Sometimes it’s difficult to know which foods are beneficial to eat and which foods are not.  Seems like one day, eggs are getting a bad rap in the news…and then, another report will tout eggs as the single most nutritionally sound food one can eat.

green eggs n brown

Sugar has been getting a lot of heat lately as a culprit for weight gain and the body’s misuse of nutrients.  Fats used to be a no-no, but now, “they” say that fats are not so bad- that our bodies actually need fats to function properly.  Listening to all of the nutritional advice out there can be very confusing.

The biggest dietary shift I see these days is that many people have decided to take on a gluten-free way of eating in an effort to relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, pain, and allergies.  Cutting out bread and grains can be tricky, especially when eating at restaurants or while traveling.  But it’s far from impossible, and there are lots of GF options for breads, pastas, tortillas, and alternative flours in most regular grocery stores now.  Quinoa, millet, corn, and starchy vegetables can be utilized to create GF meals that don’t feel like they’re missing a thing.  I’ll share one of those meals with you today.

mexi dinner of pork tenderloin, gf quinoa cakes, strawberry salsa

And hey, if it makes you feel better to eliminate gluten, then I think that’s wonderful.
Read more…

Hello!  The time has come for the first week of Jackson Lowe Vegetable Farm’s 2013 CSA!  Unbelievably, this is my fourth year writing recipes for this local farm’s CSA community.  When I first started my business, Plan to Plate, I reached out to Rockmart, GA farmers Mecca and Adam Lowe, offering a partnership.

lowes at market

I wanted to create recipes utilizing their straight-outta-the-ground produce that they could share with their CSA participants.  I figured that members would be excited to tap into an arsenal of interesting ways to incorporate their weekly box of beautiful fruits and vegetables.  Maybe a few of their clients would want help planning menus, grocery shopping, and preparing ingredients a la Plan to Plate.  Mecca and Adam were intrigued by the proposal, and I began writing a recipe or two each week to be included in the Farm’s newsletter in a section called “Dishing with Ashli.”
Read more…

As I was running errands today, I couldn’t get home fast enough.  I was hungry and overly eager to break into my quart-sized container of Matzoh Ball Soup from The General Muir.

matzoh ball soup

So simple and satisfying.  This bowl of pure chicken broth goodness, and that one imperfectly-shaped, fluffy, tender matzoh ball, brought back about a million memories and feelings of comfort.  Soup has a way of doing that, yeah?

Let me riddle you this tale of the power of soup…

Last week, I had a soup attack prompted by an innocent customer service agent.  After speaking with an AT&T representative on the phone for an hour, a medium-sized (read gigantic) bowl of Pho became a complete necessity.  Phone billing debacle = Pho emergency???  Yes.
Read more…

Just before Easter this year, I visited Decatur’s wonderful Farmers Market on a gorgeous Saturday morning.  Oddly enough, I was taking photos of the beautiful vegetables, as I typically do, while the talented Ms. Inga Finch was snapping professional shots of me!  ‘Twas quite the strange sensation.  But, I grew more and more comfortable with her staring at me by chatting it up with my farmer friends who make growing produce look easy.  As you well know, I love to cook with fresh, seasonal goodies, since they are at the peak of flavor and provide an amazing canvas for creating delicious meals.  The inspiration for a colorful Easter dish was plentiful.

Greg Brown’s table was overflowing with lettuces like radicchio,

Read more…

One of my best girls in the world had surgery yesterday, and her only request from me was this fruit salad.  Jess said that it was the key to her sanity and healing after her C-section about a year ago.  She’s not one to really ask for help, but during that time, she actually asked me to whip up a second batch to get her through her 3:00 am feedings.  Apparently, there’s some kind of super love that is transferable from my hands to this fruit to her sore body. I am thrilled that I can provide support in this very nourishing way.  Maybe you have a friend or family member who needs that kind of love too. Here’s the recipe:

In a large bowl, combine…
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cantaloupe, flesh removed from the rind and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 pint organic blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 pints organic strawberries, tops removed, cut into little pieces
2 organic Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the apples and toss to coat before adding them to your bowl.
1 orange, juiced over the fruit bowl

Simply toss gently with a large spoon and serve it up!

Hope this bowl full of cold, juicy goodness will make someone you love smile.

Happy cooking and eating to you,

It finally feels like Spring has sprung!  Wooohoooo!  And this is one busy spring week.

springy flowers

We kicked it off by celebrating Passover, and we’ll finish it up celebrating Easter.  These are the joys of coming from a home with a Jewish mama and an Irish Catholic father.  I always felt lucky growing up that I was immersed in twice the family, culture, food, and festivities as most folks were.  I still consider myself fortunate that way.

This was the first time Adam and I created a Sedar dinner ourselves.  We had planned to be with friends, since my family all lives far away.  But that fell through, and I was longing for tradition.  I wanted to remember the the story of the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt and to reenact my childhood memories of being around the table with my big, boisterous family, following the children’s version of the Haggadah…hiding the afikomen, singing Dayenu, and dipping my finger into wine ten times for each of the ten plagues of Egypt.  So, I did some research, and roasted a lambshank bone

lambshank bone

to complete our Pesach Plate.

passover plate
Read more…

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a fun, no-frills way to do something different with potatoes and cabbage to serve with (or without) your corned beef.  And it won’t even stink up your house!  This Lucky Hash utilizes fresh, local kohlrabi


and rutabaga


from Le Tre Lune.  Farmers Lauren and Luca can always be found under the trees on Saturday mornings, selling their goods at the Decatur Farmers Market.  Their produce is consistently high quality and delicious.
Read more…

The smells of pot roast are taunting me.  And they will continue to do so for the next four hours!!!!!  Upon request, I wanted to share the straight-up recipe for said pot roast.  There are tons of variations that could be made- coating the meat in flour before searing, fancying-up the seasoning, adding bay leaves, substituting vegetables…but below is a basic template for some verrrry delicious pot roast.  Enjoy!
Read more…

I don’t know the origin of the expression, “Mind your own beeswax,” but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately.  Minding my beeswax, er business.  The Universe has sort of forced me to.  It’s easy for me to pour myself fully into the operational side of Plan to Plate, searching for creative ways to utilize fresh ingredients, planning yummy dinners for clients, cooking up brightly colored meals, and delivering happiness in the form of food.  The process is exciting, empowering, and straight up fun.

More difficult for me, is nurturing the business side of things.  With my hands busy chopping, stirring, and washing a billion dishes, it’s tricky to focus on website development, marketing, and meetings with professionals who can help me to grow.  However, since my website was hacked earlier in the year, and several of my clients have been experiencing financial struggles, I have felt compelled to funnel my energy into such tasks.
Read more…