Color Me Seasonal with thefrancofly.com

 thefrancofly's July edition of Color Me Seasonal

thefrancofly's July edition of Color Me Seasonal

One thing that truly bums me out about getting older is that people look at you strangely if you partake in some innocent coloring. Anyone who knows me knows I love to color (this has probably been my main motivation for a short-lived babysitting career), going wild on a coloring book and painting walls are just about the most relaxing activities I can think of.  My dream is to one day live in a world that resembles the café scene in the Sex and the City movie (the one where we learn that Big "doesn't stay in the lines") except without a child at the table. Just ladies lunching and coloring

 Rhubarb illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner of thefrancofly.com

Rhubarb illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner of thefrancofly.com

Getting to this utopian crayon-filled world  has just gotten easier with thefrancofly's launch of Color Me Seasonal, a monthly series of printable drawings featuring seasonal fruits and veg that are begging to be colored in. 

Jessie, aka thefrancofly, often features seasonal produce and favorite foods on her blog and in her work as an illustrator and food stylist. Color Me Seasonal combines a creative approach to inspiring better eating habits with her signature illustration style.

 Illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner of thefrancofly.com

Illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner of thefrancofly.com

The concept may be aimed at kids, but I will have no qualms coloring in summer squash, tomatoes, and cherries for a good cause. No matter what, Jessie promises, "You will be left with a pretty picture, a happy stomach and a healthier ecosystem."

Find the July edition of Color Me Seasonal here and share your final product using the hashtag #colormeseasonal 

Baby Food

I've been detoxing this week, and after a few days of subsisting on smoothies and soup my reduced regime has got me thinking about puréed foods and people that love them. While the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and the elderly are huge proponents of easy to process foods, I think the biggest fans of blended delights would have to be babies. They can't get enough of almost anything mixed together and put in a petit pot.

As an adult, I too can understand the benefits of a very veggie and parfois puréed daily menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the heartiness (and tastiness) of the brocolli and arugala soup I made the other day, and my interest is peeked in regards to the Super Greens Juice (Kale, Pears, Celery, and Ginger) that I'm supposed to eat later this week.
But it's not just the taste or simplicity of these dishes that is intriguing- it's also the fact that I can make them for a fraction of the cost that I would pay for a smoothie or soup in the market. The fact that I use whole foods, no dairy, and have a blender at home makes the choice to eat puréed veggies an obvious one, both economically and health-wise.
It is for these reasons that I, a childless and semi-unemployed blogger, am going to just go ahead and say, I think it's a good idea for everyone to make their own baby food. I've qualified this because I'm not a mom, I have a lot of free time, and I have a blender.
If you differ from me in any of these ways and don't think becoming a Chef Baby-dee is an option, I totally understand. But, recent articles that mommies have sent me about the questionable safety of the plastic packaging that many baby foods are sold in, as well as the plastic bottles used to feed infants everyday, have made me think that DIY baby food production may be a more reassuring choice, as well.

Also, packaging is wasteful. If you can't re-use it, then it's bad news for everyone- why not invest in buying glass containers that you can use and reuse, without any risk to Mother Earth and Baby Human? I buy yogurt at biocoop in a super convenient-sized glass container, the buy-in is around 2.50€ but I get to eat the yogurt and then I reuse and share the poison-free containers.
So, I'm going to keep on blending leafy greens, but for those of you with babies, or planning to have them, I'm going to throw in some recipes (along with total cost of ingredients, do the math if you're not sold on the idea! *all veggie prices are in organic, chez biocoop). These recipes are for babies aged
Carrot Purée*
 
Ingredients:
2-3 carrots (1.84€/kilo, appx. .89€ for 3)
 
Step 1: Skin and Steam your carrots (or boil in a little water) until tender. Save the water for later, it may be needed.
Step 2: Move carrots to blender (or a bowl if your using a hand held mixer**). Mix/blend/mash. Make sure there aren't any lumps- you can get rid of any tricky chunks that won't break down.
Step 3: Let your purée cool down. Try it out on the bundle of joy. If she's into it, put the rest away in your glass container and save in the fridge for no more than 5 days.
*Replace carrots with potatoes, broccoli, etc. or fruits like bananas and pears, then repeat the same steps to come up with other purées.
**If you have neither blender nor mixer, steam your carrot until it's tender enough to mash with a fork, adding the reserve water to help liquify your purée.
Cod & Broccoli Purée
 
Ingredients*:
1 filet of cod or another white fish, make sure it's BONELESS (22.29€/kilo)
1/2 head of brocolli

(2.24€/kilo, appx. 1€ per head)
Step 1: Thouroughly wash your fish and veg (if you have a bamboo steaming basket that is ideal for this recipe, then you can boil the fish and stem the broc at the same time, if not you can do it in two seperate pots).
Step 2: For the fish: Bring a cup of water to a simmer and submerge your fish in the water. Leave it there until it turns bright white. Remove from heat and let poach in the water for another few minutes.
For the brocolli: Steam until bright green.
Step 3: Let your fish and broccoli cool down. Pat the fish dry and do a paranoid check for any bones.
Step 4: Mix/blend/mash and dinner's served.
*You can liven this up by using a homemade broth instead of water.
 

Thinking outside the lunchbox: Bringing "bio" to schools

The French association Bio Consom'acteurs has published "La Bio en Restauration Collective", a handy and informative pamphlet which can be used as a guide for anyone who wants to introduce organic foods into their children's school cafeteria.

The guide, which can be downloaded here was put together by a committee of chefs, nutritionists, doctors, and environmental activists. The authors advocate the use of organic cafeteria food as a political movement which respects the environment, biodiversity, local development, and our children's health.
Bio Consom'acteurs proposes a list of 7 guidelines to aid its readers in introducing organic ingredients into school lunch programs. First, all interested parties should come together and form a group that shares the same concerns, interests, and goals. After this group is formed, they must get in contact with the various organic food producers and retailers in their vicinity. The guide advises being realistic about what is locally and seasonally available when putting together a meal plan and make requests of local producers of organic products.
The third step demands a similar evaluation of the capacity and needs of the school
being served. Is the cafeteria food mostly made on-site, or is it brought in? What is the school's budget for cafeteria food? How many children eat at the cafeteria? These questions can be answered before and during the organic integration process.
Next, the changes made to the school's menu must be done in a way that adapts to the rythm of the cafeteria, the needs and habits of the students, and the fact that a radical change in cooking and eating is underway. While adapting, the 5th guideline advises that consom'acteurs take into account the specificities of organic foods, the fact that whole grain rice, for example, may take longer to cook, or that dry goods may be a more readily available, and cost-effective option.
The 6th guideline offers tips for staying within budget when taking on this project. Some ideas include ways to cut down on waste and planning for economic and nourishing meals.

Finally, the group advises generating a certain amount of attention and valorization around the arrival of organic foods. The guide suggests setting up "discovery" tables that feature new organic products, as well as seasonal (and educational) events that celebrate the harvest and get kids excited about tasting new foods.
All interested moms, dads, teachers, students, and lunch dudes and ladies who want to integrate organic foods into school lunches should check out this helpful handbook. It also offers many links to sites which instruct in learning methods of organic cooking and offer information on other associations who work with cafeterias.