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gluten_free_dairy_free_avocado_soup

The weather is warming up and summer is upon us. What better treat to try for an easy dinner on a hot, summer evening than chilled avocado soup? The soup is not boring at all, it has a pleasant spiciness that isn’t overwhelming. It can also be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for several days (for a lunch item, perhaps?).

This recipe is something I adapted from an avocado soup recipe in Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce: A Guide to Easy-to-Make Dishes with Fresh Organic Fruits and Vegetables. That recipe looked pretty good, but mine is both gluten-free and casein-free which makes it even better if you have food allergies!

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Avocado Soup (My Rating = 100 Thumbs Up!)

2 ripe avocados

1/4 cup chopped green onions, including 1/2 of dark green stalks

2 Tbsp fresh orange juice

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 cup canned coconut milk

3 cups vegetable broth

1. Put all ingredients in food processor fitted with a metal blade or a blender. Cover and process until smooth.

2. Chill for at least 1 hour, prior to serving.

3. Serve in small cups or bowls. Garnish with crumbled bacon or more sliced green onions, if desired.

Serves: 6 (1 cup servings) or 12 (1/2 cup servings).

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I was asked recently, “How can I buy organic foods if I live in a rural area?” My friend was concerned that she was destined to only purchase frozen or canned items because she didn’t live near a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods Market.  This prompted me to think it might be a question that my readers might have as well. So, here is a list of 7 Ways to Find Organic Foods in Rural Areas

1. Buy local produce at a Farmer’s Market. Many rural areas have great farmer’s markets, or even fruit/vegetable stands that you can purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables.  When you get to know your local growers, you can ask them specifically if they have used any pesticides in their growing process. I can remember as a child that every summer we would look forward to buying fresh corn from a stand near our home; at the time we lived in a town of about 25,000 people.

2. Look for local food co-ops in your area. You can simply google your county and “food co-op” or ask at farmer’s markets to find out where to sign up for a regular box of fresh foods. The box may contain only fruits and vegetables, or in some co-ops you can even find fresh meats and seafood.

3. Check out delivery companies. For example, Schwan’s LiveSmart program, offers foods that have been minimally processed. They may not be true organic options, but at least you can minimize the amount of pesticides and processing.

4. Look for sources of vegetarian feed eggs.  You might want to visit local farmers in your area to find an egg source. Vegetarian feed eggs are great because they don’t feed grains to their chickens (eliminating gluten issues) and they usually have the added benefit of added Omega 3’s in each egg. I have found these at Costco here in Southern California; I’m not sure if they are selling them nationwide in Costco stores, so check for them!

5. Get to know your local butcher and/or seafood market.  Many small towns and cities have local meat and/or seafood markets which can be a good source of minimally processed foods. Surprisingly, you can often save money at these markets as well.

6. Order a half-cow from a local rancher.  This can seem a bit expensive up front, but if you have a large freezer, you can really save over the long haul on having high-quality, organic meat in your freezer for the next 6 months – year. If this seems overwhelming to you financially, consider sharing the cost with another family as each family can still purchase a large amount of high-quality meat. Most purchases will include the packaging of meat into different cuts as well as ground beef.

7. Remember which items are really critical to buy as organic.  You don’t have to purchase everything organic as many fruits and vegetables are perfectly fine to purchase as non-organic.  Get to know the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists and spend the majority of your money and efforts finding the items that are on the Dirty Dozen list.

Some additional resources for finding places to purchase organic foods include –

Local Harvest (a searchable list of co-ops, farmers markets, etc.)

US Department of Agriculture (offers lists of farmer’s markets around the US)

Farm Fresh to You (an online service that will deliver organic produce to your doorstep)

Greensbury Market (an online service for purchasing organic meats, delivered to your home)

No, it’s not a movie title! It’s the list of which produce is the cleanest of pesticides and which tends to be the dirtiest.  If you have to choose which produce to buy organic, due to costs, then you’ll definitely want to memorize this list.  Or, if you’re like me, and you can’t remember these things while you are standing in the produce section – download an app to your smartphone or a paper list to help you remember the list at: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/.

The “dirty dozen” refers to the 12 foods you should always buy organic because they have the most pesticides sprayed on them.  In fact, if you only focus on purchasing these items in the organic section, you can eliminate as much as 14 different pesticides per day if you ate the traditional five servings per day of fruits and vegetables! Here’s the dirty dozen list –

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard greens

Now, conversely, if you choose your five servings from the “Clean 15” list, you will consume less than 2 pesticides per day. Please remember that just because you buy organic doesn’t mean you can skip washing them, though! It’s still important to thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables before consuming them (unless, like with citrus or an onion, they have a protective covering on them).

A great way to save money on purchasing organic produce is to visit your local farmer’s market.  Not only will you help out your local growers, but you will be able to get fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides.  The only tricky part is not knowing exactly what will be for sale, so you may have to do the meal planning after you return from the market.  Another option is to join an organic food co-op in your area where you can get bulk discounts by buying a box of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

I also believe that when more people buy organic fruits and vegetables in their local markets or at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, we will continue to see prices decline.  It’s simple economics – supply and demand.  So, let’s start buying the healthy stuff and quit consuming all those pesticides!

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