Archive for Local Food

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup…A Warm, Winter Treat

Two of my favorite “super foods” are sweet potato and coconut, and winter is the best time to find some North Carolina sweet potatoes at the grocery store or farmers market. Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber; while coconut is a healthy fat that is essential to include in your diet. Throw some chopped onions, garlic, cumin and leeks into the mix, and you have a warm, creamy, and delicious soup that is a great comfort food or post-workout recovery meal. This was my first time cooking with leeks, but I really did enjoy the taste. I made this soup after a long day at work and a workout at the gym, so I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home and got a whole grain bread bowl to eat my soup out of! It was delicious…you need to try it!


Sweet Potato and Leek Soup

Serves: 4


1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp cooking fat like coconut oil or clarified butter (I used Smart Balance butter blend)

2-3 large leeks, top part removed, and softer part sliced into rounds

4 cups chicken stock

1 can coconut milk (I used an organic, light coconut milk)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste



1. Saute the onions with the cooking fat in a large sauce pan over medium heat for a few mintues. Stir frequently to prevent the onions from burning.

2. Add the garlic and leeks to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes to allow everything to soften.

3. Sprinkle in the cumin, combine well.

4. Add the stock and the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are softened.

5. Remove the soup from the heat and slowly mix in the coconut milk

6.Puree the soup in a blender and serve.


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These are a few of my favorite things…

There is nothing better than roasted butternut squash, cranberry sauce, or fresh and flaky coconut. When you combine all three of those flavors into one meal, it can’t get any better than that! Try this as a hearty lunch entree or as a side dish at dinnertime. Either way, it is a seasonal, low calorie dish loaded with vitamins and minerals!

Curried Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Toasted Coconut

Serves: 6

This is a rich, healthy, and crowd-pleasing fall side dish, and would be a sweet and spicy addition to any holiday meal. Almost every ingredient in this recipe has powerful antioxidant properties, especially the garlic, cinnamon, curry powder, and cranberries. This recipe is also rich in heart healthy fats.


1 large butternut squash (2# total)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 Tbsp. 100% pure maple syrup

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chili powder

Pinch of salt and pepper

3 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

2 Tbsp. dried cranberries



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut and peel squash, chop into 1-2 inch pieces.

3. Place in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients except coconut and cranberries; toss well to coat.
4.  Pour into a large glass casserole dish and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
5. Top with toasted coconut and dried cranberries before serving.

Nutrition Facts:

Per ½ cup serving: 178 calories, 9g fat (5g mono, 1g poly, 2g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 2g protein, 27mg carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 17mg sodium


What are some of your favorite ways to prepare butternut squash during the fall and winter months? Share your recipes here!

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Give the Gift of Health for the Holidays!

Are you looking for a more creative, thoughtful, or useful gift to give your friends and family this year? Why not give the gift of health during the holidays? Check out these 10 simple healthy gifts that will keep on giving all year long!

1. Create a list of healthy gift options for friends and family members this holiday season

2. Make a gift certificate to take your child bowling, exploring in a park, or playing in the snow!

3. Put together a basket of colorful fruits and veggies to brighten someone’s holiday

4. Give a reusable water bottle, and personalize it for a special surprise!

5. Give to those in need! Donate canned goods as well as your the to help “serve up health” to others who are less fortunate. PORCH, The Interfaith Food Shuttle, and the Emergency Shelter of Eastern and Central North Carolina are always looking for healthy food donations in the Raleigh area.

6. Create a healthy recipe book that includes some of your family’s favorite dishes!

7. Purchase a gym membership, personal training sessions, or even a new piece of home exercise equipment for a loved one

8. Schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian to re-vamp your diet in the new year!

9. Surprise your friend or family with a subscription to a CSA box or Papa Spuds for fresh local food, year round!

10. Purchase a gift from the farmers market for a great stocking stuffer! Local honey, artisan cheese, or homemade jam are creative ideas.

Do you have any healthy holiday gift ideas? Share them here!


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Sassy Sweet Potatoes…In Minutes!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope this blog post finds you well and in the festive fall spirit! We are in the midst of fall and its crisp, cool weather, and with that brings two of my favorite foods in the whole wide world: apples and sweet potatoes. These two nutritious foods are in full swing at the farmer’s markets, and I thought that I would focus today on the sweet potato- bright and orange just in time for Halloween!


There are so many other ways to prepare sweet potatoes besides simply baking them whole. They can be used for appetizers, casseroles, stews, and even desserts! Take a look at these easy preparation tips below to increase your sweet potato consumption this season!



Sweet potatoes are actually native to America, although they are often confused with yams, a tuber root found in West Africa. Sweet potatoes come in many different shapes and colors, ranging from light brown to deep orange or even purple. The rich, fertile soil of NC offers the perfect environment for growing sweet potatoes, and we actually grow more than 40% of the US supply in our state!


Sweet potatoes are truly a nutrition powerhouse. especially rich in fiber, Vitamin A, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, and Vitamin C. It even contains important Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for cognitive development.


Sweet potatoes cook the best when they’re sliced, diced, or cut into wedges before cooking. There are multiple preparation methods for sweet potatoes.

1. Roast whole or halved sweet potatoes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes

2. Saute sliced or diced potatoes in oil for 10 minutes

3. Boil by adding 1 inch thick slices to a skillet with 2 inches of boiling water; cook for 12 minutes.

4. Microwave whole sweet potatoes on high from 5-8 minutes, rotating halfway through

5. Grill or broil 1-inch thick slices for 10 minutes.

Sweet Dinner Ideas:

-Shred raw sweet potato to add color and flavor to salads and slaws

-Sprinkle wedges with vegetable oil and cajun seasoning. Roast in the oven.

-Mash cooked sweet potatoes with butter, milk, salt, and pepper.

-Puree cooked sweet potatoes and apples, blending in a little mil, salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Bake in a casserole dish, topped with chopped nuts.

-Toss sweet potato chunks and sliced onions with oil, salt and hot sauce. Roast until tender.

What are your plans for Halloween? Are you attending a costume party, taking your children trick-or-treating, or making a delicious dinner or dessert for your friends? Share with us here, include pictures if you’d like!

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It’s A “Love A-Fair!”

This past weekend, my Dad came to visit Raleigh all the way from Philadelphia to continue our annual tradition of visiting the NC State Fair. The theme of the fair this year was “It’s A Love-A-Fair.” Since I have made my big move down to Raleigh, I have enjoyed having my Dad visit this time every year to explore the new “unique fried treats” of the state fair. Last year’s new food invention was the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger, and this year the popular item to try was Fried Kool-Aid. By no means am I condoning the idea of eating mass quantities of deep-fried, sugar-laden foods all day long, but it was very interesting to check out the food that was offered at each vendor and see what people are willing to wait in line for half an hour for! After all, it is only ONE day (hopefully) out of the year, so I don’t see anything wrong with trying something new….but the foods offered at the fair are certainly not for everyday consumption!

Mt. Olive Pickle Booth- a local NC based company!

My favorite booth- the giant candy apple stand!

3rd Place Winner of the Cake Contest- A Farmer's Market!

The State Fair is all about having fun, and I definitely had fun spending time with my Dad. Not only were there jumbo pickles, fried oreos, and candy apples galore, but we got to see pig and billygoat races, and bought tickets to see Kansas and Kelly Pickler in concert. The state fair is a great local event to attend, and for those who are out-of-town, it is something that I recommend everyone experiences at least once in their lifetime. Although I am not a huge fan of fried foods or street food, I did try a jumbo Mt. Olive pickle, candy apple, and NC State Laughing Cow homemade ice cream (fyi- I got the Campfire flavor, filled with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips, and it was delicious!). For the remainder of the weekend, I brought a couple snacks with me to keep me from getting too hungry at the fair- peanut butter crackers, trail mix, and protein bars were my snacks of choice 🙂

I hope you enjoy some of the fascinating (and shocking!) pictures that I took of the state fair this year:

My Dad, enjoying a giant dill pickle at the NC State Fair

My Dad again, about to try a Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger for the first time

Holy fried food!

I'm standing in the middle of the world's largest gummy bear sign. The gummy bears and gummy worms for sale weighed in at 5 pounds a pop!

Check out some of the “healthier options” of the State Fair, which I found in the agriculture and farming booths:

Check out the state's largest watermelon and pumpkin!

The state's largest sweet potato weighs in at 19.05 pounds!

One squash plant yields 10# of squash, while one tomato plant yields about 25# of tomatoes

One cabbage plant yields a 3-4# head, while one sweet potato plant yields about 50# of potatoes

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love everything about fall…not only am I super excited about baseball playoff season (go Phillies!), but I love leaves changing, pumpkin carving, the weather getting cooler, and all of the new seasonal produce at the farmer’s markets.

Fresh herbs and pomegranate plants


A variety of local honey


Delicious acorn squash


Last call for seasonal tomatoes!

I am also excited to introduce Kristen Gallagher as a guest blogger on “Fresh From the Farm.” Kristen enjoys local foods and photography- what better combination could I ask for? She is going to post some lovely seasonal produce picks each month for us to enjoy, so be sure to check it out!

This month, Kristen ventured out to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh and took lovely end-of-summer pictures of the fresh produce. Let’s see what she found:

Bright purple beets

Bursting with berries

Artisinal bread, straight from the bakery


Sweet muscadine grapes


Kristen Gallagher is a Museum Studies student at Meredith College. Currently, she spends her free time volunteering at the NC Museum of Natural Science, photographing plants and things, and painting. She is trying to cook with more local food and is always on the lookout for people to go to the Farmer’s Market with. She hopes to one day keep beehives, chickens and her own garden.

cell – 704 619 1414
email –

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Top 10 Favorite Foods to Travel With

Happy October, everyone! Fall is always my favorite time of the year, mainly due to the cooler weather and the yummy seasonal produce. But, I also just celebrated my 25th birthday yesterday. Yikes! I cannot believe that I am officially a quarter of a century old, I thought it would never happen! I have also just returned from a week long trip to the west coast, where I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a national nutrition conference and see my best friend since middle school! Although I have a tremendous fear of airplanes, I survived the ride, and cannot thank my friends and family enough for my 25th birthday adventure.

Since I have been traveling cross-country for the past week, I thought that it would be appropriate to post my Top 10 Favorite Foods to Travel With. It is very common to eat “on-the-go” processed or fast foods while traveling, because they are easy, cheap, and convenient. However, I try to pack my snacks and drinks with me in a cooler. Not only is this the healthier option, but I find that it is much cheaper and quicker to do this while trying to get from point A to point B. I also am a total creature of habit, and find that I feel more comfortable driving or riding on a plane when I eat foods that I know work well for me.

Here are my favorite snacks and drinks to take on the road with me:

1. Homemade trail mix

This is quite possibly my favorite snack to bring along for long car rides. I like to mix some pretzels, peanuts, chocolate chips, almonds, raisins, and banana chips together for a sweet treat!

2. Lara Bars

These bars are made strictly from dried fruit and nuts, and are generally vegan friendly and gluten free. Try the banana bread or cherry pie flavors, they are delicious!

3.  Chopped veggies and hummus

Baby carrots + red peppers + red pepper hummus = nutritious on the go snack!

4. PB Crackers

A true staple in my diet, natural peanut butter spread on wheat crackers is always a good travel snack.

5. PB and J Sandwich

This is something that I eat virtually everyday for lunch, so I cannot go a day without it!

6. Apples

Apples are one of the most portable fruits to take on the road with you. Plus, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

7. Dark chocolate dusted almonds

This protein packed snack is crucial for my chocolate cravings!

8. Zone Protein Bars

I eat one of these bars almost everyday after I hit the gym for optimal recovery. These also work well as a small “meal replacement,” if I am starving and do not have time to stop for food on the road.

9. Pretzels

A very simple and low calorie snack for when I need a “travel munchie.”

10. Coffee

I must start the beginning of all of my adventures with a nice cup of hot or iced coffee (depending on the season). I always need a little caffeine boost before I spend my entire day on a plane or in a car.







What are some of your favorite travel snacks? Share them here!

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