Growing Blueberries in Honor of National Blueberry Month

July 2, 2019  
Filed under Food, Home & Garden

Blueberry plants provide spring blooms, fall color and tasty, nutritional fruit.
Photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC

By Melinda Myers

It’s time to celebrate. July is National blueberry month so enjoy some of these nutritious berries and consider growing a few plants in your landscape.

Don’t let a lack of space or poor soil stop you from growing blueberries. Simply plant a few blueberries in containers and enjoy their spring blooms, fall color and tasty and nutritional fruit for snacking, baking and including in healthful meals.

Blueberries prefer moist well-drained acidic soil. Most of us don’t have this type of soil. We can, however, create the ideal conditions with a quality potting mix. Or make your own with a combination of sphagnum moss, pine bark and rice hulls or perlite for drainage. Incorporate a slow release fertilizer at planting to provide needed nutrients for 6 to 8 weeks.

Grow one blueberry in a 5-gallon pot with drainage holes. You only need one plant to have fruit but growing two blueberry plants more than doubles the harvest. Plus, you’ll have more flowers and colorful fall foliage to brighten your patio, deck or balcony.

Select a blueberry suited to your growing region or one of the compact blueberry cultivars like Top Hat, Jelly Bean, Blueberry Glaze, and Peach Sorbet. Perpetua is not only compact but produces both a summer and fall crop.

Place your container in a sunny location. Check soil moisture in your container gardens daily.  Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy wet.

Dress up the container and keep the roots cool and moist with mulch. Cover the soil surface with shredded leaves, evergreen needles, or shredded bark.

Birds are the biggest pest of blueberries. Simply cover the plants with netting as the fruit begins to develop to protect your harvest from hungry birds. This is a much easier task when dealing with a couple of potted plants versus a large in-ground planting.

You will need to provide a bit of winter protection if your winters are cold. Place your potted blueberries in a sheltered location and cover the container with woodchips to insulate the roots. Or sink the container in a vacant spot in the garden. You can also store your plants in an unheated garage for winter. Just be sure to water the plants anytime the soil is thawed and dry.

And even if you don’t get a big harvest – the flowers and fall color make great additions to any landscape. Visit MelindaMyers.com for tips on harvesting, storing and preserving blueberries.

Simple Strategies for a Larger Tomato Harvest

April 3, 2019  
Filed under Food, Home & Garden

When growing tomatoes in container gardens, look for containers with built-in trellises and large reservoirs that help promote healthy growth and productivity. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company

By Melinda Myers

Nothing is more frustrating than investing time, money and energy in planting and growing tomatoes only to watch them succumb to disease.  We can’t change the weather conditions that support disease problems, but we can tweak our growing strategies to reduce this risk.

Select and grow the most disease-resistant varieties suited to your growing region. Consult your local University Extension Office for a list of recommended tomatoes and always check the plant tags before purchasing plants.

Plant tomatoes in a sunny location, that receives at least eight or more hours of sunlight, with rich well-drained soil. Your plants will be healthier and better able to fend off insects and tolerate disease.

No room – no problem.  Grow your tomatoes in containers filled with a quality potting mix and drainage holes. Many of the newer containers, like Gardener’s Victory Self-Watering Patio Planter are designed to increase success with less effort on your part. Look for containers with built-in trellises, large reservoirs and other features that promote healthy growth and productivity.

Properly space plants to increase airflow and sunlight reaching all parts of the plant. This reduces the risk of disease and increases a plant’s ability to produce more fruit. Leaving space between plants also helps reduce the spread of disease from diseased plants to nearby healthy plants.

Further reduce the risk of disease by lifting the plants off the ground. Supporting plants with strong tomato cages improves air flow and light penetration while keeping the plants and fruit off the ground and away from soil-borne insects and diseases.

Avoid flimsy tomato towers that tend to topple and bulky cages that consume too much storage space.  Consider investing in one of the stronger supports like the Gardener’s Vertex Lifetime Tomato Cage that stores flat and is strong, but flexible to encourage stouter growth. Another benefit is that it opens, so you can easily place them around larger plants; just in case you waited too long to set the cages in place.

Use soaker hoses or irrigation systems like the Waterwell Irrigation System that target water to the soil around the plant. Placing water just where it is needed – on the soil – conserves moisture while keeping the foliage dry. Overhead irrigation uses more water and increases the risk and spread of many common tomato diseases.

Boost your tomato plants’ productivity by as much as 20% with red mulch.  The USDA and Clemson University developed a red mulch that reflects far-red wavelengths upward into the plants stimulating growth and development.  For more help growing tomatoes successfully and boosting your tomato harvest visit gardeners.com.

Rotate plantings from one garden, or area within a garden, to another.  Moving related plants to different locations each year reduces the build up of insects and diseases, reducing the risk of future problems. Consider rotating your tomato plantings into containers if space is limited. Start with fresh soil, a clean container and disease-resistant plants.

With these few changes and a bit of cooperation from the weather, your new challenge may be finding ways to use and share your bumper harvest. Your surplus tomatoes and vegetables are always welcome at food pantries and meal programs in your community.

Come to the Communal Table for Health and Happiness: Four Tips for Embracing the Mediterranean Tradition of Shared Meals

February 14, 2019  
Filed under Food

Come to the Communal Table for Health and Happiness: Four Tips for Embracing the Mediterranean Tradition of Shared Meals

Sharing meals is a way of life in the Mediterranean region, but most people in the U.S. are missing out on this beneficial (and tasty!) tradition. Just in time for National No One Eats Alone Day on February 15, Amy Riolo shares insights about enjoying meals together and some delicious recipes too! 

Arlington, VA (February 2019)—Most of us treat mealtimes as an afterthought. We grab breakfast on the go, inhale fast food lunches at our desks, and squeeze in evening meals amid a flurry of activities. We’re lucky if we find time to sit down for Sunday dinner or meet friends for a midweek catch-up meal. But overall, communal eating is the exception, not the rule.

Best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator Amy Riolo says this needs to change for the sake of our health and our happiness. And since February 15 is National No One Eats Alone Day (an initiative to help middle school students feel included, valued, and accepted by their peers), now is the perfect time for us all to embrace more shared meals.

“Eating alongside other people has many proven health and social benefits,” says Riolo, author of the American Diabetes Association’s The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook and its new and improved second edition, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $19.95). “Communal eating is a long-upheld tradition in Mediterranean communities, where people live longer and enjoy great health. Americans can greatly benefit from adopting these practices and enjoying the foods eaten in this region.”

You’ve likely heard of the Mediterranean diet, which was just named best overall diet of 2019 and is linked to preventing heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes; longevity; and reducing inflammation. This eating pattern focuses on seasonal produce, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, and small amounts of meat and sweets.

When combined with lifestyle choices like communal eating and physical activity, the Mediterranean diet is believed to contribute to remarkable longevity in the region. For example, residents in Sardinia are ten times more likely to live past 100 than people in the United States. Researchers attribute this to daily communal eating and the psychological security of being surrounded by loved ones. But every country and culture in the Mediterranean region has its own way of encouraging people to plan meals and eat together, and this tradition also has been linked to improved digestion and eating less overall.

“It can be difficult given our demanding work schedules,” says Riolo, “but the benefits are truly worth the effort. Even when it isn’t possible to be with someone else (in my case, when I am writing at home and am alone), I will send a message to a loved one and arrange to call—often via Facetime or Skype with them when I’m eating. It has become a ‘thing’ with my family and writer friends—and it makes me feel great that I can both catch up with others and my work at the same time.”

Starting your own tradition of eating with friends and family is easy to do. Here are a few simple ideas to help you enjoy more meals with others:

Schedule meals with others into your weekly planning. Just as we plan going to the movies, working out, carpooling, the theater, or spectator sports with one another, we should also plan our meal times and physical activity. Even if you start with just one meal a week, it is worth it to pencil it into your schedule so you can plan accordingly. 

Remember, communal meals don’t have to mean dinner. Many people have the most interaction with others during their work day—so lunchtime is a great time to eat together. Ask your coworkers to join you for your midday meal or invite a friend to lunch.  

Make breakfast the new dinner. You can bond just as easily over breakfast as you can over dinner. Busy couples and families are taking advantage of a communal breakfast to enjoy a bit of time together before their hectic days begin. 

Allow cooking to be part of the communal eating experience. Some people refrain from entertaining because they believe that they have to have everything “ready” for whomever they’re eating with, and busy schedules don’t allow for prep work. If you can relate, keep in mind that it can be fun and efficient to work as a team. Assign one person the responsibility to pick up the groceries—or order them online—and cook together. It allows for more communal time in the kitchen. 

Now that you’re ready to sit down and enjoy a healthy and delicious meal with others, keep reading for a few of Riolo’s favorite Mediterranean recipes:

Valencian Seafood Paella (Arroz en paella)

Gluten-free

Serves: 8

Serving size: 1 cup

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes resting time

Cook time: 40 minutes

Paella is known as arroz en paella in its homeland of Spain. Original paella recipes consisted of rabbit, chicken, snails, and beans. The paella pans were rubbed in ash and cooked over orange wood. This “party in a pot” is said to be a descendant of Arabian kabsah, a similar dish originating in the Arabian peninsula. Arabs introduced rice into southern Spain in the ninth century, along with spices like saffron.

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1/4 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined*

1 lb baby squid, cleaned and sliced into rings

1/2 lb boneless white fish fillets, such as cod or swai

1 1/2 cups medium-grain Spanish rice

1/2 lb frozen lima beans, thawed and drained

Pinch high-quality saffron

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

5 cups Homemade Seafood Stock (p. 37)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup jarred pimiento peppers

Heat oil in a large, wide skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add shrimp, squid, and fish to pan. Cook until barely opaque. Add rice and lima beans, and stir in saffron, paprika, garlic, and parsley. Pour the stock over the top of the mixture and add salt. Increase heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and stir.

Cook paella, uncovered, for 30–40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. When paella is done, allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Garnish with pimientos, and serve warm.

*If possible, use fresh (never-frozen) shrimp or shrimp that are free of preservatives (for example, shrimp that have not been treated with salt or STPP [sodium tripolyphosphate]).

Choices/Exchanges

2 1/2 Starch, 2 Lean Protein

 

Calories                      280

Calories from fat        40

Total fat                      4.5 g

Saturated fat               0.8 g

Trans fat                     0.0 g

Cholesterol                 145 mg

Sodium                        240 mg

Potassium                   360 mg

Total carbohydrate      39 g

Dietary fiber                  3 g

Sugars                            1 g

Protein                         20 g

Phosphorus                220 mg

Corsican Prawns with Chickpea Cream

Gluten-free

Serves: 8

Serving size: about 1/3 cup purée plus 3 shrimp

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: approximately 5 minutes

 

Prior to becoming a French island, the beautiful Corsica was ruled by Italy for centuries. By combining both Italian and French country-style cooking with local specialties, Corsica developed a cuisine as awe-inspiring as its scenery. Traditionally this recipe is made with fresh langoustines, which are shellfish that resemble miniature lobsters. In this recipe, colossal or jumbo shrimp can be used.

 

2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 1/2 lb colossal or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined*

Dash crushed red pepper

2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

Place chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a food processor. Purée, adding 1/4 cup water, or enough to make the purée smooth.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add prawns or shrimp, crushed red pepper, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes per side or until prawns or shrimp turn pink.

Evenly spoon chickpea purée onto small plates. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Place prawns or shrimp on top and serve immediately.

*If possible, use fresh (never-frozen) shrimp or shrimp that are free of preservatives (for example, shrimp that have not been treated with salt or STPP [sodium tripolyphosphate]).

 

Choices/Exchanges

1 Starch, 2 Lean Protein, 1/2 Fat

Calories                      190

Calories from fat        70

Total fat                      8.0 g

Saturated fat               1.1 g

Trans fat                     0.0 g

Cholesterol                 90 mg

Sodium                      180 mg

Potassium                 290 mg

Total carbohydrate     15 g

Dietary fiber                 4 g

Sugars                                       3 g

Protein                        16 g

Phosphorus               200 mg

 

Lamb, Kale, and Pomegranate Salad

Gluten-free

Serves: 8

Serving size: 3 oz lamb with 1 1/2 cups vegetables

Prep time: 5 minutes, plus overnight marinating time and 15 minutes resting time

Cook time: 25–35 minutes

This colorful salad looks as good as it tastes. The addition of lamb lends a “special occasion” feel to this otherwise straightforward dish, while the pomegranate amps up the flavor.

Marinade

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp ground ginger

1 Tbsp organic Ceylon cinnamon

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp unrefined sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 (4-lb) leg of lamb, deboned, butterflied, and trimmed of visible fat

 

Dressing

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp pomegranate balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad

5 cups baby kale

2 bulbs fennel, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, or sliced red grapes

4 cups blanched green beans

2 Tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted

Combine marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb and place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove lamb from marinade, pat dry, and set on tray. On gas grill, turn all burners to high, close lid, and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape grates clean and brush with oil.

Grill lamb, fat-side down, over medium-high heat for 25–35 minutes total depending on desired doneness, turning halfway through cooking. Aim for an internal temperature of about 145°F for medium-rare and 160°F for medium. Remove from grill and loosely cover with foil. Let rest about 15 minutes, then thinly slice. While resting, prepare salad.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper (if desired). Add kale, fennel, pomegranate seeds or grapes, and toss to coat. Arrange dressed salad on platter and top with sliced lamb, green beans, gorgonzola cheese, and toasted walnuts.

 

Choices/Exchanges

1/2 Carbohydrate, 2 Nonstarchy Vegetable, 4 Lean Protein, 2 1/2 Fat

Calories                      380

Calories from fat        190

Total fat                      21.0 g

Saturated fat                 5.1 g

Trans fat                       0.0 g

Cholesterol                    95 mg

Sodium                        240 mg

Potassium                   830 mg

Total carbohydrate       16 g

Dietary fiber                   5 g

Sugars                                         6 g

Protein                          32 g

Phosphorus                 295 mg

“Even though it can be difficult to arrange more shared meals, it’s totally worth it when you think about all you will gain,” concludes Riolo. “So, plan a group brunch for you and your friends, or invite the whole family to your place for dinner and a movie, or help your kids plan a fun and healthy food-themed party. You’ll be starting your own tradition and gaining a lifetime of health and happiness.”

# # #

About the Author:

Amy Riolo is the author of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $19.95). She is an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator.

A graduate of Cornell University, Amy is considered a culinary thought leader who enjoys changing the way we think about food and the people who create it. Amy is a food historian, culinary anthropologist, and Mediterranean Diet advocate who makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs both in the United States and abroad, including FOX TV, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, Nile TV, the Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and Abu Dhabi Television.

For more information about Amy, please visit www.amyriolo.com.

 

How Sugar Affects Your Heart

February 5, 2019  
Filed under Food, Health & Wellness

Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect excuse to eat your favorite delicious treat. There’s nothing quite like enjoying something sweet from your sweetheart, but did you know how devastating for your health it can be if you consume too much sugar?

We hear a lot about the effects of sugar on our health nowadays, especially when it comes to added sugar. You can even find it in products that you wouldn’t expect to have any, such as ketchup, bread, or barbecue sauce. But is sugar that dangerous for our health and if so, how should we ensure we can avoid it?

 

Sugar Is Everywhere

If you think you’ll be fine since you aren’t crazy about desserts and sweets, you still may be consuming too much sugar from other products. For example, one can of soda could be enough to satisfy the daily recommended dose of sugar. You shouldn’t exceed 25 grams of sugar for women and 37.5 grams for men. Even if you avoid the obviously sweet foods, you should be aware that even seemingly healthier options, such as fruit yogurt, have a lot of sugar. Start reading labels on products, and you may be surprised at the amount of sugar in some of them.

 

What’s So Dangerous About Sugar?

As a carbohydrate, sugar can cause an increase in the levels of triglyceride in your blood. Since triglycerides are fat, it’s easy to imagine what kind of adverse effects that can have on your arteries. What’s more, higher than recommended sugar intake has also been linked with lowering the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), increasing blood pressure, and causing various other cardiovascular diseases. This effect is due to increased body weight and fat, which is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases.

 

How to Avoid Sugar

If you want to cut back on sugar in your diet, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating. As we recommended earlier, start reading the labels on all of the processed or packaged food you buy. Eat as much fresh food as possible and prepare your own meals. A diet rich in vegetables, fat, and protein will naturally lower your carbohydrate intake.

Unfortunately, sugar is addictive and challenging to give up. To not to be overwhelmed, start giving up things one by one, beginning with the biggest offenders, like soda. After a period of going without sweetener, the things you used to love might taste unpleasant for you.

 

Keeping Your Cholesterol Low

Avoiding sugar isn’t the only thing you can do to keep your cholesterol low and your heart healthy. A natural fiber supplement like Cholesterade can help you keep those aspects of your health under control. Eating healthy and supplementing well are among the best health practices you can adopt. Those are the right decisions that make the difference between wellness and illness in life.

 

 

Winning Tomatoes Add Vibrant Color and Flavor to Gardens and Meals

January 16, 2019  
Filed under Food, Health & Wellness, Home & Garden

By Melinda Myers

Impress your guests with a garden, container and dinner table filled with tasty and colorful winning tomato varieties. Small-fruited varieties are perfect for salads and snacking and those with larger fruit ideal for slicing, canning and sauces.

These winning tomatoes were tested nationally by All-America Selections (AAS), a non-profit plant trialing organization (all-americaselections.org). Volunteer judges evaluated the plants for flavor, improved performance, growth habit, productivity, or pest resistance in the garden. Only superior, new, non-GMO varieties receive the AAS winner’s title.

Include a few Firefly plants when looking for the perfect snacking and salad tomato. It’s smaller than a cherry and larger than a currant tomato; just the right size to pop in your mouth without embarrassment. The extremely sweet pale white to pale yellow fruit will stand out in the garden, on the relish tray or in a salad.

Join the foodie trend by growing the slightly larger striped Red Torch tomato. The one-and-a-half-inch oblong fruit are red with thin yellow stripes. Enjoy an early harvest and eat Red Torch tomatoes fresh from the garden or cooked into a sweet and sour cherry tomato sauce to serve on bread or over chicken and other vegetables.

Boost your early harvest season with Valentine grape tomatoes. You’ll enjoy the vivid deep red color and sweet flavor. Plus, this productive plant provides plenty of tomatoes for snacking, salads and to share with friends.

Add some purple to the mix with Midnight Snack. This cherry tomato ripens to red with a blush of glossy black-purple.  Judges declared Midnight Snack a big improvement in the flavor of purple tomatoes.

Pot up one or more Patio Choice tomatoes for your patio, deck or tabletop. Each compact 18-inch plant produces up to 100 yellow cherry tomatoes.  Just one fruit-covered plant in a decorative pot creates as colorful a centerpiece as a bouquet of yellow flowers.

Don’t forget to add Red Racer cocktail tomatoes to the mix.  The fruit are about the size of ping pong balls and perfect for stuffing, flavorful enough for salads and hearty enough for soups and stews.

Dress up your salads, sauces and sandwiches with colorful tomato slices. The six Chef’s Choice tomato varieties provide a rainbow of colors for the relish tray.  Guests will have trouble deciding between the red, orange, pink, yellow, green and now black-fruited varieties. These beefsteak tomatoes have the right balance between sugar and acid; perfect for eating fresh and cooking.

Consider mixing any of these winning tomato varieties in with your ornamental plants. A few tomatoes tucked into mixed borders or at the back of a flowerbed can add color, texture and interest to any landscape. Just be sure there’s easy access for harvesting and use decorative obelisks and towers to support taller varieties in style

Natural Pain Relief is as Close as Your Garden

July 3, 2018  
Filed under Food, Health & Wellness

By Melinda Myers

Busy schedules, over indulging, and strenuous summer activities can lead to sore muscles, indigestion and headaches. When searching for pain relief, look no further than your own garden or your local farmer’s market. These five foods fresh from the garden – or pot – are packed with super pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory power.

Mint
Infuse mint into your tea or ice water to refresh and rejuvenate, so you’re ready for more summer fun. Mint also helps relieve headaches and general aches and pain. Grow this vigorous perennial herb in a container so it won’t overtake your other plants.  Then at the end of the season, root a few cuttings to start new plants to grow indoors. All you need is a sunny window, quality potting mix and regular watering. Read more

Burlington Edible History Tour 2018 Season Opens June 14

May 31, 2018  
Filed under Food, Money, News

Burlington Edible History tours, rated five stars on Trip Advisor, begin June 14 for its fourth full season.

 

Over a 1.5-mile walk, participants discover the local history and food traditions of 11 immigrant groups that built Burlington: Abenaki, African Americans, French Canadians, Germans, Greeks, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Jews, Lebanese, and Yankees.

 

Tour groups sample food at five restaurants that serve local foods. This year we are delighted to welcome two new restaurants – The Gryphon and Deli 126. They join Penny Cluse, Sugarsnap Catering at ECHO, and Monarch and the Milkweed at Maglianero.

The Gryphon is located in the first Hotel Vermont, once Burlington’s largest and most prestigious hotel, and the Deli 126 is a New York-style deli combined with a 1920s style jazz cocktail lounge.

Deli 126 Bar General Manager Emily Morton enthuses, “We are a great match with Burlington Edible History. We’re both excited to let people experience our local food and drink history. Elise and Gail discovered the existence of the Good Templars and Vermont Anti-Saloon League offices on this block and the next, two groups that pushed to prohibit the sale of liquor.”

 

Tours run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 1:00 – 4:15pm, through October 13. Tickets must be purchased in advance through Seven Days Tickets via their website at www.sevendaystickets.com or through the Tour’s website at www.burlingtonediblehistory.com.

 

The tour donates 10% of profits to New Farms for New Americans to help new immigrants and refugees stay connected to their culinary traditions. Burlington Edible History Tour is the only Vermont destination in the tourism blog Roaming the Americas on “How to Support Immigrants and Refugees Through Travel in the United States.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age Well and Lindley Food Service Partner to Deliver Meals on Wheels to Northwestern Vermont

May 17, 2018  
Filed under Aging Parents, Food, News

Age Well (formerly the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging), Vermont’s largest Meals on Wheels provider, has entered into a partnership with Lindley Food Service to support the growing demand and changing environment of Meals on Wheels.  Under the current model, Age Well oversees fourteen different food vendors across Northwestern Vermont.  “With this many unique vendors, it’s difficult to provide consistent quality control and food variety for the nearly 1,500 people we serve,” stated Age Well Nutrition Director, Chris Moldovan. “Achieving the highest quality of care for aging Vermonters requires we find a way to improve our nutrition program and food production model.”

 

With 25 years of experience providing quality meals for programs throughout the northeast, Lindley has been a vendor for Age Well’s Addison County meal programs for over two decades.  This transition emerged from a three-year process that involved a consultant, focus groups, social service providers, food program coordinators, and other community members. The goals for all stakeholders in this process were the same: expand options and improve quality for home-delivered meals, ensure food safety, provide consistent training and background checks forvolunteers, and meet the dietary, religious and cultural needs of those served.

 

Lindley will begin preparing chilled meals for Age Well’s entire four county region (Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin County), beginning in early July. Meals will continue to be delivered by the nearly 400 dedicated volunteers who provide a meal, safety check and friendly visit to seniors who struggle with hunger and may be isolated and living alone. “Chilled meals will be prepared by Lindley and delivered in place of the old-style heated meals,” said Moldovan.  “This change will provide a number of benefits for our clients; the flexibility to reheat or freeze their meals and eat them at a time that best suits them.  Another reason for changing from heated meals to a chilled meals model was our need to enhance food safety, nutritional benefits, and level the playing field in terms of food quality” explained Moldovan.

 

Lindley will assist with menu planning, customized delivery schedules, and create special menus overseen by a Registered Dietitian.  This will enable Age Well to provide therapeutic, medically tailored and culturally appropriate meals and ensure that we are meeting the needs of those with chronic conditions and our increasingly diverse population.  With the chilled meals also comes brand new packaging, which will be clearly labelled and specifically designed to reheat easily and safely.  The use of chilled meals is now considered best practice for Meals on Wheels programs across the country.  By moving to this model and partnering with one vendor, Age Well is taking the necessary steps to ensure consistent quality of our meals, meet a broader range of nutritional needs, and continue to combat the three of the biggest threats of aging: hunger, isolation and loss of independence.

 

For more informationwww.agewellvt.org

From the Garden to the Plate

July 24, 2017  
Filed under Food

NasturtiuminsaladBy Melinda Myers

Make every meal a special event by bringing the garden to the table. Serve your favorite dishes made from homegrown ingredients. Then allow guests to add their own herbal seasonings right from the garden or container. Read more

Tasteful: Aunt Mary’s Pot Roast

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Food

tastefulBy Jan Kenney

At a time when paleo-eating and vegetarianism seem to be what every food writer is blogging about, I find myself more than a little embarrassed to offer up the following recipe, which features (gasp!) canned mushroom soup. Read more

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