Ollie’s Awesome Indian BBQ Bites

BBQBitesI came up with the idea of a “Chopped Night” (like the Food Network show) for my little brother and I. The ingredients my mom supplied us were: tamarind pods (which we had never cooked with), chicken, whole wheat pizza dough, and tomato paste- along with any other ingredients in the kitchen. I found sweet curry powder and Vindaloo Spice Blend. My mom helped me, and together we made these Awesome Indian BBQ Bites- they pack easy and I can take them to school for lunch! I served this with a yummy Indian inspired tomato cucumber salad. This recipe features lots of my favorite veggies we grow in our community garden. Mmmm.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pizza dough

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tamarind pods
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove smashed garlic
  • 1 tsp Indian sweet curry powder
  • ½ tsp Vindaloo seasoning
  • 1 ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 smashed clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 Chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup thinly sliced dinosaur kale
  • Pinch of salt

Procedure

The Sauce:

Peel the tamarind pods with your fingers and remove the sturdy fibers that enclose the fruit (similar to the process of “stringing” beans). In a small pan, combine the tamarind and the water over med-high heat. Cook till the tamarind softens (about 6 minutes) and the water turns an orange color. Pour the tamarind water through a fine sieve into a bowl, and then press the pulp through the sieve into the soaking water- you will have to scrap the pulp off the bottom of the sieve. Tamarind has a great sweet tart flavor that many different cultures use in cooking- which makes the sauce super yummy. (Tamarind also comes in a paste if you can’t find the pods.)

In the same small pan over medium high heat, add olive oil, onion, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Now add the sweet curry powder and Vindaloo. Stir till combined. Add the reserved tamarind water, tomato paste, sugar, and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Let the sauce cook over med-low heat for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. If it is too thick add about ¼ cup water. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

For the Bites:

Set whole wheat pizza dough on the counter to rest so it is ready when the chicken is done cooking. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 tsp olive oil, add smashed garlic and onion, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chopped chicken, kale, and half your Indian BBQ sauce. Continue to cook over med-high heat (for 8 minutes) until the chicken cubes are cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Flour a cutting board so your dough does not stick. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Use one ball of dough at a time and stretch into a square about the size of your hand. Fill with 1 tbsp of chicken filling and close around the filling bringing the corners of the dough together and pinch, place dough bites seam side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or cover the cookie sheet with parchment paper). Lightly brush tops of each bite with olive oil. Cook at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes, until all bites are a nice golden brown.

Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce to dip bites and a nice serving of delicious Indian Inspired Cucumber Tomato salad.

For the Salad:

  • ¼ cup plain low fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Mint
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Chopped Cucumber
  • 1 Chopped Tomato or 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • ½ Chopped Onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, and mint in a bowl. Add the onion, cucumber, and tomato. Toss to combine, add arugula, and toss again. Salt and pepper to taste.


ollieOliver is an inquisitive, intelligent third grader from the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. He loves reading, science, art, Legos, music- and especially cooking. He loves being in the kitchen with his mom and gets excited when mastering different recipes. So far he is an omelet expert, makes delicious crepes, and even took a chance at making pasta from scratch. In addition, Oliver is interested in the science of food- from the physics behind a pie bird to understanding all the complex vitamins and minerals your body needs. He loves the community garden where he is very active- and is particularly intrigued by the process of growing your own food. Here at Back to the Roots, we are all about anything that makes food personal again- whether it’s buying local produce or creating healthy recipes like Oliver’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Ways to Green Your Home and Save Money

The green energy movement has gained a great amount of popularity, but many folks remain on the sidelines because they think it simply costs too much money. The average cost for solar panels is around $25,000 and a wind turbine system runs about $30,000. However, beyond these more extravagant expenses, there are several simpler and much less expensive ways to go green. If you want to save money and leave the planet in a better condition for future generations, read on.

1. Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
Purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances requires a significant initial out-of-pocket expense; however, you’ll recoup those costs in the future. For example, replacing your current refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR fridge can save you as much as $1,100 in energy costs over its lifetime. Trade your old washing machine for an ENERGY STAR model, and you’ll use roughly 20% less energy and reduce water usage by 35%.

2. Consolidate Your Cleaning Products
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is a cheap, natural soap that can replace all of your current cleaning products. It’s 100% organic and can be used to clean kitchen counters, mirrors, bathrooms, dishes, laundry, and more. Just be sure you dilute it with water, as it is an incredibly potent product.

3. Make Your Home Air Tight
Go through your home and check window seals and doors for drafts, and make the appropriate upgrades. Caulk is cheap and can be applied by just about anyone – just be sure you scrape away all old caulking before applying the new caulk. Drafty doors can be fixed with new weather-stripping and a door draft stopper installed on the bottom.

4. Unplug Rarely Used Appliances
Do you have a guest bedroom that isn’t in use very often? Be sure to unplug all the appliances, including lamps, alarm clocks, and televisions. Even if a device isn’t in use but is plugged in, it generates what’s called a phantom load, which adds to your energy bill.

5. Use CFL Bulbs
CFL bulbs are more expensive than regular light bulbs. However, by spending approximately $3 per bulb, you can save up to $60 in energy costs over its lifetime.

6. Conserve Water
There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of water you use. Wait until you have a full load of laundry to run your washing machine, and likewise, do not run your dishwasher until it is entirely full. Consider cutting just a few minutes out of your daily shower, and keep a pitcher of water in your fridge, as this cuts down on water wasted as you run your tap waiting for it to cool.? You may only save a few dollars per month, but you’ll definitely be doing your part to improve the environment.

7. Start a Backyard Garden
Vegetables sold at supermarkets are often transported cross-country, which increases carbon monoxide emissions. Start your own backyard veggie garden to reduce your carbon footprint. Just be sure to follow the directions on the seed packets, and space your vegetables and fruits appropriately. Regularly inspect your garden for insects, and water as needed.

Final Thoughts
Once you’ve effectively “greened” your home, it is time to put those savings to their best use. Do you carry credit card balances? If so, use your savings to pay down your debts. Is your emergency fund stocked with at least nine months’ worth of living expenses? If not, add to it. And remember, it’s always a great idea to add money to your retirement fund. Greening your home is excellent, but putting the savings where it can do the most good is even better.

What are you doing to green your home?

Posted in Uncategorized

The Easter Bunny’s not the only one who knows his chocolate.

By Mary Ellen Gorges

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.57.30 PM
A small company in Berkeley, Calif. is proving that delivering chocolate is a year-round business and taking it way beyond just bunnies and eggs. TCHO (pronounced “choh!” — their play on the phonetic spelling of the first syllable in chocolate) opened six years ago, and has been making chocolate ever since.

Audrey Chrisler, store manager of TCHO, describes some of their chocolate creations. “We have four single-origin dark chocolates: Chocolatey, Fruity, Nutty and Bright (a citrus flavor), as well as two milk chocolates — Cacao and Classic — and four kinds of chocolate paired with a unique ingredient. These include ‘Mokaccino’ with Blue Bottle coffee and ‘Galactic Gelato’ with freeze dried Naia Gelateria mint gelato.

“Flavor is everything,” says Chrisler. TCHO’s dark chocolates are single-origin, meaning all the beans used to make a chocolate bar come from one country. Each country produces different flavored beans, determined by the soil they’re grown in, climate and even culture. For example, TCHO’s Fruity dark chocolate comes from Peru and Peruvian beans naturally have a berry-like taste.

Chrisler reminds us that they are a chocolate maker and not a ‘chocolatier’ which she says is someone who takes already-made chocolate and creates things like truffles from it. Instead, TCHO begins their chocolate making process long before importing the beans from around the world.

“Most farmers have never tasted chocolate made from their own beans.” Audrey Chrisler

At the core of their unique business model is TCHOSource, the company’s philosophy to work with farmers at every step of chocolate production, and to share ideas and tools that are both low tech and high tech.
good farmers shot

Part of TCHOSource is providing farmers with FlavorLabs — mini chocolate factories where farmers use everyday equipment like hair driers and spice grinders to examine, roast and conch small batches of chocolate. Farmers are also given digital thermometers to know exactly when beans are fermenting so they know the optimal time to harvest.

So how does a chocolate bean end up as a chocolate bar?

1. Harvesting the cacao bean.

Your science teacher was right. Chocolate is made from a fruit! Cacao (pronounced cuh-cow) beans are a tropical fruit that grow inside neon-colored pods that grow on trees. These cacao trees are grown far from California, and only in very tropical parts of the world near the equator (like Peru and Ecuador).
tree
2. Processing the beans.

In the countries of origin, the beans are fermented, dried and then roasted. All of these processes help further develop the flavor profiles that are already inherent in the cacao beans.

The shells are removed and the cacao beans are pressed to separate the two by-products that are cocoa liquor and cocoa butter. The rest of the bean is discarded.
4 processing

3. The manufacturing process.
Once the beans make it to California, the cocoa butter and cocoa liquor are combined with sugar, soy lecithin and vanilla to create a base. The chocolate makers then do interesting things like conch, temper and mold their chocolate.

To see actual chocolate making in person, take advantage of a free public tour of TCHO’s chocolate factory — a sort of ‘Chocolate University’. Each tour ends with a tasting. “It’d be cruel to talk about chocolate for 45 minutes and not give you any,” says Chrisler. (Tours will resume in June once TCHO is settled in its new Berkeley location.)

And to get your chocolate fix anytime, go to TCHO’s kiosk at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco and online at tcho.com (Easter Bunny needs to figure this out!). You can also find TCHO chocolate at Whole Foods, and many specialty grocery stores nationwide.

Chrisler’s advice for year round is to always make sure everyone who helps in making a product is treated with an equal amount of opportunity and respect.

And adds, “Never TCHEW your TCHO chocolates. Always let them melt in your mouth! They’ll taste better and last longer.”

Happy Easter everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized

Tips to stay calm as Tax Day looms near

By Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots

bill 1Tax accountant and CPA Bill Ehardt, of San Francisco, Calif., says he uses humor to distract his clients this time of year – especially when they owe money.

“First I get them to breathe, then to relax and then to think about their next vacation,” says Ehardt. “I try to be the voice of calm.” I say, “It’s not so bad, it’s only money.”

That’s easy for Bill to say. The rest of us are either stressing about how to pay our tax bill – or if you’re lucky and getting a refund – making sure you get your return in by midnight April 15th.

So what’s the trick for a calm, healthy approach to this annual ritual? Well, by using the same tricks we use to deal with stress all year long. And remember, when you feel better and are calm, you’re much apt to make fewer mistakes.

Ways to make any stressful situation less …(well) taxing.

Here are some other folks who have figured out what works for them.

honeymooners
Honeymooners Phil and Tiffany:  “We decided on a cruise for our honeymoon.”These Australians visiting the Bay area wanted their marriage to begin on a calm note. So they opted for a cruise from Sydney all the way to San Francisco. They say they wanted all the details taken care of — no deciding where to stay or how to get somewhere. Says Tiffany, “It’s been great so far. We’re still talking to each other.”
jerome4Hair colorist Jerome Molles:“I make my environment very relaxing and comfortable.”Molles just opened his own salon called Studio 323 in San Francisco. And says there’s nothing more stressful than doing a woman’s hair. This is also the first time in his life he’s running his own business. “I made all the colors in the place very warm and picked a place that had great light streaming in.” Added Molles, “My clients think it’s for them but it’s actually for me.”
craig Little league soccer coach Craig Doedden:  “I sit down.”Doedden says forcing himself to sit down during a game keeps him relaxed and focused on the players. “If I stand, then I’m walking around and not really watching the game. My anxiety is playing out.” (I have witnessed this many times. Even during a tie or a tourney, Doedden sits in his chair.)
bus driver
Maurice the ‘Big Bus’ driver:  “I don’t take work home with me.”Maurice drives tourists around all day in downtown San Francisco and (as you can tell) enjoys his work. “I don’t bring the problems of work home with me; otherwise, you show up at work the next day still stewing about stuff that bothers you. You have to get your mind off it.”
bicyclist
Logan the pedicabbie:   “It’s all about controlled breathing.”It’s back to our accountant’s advice of telling his clients to breathe. Logan says it’s all about breathing deeply and “keeping the endorphins firing.”
alicia1
Alicia Kim:  “Spend time at the office relaxing.”Of course, here at Back to the Roots, our favorite way to relax is with an AquaFarm. We always believe in taking time out to enjoy the small things …even when it’s Sammy the Fish. Let us know how you relax this tax season!
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Posted in Our Community

Who says March Madness destroys productivity? You’re just developing your entrepreneurial skills. Nikhil explains how.

basketball head

Nikhil talks about the many parallels between business and March Madness.

Read here in ragan.com

 

 

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Posted in Our Community

It’s officially spring! Flowers that go from the garden to the kitchen.

By Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots

Edible flowers are becoming a popular way to grow your own food, and are quickly going from being the table centerpiece to part of the menu. At some farmers markets, flower petals are mixed right in with the lettuce.

farmers market

Zoe Rosenbeum with Happy Boy Farms from Watsonville, Calif. sells produce at a farmers market in Palo Alto Calif. on Sundays. She says, “People are really divided on them. Sometimes they just want to know if we sell lettuce without flowers  …or flowers on their own. This group of shoppers at the farmers market isn’t sure either.

Chef Jack Amon is executive chef and founder of The Marx Bros Café in Anchorage, Alaska and says he always serves flowers in his salads (in the summer) because they add flavor AND a great splash of color.  He says nasturtiums are his favorite but he also uses edible pansies, Johnny Jump-Ups and even roses.

nasturtiums  pansies  johnny jumpups  roses 1
        Nasturtiums                 Pansies                     Johnny Jump-Ups          The Rose

Amon says nasturtiums taste like horseradish “spicy and really good”. He suggests grinding some up and making them into a butter rub for chicken and seafood. Put a slice on top of food to melt right before you grill.

Here’s his simple recipe:
1 pound of butter
Half a cup of nasturtiums
Roll into a log and put in the freezer (lasts up to a year)

Amon grows edible flowers in his garden behind his fine dining restaurant in the long summer days of Alaska. “Customers love them, especially when they see one of the chefs go out to the garden to pick the flowers, and they end up on their plate moments after.” He says flowers are used as a garnish too to make a dish beautiful …or to make a statement. He says for Valentine’s Day, he makes a sorbet with rose petals that gives it a distinct rose flavor.

After such a long winter for many across the country, thoughts of gardening are downright welcome. But Amon says, “Don’t just go to your garden and start picking petals.” One trick is to try this cheat sheet on what flowers are edible. He also says it’s very important – just like with your veggies – not to treat flowers you’re planning to eat with pesticides or chemicals.

Growing what you can eat

Anthony Vigil, of Summerwinds Nursery in Mountain View, Calif., says this year in particular — especially in the last few months — a lot more customers have been asking for edible flowers. He says not everyone wants to buy all their food at a grocery store.

Just as a sprig of parsley was once seen as only decoration and now consumed for its great nutritional value, flowers are having a renaissance of their own. It’s spring! Plant now to add color and taste to your dishes later.

Let us now what flowers you find make the best ingredients!

Posted in The Movement

Forget the Guinness. Try drinking (and eating) your green for St Patty’s Day today.

By Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots

You can make a sport out of making things green for St Patricks Day. People go all out for this greenest of holidays that’s full of revelry and ideas, and add green to almost anything — especially foods — including ones you never thought could be green.

M&Ms       pancakes       deviled eggs
(Green M&Ms are thought to be lucky year round.)

Since we hope to court our own luck of the Irish, here are some ideas for adding green to foods …with a focus on nutrition. And since St Pat’s is all about libations …our first two are drinks (using herbs).

wheatgrass

A glass of wheatgrass:  Wheatgrass is extremely cleansing, detoxifying and nutritious, and why — despite its strong flavor –people will find a way to add it to their diet. If the taste continues to be too strong for you, chase it down with pineapple or orange slices.

mint

Mint:  Use this popular herb to flavor your milkshakes (and tell the kids they taste just like the ones from McDonalds). Here’s the recipe. Adults use mint to cleanse the palate, but its smell is so smoothing that some people swear it relieves congestion when you have a cold.

pesto

Pesto:  Pesto sauce can turn almost any pizza healthy. It’s made with olive oil – which is loaded with heart-healthy fats – and basil, which includes phytochemical nutrients that act as antioxidants to fight cancer-causing free radicals.

green peppers

Green peppers:  Turn these into natural food holders and fill with anything green. Green peppers are known for being a rich source of antioxiants and vitamin C.

spinach

Spinach: Spinach has tons of antioxidants and is considered one of the bright green ‘super veggies’ — along broccoli and kale. Fool the kids and get them to eat spinach by making spinach banana smoothies.

kiwi

Kiwis is another food loaded with antioxidants as well as Vitamin C. It’s sweet but doesn’t create a strong insulin rush like other fruit with high sugar contents.

broccoli

Broccoli:  Beer-Battered Broccoli is a sure-fire hit for St. Patrick’s Day. Fry these in a healthy oil (like Canola) to get all the nutritious value of eating broccoli.

cabbage

Cabbage:  And what’s a St. Patty’s day without green cabbage? Try this recipe for Sautéed Irish Cabbage with Noodles. Cabbage is loaded with antioxidants and fiber — and if you serve it with dinner — no one around the table will get pinched!

Tell us how you’ll get your green on for St. Patty’s Day, and enjoy the holiday!

 

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Posted in The Movement, Uncategorized

Just like the Iditarod mushers, we all need energy boosters.

By Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots

In a dramatic finish at the wee hours of the morning last night (4am Alaska time), musher Dallas Seavey pulled from third place to finish first  in the 42nd Iditarod when howling winds stopped the frontrunner within 22 miles of Nome. It’s a testament to what our energy reserves can do for us.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 9.38.33 AM

Winning musher Dallas Seavey

Natural energy boosters

Increasingly, herbs are becoming popular as a way to boost our stamina, our mood and even our ability to cope w/ stress (ideal for the Iditarod …or that next big job interview. Here’s our list of five with special energy-boosting qualities. The first three are called adaptogens (not to turn you off!), and these are particularly good at helping us deal with stress.

ginseng

1. Ginseng:  This one is very popular among endurance sports athletes. Neil Bernardi-Wright, an acupuncturist in the Bay area, who often prescribes herbs to his patients, says, “Ginseng builds your chi (your energy) and nourishes your yang (warmth and vitality).” But adds not to take it if you drink lots of coffee. “It’ll overheat you because in Chinese medicine, it’s considered a ‘hot’ herb.”‘

eleuthero

2. Eleuthero:  Pronounced e-lou-thro, this herb is a second cousin to ginseng (and formerly    called Siberian Ginseng). It’s for anyone overstressed, undernourished but overfed, doesn’t get enough sleep or exercise, and has dark circles under their eyes — basically, anyone come Monday morning. It nourishes the adrenals, glands that regulate key hormones.

 

Rhodiola 3. Rhodiola:  This one’s pronounced rho-di-o-la and is often used by athletes to improve athletic performance and to shorten recovery time after long workouts. It’s an easy one for the mushers to find — it’s native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia …and Alaska.

 

Ashwagandha

4. Ashwagandha:  Try saying this one out loud. Ash-wag-an-dha is from India and is a very common herb used there for general health. Wright says it’s one of the few calming adaptogens and has traditionally been used for anxiety, bad dreams, mild OCD, insomnia and nervous exhaustion. He adds that it’s very easy to grow.

ginger

5. Ginger:  This is particularly good at increasing your ‘inner warmth’ or middle (your digestion and stomach). Chinese medicine says you want to be in the middle — not too excited but not too calm.
You can bet Seavey and the other mushers ignored that advice on the Iditarod trail – it was all excitement. Leave us a comment below to let us know what herbs you’ve tried for an energy booster. Thanks!

 

Posted in Our Community

Celebrate Oscars night with food inspired by films up for Best Picture

It’s the Super Bowl for Hollywood this Sunday night when millions tune in for the Academy Awards.

And as the mushroom guys, we’re offering some recipe suggestions to show off your own dramatic flair for tasty mushroom dishes that fit the personality of each film nominated for Best Picture. They all include our oyster mushrooms, because as any cook knows, the secret to any good dish is fresh ingredients!

The envelope please …

American Hustle:
Warm Endive, Ramp, and Oyster Mushroom Salad

Just like the stars in this movie famous for its 70s backdrop, you’ll be hustling your party mates who will be left wondering …is this really a salad? It is.
And it stands up a whole lot better than Christian Bale’s hair bogged down by too many hair products.

Captain Phillips:
Oyster Mushroom Soup (Mock Tripe Soup)

This dish is so tasty, your friends will want to take it hostage. Wolf them down with coffee (what Tom Hanks drinks lots of on the ship) but no need to try your own fake Irish accent.

12 Years a Slave:
Oven Baked Chicken Tenders with Pickled Oyster Mushrooms and Ginger Carrot Salad

This is a true baker’s dozen (made with 12 chicken tenders). But read ‘baked’ …no pan fried here, even for a film straight out of the Bayou.

Dallas Buyers Club:
Cholesterol Busting Oyster Mushroom Okra Medley

Any Texan will recognize okra as a top food in the Lone Star State. But just because Matthew McCaughney was good at smuggling, don’t try it with these. They won’t last the trip.

Hmm, we don’t see much food (or drink) in this science fiction thriller. But at only 63 calories per serving, this is one dish that will practically float in space.

Her:
Marinated Tofu with Tahini Asparagus and Pearl Oyster Mushrooms

This dish will fit right in with the decor of the futuristic Los Angeles. And guests are sure to find it much more socially acceptable than dating a computer operating system.

We couldn’t suggest a recipe without potatoes for this British and Irish film. And anyone who’s proper will tell you how good they are.

Nebraska:
Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Just another soup with bleak coloring? No way. Mushrooms make this dish look like a million bucks!

The World of Wall Street:
Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller

A vegan take on a rich, excessive classic. Be sure to pair it with an expensive wine.

Now it’s time to pick your own winner! Vote for your favorite recipe in the comments below. And happy cooking!

Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots

Posted in Recipes

Martha Stewart American Made Tastemakers!

Martha Stewart just selected the Mushroom Kit and AquaFarm as part of her top 10 American Made products for this holiday season!!

This is a really exciting moment for our team and a huge motivation to keep working hard everyday. Thank you!

Posted in Our Community, The Company
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