5-24 SUN Elizabeth Ray food column

Using products fresh from the Hardin County Farmers’ Market, it’s possible to make many healthy dishes such as this Sautéed Beet Greens and Bacon with Beet Croutons.

If you follow me, you know I am at the Farmers’ Market twice a week now. You also know I create and document dishes I craft with Farmers’ Market produce. And, you know I am a food professional who chooses to spend the bulk of her grocery budget at the market.

It’s no mistake or coincidence. My actions have purpose. I choose Farmers’ Market for the obvious: the wonderful variety of high quality food, to support local business and to reduce environmental impact.

Moreover, I also choose our farmers because of who they are personally and professionally.

A few weeks ago, I partnered with S&B Bell Farms for a social media recipe takeover. I had an amazing experience creating recipes and sharing these recipes with their followers. Also I found it easy to cook because of the vast offerings of S&B Bell Farms.

They provide lamb, microgreens and gluten-free baked goods plus offer pork and mushrooms from other local farmers.

When I asked Susan why she goes to the trouble of taking mushroom orders on top of her already busy preorder sales, she explained she is happy to partner with Prayer Mountain Mushrooms. She feels good about helping a fellow farmer and bringing another healthy option to our community.

I was moved that S&B Bell Farms would go out of its way to not just help another farmer, but to also put our community’s health top priority.

Another account that got me by the heart occurred when talking with John Thomas and Jessica from Modern Heritage Farm. They shared how farming is a “calling to steward the land.”

They explained, “we noticed the increase of life under our feet and all around us. This has shown us just how strong a connection we have with all creation ... the longer we farm and focus on regenerative practices, rather than simply sustainability, the more we can see and understand the symbiotic relationships that were designed in creation … (this) continually inspires us.”

I was moved once more to know the farmers who grow my food are deeply invested the process and outcomes.

My last story is about Lesley from Solway Farms. I’ve been buying weekly from Lesley for a while and she contacted me a week ago about scheduling a social media recipe takeover with Solway Farms.

At the time, I was busy with virtual nutrition coaching, creating video content for Abound Credit Union, collaborating with Cornerstone Fitness and crafting recipes for a season-long partnership with Modern Heritage Farm.

I told Lesley I was unsure if I could commit to another social media recipe takeover this spring. However, my heart began to change as we continued to talk.

Lesley told me she and her husband both work full-time jobs in agriculture to support their love for farming and our community. I was amazed that Lesley and her husband work full time outside the home and now part time at home in farming.

Lesley believes farming is vital to community health and opens opportunities for local entrepreneurship. She also values people before profit by prioritizing filling orders and delivering to those who are elderly and/or immune compromised.

Lesley is a native of Hardin County but moved to Bowling Green during college and early adulthood years.

She had made a new life and career in agriculture, but upon returning to Hardin County she was unsure about how to re-establish a career in the farming industry.

Lesley’s new chapter started when she met John Thomas and Jessica Hodge with Modern Heritage Farm at the Farmers’ Market. The Hodges offered to help, met with Lesley on her land and literally hands-on helped her get rooted as a local farmer.

I was most moved by Lesley’s story because it deeply resonated with me. I am much like her. I am also from Hardin County, moved away during college years and had established a career elsewhere. Upon returning home, I too, didn’t know where to start. I knew I had passion for food and wanted to connect people, but how?

I found my how at the Farmers’ Market. I connect people to real food. I show that cooking real food is simple, delicious and superiorly nutritious. Hence, a new way to follow me: #farmersmarketRDN.

I continue to choose the Hardin County Farmers’ Market because it feels like a family.

I also chose to collaborate with our local food producers because we are on the same mission: Real people who really care about connecting people to real food in a simple way.

And, yes, I’m committed to Solway Farms for a social media recipe takeover this week. I invite you to follow along. It’s going to be fun and inspiring.

Here’s a sneak peak recipe using Solway Farms foods prepped simply for delicious eating.

Sautéed Beet Greens and Bacon with Beet Croutons

2 bunches of beets with beef leaves from Solway Farms

1 package of Naked Bacon Original Uncured Bacon; I used Naked Bacon instead of bacon carried by S&B Bell Farms because they were sold out of bacon until Saturday. I also chose Naked Bacon because they too are a small business who puts the health of their customers before profit.

Avocado oil

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

SAFETY TIP. To avoid cross contamination, use one cutting board and one knife for prepping vegetables and fruits only. Use another cutting board and knife for handling uncooked meats.

Grab a fruit/vegetable cutting board and cut beets away from the beet stems. Wash and dry beets. Cut beets into small cubed crouton shapes.

Grab a sheet pan and place cut beets onto pan. Drizzle avocado oil atop beets and place pan in a 425-degree oven. Set timer for 10 minutes.

While the beet croutons are roasting, grab the bacon and a meat cutting board. Slice the bacon into ½-inch squares. Once bacon is sliced, add it to a large non-stick pan and place pan atop a medium heat stove top.

As the bacon and beet croutons cook, wash and dry beet leaves. Grab the fruit/vegetable cutting board and cut beet leaves into ¼-inch strips. Continue to cut beet leaves into thin strips until reaching the dense stems. Stop cutting and discard dense stems.

Check on the beet croutons. Open oven to mix beet croutons with spatula. Close oven and roast beet croutons for another 10 minutes.

Once bacon is thoroughly cooked, add spices and beet greens. Mix bacon, spices and beet greens throughly. Cover large non-stick pan with top. Turn stove-top heat off or on low.

Check on beet croutons again. Open oven to mix beet croutons with spatula. Close oven and roast beets another 10 minutes. Occasionally stir beet greens, bacon and spices while beet croutons finish roasting.

Serve with beet croutons on top. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

Elizabeth Ray, MS RDN LD, works as a registered dietitian nutritionist helping people improve their relationship with food and with themselves. Her Instagram handle is @wholefoodbeliever and she can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/e3trition. She also has a blog atwholefoodbeliever.net.

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