Stinging Nettle Gnudi with Sage Butter

Photo Credit: Langdon Cook

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 17 June 21, 2019

Recipe derived from Fat of the Land
Compiled by Celia Dolan for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Nettles are often associated with their vexing sting – the result of a “compound cocktail” consisting of various neurotransmitters and acids injected into the skin when a person encounters their prickly leaves and stems. But, fear not! Nettles protect themselves in such an irritating way because they house tremendous nutritional and medicinal value, and better yet, they lose their sting once cooked. Read on to learn more about this up-and-coming springtime favorite and experiment with a delicious gnocchi-esque recipe.

Nettle Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits

The prickles on these perennial plants, native to North America, Europe, Asia, and the northern regions of Africa, are called “trichomes”, which inject passersby with chemicals including histamine and formic acid (the same acid injected by many biting insects, like ants).  Even their uncomfortable sting, though, can be beneficial.  In a treatment called urtication, fresh nettles are slapped against arthritic limbs to encourage circulation and warm joints to alleviate pain.

Despite nettle’s initially cranky response to being touched, when consumed it regulates inflammatory pathways, which allow cells to protect the body from infections and tissue damage.  Nettles also support upper respiratory health, thereby preventing nasal congestion, sore throats, and other upper respiratory infections.  They contain protein (33.8%) and fiber (9.1%), and are a good source of energy and bioactive compounds, which promote good health and may prevent cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.  Nettles are rich in iron, fatty acids, potassium, carotenoids, mineral salts, calcium, manganese, sodium, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C, and K.  “Great!” you exclaim.  “So, where do I buy these power-packed bundles?”  Well, dear reader, look no further than the next section of this post!

Obtaining Nettle

Nettles grow June through January, but are best harvested and consumed in the spring when they first grow because the leaves are smaller and more tender.  These native plants are often considered weeds, but subjecting them to the abuse of a weed wacker, scuffle hoe, or even herbicides (*gasp*) seems criminal when considering their health benefits and their valuable quality of contributing to native biodiversity. 

Nettles are most easily found through foraging since they grow abundantly, especially along roads, trails, waterways, and edges of fields, lawns, and farm rows.  However, they can be purchased at stores and farmer’s markets as well if you do not feel inclined to forage.  When shopping for nettle, look for bright green leaves with pale green undersides, and consider how the nettle was grown and harvested.  Reflecting on a food’s origin, cultural significance, environmental impacts, and whether it was cultivated sustainably, organically, and humanely are always important first steps to buying ingredients for any meal, including the ingredient nettle!


Cooking Tip: Wear gloves while preparing nettles to be cooked (unless you are anxious to practice urtication on your hands!).


2 cups organic ricotta

¾ cup grated organic parmesan

2 organic pasture-raised eggs

1 cup boiled and chopped wild nettles

½ cup organic flour, plus more for rolling

⅛ tsp nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Organic olive oil

Organic Butter

Fresh organic sage, chopped


1. Blanche stinging nettles in boiling water for a minute. Drain, shock with cold water, and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Chop finely to fill a loose cup.

2. Drain ricotta and stir into a large bowl with parmesan, eggs, chopped nettles, a dash of nutmeg, and seasoning. Slowly add flour. The mixture should be damp and tacky without sticking to hands. If a half cup of flour isn’t enough to prevent sticking, keep adding a little more at a time until you can form a wet ball in your hand without it adhering.

3. Prepare a work surface by sprinkling it generously with flour.  Take a snowball-sized handful of cheese-nettle mixture and roll it in flour until thoroughly coated.  Roll out into a snake with a half-inch to inch diameter depending on preference. Cut into gnudi “pillows”. Dredge the cut ends in flour and shape each pillow as desired. Set aside on floured plate.

4. Boil gnudi in batches in salted water. They’re done when they float to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to remove from boiling water to a clean plate. Place cooked gnudi on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Boil a batch after each snowball’s worth of filling is shaped. While that batch is boiling (it only takes a couple minutes), move the previous boiled batch from plate to wax paper. Then continue with another handful.

5. Pan fry gnudi in olive oil and butter with chopped sage leaves until nicely browned. Leftover boiled gnudi can be refrigerated.


Dandelion Greens with Jerusalem Artichoke for the Microbiome

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference

vol. 16 June 7, 2019

Profile and recipe from Ana Maria Moise, MS, CNS, LDN
Compiled by Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Ana Maria Moise is a clinical nutritionist with expertise in functional foods as preventative and therapeutic medicine. She counsels patients on dietary strategies for treating gastrointestinal disorders, eating disorders, metabolic disorders, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and other chronic illnesses.

She is the author of The Gut Microbiome: Exploring the Connection between Microbes, Diet, and Health, published in 2017. She is committed to translating current medical research, making it more accessible to the general public. She leads workshops on nutrition and gastrointestinal health, plant-based diets, and a mindful eating approach to weight management.

She practices at 52 Center Street in Northampton, MA and 306 High Street in Greenfield, MA. 

Find more information at or register to attend her NOFA/Mass event “Cultivate a Healthy Microbiome” on June 13, 2019.

What is your interest/career in the food system?

Practicing nutrition in a clinical setting provides a wonderful opportunity to integrate knowledge of local nutrient-dense foods. The modern diet is often devoid of biodiversity. Incorporating more complex plant foods in the diet improves health and promotes longevity. My fascination with local and specifically indigenous plant foods stems from the understanding that whole plants promote gut health and, in turn, helps prevent disease. Increasing our diversity of whole plant foods, as we see in more traditional diets, supports the diversity of microbes living within the gut. These gut microbes are a key component to managing inflammation in the body and reducing the risk of chronic disease. 

Why do you love local, organic food?

When I moved to Western Massachusetts, I quickly developed an interest in indigenous cultures and medical anthropology. As I learned about chronic diseases typically seen only in modern Western cultures, I became interested in the role of diet and lifestyle in the development of these so called “diseases of civilization”. Traditional cultures that subsist on locally grown foods tend to have much lower rates of metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. Research points to the importance of local plant foods within these traditional diets because they contain complex carbohydrates that serve as prebiotics – foods that feed our probiotic microbes. The modern Western diet is lacking in diversity of complex plant foods and researchers believe this is starving gut microbes, lowering their diversity, and thus promoting a disease-state within the body. Integrating local produce and increasing the variety of local plants in one’s diet is a wonderful way to increase prebiotics and improve gut health.  

Are there any native local foods that you recommend for promoting gut health?

Prebiotics are found in a variety of whole plant foods including beans, legumes, onion, garlic, dandelion greens, as well as tubers like jicama and Jerusalem artichoke. Tubers are underground vegetables that are still seen as stables in modern-day hunter-gatherer diets. The Jerusalem artichoke, or Sunchoke, is a native North American tuber and was part of the indigenous diet. 

The Jerusalem artichoke, or Sunchoke, is a native North American tuber and was part of the indigenous diet.

Dandelion greens with Jerusalem Artichoke for the Microbiome


  • 2 cups organic dandelion greens
  • 1 medium organic Jerusalem artichoke
  • 1 medium organic radish
  • 1 Tbs chopped organic green onion
  • 1 Tbs chopped organic green garlic
  • ¼ cup organic bean sprouts
  • Salad dressing of choice


Rinse and chop all vegetables.  Toss and enjoy!

Lemony Asparagus and Spring Pea Salad with Roasted Almonds

Photo credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference

vol. 15 May 31, 2019

Recipe derived from The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Compiled by Celia Dolan for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Spring has finally arrived and our favorite local crops are back in season!  Asparagus shoots are awakening, rising up from the soil, and making an appearance at farm stands and farmer’s markets.  Like many consumers in New England, we are excited to snatch up these power-packed veggies and boil, grill, sauté, steam, or roast them – or even eat them raw.  As asparagus becomes a seasonal staple on many people’s dining room tables this spring, we thought we’d share some nutritional information, benefits of eating local, organic asparagus, and fun facts about this spring-time treasure.

Why Local and Organic?

Locally and organically grown asparagus, like other sustainably produced foods, offer environmental, economic, social, and health advantages.  According to a 2015 study, over 90% of American asparagus is imported, and asparagus farmers are experiencing the negative effects of the declining demand for American-grown asparagus.  By purchasing American-grown asparagus, especially locally grown varieties in New England, consumers support their local farmers and economy, and protect farmland and greenspace in their area.  Local veggies also have lower emissions, thereby reducing environmental contamination and impacts of climate change.

Organic produce further protects the environment and mitigates climate change; it is estimated that organic agriculture can bind 1,000 pounds of carbon per acre, rather than releasing carbon into the atmosphere as is common on conventional farms.  Since organically grown vegetables have fewer inputs, like pesticides and chemical fertilizers, they promote soil, water, and pollinator health, as well as the health of farm workers and consumers.  Asparagus that is organically grown is higher in nutrients and antioxidants, making local, organic asparagus even richer in the nutritional benefits (explored next)!

Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits

Asparagus is low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium while being high in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.  These qualities provide asparagus-eaters with many health benefits!  Read on to find out more.


A half cup of asparagus contains:

  • 18% RDI Vitamin A
  • 34% RDI Folate (i.e. Vitamin B9)
  • 12% RDI Vitamin C
  • 7% RDI Vitamin E
  • 57% RDI Vitamin K
  • Thiamin (i.e. Vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (i.e. Vitamin B2)
  • Niacin (i.e. Vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (i.e. Vitamin B5)
  • Vitamin B6

All of these vitamins play a role in boosting health and well-being.  For example, vitamin A promotes eye health and can even reduce risk of acne.  Folate is important for a healthy pregnancy, cell growth, and DNA formation.  Vitamin C reduces blood pressure and risk for heart disease.  Vitamin K – the vitamin with the highest RDI in a half cup of asparagus – assists in blood clotting and bone health.


In addition to a bounty of vitamins, asparagus also harbors minerals that further contribute to a healthy diet, including:

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese

Like vitamins, minerals bolster health.  Potassium offers relief from strokes, kidney disorders, and anxiety, while improving metabolism, strength, and the nervous system.  Phosphorus aids in the formation of strong bones and teeth; calcium also aids in this effort and allows for proper functioning of the heart, nerves, and muscles.  Iron eliminates fatigue and strengthens the immune system. 


Asparagus contains powerful nutrients, as well, including zinc and selenium.  Zinc helps heal wounds and promotes healthy growth in children.  Selenium is important for thyroid health and may reduce asthma symptoms.

Each of these vitamins, minerals, and nutrients combine to create a powerful array of benefits for asparagus fans.  The high level of antioxidants in asparagus protect cells against oxidative stress, which contribute to chronic inflammation and development of diseases including cancer.  The fiber contained in asparagus reduces heart disease and risk of diabetes, particularly Type-2 diabetes.  Asparagus strengthens the immune system and greatly improves gut health by feeding friendly bacteria – Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.  It can even lower risk of depression, boost energy levels, and improve your complexion and hair health.  Clearly, asparagus is not only yummy but also provides a host of benefits to people of all ages!

Now that you’re an asparagus expert, enjoy making the following recipe – or concoct your own dish with this versatile veggie that can be used in salads, stir-fries, omelets, frittatas, side dishes, pasta dishes, and more!


Yields: 6 servings

Preparation Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Shopping Tip: Purchase asparagus with firm stems and closed tips


5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup shallots, minced

1/3 cup whole almonds

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 pound asparagus, washed and tough bottom ends trimmed and discarded

3/4 cup shelled fresh peas

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves removed and saved

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Garnish: 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler


In a medium skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Scrape shallots and oil from pan into a small bowl and set aside. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to same pan over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add almonds and toast 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Add almonds to shallot mixture. Stir in lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and return water to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove asparagus with tongs (reserving water in pan) and place in ice-water bath. Return reserved water to a boil and blanch peas 3 minutes or until soft. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Add peas to almond mixture. Drain asparagus in colander and pat dry with a paper towel.

Arrange asparagus spears on serving platter with tips all facing the same direction. Add lemon zest and mint leaves to almond and pea mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Liberally spoon over asparagus and garnish with cheese shavings.


Mushroom Pot Pie with Fungi Ally

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 14 May 10, 2019

Profile and recipe shared with permission from Willie Crosby of Fungi Ally
Compiled by Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Why Fungi?

Mushrooms are a great local food source that can be grown year-round on agricultural by-products. Their role in ecosystems to transform waste into life is vital to the health of the planet. We believe that by working with mushrooms we can improve our own health while transforming waste into life affirming food and soil.

Mushrooms are more nutritious than most people realize

When most people imagine a nutritious diet, they think plenty of leafy greens and brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. What about mushrooms? Despite their often less-exciting colors and technically not being vegetables, our fungal friends are actually a powerhouse of nutrition. They’re low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol while being high in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you are interested in knowing more about mushroom nutrition, read on to find information pertaining to protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more.

General Mushroom Nutrition

Protein: Yes, protein! Popular species of edible mushrooms normally contain 19-35% protein. Compare that to the general protein content of the following foods:

  • Rice: 7.3%
  • Wheat: 13.2%
  • Soybean: 39.1%
  • Milk: 25.2%

Amino acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are nine amino acids essential to humans because our bodies cannot make them. While animal-based foods generally contain all the necessary amino acids, plant-based proteins are usually low in one or more kind. Mushrooms, however, contain all nine types of essential amino acids.

Vitamins: Edible mushrooms are a fantastic source of several vitamins, especially B vitamins. The B vitamins found in mushrooms help your body break down carbohydrates and fats and play an important role in the nervous system. Need more vitamins in your life? Vitamins are part of the mushroom nutrition worth knowing. Eating one cup of mushrooms can provide you with the following amounts of vitamins, depending on the species:

  • 7% daily intake of B1
  • 30-35% daily intake of B2
  • 22-25% daily intake of B3
  • 23% daily intake of B6

Most people are surprised to find that mushrooms are also a great source for vitamin D. Just like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. When it comes to getting this essential vitamin, mushrooms are the only source of produce that can help. The key here is that they have to be exposed to sunlight. Check out our sun-dried mushrooms to help boost your vitamin D intake. They can be added to soups, risottos and vegetable dishes, or made into a delicious tea.

Minerals & Antioxidants: We could not talk about mushroom nutrition and forget to mention minerals and antioxidants found in mushrooms. Mushrooms contain many essential minerals, including iron, phosphor, copper, potassium and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against heart disease and some cancers. Mushrooms are one of the richest natural sources of selenium, not to mention one of the only items you’ll find in the produce aisle that has it. One single portion of mushrooms can provide a quarter of the daily needs of selenium.

Mushroom nutrition and the presence of umami flavor

Here is an excerpt from the study Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Uniquewhich discusses both the umami flavor and some of the nutritional constituents associated:

“Mushrooms have many flavor and nutrient characteristics that make them an ideal addition to many dishes. Their texture and umami or savory flavor properties make them a suitable substitute for meat. Mushrooms contribute moisture that improves the mouth feel and overall sensory appeal of many dishes, whereas their low energy density (about 92% water) can reduce the energy density of the final dish when taking the place of other higher-energy-dense ingredients.”

The study continues with a deeper look at the umami flavor and mushroom nutrition:

“The use of other umami-rich ingredients, such as tomatoes, that have a synergistic effect with the umami compounds in mushrooms further adds to the flavor and consumer appeal. The interactions of the umami compounds on taste buds create longer-lasting taste sensations compared with the effects of the compound on their own. Traditional global cuisines have combined multiple umami-rich ingredients for millennia to create iconic dishes. For example, in Chinese cuisine, fresh mushrooms that contain naturally occurring glutamate often are combined with dried, rehydrated mushrooms that contain naturally occurring guanylate. Mushrooms and other vegetables rich in umami also have the benefit of being low in sodium and rich in potassium”

Now it’s time to take advantage of all this mushroom nutrition knowledge! Whether you add fresh oysters to your omelet in the morning, a dropper of reishi extract to your afternoon tea, or dried shiitake to your soup in the evening, we hope you continue to enjoy all the exciting benefits mushrooms have to offer.

Parsnips, mushrooms and bok choy add texture and flavor to this savory pie

Mushroom Pot Pie

Adapted from a recipe by Fungi Ally.  Find the original recipe here:


For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup organic pasture-raised lard
  • ¼ cup organic pasture-raised butter
  • 3 cups organic flour (I used Einkorn)
  • 1 organic pasture-raised egg
  • 1 tsp organic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the filling:

  • 2 lbs fresh organic mushrooms (I used a mix of Shiitake, Oyster and Cremini)
  • 1 lb organic ground pork
  • 3 organic parsnips
  • 1 head organic Bok Choy
  • 1 organic yellow onion
  • 1 Tbs organic minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs organic smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp organic thyme
  • 1 tsp organic parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup organic butter
  • ½ cup organic buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup organic whole wheat flour


  1. Make the crust- Blend all crust ingredients in a food processor or by hand with a pastry blender until well combined.  Roll into a ball and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Chop mushrooms, parsnips, onion and bok choy into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Saute ground pork with onion in an extra large skillet until browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, mushrooms, parsnips and bok choy.  Saute until all vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 additional minutes.  Set aside.
  5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Add whole wheat flour and stir constantly with a whist until fragrant and darkened.  Whisk in buttermilk and cook a few minutes longer until thickened.  Add to meat and vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle with paprika, thyme and sea salt.  Mix well and move to 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Roll out refrigerated crust dough and place on top of pie.  Pierce crust in several places to allow for moisture to escape during baking.  Brush with additional buttermilk, if desired.
  8. Bake until golden brown, 45-60 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Want to learn more from Willie Crosby, Fungi Ally and NOFA/Mass? 

Listen to Season 2, episode 4 of the NOFA/Mass podcast to hear our interview with Willie all about Becoming Friends with Fungus.

Read Caro Roszell’s interview with Willie Crosby titled “Learning Your Way into the Fungal Kingdom”.

Attend our upcoming on site workshop Growing Specialty Mushrooms at Home on May 11, 2019.

Ghee Bulletproof Coffee with Full Moon Ghee

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 13 January 11, 2019

Profile and recipe from Hannah Jacobson-Hardy of Sweet Birch Herbals and Full Moon Ghee, Williamsburg, MA
By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

It was a love of herbs and local farms that led Hannah Jacobson-Hardy to begin her business, Sweet Birch Herbals, and later her second venture, Full Moon Ghee.  When the two passions intertwined with her custom herbal-infused ghee, a little bit of magic was released into the world.

Ghee is a traditional oil, used for cooking or condiment, made from butter.  Jacobson-Hardy purchases unsalted cow butter from New England farms and enjoys supporting local dairies.  The origin butter is heated gently until the milk solids separate from the fat.  If you are looking for clarified butter, you could stop here.  But ghee makers take this process one step further and cook the butter longer so that any extra moisture evaporates.  This makes the end product shelf stable for up to a year since there is no water left in the product to allow for bacterial growth.  The fat is then strained and separated from the milk solids before being packaged.

Besides being shelf stable, there are other reasons to choose ghee over other cooking oils.

Butter or ghee?

  • Ghee is lactose free, while butter is not, making ghee easier to digest. Even people with sensitivity to dairy products can usually consume ghee without a problem.

Coconut oil or ghee?

  • Like coconut oil, ghee is part saturated fat and part unsaturated fat. However, ghee has a higher smoke point than coconut oil.  Oils with lower smoke points will start to burn more quickly.  When the smoke from the burning oil is inhaled it can be carcinogenic.  Ghee is a more forgiving oil to cook with.

Lard, tallow or ghee?

  • Like lard and tallow, ghee from pasture raised animals will contain Vitamin D. All three are rendered fats.  This choice really comes down to taste preference.  Ghee tastes like butter, but with a deeper, nuttier flavor profile from the caramelized milk flavors.  It goes really well with roasted butternut squash, on toast or even in coffee.  Ghee is also suitable for a vegetarian diet, while lard and tallow are not.

Hannah is a proponent for keeping healthy fats in our diets.  She explains “They are good for the brain and large intestine.  They lubricate the joints.  Ghee is cooling in the body and can help to heal heat conditions like ulcers and colitis.  Good fats also help you absorb nutrients.”

Combine these beneficial traits of ghee with the wonders of herbal medicine, and this is where the magic happens.  Hannah has brought her knowledge of herbalism from Sweet Birch Herbals to Full Moon Ghee by infusing her artisan ghee with local herbs and flavors.

“In winter months I really like blending it with spices like cinnamon and turmeric.  The warming spice flavor is great to add to oatmeal, rice or toast.  But beyond the flavor boost, these spices can assist in circulation of blood throughout the body.  Turmeric is known to be anti-inflammatory.  Ghee, a healthy fat, can travel to deeper tissues of the body than other nutrients can.  If herbs or spices are infused into the ghee, then the compounds of them are also delivered and potentially absorbed once it is ingested.  It’s a great way to get the herbal properties from your infusions straight to your joints and ligaments where they are needed most.” Says Jacobson-Hardy.

Currently Full Moon Ghee carries Rosemary, Garlic, Turmeric Spiced, Chocolate and Maple flavored ghee.  You can find Hannah at the 2019 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference at Worcester State University this weekend.  Not only will she have a table in our vendor area to sell her amazing ghee and herbal products, but she will also be presenting a workshop during the first session of the day.  Check out the workshop description:

SESSION ONE 9am-10:30am

Herbal Ghee: Debunking the Myths of Fat & Realizing its Medicine (All Levels)

Ghee (clarified butter) is the local oil of New England and it is one of the healthiest fats for our bodies to optimize performance and balance energy. In this workshop we’ll debunk the myths of fat and dive into the medicinal qualities of herbal ghee that have been utilized in Eastern Medicine for centuries.  Cooking demo, tasting & handouts included.

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy: Community Herbalist & Local Food Entrepreneur, founder of Sweet Birch Herbals & Full Moon Ghee based in Williamsburg, MA.

Can’t make it to the conference but want to find out more about Hannah and what she offers?  Visit her Sweet Birch Herbals website, Full Moon Ghee website, Sweet Birch Herbals Facebook page, Full Moon Ghee Facebook page, Sweet Birch Herbals Instagram feed, or Full Moon Ghee Instagram feed.  Or even find Full Moon Ghee right here on The Organic Food Guide.

​Hannah Jacobson-Hardy has generously shared a recipe with us from her archives.  Find more ways to use ghee on the Full Moon Ghee blog.

Ghee in Coffee: Why We Blend Them Together for the Perfect Cup

by Chris Sturk

Discover why adding some ghee in coffee will create a delicious treat with an extra dimension to the ever-popular BULLETPROOF® Coffee concept

The notion of adding butter and coconut oil to coffee has gained popularity over the past few years. The resulting beverage has been referred to as BULLETPROOF® Coffee. Today we’re sharing the reasons why adding ghee in coffee is an even better idea than butter, and how doing so will create a delicious drink with surprising benefits.

For all of the non-coffee drinkers out there, we share some information at the bottom of this article for using ghee butter in teas or other hot beverages.

Do you already add ghee in coffee? If not, try it. Your gut may thank you

Some coffee drinkers complain about the acidity in coffee impacting their gut and digestive system. Using ghee helps reduce the acidity and inflammation in a couple of ways. First, the calcium in ghee works to neutralize the effect of the acid. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is found in ghee which has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory quality.

Want to add ghee with a little spice to your morning coffee? Try our Golden Turmeric Spiced Ghee.

Ghee in coffee: Why butter is not better than ghee

Ghee is a great addition to coffee for a few main reasons. First, ghee is comprised of pure butter fat, which is rich in vitamins A, D, and K, omega-3 and omega-6 (especially if the ghee comes from grass-fed cows, which produce more nutrient-rich milk). Ghee is derived from butter that has had its water content, proteins, and sugars cooked out.

If you use butter instead of ghee in your coffee, then you will be adding moisture, sugars, and proteins. The water content will impact the taste of the coffee, essentially watering it down a bit. The sugars and proteins in butter can make it harder for some people to digest.

Furthermore, fats in ghee help to slow down the absorption of coffee. This in turn prevents sharp insulin spikes, as well as blood sugar crashes.

Not a coffee drinker? You can add ghee into your tea, too!

You can turn your favorite tea into a latte just by adding a little ghee. The best way to do this is to emulsify it. There are emulsifying blenders out there on the market, but any ordinary blender will do the trick, too.

Add some ghee to your favorite chai blend and you will experience a delicious drink reminiscent of its origins in Ayurvedic Medicine of India.

How to add ghee to your coffee

Start with a cup of coffee made to your liking. Add one or two teaspoons of ghee, depending on the amount of coffee you want to drink and how buttery you want it. Add coconut oil if desired (MCT coconut oil is preferred by many), one teaspoon up to one tablespoon, depending on the taste you want. Then emulsify your drink until it becomes frothy.

Do you like a little sweetness in your coffee? Try making maple or chocolate coffee or lattes with Chocolate Ghee or Maple Ghee.

*BULLETPROOF is a registered trademark owned by Bulletproof Digital, Inc.

Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 12 January 4, 2019

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

With a new year comes excitement, resolution, a clean slate, and often, clean eating habits.  Now is the perfect time to resolve to eat more locally and organically.  Do it for the environment, for your neighboring farmers, and for yourself.  Eating organically can improve the health of the land, the health of the plants and animals that live on the land, as well as significantly improve the health of your family.  We at NOFA/Mass believe this wholeheartedly, and commend you for taking any small steps you can to choosing organic.

If you are new to living the locavore lifestyle, you may find it difficult to source local organic ingredients in the middle of winter.  In some cases you may still be able to purchase root vegetable crops or greenhouse grown crops from local farms.  Search The Organic Food Guide’s database for the vegetables that you’re looking for to see what farms near you may offer during the winter months.

Another great commitment that you can make in the beginning of a new year is to sign up for a CSA.  Now is the time to research the farm shares offered in your area and compare pricing, variety, and pick up options.  If you’re the DIY type, you could also resolve to attend one of the upcoming NOFA/Mass educational events and increase your food growing knowledge to produce your own food and take control of your diet.

Yellow onions can be dried and stored throughout the winter.

If you’ve been at this locavore thing for a while now, and you happen to have a freezer and a root cellar, you likely already have all the Massachusetts grown ingredients featured in this week’s recipe at hand.  Brighten up these dark days by making this fantastically colorful Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry.

Choose organic carrots grown by farmers that are committed to regenerative agriculture.

Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry


  • 2 large organic beets
  • 1 large organic onion
  • 2 organic carrots
  • 2 cups organic kale
  • 1 lb organic ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp organic dried turmeric powder
  • 1 Tbs organic leaf lard
  • 1 tsp organic garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

 Use any variety of beets that you like best.


  1. Slice beets and carrots diagonally, leaving large chunks for texture.  Slice onions and chop kale.
  2. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  Add leaf lard.  Once melted, add ground pork.  Cook until the outside is browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Push to one side of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add onion, beets and carrots.  Cover and allow to steam for 10 minutes, or until beets and carrots are tender.
  4. Add kale.  Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  (If kale is previously frozen, defrost before adding to pan, or increase steaming time to 8-10 minutes.)
  5. Uncover.  Add garlic powder and turmeric.  Stir to combine and cook for another 3-5 minutes to allow extra moisture to evaporate.

Serve this colorful winter stir fry straight out of the cast iron skillet for a true farm house feel.

Parmesan Crusted Roasted Brussels Sprouts

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 11 December 28, 2018

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

As a child, I grew up thinking that Brussels sprouts were vile vegetables that should never be tasted, and for sure would never be brought to the dinner table.  Not because I had a bad experience with them, just because they were the brunt of every cartoon joke that poked fun at bad tasting food.  If movie characters thought that Brussels sprouts were gross, so did I.

To my amazement, when I became an adult and decided to give Brussels a chance, I fell in love with the tiny cabbages.  Brussels sprouts are sweet, tasty and bite-sized.  Their leaves get crispy on the outside when roasted, while the centers remain soft and multi-folded.  Harvest them in the fall, just after a hard frost, or even into early winter when little else is left in the garden.  Cook them at high heat to toast the outer edges well.  These Parmesan crusted roasted Brussels sprouts are an excellent side dish with almost any main course, or perfect for finger snacking as an appetizer.

Trim ends and cut large sprouts in half length-wise.

Parmesan Crusted Roasted Brussels Sprouts


  • 4 cups organic Brussels sprouts, about 2 stalks worth
  • 1 Tbs organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs organic grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp organic garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Space spouts on baking sheet evenly, trying not to let them touch each other.


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Trim ends of Brussels sprouts and cut if half, if large.
  • Rinse prepared Brussels sprouts and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with garlic powder and sea salt. Toss to coat.
  • Place sprouts on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, making sure that they are not overlapping.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until top and edges are golden brown and crispy.

Smaller sprouts will cook faster and get crispier than larger sprouts.

Holiday Egg Nog with Walnut Kitchen Homestead

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 10 December 21, 2018

Profile and recipe from Ellisa Miller of Walnut Kitchen Homestead of Orange, MA
By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Elissa and her family are small scale farmers in the North Quabbin region of central Massachusetts.  With a focus on organically fed and humanely raised pigs and chickens, Walnut Kitchen Homestead is known for the quality local food that they produce.  Follow them online at, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and right here on The Organic Food Guide.

Speaking of quality local food, if you’re feeling indulgent, treat yourself to this amazingly rich and decadent dessert drink made from organic pasture-raised eggs, raw milk and Massachusetts maple syrup.  This homemade egg nog will get your name on everyone’s guest list this holiday season.

Elissa Miller of Walnut Kitchen Homestead

Are you a farmer, gardener, homesteader, consumer, landscaper or food activist?

I’d classify myself as a farmer these days, although back when I started getting into farming I would have chosen homesteader.

What type of food to do grow, if any?  Do you sell it and where?

The focus of our farm is about producing high quality animal products, but we do have a couple side ventures as well (cut flowers, for instance).  Walnut Kitchen Homestead (WKH) is mostly known for the pork and eggs we sell, but we also have seasonally dependent supplies of lamb, chicken, and goat. Every week we go to the local markets to sell our products: Orange, Athol, Petersham, and also Princeton.  If a customer has a request to purchase outside of those days, we are happy to try and accommodate if we are contacted.

Why do you love local food?

I love local food (and locally created products) because I think it is so important to keep communities alive. There are several arguments out there on why local is better: reduced carbon emissions from transport, ability to support animal/plant species biodiversity, all the way through indirectly supporting local bee/pollinator populations.  And while these are all valid, I love nothing more than the sense of connection that I have to a place when I am able to buy my tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and garlic from those who live here and work on the same general land area as I do. Not to mention, the food usually tastes better!

Why do you choose organic?

There is a distinction that I find important between Certified/USDA Organic and non-certified, but raised with organic standards in mind.  Either of these are valid choices, but when I choose organic, I focus on looking for products where I understand how they are produced, more so than the official ‘Certified Organic’ label.  This is because I prioritize local over organic.

I want any animal’s products that I’m buying to have had good welfare standards – and if a cow was sick two years ago and needed non-organic treatment to recover, then I will quite happily buy from a producer who uses the animal’s welfare as their first priority.  However, the aforementioned scenario is a far cry from some forms of conventional farming that I have witnessed in the Midwest, where gallons of herbicides/pesticides are sprayed onto crops with the potential to contaminate run-off water during heavy rain.

So, I choose organic because I want to support an effort that aspires to better farming practices.  But above all – I choose organic because I am connected to my food, and want to know what went into it and how it was raised.  If I can talk to a farmer and find that information out, then that’s good enough for me.

Why do you love Massachusetts?

My family has moved quite a bit over the past twenty years.  I don’t generally put down much in the way of roots when I get somewhere, but my husband and I think this is the place we are going to be for a while, and it’s because Massachusetts feels like home.  We love our neighbors, the hill towns, maple syrup, winding roads, and crisp air first thing in the morning.

Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg for true gourmet taste.

Holiday Egg Nog


  • 12 large organic pasture raised egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 quarts raw organic whole milk
  • 2 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 cups organic raw heavy cream
  • 1 tsp plus a dash of ground nutmeg


  • In a large saucepan, beat egg yolks, syrup, salt with a whisk until well blended.
  • Add 1 quart milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon well. (About 25 minutes or until temperature reaches 160 degrees F.)  Do not allow to get too hot, as the custard will separate.
  • Pour custard into a large bowl. Stir in vanilla and 1 tsp nutmeg and remaining milk.  Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  • When ready to serve, beat heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into cooled custard with a whisk.
  • Serve with a dash of ground nutmeg on top. Makes about 16 cups.

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Bisque

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 9 December 14, 2018

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

During the darkest weeks of the year, when the memories of tender greens and fresh harvests begin to fade, I always crave a heartier vegetable to take their place.  This is good, because much of what we have to sustain us throughout the season is winter squash.  Each year I seem to discover another variety of this versatile storage crop that I fall in love with.  But I always come back to butternut.  It is naturally sweet and aromatic, but solid and strong.  It is the perfect stand-in veggie for almost any recipe.

This bisque includes an entire roasted hot pepper (I used a fully ripe ghost pepper), which makes for quite a spicy and savory flavor profile.  But feel free omit the pepper all together or substitute a few red pepper flakes for a milder, sweeter dish that the whole family can enjoy.

Locally grown butternut has a bright orange hue and strikingly aromatic center.

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Bisque


3 cups organic butternut squash (about 2 small-medium)

4 cups organic chicken stock

½ cup raw organic cream

1 head organic garlic

3 small organic yellow onions

1 organic hot pepper

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

3 Tbs organic butter

1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

Roasted vegetables create a deeper flavor profile when used in recipes.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut butternut squash in half, length-wise. Remove seeds and membrane.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet, pierce skin to allow steam to escape and bake in preheated oven until tender, about 1 hour.
  • While squash is cooking, you can also roast the garlic, onion and hot pepper. Cut the top 1/4 inch off the head of garlic as well as the onion.  Place these as well as the hot pepper on a square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle each with olive oil and wrap with surrounding foil. Place in a small baking dish and cook in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  After removing from the oven and cooling, gently separate garlic cloves from peel, onion from the skin and the hot pepper from the stem.
  • Once squash is roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. Scoop pulp out of shell and place in a blender or food processor.  Add chicken stock, garlic cloves, onion, hot pepper, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.  Blend until smooth and fully combined.  Add cream and blend again.
  • Heat on the stovetop until desired temperature is reached. Top with a drizzle of organic raw cream and swirl with a skewer for visual interest.  Enjoy!

Dragon’s Tonic with Boondocks Botanicals, Inc.

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 8 December 7, 2018

Profile and recipe from Sammi-Jo Crosby of Boondocks Botanicals, Inc. of Hubbardston, MA
By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Sammi-Jo Crosby teaches us how to make our own “Dragon’s Tonic” (aka Fire Cider, but since that is a trademarked name, we can’t call it that.)  This spicy, acidic tonic is easy to make at home and is perfect for chasing away winter germs.  If you don’t have a stockpile of dried organic hot peppers or cured garlic, you can also purchase pre-made Dragon’s Tonic from Boondocks Botanicals Inc.  Find them on The Organic Food Guide, Etsy, Facebook or Instagram for more information.

Sammi-Jo Crosby of Boondocks Botanicals, Inc.

Are you a farmer, gardener, homesteader, consumer, landscaper or food activist?

I am all of these things except for a landscaper and food activist – although I am quite concerned about finding and consuming well-grown food.

What type of food to do grow, if any?  Do you sell it and where?

We grow a vegetable and herb garden every year for our family. We also raise our own meat birds and egg layers. Any extra is given away or traded with family, friends and neighbors. We do not sell food at this time.

Why do you love local food?

It tastes better! Truly and in all seriousness it does, and I also prefer knowing how it was grown, what it ate and how happy its life was; this goes for the plants too!

Why do you choose organic?

Organic is an important choice for me because I have seen and experienced the deadly effects chemical toxicity can have on the body. The fact that it is partly a choice to put these slow killers into our system is very troubling. I do all I can to prevent my family from taking any in. Therefore, we grow and care for all our vegetables, herbs and poultry as organically as possible.

Why do you love Massachusetts?

MA is home to me. My maternal great-grandparents came over from Finland way back and began farming the same land my uncle is working today. “Damn rocky hillside” and all. It’s in my blood.

Dragon’s Tonic (aka Fire Cider)

I typically make a big batch of this for the Fall and then again in the Spring for two reasons: to help combat the seasonal allergies/cold as well as to have on hand all year for cooking.

My favorite thing about this recipe is the flexibility! As long as an ingredient is fresh and spicy, throw it in the mix! My other favorite thing is most of the ingredients are grown right out in our garden, making it organic, easy (and inexpensive!) to put together.

Now, we’re going to end up straining all this at the end, so there’s no need to get hung up on keeping out onion skins or pepper seeds. This recipe can be completely made to taste, as long as you’ve got the bones of it. Amounts are set for a half gallon sized mason jar, so you can add or subtract as your container & taste allows.

Dragon’s Tonic in progress


  • 4-6 organic Habanero peppers, sliced with seeds
  • 6-8 organic Cayenne peppers, sliced with seeds
  • ½ head organic Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 organic Onions, roughly chopped
  • Hand sized organic Ginger root, roughly chopped – no need to peel unless skin is wicked dirty
  • About 8” long organic Horseradish root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • About 8 pieces organic Turmeric root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ Cup Black peppercorns
  • Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, with the Mother – homemade or purchased
  • Local organic Honey, to taste


  • Start with a clean mason jar & lid (I like using the half gallon size).
  • Place all the prepared ingredients in the jar
  • Cover completely with Apple Cider Vinegar, leave a little head space for future mixing & make sure to stir to eliminate air bubbles.
  • Screw on you jar lid
  • Let sit in a warm place out of direct light for 8 weeks, turning the jar every few days or so to mix up the concoction.
  • Once fully infused, strain out all the bits and reserve the liquid.
  • Warm up the honey & stir it in. I like mine a little more on the spicy side, so I’ll only add about a shy quarter cup to this recipe.

Use a shot a day of this tonic to fend off colds, flus and allergy symptoms with its infused immune, digestive and circulatory boosting properties. I also like to use it in the kitchen as a marinade base, adding in herbs as desired.