How to Combat the Winter Blues
I lived in South Dakota for almost 6 years, and the winters there really rocked my world. Having only lived in California, I never spent much time in the snow prior, so learning how to live(and drive) in it was going to be a huge, new task for me. On top of acclimating to the snow, I also had to deal with the loss of sunlight once Daylight Savings came along in November. No matter where I lived though, the Winter Blues always made it’s yearly visit to me. I knew that my first winter there I was going to have to actively come up with ways to make it more manageable.
First, let’s discuss what Winter Blues is and the symptoms that come along with it.
“Winter Blues a non-medical diagnosis, characterized by feelings of depression or deep unhappiness associated with experiencing the cold and darkness of winter.”
Some symptoms may include: feelings of sadness, low energy, restlessness, & lack of motivation to complete some tasks, but are still able to handle major tasks such as going to work and taking care of the house.
After some research and conversations with folks in my community, I came to find 6 helpful tips to combat the Winter Blues:
1. Re-decorate your space
With it being cold outside and the sun going down earlier in the day, you’ll most likely be spending more time inside your home. This is the perfect time to make your home as cozy and sacred as you can. Nothing is better than coming home to a place that is clean and arranged as you would like. You can do this with or without having to buy new things. Even just re-arranging your furniture in each room, or the one you spend the most time in, can make a big difference!
2. Plan time with friends and loved ones
Staying consistent with planning time with friends and loved ones can help immensely. If distance is a factor, thank goodness for technology; you can still set up weekly phone/Facetime calls. Connection is so important even when we feel like hibernating from the world.
3. Eat Well
It’s so easy to overeat and/or eat “unhealthy” during this time of the year- the holidays bring so many comfort food opportunities! And yes, please indulge when you’d like, but continuing a healthy diet throughout the winter makes a huge difference. And since you will be home more, this is a great opportunity to learn new winter recipes. There are many serotonin boosting foods we can incorporate into our daily meals that will help stabilize our mood throughout the day. (Read our Serotonin Boosting Recipes Blog!)
4. Start a new hobby or pick one back up
One of my favorite hobbies is beading, but during the spring and summer, I’m not wanting to do it as much because I’d rather be moving around outside. So in the winter I really indulge in it, because it’s a perfect hobby to do inside. Other good winter hobbies could include knitting, reading, doing puzzles, playing board games, journaling, yoga, or binge watching a show or two. No shame in your hobby game!
5. Get your daily Vitamin D each day through sunlight, food, and supplements
It is said that about 1 billion people in the world are Vitamin D deficient. A 2013 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry looked at research involving a total of 31,424 people and found that having low levels of vitamin D increased the risk for depression.
About 50% to 90% of Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlight while the rest comes from the diet. Twenty minutes of sunshine daily with over 40% of skin exposed is required to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.
If you have a spot in your house that gets good lighting, put a chair, rug, or pillow in that spot and sit there for as long as you like. You can stretch, read, or do any other activity to increase your time in that sunspot. If you can also do this at your place of work as well, that’s even better!
Nowadays there are sun lamps/lights that folks can purchase and set up in their house if they are unable to get natural sunlight throughout the day. You sit directly in front of the light for the recommended time, and boom, you got your daily recommended Vitamin D for the day!
And of course, another way to get Vitamin D is from the foods you eat and/or supplements. Supplementing your Vitamin D daily ensures you get your Vitamin D, whether or not you can get sunlight during the day.
6. Hug friends, family, and/or pets more
Physical contact stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, dopamine, & oxytocin, hormones that play an important role to our well-beings. So hug a loved one, pets included! (My dream is to book an hour-long session at the Gentle Barn, in Southern California where I can hug and meditate with a cow and other farm animals. Just thinking about this is giving me a serotonin boost!)
Hugs are free and you can do it for as long as you’d like! It is recommended to hug for at least 30 seconds.
Deepen your practice with Hugging Meditation.
Let’s be clear though, Winter Blues should not get confused with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of clinical depression that is a more severe experience of winter blues. If you find it difficult to maintain relationships, complete work, or manage daily tasks, please reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional for help.
We’ve already made it past the shortest day of the year, so it’s only up from here!
Health is About More Than What You Eat
When talking about health, diet tends to be the first thing that comes to mind. While eating a balanced diet is a very big part of a healthy lifestyle, it is not all-encompassing. Your sleep patterns, hydration level, and even your thoughts also contribute to your overall health.
Believe it or not, lifestyle habits like these can have an even stronger impact on your health than what you eat!
Did you know that getting plenty of sleep is associated with lower body weight, higher athletic performance, improved immune function, and better overall mood?
It has been shown that improving your sleep can be one of the easiest ways to improve your health. A recent review of 15 different studies, posted by Oxford Academic, found that sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar metabolism. A 2010 study also found that sleep deprivation can cause prediabetes in healthy adults in as little as 6 days!
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.
Stress is the next big factor that affects your health, regardless of what you eat.
When stressed your muscles naturally tense up to protect themselves from injury. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you’re constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax. Tight muscles cause headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.
Stress also stimulates the immune system. This stimulation can help you avoid infections and heal wounds, but over time, stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s response to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and common cold, as well as other infections.
Additionally, your liver produces extra blood sugar when stressed to give you a boost of energy. If you’re under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge and it can contribute to glucose insensitivity and even the onset of diabetes.
Water is actually the most important nutrient of all! It’s essential for body temperature regulation,
Older adults often don’t get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated, especially during summer when it’s hotter and people perspire more.
Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function! Many additional studies, with subjects ranging from children to adults, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.
Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically making it imperative to get enough water each day!
Your thoughts and feelings play a big role in your overall health. Positive thinking is associated with heart health, brain health and even longevity.
In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine.
By nurturing positive emotions, even in the face of terrible events, people can reap both short-term and long-term rewards,including managing stress levels, lessening depression, and building coping skills that will serve them well in the future.
Rest and Self Care
Mental well-being also plays a crucial role in overall health. While it can be easy to feel the need to be constantly productive, taking time to rest and reflect is important for mental health and stress relief.
While there are no specific guidelines for how much relaxation a person should incorporate into their lifestyle, making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important part of maintaining good health. Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also is shown to improve mood.
Deep relaxation has many other potential benefits as well—it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Taking time for self-care and relaxation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This can be anything from meditation and yoga to knitting, baking, walking, or swimming. Finding time for quiet and peaceful activities can make a world of difference when it comes to your health.
How You Eat
The quality of the food you eat is extremely important when it comes to health, but what about the way in which you eat?
In America, eating is often rushed, squeezed in, multi-tasked, and on-the-run. We may be distracted by television, work, or the computer while we eat. Many people eat very quickly and feel too full by the time they stop eating.
Distractions such as sitting on the couch and watching TV or being on your phone while eating can take away from the connection between you and your meal and contribute to overeating.
Using mindfulness practices to rebuild connections with these internal hunger and fullness cues will help you learn to regulate food and reach your health goals. Mindful eating allows you to feel in control and enjoy the experience of eating so much more.
To be more mindful with the way you eat try paying attention to the food that you eat, minimizing distractions, slow down your eating, chewing food thoroughly, and eat when hungry and stop at a comfortable level of fullness.
As you continue to explore healthful eating and managing food portions, remember that learning “how to eat” is just as important as learning “what to eat.”
Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist
A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm
We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area.
Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?
“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”
“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”
“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”
How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?
“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”
“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.”
“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”
What are your pest management practices?
“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”
How do you try to limit your food waste?
We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.
“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”
“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”
Preparation for Virtual Back to School
Although back to school is very different this year, it is helpful to plan out snack breaks and lunches. Meal prep so that school at home is smoother! Many of our Back to school favorites are on sale 8/21-8/23 for owners!
Back to Schoool Essentials
Meli Wraps are a ziplock and plastic wrap alternative. These beeswax wraps cling to bowls and work great for holding trail mix!
Stasher bags are ziplock 2.0. They are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe! These silicon master bags are great for snacks, soups, sandwiches, and more! Make soup in advance, portion out in these bags, and keep in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, place them in a pot of boiling water until thawed or throw in the microwave.
Be prepared with All Good hand sanitizer and sunscreen.
Love Bags makes tote bags, lunch boxes, and more. Best of all their fabric is 100% recycled plastics. Cleaning up the oceans with style!
Kleen Kanteen is a long-time favorite. We got in various sizes to ensure you can stay hydrated! They are insulated and will keep your water cool during this heatwave!
U-Konserve is great for meal prepping. We carry various sizes of these sustainable metal and silicone containers. Prep for the week and these containers stack nicely in the fridge!
Dip or Build
- Bell Peppers and Albacore Salad
- Taco Build (Sweet Potato or Mushroom)
- Pizza Build, use Naan, or make mini pizza dough!
Five Tofu Marinades
It is important to note that all these recipes will work great with baked, grilled, panfried, or crumbled tofu. These recipes work great in rice bowls, with veggies like bok Chou, onions, snap peas, carrots, and broccoli, or in a creative taco! Let us know what you create by posting a picture and tagging @davisfoodcoop!
Sweet Garlic Baked Tofu
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons warmed honey
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons peanut or toasted sesame oil
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place the grated garlic and ginger in a medium bowl. Add the honey, light soy sauce mirin, water, and oil. Whisk well to combine all ingredients
- Place tofu cubes in a single layer in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. Take care not to crowd the pieces of tofu. Pour the marinade over the tofu pieces, turning them to coat well on all sides.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Rotate pieces and bake for 15 more minutes, checking periodically that the liquid has not completely evaporated. Remove from oven and serve hot with dipping sauce or use in stir-fries.
Taco Tofu (Crumbed or small cubed)
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- sprinkle of Cloves
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Block Extra-Firm Tofu
- Best with diced onions and mushrooms!
- Mix tomato paste, water, and spices in a bowl. Add cubed or crumbled tofu and evenly coat.
- Heat cast iron with a little oil.
- Saute diced onions and mushrooms.
- Add tofu and cook on medium heat until onions are slightly translucent.
Ginger Baked Tofu
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rectangles
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced (2-inch piece)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Pat the tofu rectangles dry with a paper towel, and place on a sheet pan with a rim. Brush the tofu with the sesame oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each piece over after 15 minutes. Carefully drain most of the oil from the sheet pan. Mix together the ginger, garlic, tamari, Mirin and maple syrup, and pour it over the tofu. Bake for another 15 minutes until the tofu is firm and the sauce has reduced. Remove from heat and serve, drizzled with the sauce from the baking pan and garnished with fresh minced ginger, sesame seeds and scallions.
Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu
- 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Beginning at the short end, slice the block of tofu into 8 even rectangles. Lay the tofu on a baking sheet and sprinkle with tamari. Let sit, flipping once while preparing the pesto.
- Cut the stems off of the washed cilantro and puree the leaves in a blender or food processor with the fresh ginger, oils, sugar, salt, and lime juice. The resulting pesto should resemble a vibrant green smoothie.
- Lightly oil the grill. Using a metal spatula, place the tofu on the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and grill for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate and let cool, then toss with the cilantro pesto and garnish with ½ cup sesame seeds, black or white. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.
- 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- Slice the tofu crosswise into 8 squares. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the tofu and sear until golden brown on each side. Reduce to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of tamari, cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip the tofu and continue cooking until all the tamari is absorbed. Remove and reserve the tofu.
- In a medium sauté pan, combine 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, 1 tablespoon tamari and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to blend in the sugar. Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso paste until smooth. Gently add the tofu to the sauce, flipping once to coat. Let sit.
How to make Kombucha
How To Make Kombucha
If you followed our blog post last month about how to make your own kombucha SCOBY, then you are ready to make your first batch of kombucha! If you haven’t followed those steps yet, give it a try and you’ll be able to follow this tutorial in just a few weeks!
If you already have your SCOBY ready to go then read on.
Most store-bought Kombucha goes through two rounds of fermentation. The first round takes 5-10 days and is done with the SCOBY you have just made. The first round of fermentation is to build up probiotics in the kombucha from your SCOBY! The second fermentation is done in brewing bottles and does not use the SCOBY. The process is meant to build up CO2 in kombucha and infuse any other flavors. The second fermentation is not necessary for producing kombucha but I think it is well worth the week wait! Try some of the flavor combinations below!
- A 2 liter to 1-gallon jar
- More tea
- 2-3 brewing bottles
- Fruits and/or herbs
- Clean hands! This is an active culture and should only come into contact with very clean equipment
Once your SCOBY is complete, the liquid it is in will taste way to vinegary to drink! Dump all but 10-12 oz of that first batch. Then make some tea! The ratios will vary depending on the type of tea you wish to use. For this tutorial, I used Organic Jasmine from the Davis Food Co-op Bulk selection, but you can use earl grey, gun powder, white tea, oolong, yerba mate, or decaf/herbal tea. For each 1 cup of tea add ¼ cup unrefined sugar, agave, honey, or another sweetener. The sugar is necessary to feed the SCOBY! Let the tea cool to at least 80 Fahrenheit. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and in between touching anything, and I mean anything! Your SCOBY is a living culture and can grow mold if you are not clean in your processes. Remove your SCOBY, then add the tea to your jar with the small amount of original kombucha and place your SCOBY back on top of the liquid. Close the lid and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
After 5-10 days, make a new set of tea and set aside to cool to AT LEAST 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While your tea is cooling, you can start the second round of fermentation prep! Remove your SCOBY and set aside on a clean plate. Pour some of the SCOBY tea through a filter (cheesecloth works well!) and funnel or carefully pour into your brewing bottles leaving about 1.5-2 inches of air at the top. Add some flavor and sweetener! Close the lids and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
Keep 10-12 oz of the original first-round kombucha and add the cool sweet tea, then gently put your SCOBY back in. Cover the jar with a breathable cloth. Place it in a cool, dark place for 5-10 days. The longer it sits the stronger and more tart or vinegary it will taste. This batch will be ready to bottle around the time your brew bottles are ready to be opened!
When you are ready to drink the finished kombucha after its second fermentation, place them in the fridge 4 to 6 hours before you plan on opening. If you open them at room temperature, the Kombucha will shoot out like champagne! Filter again and it is ready to drink! Yum!
Store opened kombucha in the fridge until you’re ready to drink!
- Ginger and Dates, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger and 1 date per 16 oz)
- Ginger, Cardamom, and Sugar, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger, 2-3 Cardamom seeds or 1/4 tsp of ground Cardamom, and 1 tsp of Sugar per 16 oz)
- Strawberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (1-2 Large Strawberries per 16 oz)
- Lavender and Agave (3-5 lavender flower stalks and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, and Agave (1-2 stalks of each herb and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Elderberries and Blackberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 of each berry per 16 oz)
- Mulberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 berries per 16 oz)
- Making Kombucha on a budget? Save the bottles from store-bought Kombucha for the second fermentation. If you use these bottles, you will need to burp them every day, meaning you will unscrew the lid to release the CO2 build up! They cannot handle the pressure build-up and are prone to break or cause the lid to shoot off!
- Place the bottle of finished kombucha in the fridge 4-6 hours before opening! This will decrease the pressure to make it safer to open. If you leave the un-burped bottles in the fridge for too long before opening the CO2 pressure will simply build-up at the colder temperature and still shoot out like champagne! (see video!)
- Taste your first round fermentation kombucha before started the second round. See how it tastes, is it strong enough or does it need more sugar? After a few batches of fermentation, you will start to get a feel for what the kombucha should taste like before bottling!
Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist
6 refreshing salad recipes that best incorporate flavors of season. Whether it’s for a summer BBQ or a weeknight family dinner, these salads are perfect for any occasion.
Spinach STRAWBERRY GOAT CHEESE SALAD
The perfect sweet and savory salad with tender spinach, juicy strawberries, crunchy pecans and a honey dijon dressing.
Find the recipe here.
Chicken Caprese Salad
Sweet and tangy balsamic reduction drizzled over fresh basil and tomato paired with creamy avocado, grilled chicken and mozzarella.
Find the recipe here.
Orzo Pasta Salad
Hearty and full of Mediterranean flavors with fresh cherry tomatoes, tangy artichoke hearts, and crisp bell pepper.
Find the recipe here.
Kale and Blood Orange Salad
Crisp red onion, juicy grapefruit, and tangy feta cheese makes for the perfect burst of citrus zest in each bite.
Find the recipe here.
Crisp apples and celery paired with juicy grapes in a sweet and creamy yogurt honey dressing.
Find the recipe here.
CRUNCHY BELL PEPPER SALAD
Made with sweet crunchy bell peppers, fresh herbs, and a tangy balsamic dressing – this salad is full of textures and fresh flavors.
Find the recipe here.
Beans and Grains
What exactly is a grain?
What’s the difference between wholegrain and multigrain?
Which is better, dried or canned beans?
Read along to find out the answers to these questions but recipes, cooking tips, and more!
Both beans and grains are food staples around the world and can be found in every single cuisine! Recently beans and grains have been gaining popularity due to the affordability, versatility and nutrition that they offer. From the familiar corn cob and pinto bean to the avant garde anasazi and quinoa, there is a grain and bean out there for everyone. That being said there’s often confusion about which bean and grain options are the best.
Beans add diverse flavors and textures to your cooking while also boosting the nutrition by providing a good balance of fiber, protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Beans are a great kitchen addition that make for a dynamic meal with very little cost. Plus if stored properly dried beans can last for up to 2-3 years without losing significant nutrient value and taste!
Dried beans are one of the most affordable ingredients with many types to choose from.
You can easily buy them in bulk which allows you to get exactly the amount you need without excess packaging!
Most dried beans, excluding lentils, split peas, and adzuki, will require soaking overnight (or at least 8 hours) before cooking in order to properly rehydrate them. After they’ve soaked make sure to drain the soaking water and add fresh water to your cooking pot. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional details on bean varieties, storage tips, and cooking times.
Canned beans are super convenient and great to have on hand for quick meal additions. While there tends to not be as much variety in canned beans as dried, there are still lots of bean types to choose from.
It can be especially handy to have canned garbanzo and soy beans, as these take the longest to prepare from dried.
A nutrition note on canned beans is that many have additional ingredients added such as sugar, salt, and fat and you should always check the ingredient label first before purchasing.
When it comes to fresh beans there are fresh shelling beans, like fava and cranberry beans which require shelling because the pod is inedible, and fresh whole beans, like romano and green beans which can be eaten whole. Fresh shelling beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found dried, while fresh whole beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found canned.
A benefit of fresh beans over dried and canned is that many varieties, like romano beans, can be eaten raw and do not require any cooking preparation. You can find these fresh beans when in season here at the Davis Food Co-op or your local farmers market!
When it comes to beans, dried are the most affordable option with the best variety to choose from. However, dried beans require proper storage and more preparation time for soaking and cooking. Canned beans offer the most convenience and are also an affordable option, but they limit the control of nutrients like salt and fat because many canned options have additional ingredients added. And lastly, fresh beans are a great seasonal option that can occasionally even be eaten raw offering unique flavors and textures.
Guide to Grains:
Grains, sometimes referred to as cereals, are small, hard seeds that come from different grass and grass-like plants. Today the most commonly produced grains around the world are rice, corn, and wheat, but there are many different kinds of grains! Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins plus they are very satisfying and filling meal additions. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional information on types of grains, storage tips, and cooking times!
So what’s the difference between whole grain, multigrain, and fortified grains?
Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel, the bran, endosperm, and germ, are used. This is obvious when cooking rice or quinoa because the grain kernel is still intact, but can become more confusing when buying grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers.
Whole grains are the healthiest option because they offer the full nutrient and fiber content of the grain.
Back in 2005 the Whole Grains Council created a whole grain stamp that makes it easy to identify products made with whole grains! Many but not all products use the whole grain stamp so other good identifiers of whole grains are words like ‘stone ground’ and ‘whole wheat’.
Fun fact, popcorn is a whole grain!
Multigrain means that multiple different grains were used but none of them necessarily in their whole form. Due to this, the term multigrain can be deceiving because it is just referring to the number of grains and not the quality of the grains.
Multigrain products such as rice blends can be great options to diversify your cooking but it’s important to check the label because multigrain breads and cereals can sometimes be tricky!
Other names to look out for are numbers placed in front of grain such as ‘seven-grain’ or twelve-grain’. These are still multigrain products and may or may not contain actual whole grains.
Fortification is a process used to restore the nutrient content of grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients during refining. During refining grain kernels are separated and the bran and germ are removed leaving just the starchy endosperm behind.
This is generally done because the bran and germ impart more earthy flavors that are not also desirable but in doing so the majority of fiber and nutrients are also removed from the grain.
This is why most refined grains are then fortified with essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. While fortification has made refined grains much healthier, they still do not compare to their whole grain counterparts and will be lacking in nutrients unique to that grain.
When it comes to grains and grain products whole grain is the best option because the grain kernels are still intact leaving all of the nutrients intact as well. Multigrain products can be good options to get a variety of grains into your diet but tend to be misleading as to the processing and quality of the grain so you should always double-check the nutrition label. And lastly, fortified grains are highly processed, do not contain the same nutrients found in whole grains and therefore should be the last option when buying grain products.