Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bittersweet

Hello!  This week we’ll be celebrating lots of area high school graduations, and here at Pathfinder Produce, we can assist you as your family gets ready to celebrate your special young adult.  We have a wide variety of fruits, veggies, and our own Pathfinder Produce hoop house greens for your party needs.

Stop by the Edmeston market at the Village Commons on Thursday, from 1 to 5 p.m., or the Morris market at the UMC Hall on Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.  We look forward to serving you, and hearing about your student’s accomplishments!

In this week’s blog, Sr. Director of Education Maura Iorio shares her thoughts on graduation at Pathfinder School.
Good luck and well done to all our area grads!!!

***

This Wednesday, five of our Pathfinder School students will be graduating. Our Graduation and Moving Up Ceremony is always bittersweet for me. I absolutely love it because it showcases our students and their many talents and accomplishments, but it will also be sad to say "so long" to our Class of 2017!

This year's theme is the Wild West. Our graduates helped select this theme and I think it's very fitting. It represents their hard work and their determination to keep pushing forward despite any hardships that may stand in their way. We are so proud of the five young men graduating this year!

As we have worked to turn our school's gymnasium into a scene from a John Wayne western, I have had the opportunity to read up on cowboys and the Wild West. One article that I found of particular interest was about how difficult it was to find enough fresh produce in the harsh desert climate.  (An interesting blog post on modern day desert growing strategies is at the Prairie Homestead website).

Having your own western homestead garden was precarious at best, as crops were often lost to drought, pests, storms, or wildfires. For soldiers and cowboys posted on the frontier, gardening wasn't an option and too often they would develop scurvy. One solution to this problem was the prickly pear.

Part of a cactus, the prickly pear fruit was covered in bristles that needed to be carefully removed. They were then peeled and boiled with sugar to create an applesauce-like food. Although the men complained that it tasted more bitter than sweet, the ingenious concoction contained enough Vitamin C to keep men on the frontier healthy. Even today, the prickly pear is sought after for its high amounts of fiber and antioxidants! 

Although I can't promise that there will be any prickly pears, stop in at Pathfinder Produce this week and stock up on some fresh produce to keep you and your family scurvy-free! 
 
And like those cowboys of the Wild West, Pathfinder School's Class of 2017 will get to show off their tenacity and grit this Wednesday at our Graduation and Moving Up Ceremony. We can't wait to celebrate with our staff, students, families, and community! 

Thanks for an awesome school year,

Maura (and Lori) 



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Give Peas A Chance!

We are in the cook-out and picnic season, which means we’re ready here at Pathfinder Produce to help you with all your outdoor foodie fresh produce needs!  Keep watching our produce list for new items coming in, and we’ll be sharing lots of just-picked items from our Pathfinder Hoop Houses too.  We already have some wonderfully tasty greens to share with you; they’ll make a great base for any green salad you might like to put together.

We hope to see you this Thursday at our Edmeston market, at the Village Commons from 1 to 5 p.m., or on Friday at our Morris market, at the UMC Hall on Church St., from noon to 5 p.m.  Ask about our Buyers Clubs to learn about more ways you can save on fresh and yummy fruits and veggies!

Fresh peas are an early favorite of many; below, my colleague Martha recalls her transformation from “ugh to WOW!” regarding these seasonal veggies.

***

When I was growing up, no one in our family was a great fan of peas, so except for appearing in an occasional casserole or pot pie, they were not often seen on our dinner table. My memory of peas from that time was grey-green balls of mush that came from a can. No wonder no one was excited about it!

Flash forward several years: When my children were little, we moved into a house that had a flowery vine growing on the front fence, and one day I discovered little sweet pea pods growing on it. When they looked matured, I picked them—there were probably a dozen altogether, so not exactly a bumper crop—and we had a tiny sampling with our dinner that night. They were much different than the grey-green balls of mush from my childhood! These peas were brighter, firmer, and much more flavorful.

Later on my family discovered sugar snap peas, and they became a dinner-time favorite. Sugar snap peas are eaten with the pods on, and are a cross between snow peas (the flat pod variety often seen on salad bars and in stir-fries) and sweet peas. As the name suggests, there is a bit of sweetness to this variety. We get them from farmer’s markets or Pathfinder Produce when they are available, and purchase them frozen in the off-season. You can boil them or eat them raw, but I prefer them steamed until they are tender-crisp.

Peas are typically classified as a legume, although I did find some references that said they are a fruit since they contain seeds produced from a flower.  There is consensus, however, that they are packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a power food. There is a graph on The World's Healthiest Foods website which details the large amount of Vitamin K, Manganese, B Vitamins and many other nutrients found in peas.  They are also very filling, making them helpful for weight management.

If you were not a fan of peas in your youth, consider trying them again. Try a different variety or a different preparation. You might be surprised!
Until next time, eat well and savor those fresh flavors!

Martha (and Lori)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Grilling & Other Produce Adventures

Hello everyone!  We hope you will join us at this week’s Pathfinder Produce markets, at the Village Commons in Edmeston this Thursday, from 1 to 5 p.m., and at the UMC Hall in Morris, from noon to 5 p.m.  Our Pathfinder Hoop House-grown greens are being harvested to share with you … they’re so fresh and delicious, and make a wonderful addition to any lunch or supper.

We look forward to serving you this week, and as always, we thank you for shopping at our Pathfinder Produce markets.

***

This past weekend was a whirl for the Graces, with lots of pre-visit cleaning, marvelous company, and of course, cooking!  Although it was breezy on Saturday, it was a nice evening to use our grill; we balanced our barbecued chicken with a few stand-by favorites that feature lots of yummy and healthy produce.

One of our go-to-grill recipes is from my sister – you simply peel and slice potatoes thinly, add some sliced onions, and then toss with healthy olive oil and a smidgen of black pepper, garlic powder and onion salt (or onion powder and garlic salt).  The potatoes are wrapped in individual serving-sized foil packets, and then cooked on the upper rack as you cook your other items on the main rack.  (They should cook for about 20 minutes at 400-degrees, or until you can insert a fork through the potatoes).

You can try other grilled potato recipes from Taste of Home; some of these are healthier than others, but I think you can experiment to lower the fat and salt content.  Other healthy grilling recipes for meats and veggies can also be seen at Delish.com. (I want to try a few of those now!)

It was also easy and quick to throw together a colorful fruit salad -- we combined a mix of fresh berries (blue, raspberry, and strawberries), some orange sections, and peeled Empire apples, which don’t discolor quickly once sliced.  With a quick toss salad – a blend of greens (baby spinach, red and green leaf lettuces, and chicory), with sliced carrots, tomatoes, and cukes – we really had a delicious, easy-to-make meal. 

As we were enjoying our dinner with our guests, we spoke of their travels to Central America, where fruits are prevalent year-round and served in combinations that are surprising to the Yankee palate.  An easy dish is sliced cucumbers, splashed with lime juice and sprinkled with chili powder.  You can read more about this recipe at Give Recipe … this is another one I’ll venture to try! 

The author of that blog also has a post on the Central American origins of tomatoes and an oven-roasted tomato recipe -- another one to try during the upcoming tomato season.  Other simple and interesting recipes to explore include Agua Fresca de Pepino and Fruit Salsa, which might be cool and refreshing on hot, sunny days (if we ever get those!)

 

Until next time, think of ways to add more produce to your meals, and be adventurous!

 

Lori

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things

We invite everyone to come to our next yummy Pathfinder Produce markets, at the Village Commons, Edmeston, on Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m., and at the UMC Hall, Morris, on Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.  We’re eager to share some of our summer greens with you … our hoop houses are fully planted with all sorts of delectable veggie varieties!

We also want to send our thanks to all our participants, vendors, volunteers, donors and sponsors for our recent Splash Path … it was a perfect day and we’ve posted some pictures at our Pathfinder Village Facebook page.  Feel free to tag and share.  We’re already starting to plan next year’s inclusive family fun 5K and fun walk.

In upcoming events at Pathfinder Village, we will host our Pathfinder School Graduation on Wednesday, June 21, where we’ll celebrate the accomplishments of our younger students and five graduates.  It’s a wonderful ceremony … if you plan to attend, please RSVP by June 12 at (607) 965-8377, ext. 409.  And you’ll want to mark your calendars for our 20th annual Summer Concert Series at the Pathfinder Pavilion, which will feature some of the area’s most-beloved bands and live performers.  The concerts are free, the public is heartily welcomed, and we invite you to wear your dancing shoes!  The concerts are offered each Saturday night at 7 p.m.

***

Despite the dreary weather for this holiday weekend, it was a good time to get stuff done, remember our service members, and visit with loved ones.  My tribe caught up on chores that needed to be addressed, like mowing, organizing, and repainting a really big room.

Today, I’ll admit to soreness from moving in ways that I normally don’t, but it is diminished by the sense of accomplishment.  The energy expended made me feel well, and the repainted room is brighter and less cluttered. I enjoy chores like spackling and painting … they’re sort of Zen, and it’s always good for homeowners to know how to tackle maintenance tasks.  (You can learn a lot of stuff by watching accomplished DIYers, reading, and watching YouTube. Over the years my go-to reference has been the Reader's Digest Home Maintenance and Repair Manual).

The work was nicely balanced with homey dinners at my parents’. Dad, a naval vet who served during the Korean and Vietnam eras (and who was an Army Reservist during Desert Storm) spoke about the upcoming Memorial Day parade.  My sister-in-law, who lives several hours away and is also a vet, was visiting. She brought along her newest pet, a “Morkie” named Almost (as in, Almost a dog, due to her size).  The pocket pup instantly ingratiated herself with everyone (we’re a mutt family).

While pet ownership is a big responsibility (daily care, food, vet bills) and not to be taken lightly, research shows us that pets offer people big health benefits.  I noticed Almost added to the relaxing atmosphere:  We all laughed as she used her most-serious puppy growl to tell off the dishwasher as it changed cycles.  Studies indicate pets can reduce stress, relieve depression, fill our need for social interactions, and improve heart health and lower blood pressure. 

Almost was well-behaved as we enjoyed Mom’s delicious dinners, which included a variety of healthy fruits and veggies. However, Mom is old-school and ends meals with treats (think Dessert Storm).  To meet the dietary needs of a family member with celiac disease, she’s gotten adept at making gluten-free versions of her time-tested favorites.  This weekend she offered up a chocolate cake with maple-walnut frosting.  (Honest, I had just a small piece!)

Many of us joke that chocolate is a vegetable … obviously it isn’t.  However, I heard on NPR earlier in the week that a current review of a long-running Danish study indicates that regular doses of chocolate or cocoa help reduce Atrial fibrillation, which can lead to strokes and cardiac arrest, and affects about 25% of all adults. The NPR report said, “Researchers have found that the compounds in cocoa, known as polyphenols, can improve vascular health by increasing blood flow. Cocoa compounds may also help suppress inflammation.” 

Based on the Danish study, even milk chocolate appears to offer benefits; researchers suggest eating one ounce of chocolate per day, for two to six days a week (dark chocolate is believed to have higher polyphenol content). Further research will be completed to determine if there are other factors influencing the reduction in AFib rates, but it looks like the guy who first put chocolates in red heart-shaped boxes was onto something!

Until next time, tackle those tasks, hug your pet, and enjoy a small bit of chocolate,


Lori

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Unicorn Craze

Wow, what a busy week at Pathfinder Village!  We enjoyed both the second annual commencement for our two-year post-secondary program, Otsego Academy, and our fourth annual Splash Path 5K and Fun Walk.  Congratulations to our recent graduate, Jared O., and our other students on finishing an eventful year. 

And our thanks go out to everyone who made Saturday’s Splash Path such a success.  It was so great to see Pathfinder just buzzing with activity -- friends and family members from all over completed the 5K, but were also playing basketball, using our Outdoor Activity Center, and through our 5210 friends, burning lots of energy hula-hooping.  What a fun time we all had!

We hope that everyone will stop by our Pathfinder Produce markets this week to check out all our wonderful and tasty fruits and veggies, just in time for Memorial Day picnics and gatherings.  We’re open in Edmeston at the Pathfinder Village Commons on Thursdays, from 1 to 5 p.m., and we host our other market in Morris at the UMC Hall, on Fridays from noon to 5 p.m.  We’ll be looking for you.

To continue with our theme of colorful and healthy fun, Director of Education Maura Iorio offers this blog on “The Unicorn Craze.”

***

With pretty pinks, bright purples, and dazzling blues, the “Unicorn Craze” is in full swing! From fun and sparkly t-shirts, to themed party supplies, nothing has escaped a unicorn makeover, not even our favorite foods. Pinterest is full of recipes for Unicorn Chocolate Bark, Unicorn Hot Chocolate, Unicorn Ice Cream Sundaes, Unicorn Cupcakes—you name it, there’s a unicorn version of it. A few weeks ago it seemed that all anyone was talking about was Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappacino. What do all of these magical treats have in common, aside from the glitz and glam? SUGAR! And lots of artificial coloring…

So how can you stay up on the latest foodie trend without sacrificing a healthy lifestyle? Pinterest to the rescue! Check out these recipes below, filled with vibrant colors, bold flavors, and best of all—fruits and veggies! All the magic, none of the guilt!

Healthy Vegan Unicorn Smoothie

Katie and Kate, the bloggers behind Well Vegan, estimate that the amount of added sugar in a grande (that’s medium in Starbucks lingo) Unicorn Frappacino is almost twice what is recommended for an adult to have in an entire day. Using brightly colored produce like beets, strawberries, and raspberries, the Well Vegan has put together a yummy, nutritious (and still pretty!) unicorn smoothie. Click here to check it out!

Rainbow Salsa

Need something to brighten up your next party or summer BBQ? Look no further! Full of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, and corn, this colorful take on salsa will be delicious and fun. The best part? You can substitute any of the vegetables in the recipe for your favorites instead. Just serve with chips and enjoy! Click here to check it out.

Fruit and Yogurt Unicorn Bark

This take on Unicorn Bark substitutes chocolate and artificial food dyes with yogurt and fresh fruits. Using only berries and mangos, this brightly colored frozen treat ditches all of the calories and sugars while keeping the fun! Click here to check out the recipe and video tutorial!

We hope you enjoy these nutritious, colorful, dare we say MAGICAL, recipes!

Until next time!


Maura (and Lori)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SPLASH PATH EVENT DAY AGENDA

Hello everyone!  This is a busy, busy week at Pathfinder Village as we’re in the final days before our Otsego Academy Commencement on Friday, and the Splash Path 5K and Fun Walk on Saturday!  BUT we always have time to bring you the freshest, yummiest veggies and fruits at Pathfinder Produce.
Our friendly neighborhood markets will be open for their usual hours:  In Edmeston at the Pathfinder Village Commons, from 1 to 5 p.m., and in Morris at the UMC Hall from noon to 5 p.m.  Stop on down and get all your tempting fresh items for the week (I’m starting to think about firing up the grill !!!!)
Below, we diverge from our usual blog format and share important information for our Splash Path participants.  As always, we look forward to seeing everyone at the markets, and we’re eager to celebrate our key events with our friends and families! 
******


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Importance of School Lunches

Hello again!  We hope everyone will join us this week for another “delicious episode” of Pathfinder Produce.  We’ll be open in Edmeston this Thursday, May 11, from 1 to 5 p.m., and our Morris Market will be at the UMC Hall on Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.  We look forward to seeing you!

We’re in the last few weeks before our Splash Path 5K and Fun Walk, which is set for Saturday, May 20.  Early registration ends on Wednesday, May 10, so cruise on over to splashpath.racewire.com to take advantage of our low pricing (fees increase slightly on Thursday).  We’re very pleased with the great community support and sponsors we’ve had signup this year, and we extend our heartiest thanks to all who make Splash Path such a fun and inclusive event. 

Despite the return of wet and chilly weather here at Pathfinder Village, our Dash to the Splash crew has kept on-pace with their training regimen.  Last evening, everyone went to Pathfinder Gym to train, and it was a lot of fun … we played music as we walked and jogged; a few of us decided to skip and gallop to change things up, and there was even an impromptu game of tag!  (Yup, I got tagged a few times … who says you can’t play games when you’re 50+)!!!!

For those of you training alongside the Dash Crew, here’s the regimen for Week 7:

5 min Brisk Walk
22 min Jog
3 min Walk

5 min BW
25 min J
3 min W

Repeat Day 2

***

There was a poem that was very popular in the 1970s called Children Learn What They Live. This poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, which was displayed in many schools and pediatric offices, told of how the environment in which a child grows in will influence what kind of adult he will become.

There is also an adage that says, “You are what you eat.”

This brings me to the topic of school meals. The National School Lunch Act was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946. It provides low or zero cost meals in over 100,000 schools, and in 2012 served over 31 million children.

School breakfast and lunch programs are very important in giving access to nutritious food to children of all income levels. School meals are a great resource for busy parents who can save time by not packing lunches every day and still know their children are eating well.

These meals become critical for parents who struggle to make ends meet. According to Kids Count Data Center, in 2015, 23.3% of children and youth in Chenango County and 19.9% in Otsego County were living below the poverty level. For many of these children, school meals are their only access to nutritious food. Good nutrition is important, not only for physical health, but for brain development and mental acuity. Think about it: did you ever try to concentrate when you were extremely hungry?

In 2010, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed, raising the nutritional standards for school meals— meals featured less sugar and sodium, more whole grains, etc.  After all, our knowledge of food science has improved since 1946. This act met with some resistance, and some parents and others who plan and prepare the meals were skeptical that children would eat by the new standards.

I think that children are more adaptable and flexible than we give them credit for, and that the real challenge is to get Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, who were raised on white bread and other convenience foods, to change their mindsets. Children are quite often taught, however unintentionally, to be picky eaters. So learn together, or get your children (or grandchildren) to teach you about different foods. You may find that whole grain bread or pasta is delicious, and that using other flavor enhancers than salt has delightful outcomes.

So this is where the poem at the beginning comes in. If adults can change their thinking for the sake of their children, then everybody benefits. Perhaps by extension, children who live with people who try new things will become adventurous eaters.  Children who live with people who try healthier foods will learn to eat well.

One other thought: In recent days the USDA has eased some of new school lunch regulations, but that doesn’t mean that school districts are obliged to follow suit. If it is important to you to maintain healthy meals in your schools, speak up. Attend school board meetings, study the school budget, encourage gardening projects, and write letters to your school district, legislators, and the USDA.  Grass roots change can make a difference, can help our kids eat better, and teach them to participate in their communities.

Until next time, teach your children well!


Martha (and Lori)