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Reminder! April 3 is Oldways’ Whole Grain Sampling Day. Be sure to find some new-to-you whole grains and give them a try.

As part of the Whole Grain Sampling Day initiative, I received an amazing box full of whole grain foods. One of the items was a bag of freekeh, young green wheat from Freekehlicious.

Here are a few benefits of freekeh:

  • high fiber – four times the fiber of brown rice
  • low GI – helps to prevent diabetes
  • high in protein content
  • low in available carbs
  • high in calcium for bone health
  • rich in lutein – important for eye health
  • rich in prebiotic properties – important for fueling the growth of healthy bacteria

freekeh

The freekeh bag had a breakfast recipe listed, but I knew that with the dreary, cold weather we have been having, I wanted to make some sort of hearty, healthy vegetarian dish. I decided to toss in some Mediterranean flavors and ended up with a delicious dinner. I cooked the freekeh on its own, according to the package directions.

In the meantime, I cooked chopped eggplant in some olive oil, browning it on all sides before adding in about a cup of good Cabernet. Vegetables, whole grains, and wine. . . does it get any healthier?

eggplant

Once the eggplant started cooking down, I tossed in a few cloves of chopped garlic, a can of crushed tomatoes, and sea salt, letting this mixture cook on low for about 20 minutes. Since the husband is not a huge eggplant fan, I wanted to make sure it was blended nicely into the sauce.

Just before I was ready to serve, I topped the steaming sauce with a few handfuls of baby spinach, allowing it to wilt from the heat.

Mediterranean sauce

To serve, I topped the hot freekeh with the sauce and garnished with kalamata olives and feta. Delish!

freekeh with sauce

It’s been fun trying out all of the grains included in the box. I am definitely in a constant struggle to eat more healthfully and to come up with fresh dinner ideas to avoid in an eating rut.

Speaking of ruts, can it please just get nice out now? I am feeling constantly blah and need a sunshiny boost to get me moving again!

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Tags: freekeh, healthy, Oldways, Oldways Whole Grain Council, vegetables, Vegetarian, whole grains

When last week’s plan of healthy eating turned into dining out, events, and takeout every night, we were left with a fridge full of produce that we needed to eat in a short space of time. Smoothies and chips took care of the kale overload, but we had a bunch of other healthy ingredients to use up. With temps falling, soup seemed like the perfect idea, and in just a short amount of time, a vibrant veggie soup came together.

broccoli

The ingredients:

4 cups broccoli florets, roasted at 400 for 20 minutes

3 cups baby spinach

2 cups sweet peppers, roasted at 400 for 20 minutes

1 cup white onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil until soft

4 large potatoes, boiled until soft

Coconut milk – enough to make it into a soupy consistency

handful fresh cilantro

pepper

spinach

So Delicious Coconut Milk

Once the veggies were roasted and the potatoes were cooked through, I added it all to my Ninja blender with some curry powder, garlic, cumin, and chili powder and pureed until nice and smooth.

potatoes and spices

I returned it all to the pot and simmered it on low until we were ready to eat.

creamy vegetable soup

We each had a big bowl topped with Greek yogurt to add some protein and creaminess to it. For being just a bunch of vegetables and a few other ingredients blended together, we both thought the soup tasted like something you’d find at a nice restaurant. It was a great green color, packed full of nutrients to keep us from getting sick, and an easy way to avoid wasting food, something I absolutely hate doing. I’m trying to be more careful with grocery shopping, only getting enough for what we need and also trying to stay home more. It’s not been too hard in this frigid weather!

It’s time to meal plan for yet another week; what do you have on your menu for next week?

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Tags: broccoli, coconut milk, Food, healthy, peppers, potatoes, recipe, soup, spices, spinach, vegan, vegetables, Vegetarian

It’s “Grown in Massachusetts” week here on Travel, Wine, and Dine! Posts will be all about some of the great local eating and drinking experiences I have been lucky to have this past week. Slow work schedule in the summer? I can get used to this! (Not really, I can’t wait to be busy again!)

Last Thursday evening we had the great opportunity to attend a Dinner in the Field as guests of Volante Farms in Needham (home of Olympian Aly Raisman!), a place we fell in love with on a visit to their local food festival.

Things I loved about our first Dinner in the Field experience at Volante Farms? Where do I even begin?

Let’s start with the setting. The Dinner in the Field is literally on the farm, surrounded by all of the delicious things the Volantes have growing.

Volante Farms Dinner in the Field

Beautiful doesn’t begin to describe it. Needham is a very short drive from Boston, but I felt like I was way out in the country sitting at our table on the farm.

Volante Farms Dinner in the Field

Volante Farms Dinner in the Field Volante Farms Dinner in the Field

The staff at Volante Farms paid so much attention to detail when setting up the tables for the dinner. I loved all of the little touches, from the homegrown flowers to the table numbers in jars of sand and the candles that lined the entire space.

zinnias

And our proximity to all of the plants meant lots of butterflies and dragonflies. This one stopped by and sat with us for a few minutes.

dragonfly

The staff at Volante Farms didn’t just do a great job decorating; they were amazing throughout the evening from the time we checked in until we said goodbye. All of the servers work in some capacity at the farm or store, and they weren’t only attentive, they seemed to be genuinely happy to be serving. There were lots of smiles, and it made for a lovely, warm atmosphere.

Chef Todd Heberlein

Chef Todd Heberlein, Volante Farms chef, was responsible for the amazing meal that followed, much of it plucked right out of the ground around us. He had been at the farm since 2:30 am getting ready for the event. I wish they would do these dinners weekly, but I guess that would be asking a lot of him. . .

Chef Heberlein introduced each course, which was paired with wine from one of my favorites, The Urban Grape (The Urban Grape South End is opening soon!).

We kicked the evening off with an amuse, a bacon, corn, and okra fritter with smoked tomato sauce. This is when talk of licking our plates began, and it didn’t stop the whole night. Smoky bacon, smoky tomatoes, sweet corn, and okra made for a flavorful fritter. Okra, which can tend to be slimy in some dishes, in a fritter, adds a nice bite and flavor. It was a beautiful combination.

bacon, corn, and okra fritter

Chateau Routas Rose

Our appetizer was a summer lobster stew over buttery, flaky corn and scallion biscuits. Summer on a plate, paired with Chateau Routas Rosé from Provence, summer in a glass. Lobster and corn are two of my favorite parts of a New England summer, and the combination of them in this dish was outstanding.

Summer Lobster Stew

heirloom tomatoes

My obsession with heirloom tomatoes makes our salad course one of my favorites. Volante Farms grows over 20 varieties of heirlooms, and our salads contained three. The salad was anchored by a genius move on Chef Heberlein’s part, a goat cheesecake with herbs and a bread crumb crust.

The Urban Grape chose a Gruner Veltliner, Winzer Krems “Ried Sangrube” to go with the salad. The Gruner’s freshness and acidity was a beautiful choice for the tomatoes.

goat cheese cake

More farm-fresh vegetables arrived in the form of creative, bright side dishes for our main courses. August harvest vegetable curry and a bean salad with beets, olives, and preserved lemons showcased some more of the farm’s offerings. The curry was mild but packed with flavor and was simply divine. The beans had a nice crunch to them, a sweetness from the beets, and then a saltiness from the olives.

vegetable curry many bean salad with beets and preserved lemons

The veggie sides were served up with two main courses, a super tender spiced yogurt chicken with kale slaw and tomato chutney heaven. . .

spiced yogurt chicken

And adorable stuffed summer vegetables with a simple tomato sauce. The stuffed vegetables included Turkish eggplant stuffed with lamb. I don’t normally eat lamb, but I was so glad I tried this. I now want to go buy lots of little vegetables to stuff. Stay tuned. . .

For our main course wine, The Urban Grape went to a light red, Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which had flavors of cherries with a peppery finish.

stuffed summer vegetables

By the time we had eaten all of those gorgeous courses, I thought that there would be no way I could eat dessert, but dessert was a special surprise which I imagine took a lot of time, and I know took a lot of love and creativity, so we persevered.  Glasses of Chauteau Tour Grise “Zero Pointe” Ze Bulle Blanc NV sparkled in the twilight as we awaited the dessert surprise.

Chateau Tour Grise Zero Pointe Ze Bulle Blanc

It turns out that another Chef Heberlein was in charge of dessert. Chef Todd’s wife Jennifer recently joined the Volante Farms team as their pastry chef, and she did an amazing job with Chef Todd’s challenge of including vegetables in all of the desserts.

summer surprise dessert

Zucchini bread pudding, carrot cake whoopie pies, and beet and potato chocolate cake all came out in miniature form, absolutely perfect sizes for tasting and savoring the different flavors of each. None of these desserts were too sweet; instead they offered more of that seasonal, quality freshness from the farm. The whoopie pie was my favorite, but all three were exceptional.

Sundown and the candle-lined pathway made for an enchanting end to the evening. We left, talking nonstop about the food and the hospitality that welcomed us at Volante Farms, hoping that these events will become a regular occurrence.

Thank you to Volante Farms and Chef Heberlein for hosting us; we will be back!

 

This dinner was complimentary, but, as always, my opinions are my own.

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Tags: events, farm to table, Food, local food, summer, vegetables, wine

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