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Cook Out Inspiration: Summer GROW Recipes

Oxfam Action Corp's National Peer Advisor, Megan Nakra has some tips for summer cooking with GROW Method recipes! 

"Well, I am no nutrition expert, but as a runner, I can’t help but to learn more about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. With the Farmer’s Market season in full season in the Chicagoland area (and Midwest), the following are a handful of new GROW Method recipes with nutrition in mind!"

Eat Seasonal
Eggplant, Zucchinis and Mint are all in season!
Eggplants are filled with fiber, and phytonutrients for better blood circulation and brain health. In addition, they contain amazing minerals like iron to increase oxygen binding in blood and calcium for bone strength.

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch slices. Cut the zucchini in half crosswise. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Lay the eggplant and zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Brush on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill until the vegetables are tender, but not overcooked, 4 to 5 minutes per side for the eggplant and 3 to 4 minutes per side for the zucchini.
  • Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl.
  • Add the chickpeas, feta cheese and fresh mint to the eggplant and zucchini. Squeeze the lemon over the salad, and stir gently to combine.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

Eat Local
Our friends at Breslin Farms produce amazing grains, beans, and more. Based in Illinois, you will see Breslin Farms at Farmer’s Markets and specialty pop-up festivals through out the Chicagoland area. Check out a minestrone recipe with their famous Merlot beans. Recent research shows that beans can reduce the instance of coronary heart disease and reduce diabetes Type II. Surprisingly, beans contain high-fat protein, a great substitute for meat!
¼ c. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 c. butternut squash, peeled & diced to ½ inch
salt & pepper to taste
½ c. uncooked pasta 
6 c. veggie stock
1 c. diced tomato with liquid
1 c. cooked dry beans
1 c. chard or other greens, de-stemmed & chopped
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
½ c. parsley leaves, chopped

  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot if possible. Heat olive oil over medium flame and add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook (or “sweat”) the veggies for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add potatoes, squash, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5-10 minutes more. Now add stock and tomato, bring the whole thing to a boil and boil slowly for 15 minutes or so. Throw in the dry beans, greens, thyme if you have it, and cook 10-15 minutes longer. Test veggies to be sure they’re done; if not, cook till they are.
  • Pasta can be cooked separately and added at serving time to be sure that it doesn’t get mushy, or added dry to cook 5-7 minutes before serving. Stir in parsley before serving. Top each bowl with sprouts, more parsley, grated parmesan, or whatever you have around that makes it look nice.

Reduce Meat and Dairy
Craving a good ol’ meatloaf? Try it vegan with this recipe from One Green Planet. Instead of meat, the recipe calls for lentils! Lentils provide a great source of protein. With the fiber and complex carbohydrates, lentils provide slow-burning energy, more iron, and stabilize blood sugar! Grab some lentils and your favorite BBQ sauce!
2 cups water
1 cup green lentils
2 Tbs ground flaxseeds + 4 Tbs water
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup instant or regular rolled oats
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • Bring water to a boil. Add lentils and simmer 25 – 30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is evaporated. Drain any excess water and partially mash lentils. Scrape into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  • Mix the flaxseeds and water together and let sit for about 15 minutes. (This will allow it to become sticky and will be a better binder for the loaf.)
  • Saute the onion in the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  • Stir the onion and oats into the lentils until mixed. Add the flax mixture, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Spoon into loaf pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick spray. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Top with the BBQ sauce.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until the top of the loaf is dry, firm, and golden brown. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of pan then turn out onto a serving platter. 

Reduce Waste
Perhaps you have some leftover corn from a BBQ with friends and family. Love your leftovers. Adjust the portions based on how much corn you might have leftover. Corn is filled with antioxidants that help fight against cell damaging free radicals. In particular, corn contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin to protect eyes.
10 ears of fresh Sweet Corn
1 Red Pepper
1/2 medium Jicama
1/4-1 small Jalapeno, more if you like it spicy, less if you don’t
1 large bunch of Cilantro
2 Limes, juice only
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-4 oz Queso Fresco or Cajita- if you don’t have good Mexican hard cheeses available to you, feta is an OK substitution. In an absolute dire strait, you can use grated parmesan cheese.
1 tsp Chilli Powder- or 1 tsp Cumin and a pinch of Cayenne
Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pull the husks back into place and roast the corn in the oven (or on the grill) for about 20 minutes, turning frequently. Even though you soaked the husks, please be mindful of not lighting your corn / face on fire. Once cooked, allow the corn to cool.
  • Seed and dice the red pepper. Peel and dice the jicama. Wash the cilantro and remove the leaves from the stems. We’re only using the leaves here, but the stems are delicious in sauces or for roasting fish— so don’t throw them away, they freeze great until you’re ready to use them.
  • Roast, seed, and finely dice the jalapeno and then wash the hell out of your hands. Once the corn is cooled, remove and discard the husks, and slice the corn from the cob with a large serrated knife.
  • Combine all of the veggies in big bowl with the chili pepper. Toss with lime juice, and olive oil. Queso fresco and cajita are both super salty, so add those and then check to see if you need extra salt and pepper.
  • Chill in fridge for 20 minutes or serve right away.  Remember to toss well before serving.
Source: http://www.dinnerwasdelicious.com/post/26636536344/anyone-that-has-spent-a-summer-in-chicago-is

Cook Smart
Need a way to cool off when it gets 80-90 degrees outside? Shake up your salad routine and don’t waste energy in front of the freezer.  Cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers can help cool you off this summer. While cucumber is loaded with water and fiber to help you rest and digest, tomatoes are packed with lycopene to reduce risk of cancer and reduce levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure!

Fattoush Salad
2 medium cucumbers, with skin
3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used a combination of cherry, plum, and grape tomatoes)
2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
3 green onions
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup chopped mint
raw flax crackers, flatbread, or toasted pita

  • Wash, prepare, and chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces. Wash, spin-dry herbs and chop. Place in a large bowl.
  • Pour dressing over salad, stir, and let stand for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld. 
  • Right before serving, sprinkle generously with za’atar, crumble raw flax crackers and fold into salad. Enjoy.

Fattoush Salad Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon (organic, un-waxed if possible!)
1 tsp. raw liquid honey or maple syrup
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
a couple pinches of sea salt
a pinch of black pepper

  •  Put all ingredients in a jar with a light-fitting lid and shake.

¼ cup sesame seeds (raw or toasted)
¼ cup sumac
2 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
(This is a good “starter amount”, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple the recipe if you want more za’atar!)

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Funnel into a glass jar and store in a cool, dark place.

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