Life and Garden Update + A Giant Summer Salad

For all of last month, I did something I’ve never done since I started this site: I took a break from blogging, complete with not posting on my Facebook page, logging into Pinterest, or doing any other of the tasks that seem to be required these days if one wants to keep a steady stream of traffic coming to visit their blog.

I needed the break and I’m really glad I took it. Stepping away from blogging gave me time to reflect on how different my life is now from when I first started Healthy Green Kitchen. Some examples: when I started blogging, my kids were pretty young and now they are teenagers; I was casually doing karate and now I am competing in powerlifting. I was content to sit in front of the computer for many hours every single day working on this blog and now I am not (there are simply too many other things I want to do, including becoming a nutrition and strength coach…I am currently taking the steps necessary to make this happen). I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can switch things up here to better reflect the current state of “me”. I don’t quite have it all figured out; I’m trying to just be patient and see how things here naturally evolve.

winnie abramson garden

winnie abramson garden

Something else that’s evolved quite a bit since I started this site is my garden. After focusing on expansion year after year, my husband and I recently made the decision to change direction a bit. We had built so many raised beds for veggies: I really couldn’t keep up with all the maintenance. So we made the garden smaller in order to create a space that’s more manageable. We also fenced in portion of of our yard next to the garden to accomodate five fruit trees (2 varieties of heirloom apples, 2 varieties of plums, and one nectarine) and more room for our chickens to roam.

plums_

It’s been raining a ton, so I haven’t had to water much, which is always nice. I am of course looking forward to our first cukes, tomatoes, etc. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying lots of fresh herbs, radishes and all sorts of greens daily. Here are some garden photos…I’ll share more as the summer moves along!

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Apricot and Lavender Tart + A Giveaway

apricot and lavender tart | healthy green kitchen

I’ve been a big fan of Anya Kassoff’s blog Golubka for a long time. It’s a lovely site full of gorgeously-photographed, health-promoting recipes, many of which are vegan and raw. Anya’s new book The Vibrant Table is just as beautiful and inspiring as her blog.

the vibrant table cover

the vibrant table interior

I received The Vibrant Table from publisher Roost Books a few months back. I’ve flipped through the book many times, reading Anya’s intriguing stories and “ooh”ing and “aah”ing over the photos (taken by her talented daughter Masha Davydova), but I could not decide what to make. I recently settled on the Apricot and Lavender Tart, and was so happy that I did…it’s fabulous!

Anya’s tart crust recipe is gluten-free and while I changed up the flours, mine is gluten-free, too. This recipe is also vegan. It’s the perfect dessert for when you want something that’s very visually appealing, but isn’t particularly over the top in terms of calories. This tart is actually very light, though you can certainly up the decadence factor by serving it with some vanilla ice cream.

apricots | healthy green kitchen

Be sure to use very ripe apricots, otherwise your tart won’t be as flavorful as it could be. I found organic apricots at my local natural foods store and used those; I bought my dried lavender flowers at my natural foods store, as well. If you don’t need the tart to be vegan, I imagine butter will work well in the crust.

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Tomato and Summer Squash Cobbler + A Giveaway

Amanda from HeartBeet Kitchen is one of the sweetest bloggers I know, and I’ve fallen in love with her new cookbook: Smitten with Squash (Northern Plate). Since my squash plants are incredibly prolific this year, I am so grateful for this resource. It has many, many wonderful-looking recipes for both summer and winter squash.

Tomato and Squash Cobbler | Healthy Green Kitchen

The first recipe I decided to try was the Tomato and Summer Squash Cobbler: I served this last weekend at my family birthday dinner. I used a combination of Sungold and regular cherry tomatoes (the Sungolds were from my garden but I didn’t have a whole pint of ripe ones so ended up buying the others) along with homegrown pattypan squash and zucchini.

garden veggies | Healthy Green Kitchen

I also grew the thyme, onion, and garlic!

thyme, onion, garlic | Healthy Green Kitchen

The flavors of the tomatoes and squash really deepen in a beautiful way when they are baked…this dish is SO delicious.

veggies in pan | Healthy Green Kitchen

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Summer Fun + Cold Cucumber Soup

sunflower

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote a blog post: I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long of a break! Why the silence? No particular reason except that I’m having a fun summer ;)

I haven’t taken any big trips or done anything super exciting: I’ve just been tending to (and eating/cooking from) my garden,

evening garden | healthy green kitchen

borage

cukes, tomatillos, pattypan

harvest

flowers

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Use What You’ve Got: Strawberries + Strawberry Jam Recipe

The strawberries I recently planted haven’t fruited yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating a whole lot of local strawberries this season already. Lately I am buying them from a few different farm stands in my town and they are fabulous.

strawberries | healthy green kitchen

I love eating them “as is,” but use them in all different recipes, too.

Strawberries are pretty fragile: in the past, I’ve sent far too many to the compost because I didn’t store them properly. But that was before I was really tuned into the food waste issue…things are different now! Since I’ve been writing posts to help promote Glad’s #SAVEITSUNDAY program, I’ve really learned a ton about food protection, including how best to store strawberries.

How to Prep and Protect Strawberries:

When you get your berries home from the grocery store/market, or even if you pick your own, you want to avoid washing them before you store them (wash them right before eating/using in a recipe instead). This helps stave off the molding that can happen due to the moisture the strawberries soak up when you wash them. Place the unwashed berries in a single layer in a bowl, on a plate, or in a glass or plastic food protection container, like GladWare, that you’ve lined with a tea towel (or paper towel).

protecting strawberries | healthy green kitchen

Seal the container and keep on the countertop if it’s not too hot in your kitchen and/or it’s just for a few hours. Otherwise, store them in the refrigerator. (Source: Glad)

Before you even head out to purchase your strawberries though, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to use them. This will allow you to buy the proper amount! (But if you end up with too many, never fear…just trim them and freeze for adding to smoothies and such).

What To Do with Strawberries:

Here are some of my recipes that use strawberries along with recipes from blogging buddies. And scroll down for a simple strawberry jam recipe that you’re going to love.

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