It's the new year, and that usually entails resolutions about being more healthy. But families are busy, so simple tasks like just going grocery shopping for healthy food can be inconvenient, if not downright difficult. (This goes double for new parents!) Fortunately, you can get healthy, organic food delivered right to your doorstep or to a convenient local pickup area here in Marin County through a local farm's CSA or an organic grocery delivery service. These services all feature locally grown or produced sustainable food—perfect for the healthy locavore family!
Local Farm CSAs
What's a CSA? CSA stands for "community supported agriculture", and it's a way for consumers to get involved with local farms and food producers, support their efforts, and get great seasonal food, too. Every week, or month, or whatever time period you choose, you'll get a box full of fresh produce, eggs, meat, and more, ready to be incorporated into your family meal plan. Some farms, like Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms, offer other benefits to their CSA members, like special events and farm tours.
Most of the time, the farms choose what goes in subscribers' boxes, but that's usually a good thing, since they know what's at the peak of season. Prices for CSA boxes vary depending on the farm and the size and frequency of the box.
Sound interesting? Here's our list of local CSAs that deliver to areas within Marin County. Many of them deliver or offer drop off sites in San Francisco, Sonoma County, and the East Bay, as well (check their websites for exact locations). We've made sure to note which CSAs offer delivery right to your door, too.
West Marin's pioneering producer of grass-fed beef and other sustainable pasture-raised meats provides CSA subscribers with packages that include either meat or poultry. Since Marin Sun Farms raises a variety of livestock, you might receive beef, chicken, lamb, pork, goat, and duck. CSA boxes are delivered directly to your door. More info: www.marinsunfarms.com
Here's our list of Marin restaurants with kids-eat-free offers, broken down by the day of the week. Please note that all information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of posting, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.
Sonoma Taco Shop 210 Northgate One
San Rafael 94903
Sonoma Taco Shop in Northgate One in Terra Linda offers a free item (dine in only) off the kids' menu with the purchase of an adult item seven days a week. www.sonomatacoshop.com
This recipe for baked manicotti is an old favorite of mine, and something that my kids love to both help make and eat, too. Tubes of pasta are filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese and chopped spinach, then covered in tomato sauce, and topped with a rich béchamel sauce and parmesan cheese. It's hearty and delicious at any time of year, and the kids don't even notice that the manicotti filling includes spinach (something good for them!).
The kids like to help stuffing the manicotti tubes, so get them into the kitchen to lend a hand making dinner. If you're in a hurry, use a good quality jarred sauce and it will come together quickly. We like to make our own, and usually have a container of it in the freezer for recipes like this. (I've included my basic tomato sauce recipe below, too.)
These moist, flavorful, not-too-sweet cookies are excellent for snacks, breakfast or dessert. Full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, your kids probably won't even realize they're snacking on something that's good for them!
At this time of year, my family and I love making a warm pot of comforting soup for dinner. The kids love chicken soup in all its forms, so I created this Mexican-inspired version of chicken and rice soup to mix things up a bit.
This definitely isn't your run-of-the-mill bowl of chicken soup—it's simple but delicious and everyone loved it. Filled with chicken, rice, and vegetables, you can also mix in garnishes to personalize your bowl.
While the "right" way to make this is probably to simmer a whole chicken for a long time, this weeknight one-pot-meal is easy and quick to put together with boneless skinless chicken breasts and good quality chicken broth.
I know some people who say that pizza is one of those dishes that's always better when you dine out. I respectfully disagree! While that might be true for topping-laden old-school American pizza, we've been successfully making some pretty wonderful Italian-style pizzas right here at home. Unfortunately, we lack a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard (someday…), but we get some good results in a regular home oven with a little preparation and a few tricks.
For some reason, guacamole seems to be perpetually linked to the Super Bowl. Come February, the pebbly-skinned green fruits go on sale at the supermarket, inviting you to make a big bowl of delicious creamy guacamole to snack on or add to recipes.
When it comes to guacamole, I think simpler is better. There are so many recipes out there, often including ingredients ranging from tomatoes to mayonnaise (yuck!) to those seasoning packets you find in the supermarket containing who-knows-what. The New York Times cooking section even recently published a recipe that included green peas! Most traditional guacamole recipes eschew these ingredients in favor of simplicity, allowing the flavor and unctuous texture of the avocado to be the star. I think my favorite guac recipe which I'm sharing here does just that.
My kids love to make these basic sugar cookies and decorate them for Valentine's Day. They are easy to make and are a fun project for a rainy day. Decorate your cookies with pink and red Valentine's sprinkles or, better yet, an artistically applied drizzle of rich dark chocolate. They look festive and taste good too.
Give as a gift wrapped in cellophane bags tied with raffia or ribbon or in a heart-shaped box. Who wouldn't be happy to get these delicious and pretty sweet treats on Valentines Day?
4 cups all-purpose flour (you’ll need a little more for dusting your work surface, too)
Lemon bars have to be one of my all time favorite desserts. I usually reserve lemon bars for special occasions, because they are so sweet and rich. They are great for a special treat, party or a school event.
My mom gave me a huge basket of Meyer lemons from her tree, so naturally I used them to make some lemon bars. If you're not familiar with Meyer lemons, they're a seasonal citrus fruit that's similar to the regular Eureka lemons that you find in the grocery store, but with a thinner peel; they're sweeter and more aromatic, too. The lemon bars they made are truly fantastic, with an amazing citrus flavor that you simply won't get from grocery store lemons. If you don't have a Meyer lemon tree yourself (or have a friend who does), you can find them Trader Joe's or at one of the local farmers markets—while they're in season.
Here is the recipe I used for lemon bars. Yes, it seems like a lot of sugar, but you have to offset the tartness of the lemons. If you don't have Meyer lemons, that's OK. This recipe is still fantastic with regular lemons, too.
Winter is the perfect time to fire up the slow cooker and make some long-simmered comfort food. Chili is a perfect food for a cool winter, fall, or early spring evening. Everyone in our family likes it, and you can offer a variety of different condiments so everyone can customize their bowl to their own liking.
Here, I’ve adapted my go-to chili recipe for the slow cooker. Put all the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and let it go and it will be hot and ready in time for dinner. You can also chop up the vegetables for the recipe—onions, garlic, and green peppers—in the food processor, saving a little more work in the process.