A Spotlight on Garlic

Garlic is often used to flavor food, but has had many uses in the past including medicine! The flavorful bulb has antibiotic properties and has been used since the Egyptian times. In Ancient Greece the original Olympians were given garlic to “enhance” their performance. Garlic is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can act as a natural blood thinner.

Garlic is related to onions, leeks, and chives and is thought to have origins in Siberia. Garlic can maintain its shelf life in a dry, dark place with air circulation. If stored correctly a whole bulb can be stored for up to 6 months, however if peeled it will last a few days to a week in the fridge. You can tell if garlic has gone bad if you see brown spots and the clove is no longer firm to the touch. The smell garlic produces is actually from an enzyme called alliinase. The alliinase breaks down a chemical called alliin into allicin. Allicin has sulfur molecules and that is where the pungent smell comes from.
Whether you enjoy garlic as a flavoring agent or on its own there are so many recipes out there. If your looking for inspiration here are a couple recipes that put garlic at the forefront. Garlic can be found at your local farmers’ markets and from these farms. What is your favorite way to use or eat garlic? Let us know in the comments.

Market Match Across the United States

Post by Intern and UNH Student Meriah M.

Here in New Hampshire shoppers using SNAP (formerly food stamps) are able to double their buying power at farmers markets through the Granite State Market Match program, where food assistance benefits are matched with vouchers to purchase fruits and veggies from local farms. 

Across the country there are programs similar to Granite State Market Match, commonly known as nutrition incentive programs, that help low-income shoppers buy more fresh produce. 

California is home to another Market Match program that parallels the Granite State Market Match in its goals to provide additional income for SNAP shoppers to use at local farmers markets. The California Market Match program is funded by the same grant that supports Granite State Market Match, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant, with the Ecology Center implementing and overseeing the program. In both New Hampshire and California, the FINI Grant (now called the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program) supports efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients. 

Since the program was originally founded in 2009, Market Match in California has evolved to best support low-income consumers and local farms. At its inception, California’s Market Match looked similar to the current structure of the Granite State Market Match, with community-based partnerships of market operators and local organizations that created the California Market Match Consortium (CMMC) facilitating the program. What started as a program offered at 44 markets has expanded to 290 sites across the state. 

Though it is helpful for states to model various programs on the success of other states, programs will differ based on the culture, location, and government of each state. One obvious difference between California and New Hampshire is the climate, lending to significantly different agricultural products and timelines that effect when and where fresh produce is available. Outside of physical differences that affect farmers’ market shoppers, there are differences in the way Market Match is allocated. As in New Hampshire, California shoppers are able to get $1 to $1 SNAP dollars matched for produce vouchers, but only up to $10 depending on the market’s Market Match budget. In New Hampshire, shoppers are not limited by Granite State Market Match as to how much they can spend and customers will commonly match $20 or $30 at a time. 

In California, WIC benefits (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) can also be used for the Market Match Program, allowing new mothers and children up to the age of five another opportunity to engage with Market Match and in turn, local farms. In New Hampshire, Market Match is currently limited to SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). 

Access to affordable, healthy, local food is important everywhere in America, and it is exciting to see New Hampshire and California pioneering unique Market Match programs that benefit low-income consumers and local farmers. Evaluating the various ways states implement nutrition incentive programs will lead to better informed national policy and solutions to address food insecurity. 

A Spotlight on Hot Sauce

Everyone has heard of hot sauce in one form or another.  Hot sauce has been around for a long time and can even be tracked back to Mayan culture! Hot sauce became bottled and industrialized by the Tabasco company in the 19th century, and almost all cultures have their own rendition of hot sauce. The chemical that gives the sauce its spicy flavor naturally occurs in peppers, and is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to be beneficial to one’s health, it has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes a healthy metabolism. Peppers are ranked on the Scoville scale, a scale that measures the amount of capsaicinoids in the pepper. Scoville units range from zero, sweet bell peppers, all the way to 5,000,000 units, law enforcement pepper spray. You can tell how hot a hot sauce is based on its Scoville units.

Most commonly hot sauce consists of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt but there are many different combinations. Some sauces can be fermented to give a more tangy flavor. Naked hot sauces has many different varieties of hot sauces and can be found at some farmers markets, to learn more you can go to their website. The hot sauce I tried is called The One, and it is both spicy and savory. I used the hot sauce by making crispy breaded tofu and tossing it with this sauce, it was a tasty treat! What is your favorite variety of hot sauce? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Food Insecurity Legislation in NH

Blog post written by Intern Meriah M.

Innovative Solutions to Food Insecurity in the NH General Court — HB 1638

How can New Hampshire best serve its citizens who struggle to access affordable, nutritious food? Representative Joelle Martin of Milford introduced House Bill 1638 this session seeking to provide an answer. 

The New Hampshire Nutrition Incentives Network has worked to increase affordable access to locally grown food since 2013 through the Granite State Market Match Program, which allows shoppers using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) to double their buying power at farmers markets. When shoppers spend their SNAP dollars at participating markets, they receive a corresponding amoung of Market Match dollars that can be spent on fruits or vegetables. For the cost of $10, a shopper can leave the market with $20 worth of food, creating an incentive to shop and eat local, healthy foods while stretching a grocery budget. 

 

While Granite State Market Match has made significant differences in the lives of the residents that it serves, it is currently only reaching 2% of New Hampshire’s SNAP recipients because it has been operating as a pilot program supported by the federal grants. There is tremendous opportunity for Granite State Market Match and other nutrition incentive programs to grow with state funding. 

Here is where Representative Martin’s bill matters: House Bill 1638 would continue to support and expand equitable access to healthy food by providing $150,000 in state funding to nutrition incentive programs, including Market Match. This financial support would allow for nutrition incentive programs to reach more SNAP recipients, providing healthier, locally sourced meals for more New Hampshire residents. 

The local, community-based nature of nutrition incentive programs provides added benefits. The Market Match program helps farmers to access a previously untapped revenue stream: SNAP dollars. For some market vendors, 20% of their revenue comes from SNAP shoppers. 

HB 1638 received a hearing in January before the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee in which many individuals and organizations testified to the success and importance of nutrition incentive programs in New Hampshire. 

As legislators review this bill, the voices of New Hampshire residents strongly influence their perspective. You can support the affordable access to healthy, local foods and the efforts of Seacoast Eat Local by contacting the committee by phone (271-3589) or by email ([email protected]). 

Welcome our Nutrition Intern Chris!

Post by UNH Nutrition and Dietetics Intern Chris G.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in my first Public Nutrition Education internship with Seacoast Eat Local. Not only did all of my food samples go within the first two hours of market, but we had an excellent turnout-over 2,500 people showing up to the Wentworth Greenhouses!

The reason I took on this internship is due to the fact that as an undergrad Nutrition major, I believe it is of utmost importance to know where your food is coming from. Whereas most products in the supermarket are processed in a factory before placement on the shelf, buying and eating locally are both excellent ways of knowing our fruits, vegetables, meat, spices, and other products are fresh and minimally processed. 

Starting off this past weekend, I picked up some red potatoes from Emery Farm on Piscataqua Road in Durham, NH. These are not only easy to make, but additionally are delicious, can be paired with just about any protein source, and through minimal processing are beneficial to our health. The skin of the potato is rich in Potassium and Vitamin C, and provides ~2 grams of fiber per potato, depending on the size. Additionally, these potatoes you may have tasted were made with olive oil, which is high in unsaturated fat-the kind that is shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL (good cholesterol). 

Here is the quick, easy process I use to make potato wedges from scratch!

1. First off, I soften the potatoes through boiling for roughly 20 minutes (vary by size).


2. Once potatoes are soft enough to poke through with a fork, strain potatoes and allow to cool, and split each into fourths. On a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan), and season to your taste! For this recipe, I used a Rosemary/Parsley/Salt blend, however you can use your favorite seasoning.



3. Finally, bake wedges in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for roughly 15-20 minutes. The result should be a delicious potato wedge that melts in your mouth!



That is about all it takes. Again, using simple ingredients on cooking such as olive oil and herbs are a great measure to take in preventing intake of harmful additives which larger-scale manufacturers may use in their processed products. Enjoy!

 

A Spotlight on Camelina Oil

Camelina oil comes from the pressing of the camelina plant, also known as false flax. The oil was first used hundreds of years ago in Northern Europe for food, lamp oil, and medicine. However, after World War II, Camelina was replaced with higher yield crops. The Camelina plant is classified as a Brassicaceae and is related to broccoli and cabbage, the smell of the oil is similar to a subtle broccoli scent. The plant grows well in cold and arid climates and the rain fall and air temperature can have drastic effects on the oil content of the plant.

When compared to other oils like olive, canola, or sunflower, Camelina oil has a healthier balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. It’s generally recommended for individuals to consume more Omega-3s than Omega-6s, and over consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to heart disease and inflammation. The average western diet contains higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 oils are commonly found in fish and flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil and include EPA, DHA, and ALA (which Camelina oil is high in). ALA, alpha-linolenic acid, has been linked to a protective effect on heart health and proper nervous system function. The higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in this oil have also been linked with improving blood lipid profiles and reducing the bad cholesterol, known as LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein).

Camelina has a high Vitamin E content in the form of tocopherols. These tocopherols allow the shelf life of the oil to be up to 18 months and also prevent rancidity and oxidation. The oil has a high smoke point which makes it perfect for cooking. The smoke point of Camelina oil is 475 degrees Fahrenheit! Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant and assists in preventing free radical damage. The benefits of Camelina oil are not limited to the diet. The oil can be used in skincare as a moisturizer that improves skin tone and it can be warmed and used on the scalp to reduce dandruff and keep hair moisturized. Camelina oil is also used for biodiesel and renewable jet fuel production. This oil has so many uses from cooking to jet fuel, it comes as a surprise that more people don’t know about it. Coppal House Farm in Lee, NH is a local producer of cold-pressed, non GMO Camelina oil and they can be found at the Seacoast Eat Local Farmers’ Markets this winter.

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3.

A Spotlight on Microgreens

Microgreens are the young version of a vegetable or herb that are cut just after the first leaves develop. They are not the same as sprouts, sprouts are simply germinated seeds. Sprouts are grown in water whereas microgreens are grown in soil or peat moss. Most microgreens grow in 1-2 weeks, but some can take 4-6 weeks. The taste varies depending on the variety of microgreen, but it can be said that the flavors pack a punch. You can purchase microgreens from farms including Andy’s Edible Gardens and Stout Oak Farm. Microgreens can be grown year round, making them easy to find no matter the weather, and they are very easy to grow at home.

Microgreens are great to mix into a salad to up the nutrient density, sprinkled over avocado toast, or placed on the top of crostini just to name a few ideas. My favorite variety are cilantro microgreens, they taste amazing on top of a crostini with Baba Ganoush. Microgreens have not been around for very long, they actually originated in San Francisco in the 1980’s and didn’t gain popularity until the 90’s. The first varieties grown included beet, arugula, cilantro, basil, and kale. The different types of microgreens continue to increase and there are different varieties every year. They may have a shorter shelf life than their fully grown counterparts, but the nutritional value is much higher. Microgreens are high in vitamins C, K, and E and they also contain powerful antioxidants called carotenoids and polyphenols. This makes them a perfect snack during the peak of cold and flu season. What is your favorite variety of microgreen?

A Spotlight on Pierogi

This past Saturday at the Exeter Farmers’ Market located in Exeter High School, the pierogi being sold by Jaju stood out. Believe it or not, locally produced pierogi are rare if nonexistent in Seacoast New Hampshire, a google search even shows that not many local restaurants offer them on their menu. Jaju, out of Lynn, Massachusetts is the closest producer of them and offer a variety of fillings (vegan pierogi can even be special ordered according to their website), you can purchase them from these local stores. I was extremely interested in the varieties offered by Jaju and decided to purchase the sweet potato and caramelized onion variety, yum!

That led me on a search to learn more about them, their origin, and how they are made. Pierogi are a thinly rolled dough dumpling (similar to a ravioli or gyoza) and can be filled with a variety of fillings. Pierogi can be filled with savory foods like meats, potatoes, caramelized onions, cheese or even sweet foods like berries for a tasty dessert. The only variety I have ever tried are the common frozen potato, cheese, and onion variety that come to many people’s minds when the word pierogi is spoken. The common potato and cheese pierogi that many people are familiar with are actually referred to as “ruskie” pierogi.

Pierogi are one of the national foods of Poland and the word pierogi is Slavic for the word festival. It’s actually incorrect to call them “pierogies,” because the word pierogi is already plural. The tasty dumplings first popped up in Poland around the 13th century however, recipes didn’t start to appear in literature until the 17th century. Polish immigrants first brought pierogi to the United States over 100 years ago. The largest pierogi ever created was 92 pounds, and there is a Guinness Book record for making pierogi (in 100 minutes, 1663 dumplings were created)! Pierogi also spelled pyrogy are so popular in Canada, there is even a statue located in Glendon, Alberta dedicated to the dumpling!

Nutritionally, the pierogi varies depending on the filling, but the majority of the pierogi is carbohydrate. To be honest, most people are not eating pierogi because of their health benefits, mostly because of their flavor. Pierogi can be part of a balanced diet. When preparing the dumplings they can be pan fried or boiled depending on your preference and the filling. I pan fried the sweet potato and caramelized onion pierogi in a garlic butter sauce and served with shrimp and they were extremely tasty. Pan frying gives a nice airy, yet crispy texture to the dough which is a treat to bite into. It can be both difficult and time consuming to make these delicious treats from scratch if you are not experienced in the kitchen, but here is a recipe for homemade pierogi if you want to give it a try.