Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Summer Recipe: Sweet Summer Salad + Strawberry Vinaigrette

by Natalie Kelley

Summer just screams for fresh salads. Is there truly anything better than taking that first bite of refreshing fruits and veggies when it’s hot out? Well, the only thing that does make it better is when the produce used to make the salad is local, fresh and sustainably grown.

_MG_8532Ever since I was little, I valued eating local, fresh fruits and veggies, even if I didn’t realize that’s what I was valuing at the time. We always had a big garden overflowing with beautiful food, we made weekly trips to a local farm stand in town and shopped the local and organic sections at the grocery store (when we weren’t driving directly to farms to pick up our produce). I was so young that I simply knew the high-quality food my parents bought from local vendors or picked from the garden tasted better.

As I’ve grown up, these values have grown with me and grown even stronger. I understand the implications of eating locally, organically and sustainably and I truly see eating as an ethical act now. The food systems we choose to support with our money and eating habits make a world of difference.

And when I get to cook with food that I know came from a reliable and sustainable source, it makes that meal mean so much more. To me, it gives the meal more soul, and I love that!

This salad incorporates all of that summertime, sustainable-food soul and love with every bite. It packs so many nutrients and diverse flavors, making the perfect side dish for any summer barbecue, dinner party or picnic.


Sweet Summer Salad + Strawberry Vinaigrette

Serves: 4 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (Salad):

  • 6 packed cups spinach
  • 20-25 strawberries
  • 3 large golden beets
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1/4 cup diced red spring onion
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

Ingredients (Dressing):

  • 12 strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey


  1. Wash your spinach and place in a large bowl. You can chop the leaves if you’d like, but I like keeping them whole.
  2. Peel your golden beets and cut into small cubes and steam until tender.
  3. While your beets are cooking, cut your granny smith apple into small cubes as well and place in a skillet or pan with your coconut oil. Sautée on low until they start to turn golden.
  4. While your beets and apples cook, cut your strawberries into small pieces and toss with your spinach, along with the red spring onions.
  5. Once the beets and apples are done cooking, toss with the rest of the salad.
  6. Chop your pistachios and sprinkle on top.
  7. For the dressing, place the strawberries, apple cider vinegar, water and honey into a blender or food processor and blend on high until all ingredients are combined.
  8. Drizzle on top of your salad and enjoy!



A Nutritious Nightshade

Hello Harvesters!

This week’s box includes one of my favorite veggies- the eggplant. Eggplants are delicious in Italian cuisine and lovely to look at. Their deep purple coloration and smooth round shape make them one of the most aesthetically pleasing veggies we offer at Pacific Coast Harvest.


“Aubergines” by Original uploader was Secretlondon at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Eggplants are a species of nightshade that was originally domesticated in east India and Bangladesh. Their name comes from the fact that early European cultivars resembled the eggs of geese or hens. The fruit is very popular in Italian cuisine, making up the bulk of the recipe for “melanzane alla Parmigiana” or Eggplant Parmesan. It is also used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian meals (in similar ways to mushrooms), due to its ability to soak up flavors and its rich, meaty texture. For our vegan friends, check out these 15 creative vegan recipes for eggplant.

"Badımcan" by Urek Meniashvili - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Badımcan” by Urek Meniashvili – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

The family of nightshades also includes potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, while these plants are delicious and common in recipes, they can also cause moderate to severe allergic reactions in some people. Cooking usually destroys most of the problematic proteins, but at least one of these proteins can survive the heat. The symptoms of nightshade allergy can include itchy mouth and face, upset stomach and bowels, flatulence, and diarrhea. Nightshade allergy can sometimes be an undiagnosed cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you are allergic to nightshades, check out these nightshade-free recipes!


Have a wonderful final week of August, enjoy the sunshine, and enjoy this week’s harvest!


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The Alchemy of Produce Freshness

Last week we gave you some beginner’s tips on how to begin a compost system for the food you don’t end up using. This week, we thought it would be useful to follow that up with some handy tips and tricks on how to prevent your fruits, veggies, and herbs from ending up in the compost pit. Keeping produce fresh as long as possible can be complicated, but we will try to make it easier for you with these simple steps.


Ethylene Gas


Ethylene is a harmless gas given off by all fresh produce as it ripens. The gas speeds the ripening process of fruits and vegetables, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on what you want to do. You can harness the power of ethylene to ripen hard avocados or stone fruits by placing the unripe items in a paper bag on the counter with a few bananas or apples, which give off more ethylene gas than other foods. This will have your avocados ripe within a day or two. On the other hand, if you want to keep produce from ripening too quickly, simply keep it away from high-ethylene producers in a separate drawer in the fridge. The blog has a handy little chart here that will help you figure out what to store together and what to keep separate.


Ethylene gas is the principle behind produce freshness bags like Debbie Meyer and Evert-Fresh. These bags contain a chemical called zeolite, which absorbs and cancels out the effect of the ethylene gas. This works well for produce that should be bagged, like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, but other items, like bananas and tomatoes, shouldn’t be put in plastic bags at all.



Reviving Limp Produce

Some items, especially stalks like celery or rhubarb, can be brought back from the edge of extinction by placing them in a bowl of cold water for a few hours. If your celery is limp to the point of being unappetizing, try this trick and the celery will soak up the water back into its cells, firming it up and making it look like the day it was picked! This trick works with limp carrots as well, though they won’t taste as fresh as they would have been before going limp.


Let us know what you think, and as always, have a great weekend!







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Tips for Novice Composters

It’s ok. We’ve all been there. You have your box of tasty, fresh produce, and you’ve cooked a few meals, but you’re busy. You forget to use an item. Maybe it sits in your produce drawer in your fridge until it is too soft to use. You could throw it in your trash can… Or you could think about recycling the nutrients in your waste food! According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and other organic waste currently comprise about 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and when these nutrients go into landfills, compostthey are no longer usable for agricultural and horticultural applications. When trapped deep inside a landfill, without oxygen, decaying food scraps also produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Why not complete the system and return those nutrients into the soil?


Home composting is easy, and if done properly, it shouldn’t be the least bit stinky. If you are a gardener, you can use the compost to fertilize your garden (or you can donate it to a friend if you aren’t the green thumb type). All you have to do is add the right ingredients and do a little bit of maintenance.


Proper composting boils down to three main ingredients: browns, greens, and water. According to Umbra Fisk of the web magazine Grist, browns are “dry, carbon-rich materials like cardboard, dry yard waste, potting soil, leaves, sawdust, and wood chips”, while greens are “wet, nitrogen-rich organics like food scraps and grass clippings”. You’ll notice that wormbrowns and greens are meant to supply the two main elemental necessities for healthy plants- nitrogen and carbon. If you mix these two ingredients together with some water, you create an environment that is very hospitable to decomposers like bacteria and fungi, who will process
the waste materials into a rich, dark brown soil-like substance that will instantly enrich any gardening soil. If you want to try something really crazy, build a vermicomposting system, which uses earthworms to do the work of decomposing the food scraps.


An important note here- it is important to keep dairy, meats, oils, and pet poop out of your compost. These can contain harmful pathogens that will also grow in the decomposition environment, and the heat that is naturally generated by decomposition will not be enough to destroy them!


All in all, composting can be a fun way to help the environment and your garden. It’s fascinating to watch yucky waste food be transformed into a rich soil additive before your eyes.


Enjoy the last weekend of May!



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3 Ways to Get Your Fitness Back on Track Before Summer

3 Ways to Get Your Fitness Back on Track Before Summer


We are 30% of the way through 2014 and you promised yourself you would get in better shape and improve your health.

How are you doing so far?

· Did you reduce your stress level?

· Did you improve your diet?

· Did you take exercise more seriously?

· Or did you allow the last 3 months pass by without changing a thing?

If you haven’t put any thought into it yet, then do so now because it’s not too late. The fact is that you will age and change in 2014, and by next year you will be slightly (or dramatically) different than you are today.

As a personal trainer in Kirkland, I have firsthand experience in helping people rethink how they approach not just their health and fitness goals, but their overall lifestyle goals in a way that ensures success. All it takes is a little commitment and a few simple strategies – and you can stay on the healthy track.

Here are three things you can do right now to ensure your springtime fitness success.


1. Break It Down

The key to making changes in your life is to create concrete, measurable goals. Rather than saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds” try saying “This week I will lose one or two pounds.” Small steps add up to big changes overtime. By accomplishing your short-term goals, you will feel the success that will help motivate you to keep up the hard work to reach your long-term goals.


2. Make a Plan

Without a map, it’s easy to lose your way, especially during stressful times. What are you going to do to achieve your goal? Be specific. A good action plan would be, “I’m going to work out three times a week for three months.” Put it on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself. What is the Plan B if something pops up? Anticipate the road blocks that might get in your way and put some strategies in place BEFORE they become a problem.


3. Stay Positive

It’s not easy to change bad habits, but it is possible. And it takes practice. You might not immediately see huge changes. The important thing is focus on your goals, stick to the plan and talk nice to yourself. That little voice in your head has to power to motivate or deflate. Keep it positive and you will be successful. Surround yourself with other positive, supportive people who inspire and energize you.


When you do those three things, you will reach your health and fitness goals and be feeling great about yourself in no time.


But, getting started with these three things is often the hardest part so I created a new 30 Day Slim by Summer Challenge to help you get started, begin to look and feel your best and stay motivated to actually keep your 2014 promise to yourself. It’s never too late to start!


Josh Cooper is a personal trainer and owner of Embody Health Boot Camp in Kirkland. Reach him at