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Organic Meal Planning Made Easy!

By Debra D. Zeller

Eating organic food is about arranging your priorities in life toward nourishing and caring for yourself and the planet. In the Northwest, we're blessed with organic agricultural abundance. Local organic farmers are passionate about what they grow and how it is grown. The number of Farmer's markets increase every year. There isn't any excuse not to get to one, seek out organic produce and meet the people who grow your food. And right now is the perfect time-the height of harvest season. For the location of one near you check out this website: http://www.wafarmersmarkets.com.

For an easy & energizing diet plan, build your diet around organic whole grains with fresh produce. Every civilization owes its existence to whole grains-barley and wheat in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, corn and amaranth in Mexico, millet in Asia and Africa and rice in India and Southeast Asia. Start with one or two whole grains, then expand, sampling different grains. Soak your grains overnight, and in the morning cook enough for one day or more. For breakfast, lunch and dinner combine whole grains with fresh (and preferably seasonal) vegetables and beans.

One grain to start with is quinoa (keen-wa), an easy-to-digest, high energy, high protein grain-a staple of the traditional Inca diet. Quinoa cooks in fifteen to twenty minutes. Use the basic quinoa and corn recipe, then combine the quinoa and corn with organic vegetables, tofu or beans all seasoned with fresh organic herbs, of course!

For inspiration, use the shopping list below with the recipes. Most of the produce items can be found at local markets. Soon you'll find you can't live without the taste of fresh, local and organic. You will end up with extra vegetables and fruits to create salads or use as you please.

Shopping List
3 ears corn
One bunch carrots with tops
One bunch parsley
3/4 pound green beans
2 Walla Walla onions
1 yellow storage onion
1 jalapeño
3 red peppers
Green onions
1 green pepper
4 large tomatoes
2 pounds Yukon Gold,Yellow Fin or red potatoes
1 bunch celery
1 head cauliflower
2 heads Garlic
1/2 pound mixed salad greens
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch basil
1 bunch cilantro
1 box raspberries
1 melon
Eden sea salt
Sucanat™ or Rapadura™
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar (Traditionally aged)
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 pound extra-firm tofu (Small Planet is excellent)
6-ounce carton lemon soy yogurt (or nonfat dairy yogurt)
Raw Tahini
15-ounce can kidney beans
Touchstone Sourdough Spelt Bread
Whole grain tortillas

Ingredients To Consider:

Sea Salt
Salt purchased in conventional grocery stores is processed at very high temperatures-up to 1200 degrees-which strips away the mineral content and creates smaller, more compact salt crystals that are not completely soluble in water, and hard to digest. According to Paul Pitchford in Healing With Whole Foods, sea salt, on the other hand, has a mineral content similar to that of our blood. It has a purifying and grounding affect on the body. However, don't overdo this powerful substance. One half-teaspoon a day is sufficient. To get the best quality, ask a company where their salt is gathered, making sure it doesn't come from polluted waters. Morton salt, for example comes from San Francisco Bay; Eden sea salt is from traditional hand-harvest salt marshes in Brittany, France.

Organic oils
If you buy nothing else organic, consider high quality organic oils because environmental toxins accumulate in high concentration in the fat cells of plants and animals and they tend to stay there, moving up the food chain. Purchase high quality expeller pressed organic oils for salad dressings and low heat cooking. The term "cold pressed" is sometimes used and implies no heat was used in the extraction, but only a few oils such as extra-virgin olive oil and flax oil fit into this category. The term "cold pressed" is not regulated and has no universally accepted meaning. Expeller pressed oils have been strained and there is some heat involved heat in the extraction. These oils are less stable and should be refrigerated in glass containers because plastic may interact with the oil. They should also be used rather quickly (within a month ), so purchase small quantities. Refined oils are oils that are processed in order to extend their shelf life. In the refining process, the oil is bleached, chemical defoamers are used and toxic solvents are used to extract every last drop of oil. These oils typically have little color, flavor or aroma. Furthermore, according to Rebecca Wood in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, refined fats are carcinogenic and can suppress our immune systems. These particular oils are even sold in natural food stores as well as your "conventional" markets. So, when choosing oils, favor oils that have been used for centuries such as olive oil or sesame oil. Use saturated coconut oil for higher heat cooking. Never use a high heat with unrefined oils because the fat molecules are not stable enough to withstand alteration with heat.

Hints and Recipe tips
-The list includes salad greens to make salad with greens, cauliflower, green or red pepper, carrots, and sunflower seeds. Use balsamic vinegar, garlic and olive oil for vinaigrette. You can mix the basic quinoa and corn in with the salad for a more filling meal.
-Bread is included to accompany hot dishes, tortillas for rolling salads and whole grain blends into for a quick breakfast or lunch
-Extra tofu can be sliced and quickly sautéed in a bit of olive oil with quinoa or hot potato salad
-Basil and cilantro last longer when you place them as a bunch in a glass of water, like you would keep fresh flowers. Cilantro seems to do better in the refrigerator, but leave the basil on your countertop.
-Fruit is included for sweet after dinner treats or make a fruit salad with soy yogurt

Basic Quinoa and Corn
(Makes 7 1/2 to 8 cups)
This recipe can be made into a number of other recipes or it can be enjoyed by itself.
3 ears fresh organic corn
Tops of 1 bunch of organic carrot tops, roughly chopped
Handful of chopped organic parsley
1/2 teaspoon Eden sea salt
6 cups of water
2 cups organic quinoa, rinsed well

Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Set corn aside. Place corn cobs, carrot tops, parsley, Eden sea salt and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.

While stock simmers, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add quinoa and stir until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. Measure 3 1/2 cups of the corn stock into a saucepan. Refrigerate the rest of the stock for soup later. Add toasted quinoa and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is done. Add more sea salt to taste, if desired.

Quinoa and Corn with Onions and Peppers
(Serves 4)
1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 organic Walla Walla onion, chopped
1 organic jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 organic red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups cooked organic quinoa and corn (use recipe above)
2 cloves organic garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped organic basil
1/2 cup toasted organic sunflower seeds
Eden sea salt to taste
Chopped organic parsley for garnish

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions and jalapeño. Stir, reduce heat, cover with a lid that fits directly over the onions and sweat the onions until soft. Add red pepper and garlic, stir and cook for a few minutes before adding the quinoa and corn. Mix in balsamic vinegar, basil and sunflower seeds. Season to taste with sea salt. Garnish with parsley.

Sautéed Tofu with Quinoa and Vegetables
(Serves 4)
Try this energizing meal for dinner or breakfast.

1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1/4 cup chopped organic Walla Walla onions
1/2 organic red pepper, chopped
4 ounces organic extra-firm tofu
Pinch of turmeric
1/4 cup organic salsa (optional)
2 cups organic quinoa and corn (use recipe above)
1 cup lightly steamed organic green beans
Eden sea salt to taste

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions, pepper and sauté until onions and pepper are soft. Crumble tofu and add with turmeric and salsa. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Blend in corn and quinoa and green beans. Cook until quinoa is heated through. Season to taste with sea salt and serve.

Warm Pickled Potato and Kidney Bean Salad
(Serves 6)
Serve this salad warm or refrigerate, let the flavors marry, and serve cold.

4 medium size organic Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn or red potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
Eden Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 large organic yellow onion, chopped
1/2 organic red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 organic green pepper, cut into thin strips
2 to 3 cloves organic garlic, minced or pressed
5 tablespoons unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar
15-ounce can organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped organic arugula

Steam potatoes until they are just tender, but not over cooked-approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Run potatoes under cold water to stop the cooking process. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add oil and onion. Lightly sauté until soft, add peppers and continue to cook until peppers are soft. Add garlic and stir. Add apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Mix in kidney beans, reduce heat and stir until beans are heated through. You can serve hot-simply blend in arugula and serve, or chill for a few hours or overnight to serve as a festive potato salad, mixing in arugula right before serving.

Red Lentil Hummus
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup organic red lentils
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup organic raw tahini
Juice of 1 organic lemon
2 cloves organic garlic, pressed
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup each: organic, finely chopped red peppers and green onions
1/4 cup chopped organic cilantro (optional)
Eden Sea salt to taste

Place red lentils in water, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook until lentils are soft-about 20 to 30 minutes-stirring occasionally, more towards the end of cooking. Lentils should be very thick when done. Keep cooking until they are very thick. Blend lentils with olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne. Mix wellBlend in red peppers and green onions. Add chopped cilantro, if desired and sea salt to taste. Serve with warmed tortillas.

Lentil and Seasonal Vegetable Soup
(Serves 6)
2 or 3 large organic tomatoes
5 cups water (use leftover corn stock and add some water)
1/4 cup Red Lentil Hummus (see recipe above)
1/2 teaspoon Sucanat™
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 to 5 cloves organic garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped organic celery
2 organic carrots sliced
1 heaping cup organic red lentils
2 cups cut up organic cauliflower
1 1/2 cup fresh organic green beans
1/2 cup chopped fresh organic basil
Sea Salt to taste

Blanch tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water to remove skins. Blanch for about 1 minute, remove one tomato to see if the skin will slip off. If not place back in the water for another 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes, slip off skins and chop. Pour water out.
Add 4 cups of water and corn stock to the soup pot. Add, chopped tomatoes, Red Lentil Hummus, Sucanat, cayenne, garlic, celery, carrots, and red lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes. Add, cauliflower, green beans, and basil and cook an additional 10 minutes. Lentils should be very tender Add more water if desired. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with more basil, if desired.