mine.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Empire State Development . The opinions and text are all mine.