Thursday, July 3, 2014

Family Meal Time

Last week, Sharon Watkins and I started talking about a booked she is reading called Cooked by Michael Pollan. Our conversation quickly turned to the importance of cooking, how much we both enjoy it and how we wished there was more time to really enjoy cooking and eating together as a family.

While this is not the first time I've had this conversation, it reminded us both about how important cooking, and eating, at home truly is. So, I wanted to chime in on the blog with some encouragement for you (and me).

Summer is such a quintessential time for Americans. It just oozes with opportunities to eat fresh, whole food (as many seasonally summer foods are so darn delicious) and to cook (as summer schedules tend to be a little less hectic).  Doesn't just the thought of the July 4th mentally take you to some event where you are enjoying food? It certainly does for me.

But let me back up just a minute, to first answer the question of Why family meals are so important?

There's been some interesting research conducted on this topic over the years, but I will just sum up the major discoveries for you.

  • Children who eat with their families consumed more fruits and vegetables. This is thought to be related to adults leading by example when eating together.
  • Family meal time created a stronger sense of togetherness for families. It was associated with better work-life balance for adults.
  • Lower obesity rates were associated with families who ate together frequently. 
  • Meal times are a great environment for teaching self-esteem, life skills, family tradition, responsibility, and communication skills.

Cornell University came out with two recommendations to help families on this topic:
  1. Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible.
  2. Don't forget, quality of family meals is just as important as quantity. Turn off distractions. 

We at Black Hog want to encourage you to make family meal times a priority. It doesn't matter what meal of the day you sit down together for. Just do it. Hopefully the summer time gives you some room in your schedule to plan and prepare meals together. Get the kids involved in planning the menu and cooking one of the items. 

{I once read a great idea of how to make family meals more fun and involve everyone. A parent had every family member write down 1-2 theme ideas for a meal (fiesta, Asian, finger food, backwards meal, etc) and they put them in a bowl. Once a week, someone would draw out a paper with the idea for their special family meal of the week. Then everyone had to help pick a food idea and help prepare it.}

For helpful ideas on meal planning and eating together, visit Healthy Eating Made Easier

Leave us a comment about your favorite family meals and lets' share some ideas.

We hope you have a safe, fun and happy Fourth of July!

Jenna Braddock, RD -- for the whole Black Hog Family
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boiled Peanuts

This week, fresh peanuts are appearing in your delivery baskets. Not sure what to do with them? No worries. We've got a simple boiled peanut recipe for you to try that takes little effort, just some time.

Peanuts are a perfect, healthy snack for so many reasons. They are heart healthy, reducing your risk for heart disease when eaten regularly. In addition, peanuts contain vitamin E (an antioxidant), niacin (helpful for reducing cholesterol), folate and even resveratrol, the compound that also gives red wine some of its benefits. A quarter cup of peanuts contains 9-10 grams of protein so they are a satisfying choice too.

Our peanuts are coming from Florida. To learn more about how peanuts are grown and harvested, watch this 4 minute video.

We hope you enjoy cooking up a Southern classic this week. It's a great choice to munch on while you are watching the NFL draft or The Players. ;)

Have a healthy day,

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Boiled Peanuts

Rinse peanuts in cold water, making sure to get off any dirt or sediment.
Add peanuts to a large stockpot and cover completely with water. Add salt in a ratio of about 2-3 tablespoons per pound of peanuts. Add seasonings if desired. Old Bay, chili peppers or cajun seasonings are recommended.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 3-4 hours. Add water if needed to keep peanuts covered throughout cooking process. After 2 hours, remove a peanut, let it cool and taste for doneness. Peanuts should be the texture of a cook bean.
If you're not eating them immediately, drain from the water and store in the fridge.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quick Corned Beef Dinner

Here is a quick way for those of you who want to make a great corned beef dinner without taking the time to brine your brisket ahead of time.
Cook Time 2-3 hours depending on weight of brisket.

St. Patty's Corn Beef Dinner


2 cloves of Garlic minced
15-16 All Spice Berries
1 Tsp Peppercorns
3-4 Bay Leafs
1 1/2 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Mustard Seed
1/2 Tsp Coriander (optional)
1/2 Tsp Fennel Seed (optional)
Salt to taste

Beef Brisket 4-6 lbs
4 Cups Beef Broth
1 medium onion cut into wedges
3-3 1/2 Lbs potatoes washed and quartered (peeled optional)
6-8 Carrots peeled, halved and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges

How to:

Put beef into dutch oven with broth and spices. Add enough water to cover beef. Add onions. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until tender and falling apart with fork. 
Remove the corned beef to a platter, cover with foil and keep warm.

Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage to broth. Bring to boil and cover, reduce heat, cook on low until vegetables are tender. Approx 20-30 min.

Plate up and ENJOY!

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Use Cabbage

Unless you just love coleslaw, cabbage may be one of the veggies that lingers in the bottom of your produce drawer. I know it does for me. But St. Patty's day tends to get me thinking more about cabbage and thanks to my BH delivery this week, I need to figure out what I'm going to make with it.

For the most part, I've found that the different types of cabbages are interchangeable in recipes. There are some differences between then though that lend them to different cooking methods. The tougher (stiffer) the leaves, the better it will do with long cooking methods like roasting or braising. More delicate cabbages, like Napa, do best with raw slaws or quick saut├ęs. But truly, I don't think it matters that much, unless you are a cabbage connoisseur. For pictures of the different types of cabbage, check out this link.

To get you prepared for St. Patrick's Day, or to just use up the cabbage you've received in your delivery, here are a bunch of recipes. Leave a comment and let us know which one you tried.

Have a healthy weekend!

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Wintery Braised Cabbage
Crunchy Cabbage Slaw with Ginger Miso Dressing
Stuffed Cabbage
Sauteed Cabbage
Baja Fish Tacos
Southern Cabbage
Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Quick Kimchi
Roasted Cabbage with Black Bean-Garlic Sauce
Kid-Friendly Cabbage Salad - I used plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo
Rainbow Wraps with Chives

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Florida Avocados

Fortunately for us, Florida has it's own variety of avocados that are available fall through spring. "Florida avocados" actually represents about 50 different varieties but they are commonly just referred to by their season (fall, winter, or spring). They differ from California Haas avocados most notably by their higher water content, lower fat, skin that does not change color when ripe, and just being larger in size.  

Avocados were once thought to be too high in fat to enjoy regularly. However, the fat in avocados is extremely heart healthy and packed with powerful antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogens. And interestingly, one study found that people who consume avocados weighed less than those who did not eat them. 

Florida avocados are not the best choice for the classic application of guacamole due to their higher water content. But there are so many other great ways to enjoy them. Slice them up and use them on sandwiches instead of mayo. Enjoy them on whole grain crackers as an afternoon power snack. Or try them on toast with an over easy BH egg for breakfast, which is one of my favorites. 

Here are a few other recipes to help you figure out some ways to enjoy the avocados you'll be receiving over the next few weeks. 

Have a healthy week!

Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftover Makeover

If you're like me tonight, your fridge is now stocked with a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers. I seem to always have good intentions for eating my leftovers, but many years they end up going to waste unfortunately.

Well this year, maybe things will be different! I've done a little research for you (and me) to help reinvent those leftovers into some healthy meals for the upcoming week. Make these now and freeze them for later. That way, when the hustle and bustle of December hits us hard at dinnertime, we will be prepared!

If you have a favorite way of using your leftovers, please share them in the comments. The more ideas we have, the better!

And don't forget about Small Business Saturday this Saturday. Please shop our many small businesses and support our local economy.

Happy Holidays!

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

BBQ Turkey Sandwiches with Celery Salad

Stuffing Meatloaf

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Homemade Turkey Broth - one of my favorite things to do with leftover turkey

Turkey Tortilla Soup

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Turkey Time!

Happy Thanksgiving! It's hard to believe it's that time of year again for this day of thankfulness and the big feast. I'm sure you are already prepping for Thursday and hopefully, you are planning to pick up your Black Hog turkey this week. Our free-range birds are sure to be the best you’ve ever tasted, especially if you brine it first (which we highly recommend).

Brining is the process of submerging meat in a salt solution prior to cooking. Strangely, it dehydrates the meat initially but then enables the proteins to actually hold more water in each cell. The end result is juicy, moist meat that is difficult to overcook.  

It’s easy to brine and here are some keys for doing it successfully:
  • Follow a recipe (see below) because using too much salt will result in salty meat.
  • The larger the bird, the longer it needs to sit in the brine. For a medium to large bird, about 24 hours is perfect. If you are doing a small bird or only turkey parts, 12 hours or less would be sufficient.
  • Plan time to let the bird rest for a couple of hours after brining and before cooking. This gives time for the salt to evenly distribute throughout the meat.
  • Always discard the brine solution when you are done.
  • Brining needs to occur in refrigeration. I’ve done it in the fridge or in a cooler that I refresh with lots of ice as needed.
  • Find the right container to fit your bird and your fridge. A vessel that is taller than it is wide will require less liquid to cover the bird. You can also buy brining kits that include a large re-sealable bag that works great. Just make sure you flip the bird over in the bag at least once.
  • The brining solution should be cool before you add your bird. To avoid having to cool down a large amount of water, dissolve the salt in only half the amount of water needed. Then add the rest of the water as ice water.

We hope you enjoy your turkey this year, but even more your family and loved ones. We are thankful for you!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Black Hog Family!

Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

The All-Purpose Brine

1 gallon of water
1 cup Kosher salt
½ cup sugar
Optional Seasonings

  1. Refrigerate ½ gallon of water.
  2. In a large pot, bring ½ gallon of water, salt, sugar and seasonings to a simmer until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and pour in ice water. Stir to combine.
  3. Put raw turkey into vessels or bag large enough to be covered with liquid. Pour brine solution over turkey.  Weigh down turkey with a plate or other heavy object to keep it submerged. Seal or close container. (If brining in a bag, flip bird in solution half way through brine time.)
  4. Remove bird from brine at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours prior to when you need to put it in the oven. Discard brine.  Rinse bird then pat dry with paper towels.  Let rest in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove bird from fridge about 30 minutes before you need to put it in the oven. Prepare bird to your liking. Roast until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees – I recommend using a leave in meat thermometer.
  6. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Seasoning Suggestions – use any or all of these: Bunch of your favorite fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage), 2 bay leaves, head of garlic cut in half horizontally, 1 sliced onion, 3 tablespoons of whole peppercorns, 2 lemons halved