Collard Greens



Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Collard greens are a quintessential southern food. Unlike most foods made popular by the South, collards greens are good for you. One serving of collards contains various cancer-fighting phytochemicals, twice the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, and four times the RDA for vitamin K. If you’re not impressed yet, you tough customer you, collards are also high in B vitamins, iron and calcium. Forget vitamins, take two collards and call me in the morning!!

Collards Greens

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Stemming collards. Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Stemming collards. Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent


½ lb bacon, roughly chopped

½ large sweet onion, chopped

1 ½ tsp crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 bunches collard greens (about 6 cups), rinsed, stemmed, and roughly chopped

2 cups low-sodium low-fat chicken stock, with one cup extra on hand

Sea salt, to taste


Sauté the bacon, onions, and pepper flakes in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Heat until onions become translucent and bacon begins to brown.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add collards, chicken stock, and salt to taste, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, up to two hours.

Collards and black-eyed peas, a New Year's tradition. Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Collards and black-eyed peas, a New Year’s tradition. Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup

Amount per Serving

Calories                        72

Total Fat                        4.4g

Sat fat                        2.4g

Trans fat                        0g

Cholesterol                        18mg

Carbohydrate                        9g

Sugar                        1g

Fiber                                    5g

Protein                        4.7g


Fresh Ham


We are so very blessed to have fresh, nitrate-, salt- and preservative-free pork any time we want it; however, the first time my husband put a big beautiful fresh ham roast in front of me I had no idea how to cook it! I’ve spent the last four years experimenting and brining the pork and slow cooking it produces amazing results that will change the way you feel about spiral-cut honey baked grocery store hams.

Ham roast from our farm.

Ham roast from our farm. Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Fresh Pork Roast

Prep time: 7 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 8-12 hours

Cook time: 20 minutes per pound



Fresh Pork Roast (picnic, butt, or ham)

½ cup salt


2 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed

2 tsp fresh rosemary, stemmed and minced

2 tsp coarsely ground pepper

1 tsp dried bay leaves, crushed

pinch ground cloves

3 garlic cloves, sliced



Stir salt in 6 cups water until it dissolves. Submerge roast, cover with plastic wrap, and brine in the refrigerator overnight.

Approximately two hours prior to desired mealtime, preheat oven to 325°F. Remove roast from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl. Cut several slits into roast, approximately 1” deep using a steak knife. Insert garlic into prepared slits. Massage rub into roast. Place roast into a dutch oven and add ½ cup water to the bottom of the pot. Cook uncovered, for approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 145°F -160°F.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3 oounces

Amount per Serving

Calories                   183

Total Fat                   9g

Sat fat                       3g

Trans fat                   0g

Cholesterol                78mg

Carbohydrate            0g

Sugar                        0g

Fiber                          0g

Protein                       24g



Why is it that some of the best growing vegetables in the garden are also arguably the least delicious (see pickled radishes)? As the wife of an agricultural virtuoso (some of you may know them as “farmers”), I am responsible for making the less desirable veggies tasty. As you may imagine, my family ends up with the lion’s share of the produce that doesn’t sell. Turnips are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense tuber, high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. This method of preparing turnips is so named because it transforms the underrated vegetable into a taste bud pleasing dish that rivals it’s family member, the ubiquitous potato.

Mashed Poturnips

3 lbs peeled, cubed turnips

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup minced shallots

2 cloves minced garlic

½ cup milk (optional)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

  1. Boil turnips in salted water for ~35 minutes, or until they are almost translucent and fork tender. Drain and process turnips with an immersion blender or food processor.
  2. While turnips are being pulverized, heat butter and olive oil on medium-low heat in a deep pan. Note: the olive oil has a higher smoke point than the butter, thereby keeping the butter from burning. This is very handy if you’re not the most attentive cook <cut to me>. Once the butter is melted add shallot and onion, sautéing until fragrant and starts to become translucent (about 1-2 minutes).
  3. Add mashed turnips to garlic butter and combine. Stir in milk if desired for a creamier texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Radishes from our farm.

Radishes from our farm.

One of our favorite ways to prepare radishes is to pickle them. The vibrant color and crunchy texture makes for a great accompaniment to salads, sandwiches, or even a healthy snack.We tried several methods and recipes, and this version from Dave Lebovitz was our favorite. Thanks Dave!

The Yummiest of Pickled Radishes

  • 1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1-pound, 400 g of radishes)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • optional: 1 chile pepper, split lengthwise

1. If using long radishes, peel them. Trim off the leaves and roots and slice thickly.

2. Bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chile.

3. Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chile into the jar as well.

4. Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Storage: The radishes will be ready to eat after 24 hours. The flavors will develop the longer the radishes are left to pickle. Best if used one month after preparation.

White icicle radishes from our farm.

White icicle radishes from our farm.

The Sugar Struggle Is Real: Five Tricks to Kick Cravings for Good

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Here’s how it happens: someone brought cake to work, and you had two (okay, three) slices. The donut box was left open and who can resist those Bavarian crème-filled beauties? You answered the 3 pm beckoning of the vending machine down the hall, again.

These are only a few of a million sugar indulgent situations that we face on a daily basis. Evolutionarily speaking, we are preprogrammed to salivate at anything sprinkled or frosted. High-calorie foods are good investments for a species that spent 50,000 years scrounging for food. Our brains remember that surge of happy juice we got from our last cupcake and we can’t seem to help ourselves. These days, however, when food (especially the overly processed, low-quality kind) seems to be EVERYWHERE, we have to smarter than our genes.

Identify Your Triggers
The best way to avoid a food craving is to prevent what triggers it. Do you cave every time you pass the break room? Try a different route. Have a hard time resisting sweets at lunchtime? Pack a lunch and make it whole fruit instead of a 44 oz sweet tea. There’s still some ice cream in the freezer and we don’t want it to get freezer burnt! Don’t buy the sweets you can’t resist, thus forcing yourself to drive to Dairy Queen. Figuring out what triggers a craving, be it circumstance, time of day, habit, emotions, or hormones, is key to empowering yourself to resist it. Next time you find yourself with your hand in the cookie jar, slow down and analyze how you got there.

Prevent Cravings with Healthy Habits
Another great way to prevent a hankering for Honey Buns is by eating nutritious food regularly throughout the day. Snacking on nutrient-dense food every three-four hours leaves you satisfied and less likely to grab some sugar-laden convenience food. Meals and snacks should include a source of lean protein, heart-healthy fat and fiber to keep you energized and prevent post-prandial crashes. Avoid sugar substitutes, which perpetuate sugar urges.

Taking Sugar Head On
A recent study has found that merely focusing on the negative long-term consequences of giving in to cravings can significantly reduce their intensity. Researchers used an MRI to study subjects’ brains response to pictures of junk food. Thinking about future implications reduced the urge to eat and increased brain activity associated with inhibitory control. Remind yourself that you are in charge of your actions, even if you may not always feel in control of your body.

Remember: Cravings Only Last For a Short Time
The typical duration of a craving is 15 minutes. Keep this in mind and distract yourself for a quarter of an hour. Phone a friend, take a walk, pray, meditate, clean your bathtub, check your emails…the list of things you can accomplish in 15 minutes is practically endless. Researchers recently found that subjects could resist cravings by tapping on their heads with their finger for 30 seconds. Thirty seconds of repetitive movement may save you thousands of calories.

Forgiving Yourself After an Indulgence
Studies have shown that everyone has cravings, regardless of their weight. No one is perfect. It’s unrealistic for anyone to expect that they will never, ever eat another piece of birthday cake. If we’re honest, having a small portion of sweet goodness every once in a while can actually help you stay on track. You are not a failure so don’t treat yourself like one by sabotaging yourself and your health goals. Instead of giving up and devouring the rest of the turtle cheesecake in a fit of self-loathing, forgive yourself and move on.

The Good News
The more often you can resist cravings, the less likely you are to have them. Start crushing cravings today and feel better than ever.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Photo Courtesy Rachel Durrent

Photo Courtesy Rachel Durrent

Isn’t this time of year just the best! I start skipping and humming a merry tune in mid-October and I don’t stop until the end of January. By December, most of my family members beg me to turn off the Christmas carols and stop forcing hot cocoa on them.

Everything about fall and winter makes me happy, but the food…! Oh, the food is my favorite! Of course, as nearly all health-wise folk and the majority of women, I try to pace myself when it comes to holiday goodies. Don’t get me wrong, I indulge in pie, and taters, and COOKIES, but I try to eat my veggies first. (How was that segway?).

So, with the holidays strongly on my mind, here’s a healthy side dish to your table o’ turkey. This recipe is a wonderful, seasonal addition to Thanksgiving dinner because the vegetables take up minimal oven space and can be roasted while the turkey cooks. The colors of these vegetables scream fall and phytochemicals (my favorite)!

Hey! That's me! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Hey! That’s me! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Roasted Root Vegetables

That Rachel, she's good! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

That Rachel, she’s good! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Serves 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes


1 lb Root vegetables in season, such as beets, winter and summer squash, carrots, potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1” pieces
½ fennel bulb, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread vegetables out evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are golden brown and fork tender.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories 136
Total Fat 2.5g
Sat fat 0.5g
Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Carbohydrate 26g
Sugar 5g
Fiber 7.5g
Protein 2.5g

Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Oh Sugar, Why Must You Torment Me So?

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I watched the clock intently: 10:32 pm and slowly counting. The baby was sleeping soundly in the next room. My eyes followed my husband as he headed to bed. Now’s my chance.

Five minutes later, standing in front of the fridge, spoon and empty pint of chocolate peanut butter Haagen Dazs in hand, I was humiliated. Disgusted. I looked around me in shamed shock, wondering what had just happened.

Nati always has room for ice cream.

Nati always has room for ice cream.

Preprogrammed to Crave Sugar

Em's first taste of ice cream.

Em’s first taste of ice cream.

If you suffer from sugar cravings, you may be wondering if you were born this way or were conditioned to have a penchant for gummi bears. A fetus will drink more amniotic fluid if it has been injected with a sweetener. In fact, this is a common medical practice to treat excessive amniotic fluid. In addition, sugar can actually have a small analgesic effect when infants ingest it. So, even in the womb we are genetically and evolutionarily wired to crave sweets.

Sugar on the Brain

Sugar consumption stimulates the release of two chemicals. After chowing down on that 3:00pm Snickers bar your brain lights up like a Christmas tree. Dopamine floods the reward center of your brain, making you feel like an addict who just indulged in their drug of choice. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on our mood, is also released. Sugar eventually disrupts nerve cell communication and attributes to brain fog.

Sugar: The Full Effect

Sugar affects almost every system of our bodies, and not in a good way. Sugar raises our risk of heart disease by increasing triglycerides and decreasing our “good” HDL cholesterol. Continual excess sugar consumption leads to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sugar causes the release of hormones, which trigger an inflammatory response, thus people who eat more sugar increase their cancer risk. The sweet stuff may even be to blame for those premature wrinkles!

High-Fructose Corn Syrup, One Bad Mamma Jamma

This concentrated sweetener made from corn affects our body differently than glucose, the sugar our cells prefer. Fructose does not trigger our satiety cues or lower ghrelin, the hunger hormone, so we don’t feel fuller when we ingest it. Metabolizing too much fructose can overwhelm the liver, causing fatty liver disease. Fructose has no known health benefit to date.

Natural Sweeteners: Friend or Foe?

Local honey used for a vinegraitte. Photo courtesy Rachel Durrent.

Much like table sugar or corn syrup, honey, molasses, and maple syrup are all sources of simple sugar. Even though they offer additional benefits: minerals, antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties, or calcium and iron, as in the case of molasses, these sweeteners have high sugar contents and should be moderated.

A Sweet Victory

The struggle against sugar cravings is real. Every cell in our bodies was made to want sugar, to NEED it. However, there are ways to conquer the beast, to step away from the donut and toward a healthier existence. In the next article, we will focus on tactical maneuvers to combat sugar.

Professional Nutrition Counseling


Nutrition Counseling is individualized based on each client’s unique goals, needs, and preferences.

Services include:

  • Complete nutrition history
  • Food intake analysis
  • Nutritional status evaluation
  • Diet instruction
  • Suggested meal plans/menus
  • Weekly weigh-in
  • Refrigerator raid and pantry make-over
  • Cooking demonstration with recipe ideas
  • Recipe renovation
  • Grocery store tour

View More: diet plans are also available for persons experiencing:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gastrointestinal Disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)

Initial sessions are approximately an hour long and typically include:

  • Discussing short-term and long-term health goals, current food habits, and food preferences
  • Obtaining current measurements to chart your progress (optional), overall diet and medical history
  • Identify potential barriers to success.
  • Developing a customized strategy to achieve health goals i.e. individualized meal plan, intuitive eating homework, food journal, etc.

Follow-up sessions vary according to the client’s needs and goals, and can include everything from navigating the grocery store to eating healthy while eating out. An in-depth analysis of your food intake will also help you track your continual progress.

The “F” Word

Diet Myths Debunked

FAT! There, I said it.

For years I feared this dreaded word. Trained that fats should be limited and always unsaturated, I was very choosy with what entered my mouth. Skim, low-fat, non-fat, 99% fat-free…the less fat, the more I ate.

FAT As We Know It

Fats have been blamed for many of the health problems plaguing Americans- obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer,… We’ve been taught that fats are either good or bad, and one false move could be hazardous to our health.

We know that fat is a necessary part of our diet, for things like: providing essential fatty-acids, skin health, cell membrane structure, and delivering fat-soluble vitamins. Some fatty acids even have anti-inflammatory properties, but despite these positive roles in our health we’ve been convinced that they should be mostly minimized.

Margarine: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

This supposed nutritional doctrine (fat bad, carb good) has been the precipice of an entire food industry. Lab-created, chemically derived “better than butter” spreads now dominate grocery store shelves. Before plant sterol spreads infused with omega-3s hit the market, margarine was the most popular butter substitute donning yellow dye #3.

It looked like, tasted like (sort of), melted like, and was healthier than butter thanks to its lower cholesterol content. Unlike bad butter’s animal origins, margarine was made from vegetable oils (and what could be more healthy than vegetables, right?). The problem was, that in order to get these liquid-at-room-temperature soybean, corn, and cottonseed oils into a creamy, solid spread, scientists had to add hydrogen atoms to their fatty acids. (Caution: Geeky science speak ahead! Feel free to skip to the end of this section where I conclude that margarine is the root of all evil).

Food manufacturers sneak in trans fats without having to label them. They are only required to list >0.5 g trans fat per serving. Always check the ingredient list. Photo courtesy The CDC.

Food manufacturers sneak in trans fats without having to label them. They are only required to list >0.5 g trans fat per serving. Always check the ingredient list. Photo courtesy The CDC.

Partial hydrogenation, as in Crisco and margarine, causes some of the double bonds in an unsaturated oil to be changed into single bonds. Naturally occurring double bonds are in the cis formation (we’ll call this one the innocuous structure), whereas the trans formation is favored during the process of partial hydrogenation.

When the body is busy digesting trans fatty acids its digestion of essential fatty acids (like omega-3’s and omega-6’s) is inhibited. This is why trans fats have been found to: increase bad LDL cholesterol, decrease good HDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides and start an inflammatory response throughout the body.

trans-fat and the body

And it turns out that scientists have connected trans fats to problems like cardiovascular disease since the 1950s. (Let me let that sink in. Conspiracy much?)

The Red Herring of Food Industry Fat

We’ve spent the past six decades trying to figure out how countries like France, Germany and Switzerland can have diets high in butter and cheese and continue to have lower incidence of heart disease than the western world. What if there’s more to the story than we’ve been taught for the past 60 years? A growing body of research has found that eating a moderate amount of saturated fat can reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and reduce blood pressure as well as blood sugar. British scientists looked at the diet of half a million subjects and concluded “Saturated fats do not cause heart disease”. Saturated fat raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind) more than any other food compound, so some argue that even though it raises the “bad” cholesterol, it has no effect on heart disease risk. What’s more, popular oils like canola, soybean, and olive oil can produce lipid peroxides and aldehydes (read “CANCER”) when cooked at high heat. This is because those wonderful double bonds that are so good for our hearts end up combusting when heated, whereas saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and lard are more stable.  Like so many nutrition “truths” out there, the vehement demonization of saturated fats has once again come into question.

Bottom [waist]Line on Fat

All of this is not to give one vindication to gorge on peanut butter and ice cream, but there are some great take away points:

  1. Not all fat is bad. When choosing fat, omega-3’s are great, omega-6’s are good, and some saturated fat is okay. Saturated fat from avocado, raw coconut oil, hormone-free, antibiotic-free grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free-range chicken (and their eggs), and milk, cheese, and butter from grass-fed beef are the best options.
  2. Trans fats are all bad, and should be avoided at all costs. Hey, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by getting rid of all that processed junk you’ve been gnashing on.
  3. How fat’s been processed and how you use it matters. Look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils that have minimal processing e.g. bleaching and deodorizing. Use your canola and EVOO in dressings and leave high-heat sautéing and frying to the saturated pros (or peanut oil if you don’t have an allergy).

Meet the New Meat

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Meat production is not a new thing to Columbia, Missouri. Drive out of town in any direction and you’ll reach a meat processing plant within three hours. Meat in Columbia, however, is different. A lot different.

The average American consumes 200 lbs of meat every year. In order to feed the animals that eventually end up on our dinner plates, we have to devote over 3/4ths of the produce from US farmland to animal fodder. And here’s a statistic that will floor you: a pound of beef  “requires 298 square feet of land, 27 pounds of feed, and 211 gallons of water” and that’s not taking the gasoline it takes to ship it all across the nation into account. Considering population growth and the increased demand for meat from developing countries, many scientists have shifted their focus and resources to coming up with viable alternatives that leave a fraction of the carbon footprint.

Ethan Brown is the CEO of Beyond Meat, a company that turns soy and pea protein, along with amaranth, into a viable meat substitute that looks just like chicken. Brown partnered with Fu-Hung Shieh, a food scientist previously employed with Quaker Oats. Shieh uses a fancy-schmancy extruder machine that is responsible for everything from Fruit Loops to cookie dough. Beyond Meat chicken is gaining notice from the likes of Bill Gates and New York Times Best-Selling cookbook authors. You can currently find Beyond Meat products in select Whole Foods.

Chicken from Beyond Meat. Courtesy Beyond Meat

Chicken from Beyond Meat. Courtesy Beyond Meat

Only miles away, scientists are growing meat using a 3-D printer and a petri dish. It takes several weeks of printing an embryonic goo and incubating it until 700 beef cells are combined to make a small piece of muscle. This ground-breaking technology, marketed under the clever name Modern Meadow, was the brain child of theoretical physicist Gabor Forgacs, who originally used it to make transplant organs as well as medical research. Modern Meadow still has a considerable way to go to have the capability of producing meat for mass consumption, but for now they’re making a sizeable income manufacturing leather.

Whatever the seemingly outlandish, or slightly gruesome, method of producing alternative-to-meat proteins, they are likely not going away any time soon, and neither is the problem they are trying to fix.