What I’ve Learned From a Box of Vegetables This Summer

A few months ago, I mentioned that our family had signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture subscription – basically, we paid $500 for 17 weeks of vegetables. We pick up our weekly box of vegetables from Almost Urban Vegetables, and get to enjoy delicious, local, organic vegetables all week without having to battle the crowds at the farmer’s market. I’ve been told it’s also a much cheaper way to get local veggies, but it would be hard to calculate the exact cost.

This has turned into a bit of a food adventure for our family, and although there have been some moments of feeling overwhelmed by the humongous amount of greens taking over my fridge, it’s been fun, for the most part. Definitely something to get used to, but I think we’ll do it again next year, and I think it will be easier and less overwhelming.


As I was thinking about vegetables while making supper the other day, I realized that my attitude toward food has changed since June. I’ve learned some important things from this weekly box of veggies, which I thought I’d pass on this morning…

1) Eat what you have, and be happy for it.

This is the most important one, in my mind. I am so used to making up a grocery list based on what I feel like eating. And we can do that in North America, but I think we’ve lost perspective on what the rest of the world experiences when it comes to food. What if a family in a Third World country doesn’t feel like eating rice and beans?

When we get our box of veggies, we don’t choose what’s in it. A friend asked me, “What happens if you don’t feel like eating what you get?”

We eat it anyway!! And we learn not to involve so many emotions and preferences with food.

We eat it because it’s good for us, and because that’s what is in the fridge.

2) Eat seasonally.

We also eat it because that’s what happens to be growing in the garden right now. Appreciation for food changes when you eat beet greens for 8 weeks in a row, knowing that you won’t eat them again for the rest of the year. Many of the vegetables we get in our box, I have never seen at Superstore. I love some of these “new” vegetables, but I won’t be able to eat them again for a long time. That gives new appreciation.

Plus, it’s just delicious to eat all this fresh stuff. It’s like eating fresh strawberries picked at a local strawberry farm for a couple of weeks straight, and then trying to go back to those half white, fake-tasting strawberries that have been shipped in from who knows where. The taste does not compare. So we eat all we can now in summer, we freeze all we can, and when that runs out, maybe we ease up on the strawberries until next summer. (I found this blog post to have an interesting description on seasonal eating.)

3) Find new favorites.

Many weeks, it’s taken Ben and me a little while to figure out what in the world we’ve gotten in our box. The veggies aren’t labelled, but we do get a list of what is in the box, so we try to match up the name to the veggie. Sometimes we’ve needed to use the internet! Once we know what everything is, we have to figure out how to use it.

I’ve learned that Pinterest has a recipe for everything!! I’ve learned that even though I spent my whole life thinking I despise beets, I actually like them roasted! We love beet greens in the frying pan with eggs – who knew! And garlic scapes on fish is just completely delicious.

I didn’t know that green beans can be purple, but change color while cooking. I found an awesome new recipe for broccoli salad that used up a ton of veggies in our fridge. I even made beet borscht – don’t know if my mom still remembers my one run-in with beet borscht as a kid, but I was scarred for life. I never thought I’d eat it and love it as an adult! And kale in soup! Love it!

I can’t count how many new recipes we’ve tried this summer, but I know that I’ll be looking forward to next summer, when we can enjoy these new favorites. My family has been awesome about being experimented on. Don’t get me wrong – our girls definitely have some food issues like every other kid, but I think they’ve come a long way this summer. We always tell them they don’t have to like it, but they have to try one bite. And often one bite turns into more.

4) Find pleasure in vegetables!

They’re beautiful and delicious, and this summer, they’ve even become adventurous! We’ve had fun, and I’m so glad our vegetable subscription runs until October! I’m sure there are many more mysterious, unheard-of veggies heading my way before winter!!

What vegetables have you been enjoying most this summer?

34 Days of Favorites: Supper

I have always been a recipe girl.

I learned at a young age that if I followed the recipe on the page very closely, it wasn’t too hard to make food taste good. I never strayed very far from what was written on the page.

But marrying Ben started to change all that.

His family never uses a recipe. They just figure things out as they go along. Ben cooks the same way, and there are some things that just taste better when he makes it. He knows how to give flavour to things.

When I developed some food allergies, I had trouble finding recipes to fit my specific needs. I had to become more flexible and able to adapt recipes to fit my needs. I started to learn how much fun it could be to ditch the recipe and just wing it.

Then last year, for my birthday dinner at a restaurant, I had the best pasta dish ever. Although I could never make it taste the same at home, I sure tried.

The result is a pasta dish we make regularly around here. It is my favorite thing to make and inhale. Er…I mean, politely eat in small, delicate bites.

We tried to come up with a name for it together as a family, and for awhile we called it “The Amazing Adventures of Pete Pepper and Billy Broccoli”, but that’s kind of a long name, and it fizzled out. Now we just call it “That Pasta Dish”.

So, without any measurements (because now we’re all casual about that kind of thing around here!), I share with you my very own pasta recipe:

Pasta (we use rice noodles, because we do that gluten-free thing around here)

Steamed broccoli and peppers

Grilled Chicken, cut into small pieces

Olive Oil

Salt, Basil, Garlic

Cook your pasta, steam your veggies, cut up your grilled chicken, and mix it all together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, salt, basil, and garlic. Pour over the pasta mixture and mix it all up.

Um, and that’s it. Very, very simple. Not really all that impressive, but I love it and could eat it forever.


Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite food to eat for supper? Do you use recipes or fly by the seat of your pants? (I guess that’s not a very kitchen-appropriate expression, but you know what I mean!)



34 Days of Favorites: Lunch

This week is going to be very food-themed – yesterday we covered breakfast, and today we’re doing lunch!

If I had my choice, I would probably eat the same thing for lunch every single day: a baked potato slathered in butter, and a bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup.

Oh, yum. I get hungry for it right now, just thinking about it.

I started making soup about a year ago. I mean, I made soup before that, but last summer was when I started going crazy with the soup.

There are a few reasons for this: Soup is delicious, you can pack in a ton of vegetables, and if you make a large batch, it is such a fast, convenient lunch option to grab out of the fridge.

There are a ton of fantastic soup recipes out there, but I’ve figured out exactly what I like for myself. I’ve never taken the time to measure anything when I’m cooking soup – I think it’s fun to keep dumping vegetables in the pot based on color. If the mixture is looking a little too green, I add some more carrots. If it’s looking kinda boring, I add a few more red and yellow peppers.

So without specific measurements, here is my favorite soup:

Vegetable Soup:

I start with a large pot of homemade chicken broth.

Then I add: carrots, broccoli, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, until it looks like a balanced combination of everything.

I use whatever kind of seasonings I’m in the mood for that day, usual salt, garlic powder, basil and parsley.

I bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for 1/2 an hour.

I add frozen peas, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Here are a few soup tricks to keep in mind:

1) My mom taught me to put soup into jars while it’s boiling hot, and leaving them on the counter until the lids snap. It’s the short-cut canning version. The soup only stays good if you keep it in the fridge, but it’s far simpler than the usual canning method. I don’t know how long it lasts in the fridge, because we eat it too fast to worry about that, anyway.

2) I usually keep my cooked chicken separate from the soup, so I can use it for other meals and recipes as well. I add it to my soup if I want a heartier meal, or leave it as just a veggie soup if I want a bit of a snack. (I eat a lot of soup, for breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack. It works any time of day!)

3) This soup tastes BY FAR the yummiest if you mix in 1/2 a mashed avocado. I realize that sounds weird. The first time I read about doing that, I thought it sounded gross. I love avocados in guacamole. But in soup? Ew. Until I tried it. It adds a wonderful flavor, healthy fat, and a creamy texture to a bowl of soup. I rarely eat a bowl of veggie soup without avocado in it.

And there’s not much to say about the baked potato part of my lunch. Except that I think potatoes are delicious with a crispy outside. Baked straight on the rack.

I’ve been told potatoes are not healthy. But I’ve also heard they’re so full of potassium, we should eat two a day. Since I love potatoes so much, I’ll go with the potassium theory!

And butter. Some people stay away from it, but I’ve done a lot of reading, and from what I gather, butter is a healthy fat. Margarine is actually bad for you. It has to do with all your omega 3’s and 6’s and stuff like that.

For me, the biggest thing is getting healthy fats and proteins to balance out all those vegetables, and adding some good calories to my diet. But I’m not a health expert. And there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there. (I get some of my health info from these blogs: The Wellness Warrior, Wellness Mama, and The Perfect Health Diet)

Alright, your turn! What do you like to eat for lunch?