All posts by Lassen

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

It’s Always on Lists of Healthiest Foods!

Yep, It’s Broccoli

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

I kind of grew up without broccoli. I didn’t really give it a second thought until I went away to college and discovered this beautiful vegetable. I ate it regularly with my roommates, and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t a staple on the generally healthy table of my family. I came home, touting the virtues of broccoli — it’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, can help lower cholesterol, is high in vitamins A and K and fiber, and is delicious! Broccoli is available year-round, too. Raw or steamed, in stir-frys, salad, main dishes or pasta — it’s not only healthy, it’s very versatile too (just pinterest search “broccoli recipes” if you doubt me!) My father patiently let me wax eloquent for a while, and then quietly said, “Well, you didn’t have it in the Navy.”

Yeah.

Broccoli can also be ruined pretty easily.  But if you remember one rule, you’ll be ok. Here’s the rule: undercook. Cooked broccoli should be bright green. Years ago my mother-in-law refused to eat broccoli in a restaurant because it was so bright green that she thought they had soaked it in food coloring. She’d never had properly prepared broccoli! I corrected that quickly.

Anyway, I grabbed some broccoli the other day and made this simple roasted broccoli for lunch — paired with slices of heirloom tomato. Perfection. This recipe is a perfect jumping-off place for lots of meals; add some chopped tomatoes and toss with pasta or serve atop rice or quinoa for a heartier meal. Add some grilled chicken or sliced steak for more protein. You’ll love it!

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

Roasted Garlic Broccoli

You’ll Need:

  • 2 lbs organic broccoli, trimmed and chopped. Peel the tough stems and slice. Don’t throw it away — It’s delicious! (I actually prefer the stems to the florets!)
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • 1 organic carrot, peeled and julienne cut
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 & 1/2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Prepare the broccoli, garlic, and carrot
  • Place on a large baking sheet, sprinkle with the pine nuts
  • Pour the olive over the vegetables, and toss with your hands to coat
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Bake for about 12 minutes, stirring once.
  • Remember the rule — do not overcook!
  • Remove and serve!

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

Enjoy this versatile and healthy vegetable!

Love,

Lassen’s

roasted+broccoli, healthy+broccoli, broccoli+recipes

split+pea+soup, healthy+soup, vegan+soup

Hooray! The Rain is Here!

Time For Healthy Soup!

split+pea+soup, healthy+soup, vegan+soup

There’s nothing like a steaming hot mug of soup on a rainy day, and I pulled out one of my all-time favs today.  Our family has been going to Andersen’s Split Pea Soup Restaurant in Buellton (or in Carlsbad, when we’re there) for many years. You can buy soup mix there, and they even give away the recipe! Pea soup is healthy is so many ways! Low fat, high in fiber — you’ll feel healthy even before you take your first bite!

split+pea+soup, healthy+soup, vegan+soup

Here is my adaptation of Pea Soup Andersen’s Split Pea Soup:

Split Pea Soup

Serves 6-8

You’ll Need:

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) of filtered water
  • 2 cups of split peas (Lassen’s has these in the bulk section — great value!)
  • 2 branches of organic celery, cut in 2″ pieces
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and cut in 2″ pieces
  • 1 small organic onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh)
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, more if desired
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I started with 1 tsp, and then added more to taste right before serving.)

split+pea+soup, healthy+soup, vegan+soup

Instructions:

  • In a heavy pot, combine all ingredients and then bring to a boil.
  • Boil hard for 30 minutes, stirring regularly, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cover, and keep simmering the soup until the peas are tender. This will take about an hour, but check every 20 minutes or so. You may need to add more water to keep the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir regularly.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the cover, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes
  • Remove the bay leaves, and then blend soup a little at a time in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender
  • Reheat as desired before serving

split+pea+soup, healthy+soup, vegan+soup

Enjoy the stormy weather as you bundle up with this healthy soup!

love,

Lassen’s

DIY+salt+and+sugar+scrubs, DIY+body+care, DIY+gifts+for+women, sugar+scrub, salt+scrub, make+your+own+scrub

DIY Salt and Sugar Scrubs for Easy Gifts!

It’s so fun to whip up some fun gifts in the kitchen! Lassen’s carries all of the ingredients for these wonderful Salt and Sugar Scrubs, including jars and bottles. Or you can reuse containers like I did with these Talenti Gelato jars! And they are immediately ready to give, so you can throw some of these together at the last minute if necessary!

Rose Vanilla Salt Scrub

DIY+salt+and+sugar+scrubs, DIY+body+care, DIY+gifts+for+women, salt+scrub, Rose+vanilla+scrub

1 cup fine sea salt
1/2 cup sweet almond oil
1/4 cup organic raw honey
1 organic vanilla bean, split and the pulp scraped (use the pulp)
1/2 tsp rose essential oil
crushed dried rose petals

Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a decorative jar.

Lemon Sugar Scrub

DIY+salt+and+sugar+scrubs, DIY+body+care, DIY+gifts+for+women

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond oil
1/2 tsp lemon essential oil
the zest of 2 lemons

Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a decorative jar.

Pumpkin Brown Sugar Body Scrub

DIY+salt+and+sugar+scrubs, DIY+body+care, DIY+gifts+for+women, salt+scrub, sugar+scrub, brown+sugar+scrub, pumpkin+scrub

1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix all of the ingredients and place in a decorative jar. This scrub needs to be refrigerated if not used within a few days.

Coconut Vanilla Body Scrub

DIY+salt+and+sugar+scrubs, DIY+body+care, DIY+gifts+for+women, sugar+scrub, salt+scrub, make+your+own+scrub

1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (use the scraped inside part)
1/3 cup Dead Sea Mineral bath salt
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil

Blend everything together and then put in a decorative jar. This one is really moisturizing!

Your friends will love using these scrubs!

Love, Lassen’s

Karma+Baker, vegan+bakery, gluten+free+bakery, vegan+treats,+gluten+free+treats, focus+on+local, eat+local

Celine is the (Local) Karma Baker!

Gluten Free and Vegan!

Karma+Baker, Vegan+and+Gluten+free+treats, Focus+on+Local, vegan+treats, gluten+free+desserts

Celine calls herself a natural baker, and when the daughter of a friend was found to have allergies, she decided to try her hand at baking her some treats. She started experimenting, and the first treat she made was a garbanzo bean brownie, which was a big hit with her friends. Fast forward about 5 years, and Celine found herself in the same allergy boat. She had a persistent runny nose that just couldn’t be explained. She turned to her friend, and after a round of testing, found that she was also allergic to lots of things. So she started to drastically alter what she ate.

This of course spurred her on to further experimentation with gluten and allergen-free cooking and baking. It took her two years to figure out the perfect gluten-free flour, which happens to be vegan! She uses a blend of organic bean, soy, and nut flours.

Karma+Baker, Vegan+and+Gluten+Free+treats, Focus+on+Local, gluten+free, vegan+treats

Celine and Arek, her partner, are passionate about not only the health benefits of eating gluten free and vegan, but also the environmental benefits. They said that each of their cupcakes saves something like 250 gallons of water over a regular cupcake, since there are no eggs or dairy products in Celine’s treats.

The Next Step

Celine loved to share her treats, and her friends started to encourage her to make her treats available commercially. So she started small by baking for little local cafés and neighborhood grocery stores, as well as at Farmer’s Markets. She quickly outgrew her home kitchen, and two years ago started to bake at a local commercial kitchen. She kept a watchful eye to be sure that there would not be gluten contamination from the other baker in the kitchen. The first item she sold was a pineapple loaf, which is still a favorite!

Karma+Baker, Vegan+treats, gluten+free, healthy+treats
Just because it looks familiar doesn’t mean it’s junk!

When the owner of the commercial kitchen needed to move on, Celine didn’t know what to do. She actually needed a larger kitchen so the timing was good, but she had no idea where to go. One day she decided to just stop worrying about it, and to go get her nails done. As she drove through the shopping center, thinking about what to do, she noticed that there was a small café that had closed. She called the realtor, and “like magic,” she had her kitchen, already stocked with ovens and pans and mixers. As she turned it into her bakery, people stopped by, asking when they were going to open. A shop was never in Celine’s plan, but when she saw the interest she decided to open the front of the store into a retail space where people could come and order some treats or just grab a quick cookie or muffin. She’s been open in Westlake on Lindero Canyon for about six months.

Karma+Baker, Vegan+and+Gluten+Free+treats, Focus+on+Local, gluten+free, vegan+treats

And now Lassen’s is so pleased to offer Celine’s delicious Organic, Gluten free, Vegan treats! Celine and Arek want to not just offer treats for the allergy crowd, but to change minds about the way we eat. They reminded me that there are lots of reasons for eating this way, not just because of allergies. And these delicious treats make eating well a lot more fun! They are so delicious that there is no need to have a separate treat for the “poor kid” with the allergies; everyone will love them!

Karma+Baker, Vegan+and+Gluten+Free+treats, vegan+bakery, gluten+free+bakery

Look for the Karma Baker lotus blossom label at Lassen’s, and try a healthy, gluten free and vegan treat!

Love,

Lassen’s

Karma+Baker, Vegan+treats, gluten+free, healthy+treats, vegan+bakery, local+bakery, gluten+free+bakery

DIY+Arnica+Lemon+Skin+Relief+Oil, DIY+skin+oil, Arnica+oil, DIY+muscle+oil

DIY Body Care Gifts!

Pamper Your Special Ones with Your Own Oils and Skin Care Products!

It’s so fun to make gifts for friends and family members, and these easy-to-make body care items with be a big hit!

diy+massage+oil

Gentle Herbal Massage Oil
1- 1 1/2 cup Organic Sweet Almond Oil
An assortment of flowers–I used Calendula, Rose buds, and Chamomile
2 tsp Vitamin E oil

Put the flowers in a jar and then pour the oil over them. Cover and then let sit for about a month. I put mine on the window sill and turned it every day or so.

DIY+Massage+Oil

After a month, strain out the flowers, add the Vitamin E oil, and then pour into a bottle. I bought a bunch of bud vases and corks from a hobby store, but an assortment of thrift-store jars would be great, too!  For this oil I used one of those decorative bud vases with a cork.

Arnica-Lemon Herbal Relief Oil

DIY+Arnica+Lemon+Skin+Relief+Oil, DIY+skin+oil, Arnica+oil

2 oz Sweet Almond Oil (or 1 oz Almond Oil and 1 oz St. John’s Wort Herbal Oil)
1 oz Arnica Herbal Oil
15 drops lemon Essential Oil

Pour all ingredients into a glass bottle and gently roll to distribute oils evenly. This is a great massage oil for sore muscles. Use as needed.

Grapefruit Skin Repair Cream

DIY+Skin+Repair+Ointment, DIY+skin+products, DIY+Gifts

This isn’t exactly a cream–it’s more like a solid, but it will work wonders on those dry elbows and heels! This makes a lot of jars, or even bars (as you’ll see later)
2 oz beeswax
1 oz cocoa butter
1 oz shea butter
2 oz jojoba oil
18-30 drops of grapefruit essential oil

DIY+Skin+Repair+Ointment, DIY+skin+products, DIY+Gifts

Melt the beeswax, cocoa butter, and shea butter. Use as low of heat as possible. Stir frequently.

DIY+Skin+Repair+Ointment, DIY+skin+products, DIY+Gifts

Add the jojoba oil. The cooler oil will harden some of the melted wax and butter, but don’t be alarmed. Keep stirring until everything is melted!

Add the essential oil.

DIY+Skin+Repair+Ointment, DIY+skin+products, DIY+Gifts

Now you can pour the liquid into molds or into jars or tins. I did both. We have these terrific jars at Lassen’s in the cosmetics department. We carry them in several sizes.

DIY+Skin+Repair+Ointment, DIY+skin+products, DIY+Gifts

These are silicone molds that are very easy to use. I also have some in heart shapes.

If you make this as bars, I would suggest giving the recipient a little dish to keep their bar on.

DIY+gifts, DIY+skin+care+products, skin+repair+ointment

I love the little tiny sized to keep in my purse!

Enjoy this wonderful season! If you start these gifts now, you’ll be ready for gift-giving in no time!

Love, Lassen’s

spiced+nuts, holiday+snacks, healthy+snacks, diy+spiced+nuts, nut+recipes

Kick off the Holiday Season with Spiced Nuts!

We love nuts at Lassen’s! They make great snacks (packed with nutrients!) and they are great in recipes, too. Here’s a wonderful way to make nuts a star!

IMG_8964

Holiday Spiced Nuts

YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups mixed nuts (I used raw, but roasted is ok, too)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit, chopped
  • 1 egg white, beaten slightly, OR 1&1/2 tsp chia seeds, soaked for 2 hours in 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste

spiced+nuts, holiday+snacks, healthy+snacks, diy+spiced+nuts, nut+recipes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
  • Blend the sugar and spices together in a small bowl
  • Mix the nuts and cranberries with the egg white or chia mixture
  • Sprinkle the sugar and spices over the nuts and toss until well coated
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray
  • Spread the nuts on the baking sheet in a single layer
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes, turning once or twice, until slightly golden
  • Remove from the oven and cool

spiced+nuts, holiday+snacks, healthy+snacks, diy+spiced+nuts, nut+recipes

I’m making these for my neighbor gifts this year! Yum, yum to everyone!

And they will be a great addition to an appetizer tray, too.

spiced+nuts, holiday+snacks, healthy+snacks, diy+spiced+nuts, nut+recipes

Love,

Lassen’s

Holiday Potpourri

I love to greet the the holidays with some wonderful smells, and potpourri makes it so easy! These potpourris make really fun, easy, and inexpensive gifts, too.

holiday+potpourri, easy+holiday+gifts, diy+gifts

Holiday Potpourri

Cut some orange peels into thin strips (I removed most of the inner white part of the peel). Let dry for several hours, or in the oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes. In a small bag, mix the dried orange peels, some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg.

DIY+gifts, holiday+diy, holiday+gifts

To use: pour the contents of the bag into a small saucepan of water. Bring to a simmer, turn to low, and enjoy the scent of the holiday! Please watch the water level–it evaporates pretty quickly, and never leave the stove unattended. Add water as needed.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Love,

Lassen’s

Fall Kale Salad

Healthy and Fresh!

kale+salad, pomegranate+recipes, persimmons+recipes

I was looking for a bright, tasty, unusual salad for fall, so when I saw organic pomegranates and persimmons in the produce department, I decided to just do a little experimenting. The mint adds a little Asian twist–fantastic! This is the result — It’s healthy and delicious–my family loved it!  I think yours will too.

Fall Kale Salad

You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb chopped organic kale
  • 1 shredded organic carrot
  • 1/2 cup thin-sliced organic red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup rough-chopped fresh organic mint
  • 2 organic persimmons, peeled and sliced (I like the smaller, firmer variety, Jiro, or Fuyu)
pomegranate+recipes, persimmons+recipes, Kale+salad
  • Seeds from 1/2 of an organic pomegranate (if you want to see a cool tutorial on how to easily get the seeds out of the pomegranate click here.)
  • 1/2 cup broken pecans
  • Dressing:
    • 2 TBSP sesame oil
    • 3 TBSP Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 1 TBSP agave syrup or honey
    • 1/2 tsp Himalayan red salt (to taste)
    • a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper
kale+salad, pomegranate+recipes, persimmons+recipes

Instructions:

  • Chop the vegetables and fruit, toss together
kale+salad, pomegranate+recipes, persimmons+recipes
  • Mix the dressing in a separate bowl
  • Toss the dressing into the salad right before serving, and serve immediately
kale+salad, pomegranate+recipes, persimmons+recipes

Enjoy this fresh and delicious salad, which takes advantage of some wonderful and unusual fruits!

Love,

Lassen’s

Focus on Local — Nojoqui Farms Organics

Farming Organically For Twenty Years!

organic+farming, organic+food, healthy+soil

John has had his hands in the soil for decades, and has found an ideal home in the Buellton/Solvang area. Only five miles from the ocean, Nojoqui (Nuh-hoo’-wee, meaning “Peaceful Valley” to the Native American Chumash in the area) Farm has a wonderful, nearly year-round growing season.

I had a great time visiting John at the farm recently, and enjoyed seeing the lettuces happily growing. I met several of his team, and John was quick to give credit to them for the success of the farm.

Conserving water with drip irrigation, even on small plants like Romaine Lettuce!

Squashes were being packed, and as we strolled around the acreage, John showed me the compost heaps, the drip irrigation, and of course the tidy rows of plants.

The farm had previously been a horse pasture, so the soil was idea for farming. John and Letha were determined to farm in harmony with nature. They were Organically Certified in 1991. They set out to “produce an abundance of organically grown produce by conscientiously practicing sustainable agriculture” (from their Mission Statement, found here.) They are committed to farm in a manner that was respectful of the land, the workers, and the broader community.

Now farming on more than 53 acres, Nojoqui produces a variety of lettuces, squashes, tomatoes, peppers, and much more. They are proud of their extensive composting program, which keeps organic matter out of the landfills and keeps the soil healthy and nutrient-rich.  John said that if the farmer builds up the soil then the soil will produce a beautiful crop.

Kale grows like little palm trees — as the leaves are harvested, the plant remains and continues to grow more leaves up top!

Lassen’s supports our local organic farmers! If you want to read more about how important Organic is to our own health, as well as that of our planet, please click here and here.

Yeah. That’s a Care Bear head on the scarecrow. That would scare me!

Love,

Lassen’s

Chef’s Chèvre Party Platter!

This Is Amazing!

I love chèvre (the french word for goat cheese) and use it in salads, dressings, on pizza, crumbled with beets (see this recipe for our beet and goat cheese salad), scrambled with eggs… Well, you get the idea. I love to spread it on crackers, too, but it’s usually kind of crumbly. Rejoice gourmands everywhere! Lassen’s now has Laura Chenel’s Chef’s Chévre! (that’s a mouthful!) It has been used by chefs, caterers, and in restaurants for twenty years, and highly prized for its moisture and texture.

soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
This cheese makes a wonderful base for all kinds of recipes, and is great for just spreading!  I had a little fun with it today!
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
I gathered various crackers, fresh fruits and fruit preserves, vegetables, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction and went to town.
Really, use your imagination!  But the basic recipe is this:
  • Crackers.  I love the various crisps, since they have some substance to them and don’t get soggy.
  • Fruit.  I used mango, pear, grapes, apples, dried cranberries, and raspberries.  Figs are great, as are peaches or nectarines. Use what is in season!
  • Vegetables.  I sliced some little cherry tomatoes slivered an avocado, and used some sunflower sprouts, too.
  • Fruit preserves.  I had quince and fig, but again, use your imagination.  There are some sweet/hot combinations available that will pop your eyeballs!
  • Crévre cheese. I used the awesome Laura Chenel’s Chef’s Chévre.
  • Herbs and spices. I had basil, but dill, marjoram, sage, thyme would all be great too.
  • Prosciutto, bacon, ham, or other meat.
  • Nuts add a great variety to the mix as well. Pecans are a given for me!
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction.  This recipe for Organic Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Reduction and Mint includes directions to make the Balsamic Reduction.
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe

You can just put it all on a platter and let people use make their own combinations, or you can assemble ahead (use the thicker crackers to avoid the soggies.) Start with the crackers, spread the chévre, layer a combination of two or three of the toppings,  and then drizzle with a little balsamic reduction, if desired.

soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
These “crackers” are actually dried orange slices!  They are amazing!
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
Fig preserves.  Need I say more?
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe
Prosciutto, mango, balsamic reduction.  To. Die. For.

I also made a chévre blend for another taste sensation!  I used:

  •  1/2 cup Laura Chenel’s Chef’s Chévre
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (if you want it thicker, you can use cream cheese)
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh organic basil
Blend well. Spread on the cracker and then top with sliced cherry tomatoes, a sliver of avocado, and a few little basil shreds.  Yum!
soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe

This is an amazing appetizer party plate! So when you don’t know what to bring to that bring-a-dish party, remember your chévre!

soft+chévre, goats+milk+cheese, chévre+recipe, appetizer+recipes, cheese+platter, cheese+plate
Love,
Lassen’s
homemade+yogurt, how+to+make+yogurt

Yes You Can … Make Your Own Yogurt!

Digestive Health Benefits from Fermented Foods!

homemade+yogurt, how+to+make+yogurt

We all know that yogurt is one of those healthy foods that can be beneficial to include in our diets. It is full of those great probiotics found in fermented foods (read more about those here.) But did you know that yogurt has evolved into a snack that is as high in sugar content as some desserts? Or that the calcium content is lower in some yogurts than it was a few years ago? This is definitely one of those areas where we have to read labels. Here is an article that compares the nutritional value of various brands of yogurts (however, the article and accompanying charts does not include many of the healthy brands that we carry at Lassen’s–so it is just a beginning to guide you.) Many yogurts are also full of thickeners and stabilizers, so you aren’t exactly getting a natural product.

But if you make your own, you can control everything about your yogurt. It isn’t too complicated and it doesn’t take too much time. Just remember that temperature is the key! I made a batch recently, and here are my step-by-step instructions. I used a yogurt maker, but if you don’t have one, here are instructions for making homemade yogurt in a 2-qt crock pot.

homemade+yogurt, how+to+make+yogurt

If you like making your own yogurt, then I would advise you to invest in a yogurt maker. It will simplify things!

Homemade Yogurt

Makes 7 6-oz servings
You’ll Need:

5 cups milk. You can use anything from skim to full-fat
1/2 cup active, plain yogurt, or yogurt starter (see amounts on package)

Instructions:

Remove your plain yogurt from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature while you prepare the milk.
Bring the milk not quite to boiling (about 180 degrees, if you have a food thermometer)
Preheat the yogurt maker, and cool the milk to 110-115 degrees.
Mix in the plain yogurt, whisking to blend well
Pour into a yogurt maker, and cover.
Let sit for 8-12 hours (higher fat content milk will take about 8 hours; skim milk will take about 12)
Check to see if the yogurt is your desired consistency. If it is, then stir the yogurt and top with the lids
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Stir in sweeteners and fruit right before serving.

Focus on Local — Forbidden Fruit Blueberries

Heavenly!

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Sandra always knew she wanted to farm. As a little girl — and I do mean little! — age two! — she planted her first garden with the help of her Grandmother in New Jersey. She loved being outside and had a passion for the land. Over the years she grew the vegetables for the family, and loved to beautify around the house with plants. She began to dream of growing a vineyard in California.

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

After receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Plant Science from the University of Delaware, she ended up in California, but working away from her education and dreams. She would sometimes visit the Central Coast, and thought it would be the perfect environment to pursue her passion. For three years she researched the agricultural real estate market, and finally in 2002 she purchased a 100 acre farm between Buellton and Lompoc.

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

She was so excited to plant her vineyard, and went to the local farm agent to discuss her plans. But he laid out the economics of wine grapes (not promising), so she set that dream on the back burner and decided to plant 2 acres of organic Southern Highland Blueberries in 2003. Because of the unique climate and location of her farm, she is able to grow the berries off-season, and thus they are producing from September through July, making them available when the big growers cannot. After that first year, she was able to plant 4 more acres of blueberries. When I visited the farm, they were preparing another 4 acres for more organic blueberries.

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Sandra didn’t have to put her dream on hold for too long — she planted a 6.2 acre vineyard in 2007, and produces her own line of wines now, too. She also grows some avocados, mulberries, hardy kiwi, apples, and tea. She makes sure that nothing goes to waste, and she donates unsold produce to her local Head Start programs.

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Sandra mostly sold her berries — and still does– in Farmer’s Markets, but Lassen’s is proud to support this local organic farmer! The berries are plump and crisp, sweet and smooth. They were harvesting the Sapphire variety, and those big, plump berries were sweeter than any I’ve tasted in a long time. She also had several other varieties growing. As her production begins to ramp up, we’ll carry those beauties as much a possible!

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

So support local organic farmers by picking up some of these gorgeous berries at Lassen’s!

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Love,

Lassen’s

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries

Yum!

Forbidden+Farms+Blueberries, Sandra+Newman, Organic+farming, organic+blueberries