Dirt(y) girl

One of my favourite childhood memories involves the taste of dirt. Really.

When I was but a wee lass, I’d venture into my parents’ garden (keep in mind that I’m from the country, so our “garden” was the size of a football field) and check out the goods. I’d eat raspberries right off the bushes. I’d pop tomatoes into my mouth like they were candy.

But my favourite thing to do was to pull up carrots. I’d brush off the dirt and crunch down on those bad boys like there was no tomorrow. That’s real country livin’ there, folks.

Fast-forward 20 years later: I still love fresh, straight-from-the-garden produce, especially when it has the taste remnants of soil on it. Weird? Abso-friggin’-lutely. But every time I taste a vegetable or fruit that’s just been picked from the garden, I’m instantly transported to my childhood. And hey, dirt tastes better than pesticide (that’s my justification, anyway).

Since my boyfriend and I have adopted a healthier lifestyle, we’ve been going through a ridiculous amount of produce, so much so that our grocery bills are nearly entirely devoted to fruits and veggies. This year, however, we decided to sign up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share.

Every week, we get a huge box of fresh, local produce from a nearby market, filled to the brim with chemical-free goodness. Nine farmers and food producers contribute food so there is always variety. So far, we’ve received kale, lettuce, green onions, dill, basil, rhubarb, strawberries, zucchini, garlic scapes, peppers, carrots, honey and more — and that’s just in the first two weeks.

What I love about this CSA is that it’s forcing us to cook with stuff we normally wouldn’t look at twice (ahem, kale). I already made an amazing (clean) rhubarb-blueberry crisp, and we tried our hands at kale and garlic scape pizza the other day (recipe here). Nom nom nom.

The best part of the CSA? Much of the produce hasn’t been thoroughly washed, so it’s still got that just-picked taste (aka dirt). Be still, my beating heart.

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Give me the juice!

Hi, my name is Andrea and I’m addicted to vegetable juice.

No, really, I’m on a massive veggie juice kick — not some stupid “lose 12 pounds in a week” gimmicky detox diet or fast or anything. I just really, really dig veggie juice.

I hated it for the longest time. Drink ground-up salad? No thanks, I’d rather bathe with a toaster. But once I reached adulthood, my tastebuds must have changed. I went through a ridiculous amount of tomato juice before I ventured into hardcore-veggie-drinking territory.

With a sea of Chinese and lame chain restaurants in my work area, there isn’t much I can eat without blowing my meal plan. But my coworker just informed me of a little cafĂ© hidden in a nearby office building. In addition to a slew of I-can’t-believe-these-are-healthy salads, wraps and smoothies, my new favourite haunt also serves veggie juice. Lots and lots of veggie juice. I’m in clean-eating heaven!

My favourite combo? Carrot, beet and cucumber. I still don’t like super-carrot-heavy juices because, quite frankly, they taste like camel piss (not an exact description). Beets, however, sweeten the juice — although I don’t really need any extra sweetener because I’m sweet enough already (*boom*tish*). Also amazing in juice? Spinach, believe it or not. I’ll throw a handful of it into my fruit smoothies because 1) it adds a bazillion nutrients and 2) you can’t even taste it, so it’s also a staple in my veggie juices.

Yesterday, my boyfriend told me he’s going to use part of his bonus to buy a juicer, so now I’ll be able to juice my little heart out at home. I knew there was a reason I’m keeping him around.

Anyone have any recipe suggestions for a juicin’ noob?