Sweet Potato Grits | My Farmhouse Delivery

This post is sponsored by Farmhouse Delivery, I received products/services in return for my editorial consideration. 

There are a few no-fail ways to win my heart. Keep me company on a long run without complaining, agree that I need another pair of cowboy boots for my collection, or send me a massive box of locally-sourced, organic fruits, veggies and other fine foods so that I can save time creating healthy, nourishing meals to fuel my active lifestyle.Farmhouse Delivery

So, let’s chat about the latter, being “gifted” with local Texas produce and other home state food supplies and sundries from Farmhouse Delivery. Farmhouse Delivery partners with local farmers and ranchers to deliver the cleanest, highest-quality, sustainably produced food to my front door – and yours! Farmhouse Delivery helped me mastermind some beautiful, body-boosting meals to feed my family this week. Read on to learn about my experience with this delivery service and get my recipe for Sweet Potato Grits and meal inspiration. Continue reading

Just Picked Possibilities – Fruit & Veggie Recipes + Grilled Steak Salad

Snapping peas, shucking corn, wandering through the woods in search of huckleberries – the chores of summer have me salivating!   Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of my kitchen creations and the summer season offers so many fresh-for-the-picking possibilities.  In addition to the Any Way, Any Day Grilled Steak Salad recipe I share below, I’ve gathered up this collection of some of my favorite warm weather recipes that are ideal for outdoor entertaining! Enjoy!

Check out Just-Picked Possibilities! Summer Fruit & Veggie Recipes

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

If you are looking for a “no recipe” recipe that takes advantage of the season’s freshest ingredients, then my Any Way, Any Day Grilled Steak Salad will delight you with its lack of details – but let me assure you this healthy salad is in no shy in sunny day, farm-fresh flavor!  You can fix up this entrée salad on a plate or platter for dinner tonight, or package up in a mason jar to take for the best lunch break ever.  Jar salads are genius in form and function – a vibrant rainbow of goodness layered in a handy container that can be taken “to go” en route to a picnic, concert in the park, the gym, or even work (sigh). When ready to dig into the salad simply give it a shake and then eat from the jar or pour onto a plate – because it is layered in the reverse order of a typical salad, the lettuce ends up on the bottom of the plate and the salad dressing on top!

sirloin jar salad

Any Way, Any Day Grilled Steak Salad Recipe

  • 12 ounce top sirloin steak, 1” thick
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 8 cups chopped greens (like romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, an assortment)
  •  4 cup assortment of chopped or shredded vegetables of choice (like cucumber, snap peas, carrots, radish, celery, tomatoes, etc.)
  • 1 (15-oz) can beans of choice, drained and rinsed (like black bean, chick pea, edamame, kidney, etc.)*
  • 1 cup salad toppings (like pecans, almonds, feta cheese, dried or fresh fruit or assortment)

Dressing:

  • 1 6-oz carton plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon or equivalent “sweet” dressing component (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon “spicy” dressing component (Sriacha sauce, chipotle powder, Tabasco, etc.)
  1. Preheat grill to 400 F degrees.
  2. In small bowl, make a paste of garlic, olive oil, pepper and salt.
  3. Use fork tines to slightly pierce steak all over the front and bottom. Apply paste liberally to steak, rub until well coated.
  4. Grill steak for approximately 5 -6 minutes per side, flipping only once if possible. Remove when instant read thermometer registers 135 F degrees. Let rest for approximately 5 minutes (temperature should rise to 145, which is medium rare).
  5. Slice steak into thin slices across the grain. If desired, then cut slices into bite-sized pieces.
  6. In small bowl, whisk together yogurt and chosen dressing components.
  7. To assemble salad on plate, start with lettuce, then vegetables, beans, beef slices, salad toppings and then dressing. For the jar salad, dollop dressing in the jar first and then layer with vegetables, beans, beef, lettuce and then salad toppings. Serves 4.

*If lettuces and other delicate ingredients are layered at the top of the jar (away from the dressing and juicy meat), the salads will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Make ahead for busy work day lunches!

If you like the idea of jar salads, don’t miss these other two I love:

 

Thai Peanut Chicken Jar Salad

jennifer fisher - thai peanut chicken salad - main option 1

 

 

 

 

Chopped Ancho Chicken Jar Salad

ancho chili chicken salad collage

 

 

 

 

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com. However, all commentary, opinions and recipes are naturally my own. 

 

Digging into Dinner (and Dialogue) on the Farm

farm shovel thefitforkAs part of the Blogher Food 13 Conference this weekend, I had a chance to dig around for answers to my food-source issues and share dinner with some fine folks from across the country, each and every one represented the entrepreneurial spirit and sweat-of-the-brow work ethic that I believe is still the reality of farming and ranching today. I’m talking real people with real families and a real commitment to providing quality products – produce, dairy, meat and more. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several “farm to fork” educational excursions and, as with those previous outings, this dinner definitely reinforced my confidence and trust in today’s agricultural industry. In fact, I’m honored to be putting my name and face in magazine ads to support an industry built with honest, salt-of-the-earth people like these.

springdale farm dinner thefitfork

Getting these commodities into our grocery stores and onto our plates may be a big business at an aggregated level, but the plain fact is that most farms and ranches across the US are surprisingly small, multi-generational family operations that work tirelessly to provide safe, nutritious and affordable options for America’s dinner tables. Despite our probing questions, I could tell from their readiness to dialogue on a both factual and personal level that these people weren’t just shoveling us bloggers a pile of manure! If you have your own questions about how today’s food is grown and raised, I suggest checking out FoodDialogues.com, an online resource operated by our host for the evening, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

us farmers and ranchers alliance logo

I have to give a quick shout out to a few people I really enjoyed chatting with including watermelon grower, dairy farmer (and new grandpa!), Russell Boening from Floresville, Texas and Jason and Marianna Peeler also from Floresville. Jason is involved with several sides of the cattle industry and his wife, Marianna, runs a cage-free poultry operation called Peeler Farms. I could really relate to Marianna as we shared so many of the same things – we’re the same age, have teenage children and have a passion for running, CrossFit and preparing healthy meals!  I also met Sara Ross, a young mom and 6th generation farmer-rancher from Iowa — check out her blog about farm life and how food gets to the table at Sara’s House HD. Morgan Kontz, another fun young mom, has a blog that chronicles her adventures after marrying into South Dakota farm life – Stories of a First Generation Farm Wife.

farm and ranch thefitfork

So, onto dinner and the sights! Springdale Farms, an almost four-acre urban oasis on the east side of Austin, was decorated like a quaint scene for some movie set. In reality, this venue is a real-live working farm providing organic, locally-sourced food options for the surrounding community. How have I not been here before? Huge oak trees shaded our party until night fell over the farm, at which point old fashioned glass bulbs strung from limb to limb illuminated the rustic picnic tables dressed with a hodgepodge of many a grandmother’s best china. Our facilitator of fun for the night was Danny Boome, intrepid gastronaut and television personality on numerous food shows.

springdale farm collage

The menu was divine and made with ingredients plucked right from the farm:

  • Gazpacho
  • Green Salad
  • Collard Greens
  • Sweet Potato and Egg Salad
  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Berry Cobbler with Cream
  • Iced Tea with Mint

Farm to Fork Facts & Beef Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers Recipe

This weekend, I spent another educational day with the Texas Beef Council learning about how my favorite protein source – beef — makes it from “farm to fork.” With beef industry experts on-board our charter bus classroom, a small herd of beef-eating athletes slash curious consumers rolled through the Central Texas countryside on a mission to gain a deeper understanding of the cattle industry . . . . and, ultimately, those steaks on our dinner plates. Over the day, we toured a working ranch, visited a feed lot and then hoofed it around a ginormous meat department at a super-sized HEB.

SAMSUNG

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a big fan of beef. After avoiding it for the first half of my life, I suddenly found myself craving it during my first pregnancy. Of course, my body had finally taken the reigns from my brain, telling it I needed the added protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc and several other vital nutrients in which I was missing the mark. That was 17 years ago and today I’m still craving beef as a way to refuel my body after hard running and strength-training workouts.

But, that’s enough about me. I want to share some new-to-me, interesting things I learned about beef this weekend, facts I think you should know too. The final beef tidbit in my list is a yummy appetizer recipe that the awesome folks with the Texas Beef Council fed with us as a prelude to dinner.

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A Few Farm to Fork Facts: Most I Never Knew – Did You?

  1. The average ranch in Texas is just something like 46 heads of cattle; this really busted my “big business” view of the cattle raising industry. We visited the approximate 2,000 herd Breitschopft Ranch in Gonzalez and this, aside from just a handful of mega-ranches in the state, is as “big business” as it gets – yet it was a surprisingly down-home, salt-of-the-earth, family-oriented operation with an owner who works his butt off 365 days a year to produce a quality product for consumers.
  2. When you buy “Certified Angus Beef” in the grocery store or order it from a restaurant menu you are ordering a “brand” of beef, not specifically a “grade” of beef.  The grades of beef given by USDA inspectors are prime, choice, select and a few lesser-quality grades. According to the Certified Angus Beef website, this brand only puts its name on prime and choice grades – but this makes it no better or worse than equivalent piece of beef with the same grade. Another interesting fact about the admittedly yummy brand; the Angus designation only requires the animal’s hide to be at least 51 percent black. Really.
  3. The yellow-orange tint in the rendered fat from grass-finished beef (meaning the cow never went to a feed lot before slaughter) comes from the fat-soluble beta-carotene in the ingested grass.  I asked this question after being curious about the different-colored drippings in my grill pan after experimenting with a ground grass-fed beef product.
  4. Changes in cattle breeding and fat-trimming methods have resulted in increased availability of leaner beef. I’ve mentioned a million times before that there are 29 cuts of lean beef.  But, I didn’t realize that a whopping two-thirds (67%) of beef sold at retail (including popular cuts like sirloin tenderloin and t-bone) meet governmental guidelines for “lean.” How can you NOT have beef for dinner!
  5. A cow’s stomach (a four-compartment vessel collectively called a rumen) is a very complicated thing. To put it simply, the animal co-exists with billions of microbes in the stomach – bacteria, fungi and protists – that break down grass, hay and other food products into nutrients a cow is actually able to digest. I haven’t done justice to the science behind the rumen, especially considering there are people with advanced college degrees on the topic!
  6. The beef supply in the US is very, very, extremely safe and highly regulated by the thousands of USDA inspectors every step of the way. The chances of being affected by one of the media sensationalized “beef issues” is like “being struck by lightning AND winning the powerball lottery on the same day” according to a PhD beef expert I know to be very knowledgeable on the subject. By the way, Facts About Beef is a great resource for gathering more information on any beef concerns you might encounter.
  7. My last tidbit is about cooking with ground beef. Ground beef is very convenient, cost-efficient and gives you so many ways to be creative! Plus, I forgot to mention ground beef can be super delicious as evidenced by this easy appetizer from the Texas Beef Council.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - beef stuffed bell peppers

Beef & Couscous Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 15 baby sweet bell peppers (approx. 2.5” to 3” long)
  • 2/3 cup spicy 100% vegetable juice
  • ½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup reduced fat shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Heat oven to 400F degrees. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes, but not stems. Place peppers, cut sides up, onto two rimmed baking sheets.

Combine ground beef, vegetable juice, spinach, couscous, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Spoon beef mixture evenly into peppers; sprinkle tops evenly with cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pepper registers 160F degrees and peppers begin to brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.