Eat Very Local Challenge: Day Seven, Potato Egg scramble

Well here’s the short version: WE DID IT. We managed to eat very locally for seven full days. It was definitely not easy, but it truthfully wasn’t that hard either. I feel like I still have ideas left to continue on for another few days at least – if not as much variety in ingredients as when we first started. The weekend was a bit of a struggle to maintain motivation – I was tired of spending so much time in the kitchen, and thinking about what to eat next. Not to mention, I was unusually sore after my 20-miler on Saturday, and ready to add some more variety to our plates.

Continue reading


Eat Very Local Challenge: Day Six, Running on Plants

I really didn’t mean to miss a post yesterday, but the day just got away from me, and then last night I made cupcakes for a friend’s baby shower. That was probably the most challenging event of this whole week: not licking the lemon curd and frosting off my fingers! (Although you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll be eating leftover lemon curd and frosting come Monday.) Continue reading

Eat Very Local Challenge: Day Four, Frittata

Today’s guest blog post comes from Mark Fennell, the instigator and mastermind behind the Eat-from-your-Yard Challenge week.

The only words from me will be what I ate today:


Green smoothie (greens, banana, plums, blueberries, strawberries, scallop squash)

Second Breakfast

Acorn pancakes w/ elderberry syrup, 2 eggs


Green salad with roasted butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, avocado, balsamic vinegar and leftover fish


1 apple, 1 orange, 1 grapefruit, pineapple guavas


Zucchini noodles with tomato sauce, beans, and roasted eggplant, peppers and onions; applesauce, sapote, canned apricots

Day Four, Kale, Sun-Dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Frittata

by Mark Fennell

But where will you get your protein?” That question was a common response I got after telling people about our Eat-from-the-Yard challenge, and it was often followed by the statement, “Oh, I could never go a week without meat!

Well, it turns out you can indeed get adequate protein when eating from your yard (and the yards of your friends and neighbors). We prepared for our protein needs by planting several varieties of dry beans, including black turtle beans, kidney beans, and heirloom Pawnee bush beans. The plants grew quickly and thrived in our mild Santa Barbara summer weather. By mid-to-late September, the pods had dried and the beans inside were hard, which meant it was time to harvest. Each day I’d come in with a full bowl, and Gina and I would sit down and pop beans from their pods, occasionally chasing wayward ones across the room.

In total, we ended up with almost 8 cups of dry beans. At 11 grams per ¼ cup, the total protein content of our dry-bean harvest was 350 grams. Quite coincidentally, that’s about the recommended amount for one adult for a week!

But there are two of us, so we need additional sources of protein. We also planted a 4’-x-4’ bed of soy beans, which yielded about a pound and a half of edamame (immature soy beans in the pod). Plop a handful in salty boiling water, and five minutes later you have a tasty, protein-packed afternoon snack.

Another protein-rich crop we grew, albeit with more limited success, was quinoa. It’s prefers a higher-elevation cool environment, but I like experimenting in the garden so I planted it in a few spots around the yard. The soil quality and micro-climates varied, and some plants grew better than others. The quinoa grains are seeds that form in a large colorful flower on a thin center stalk. We harvested them when they were mostly dried. It was a shame to destroy the pretty quinoa bouquet, but we needed the grain, and after quite a bit of threshing and winnowing, we ended up with a little more than a cup of dry quinoa. That’s enough for a meal later in the week.

But not all our protein is coming from plants this week. Our four lively chickens continue to provide us with 2-3 eggs a day, and we sparingly use the milk and chévre we received in a trade with a friend who keeps pet goats.

So as we finish Day 4 of our Eat-from-the-Yard challenge, we have already enjoyed a bunch of healthy, tasty food and we’re neither protein-deprived nor hungry. Here is a list of what Gina and I have enjoyed thus far:


  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs topped w/ avocado & tomato; hash brown potatoes; canned apricots
  • Lunch: Smoothie (banana, blueberries, strawberries, grape juice, kale, honey)
  • Snack: Edamame, tomatoes, roasted squash seeds
  • Dinner: Fresh fish, baked butternut squash w/ goat cheese, sautéed kale w/ onions and garlic


  • Breakfast: Smoothie (banana, OJ, nectarines, blueberries, goat milk)
  • Gina Lunch: Leftover fish, goat-milk mozzarella, figs, apple, pickled green beans
  • Mark Lunch: Fried new potatoes, over-easy eggs, “tangerine Julius” (tangerine juice & milk blended
  • Dinner: Frittata (potatoes, eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, zucchini, onion), salad w/ avocado, tomato, and pickled green beans


  • Breakfast: Smoothie (banana, blueberries, strawberries, kale, grape juice)
  • Gina Lunch: Leftover fish, sautéed squash, apple
  • Mark Lunch: Leftover frittata
  • Snack: Edamame, figs
  • Dinner: Spaghetti squash w/ marinara sauce, fish, roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts, salad, goat-milk ice cream


  • Breakfast: Smoothie (banana, blueberries, strawberries, grape juice, goat milk)
  • Gina Lunch: Leftover frittata, apple, figs
  • Mark Lunch: Leftover frittata, roasted butternut squash
  • Dinner: Minestrone soup (beans, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, new potatoes, onions, oregano, hot pepper flakes)

Kale, Sun-Dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Frittata

6-7 small potatoes

3 Tbl. Olive oil, divided

2 c. kale, chopped

1/4 c. oil-packed dried tomatoes

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 small onion, chopped

4 eggs

3/4 c. goat milk

1/2 – 3/4 c. goat cheese

Salt/pepper to taste

1. Boil whole potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain water and smash potatoes to flatten.

2. Place flattened potatoes on bottom of greased pie pan. Put a little oil on top of potatoes.

3. Bake in 400 degree oven about 10 minutes.

4. Sauté kale, onion, and zucchini in olive oil until tender.

5. In another bowl, mix eggs, milk, sun-dried tomatoes together. Add salt and pepper.

6. Put sautéed kale mixture on top of potatoes. Add crumbled goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over all.

7. Bake in 350 degree oven about 30 minutes until done.

Eat Very Local Challenge: Day Three, Decadence and Zucchini Noodles

On Day Three I hit two extremes: very low blood sugar after a workout, and absolute satisfaction after dinner with our group. I needed to do a core workout yesterday, so I headed to The Dailey Method via my bike after a green smoothie. However, by the time I got to work afterwards, all I could think about was the orange in my backpack (that I’m not quite talented enough to eat while riding my bike). Fortunately I know the signs of so-called “bonking” and how to remedy it, but it still wasn’t fun.

After work, we headed over to Mark & Gina’s house for trading and a group dinner. I was pretty impressed with our spread: a butternut squash and goat cheese appetizer greeted us, accompanied by carrots and celery. I opened the bottle of elderberry wine that I traded for with my co-worker (thank you Kelly!), and we sat down to a filling dinner of spaghetti squash and sauce, green salad, rockfish, roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, all doused with a generous sprinkling of goat cheese. (Matt and I decided to make an exception to our no-dairy rule for group dinners.) The real highlight though was dessert: goat milk  strawberry mint ice cream. Yes, you heard that right- ICE CREAM. Enough said.

Yesterday’s trading got us: applesauce, pickles, dry beans, sapote, monkey coconuts, bananas, blueberries, rockfish, and arugula.

Here’s what I ate yesterday:


Green smoothie (Strawberries, blueberries, plums, greens, banana)


1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 2 apples, roasted potatoes, pickles


Spaghetti squash fritters (squash, corn, onion, egg, cornmeal, lemon thyme) with fava bean avocado spread, sautéed brussels sprouts leaves, sauteed zucchini


Spaghetti squash, tomato sauce, goat cheese, salad (lettuce, avocado, tomato, dilly beans), roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, butternut-goat cheese spread w/ carrots and celery, squash seeds, rockfish, goat milk strawberry mint ice cream w/ caramel sauce (goat milk and honey)

I finally managed to write down a plan for the next two days of what to make and when, so a flurry of cooking last night produced lots of goodies for today’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’re going to a lecture tonight at UCSB by Alex Honnold, so that meant in addition to packing lunch I needed to make dinner ahead of time as well. I’ve been hearing about zucchini noodles for awhile, so I decided to give it a shot. The easiest method involves a spiralizer, which if you’ve never used: go find one. It produced long strands of zucchini that, after sitting in salt for 15 minutes, look and feel exactly like traditional noodles. If you didn’t know they were zucchini, could you tell the difference?

Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables and Beans

1 zucchini

3-4 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 bell pepper, cut similar size

1/2 onion, cut into slices

Your favorite tomato sauce

1 can of white or cannelloni beans, or 1-2 cups cooked beans (I used fresh shell beans that I boiled for ~20 minutes the night before)

Basil or other fresh herbs

Toss the eggplant, pepper, and onion with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375 for about 30 minutes (start checking around 25 to make sure it doesn’t  burn). Stir every 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, either use a spiralizer to turn your zucchini into noodles, or use a vegetable peeler to cut thin slices. Put noodles into a colander and toss with some salt. Let it sit over a bowl for at least 15 minutes to drain excess water, until soft. Shake off the extra water and put into a bowl for serving.

At this point I tossed my noodles with heated-up tomato sauce, the vegetables, basil, and beans. But you could also plate individually (layer noodles, sauce, veggies, etc) to make it look a little nicer 🙂

Eat Very Local Challenge: Day Two, Quinoa salad

Today, Katie and Ben Haldeman will be my guest bloggers!

But first, a short recap of my day: Day Two was a little harder than yesterday, mostly because I started out with a run up Jesusita Trail. I felt a little sluggish, and I’m not sure if it was the heat or a lack of calories. I did a bit of trading with some other Eat Local Challenge participants to get oranges and avocados, and also picked about a dozen figs. Here’s what I ate today:


Green smoothie (Avocado, strawberries, pineapple guavas, celery, greens). Post run: 2 smashed potatoes and a fried egg


Spaghetti squash with roasted seeds, fava beans, tomato sauce, onions, and peppers


1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 1 apple, 4 figs, cherry tomatoes, avocado


Corn on the cob, rockfish, roasted potatoes, sauteed zucchini, canned apricots

Day Two, Quinoa Salad

by Katie & Ben Haldeman

We have quite a stash for the week after the Sunday evening trading session, and plenty to last until the first group dinner. The tricky part is planning and timing: when to defrost, soak  and cook so that things will be ready for the appropriate meal. Since we have different schedules every day, each day takes planning the night before and prep in the morning.  I’m not familiar with how to cook and prep some of these foods (acorns, sunflowers, quinoa, etc.) so I find myself googling ‘how to . . .” more often than usual.

Even though it’s only Day Two, this challenge has both Ben and I more active in the kitchen, and it has also made for some logistical challenges (as I anticipated) around working dinners and lunches and group gatherings.  Last night I had two meetings that would potentially have food, so we did some advanced planning to stick to the challenge while not being rude guests.  I had my monthly Book Club gathering that featured all sorts of wonderful wines and fresh foods, so I snacked on avocado before the meeting and brought a bottle of wine instead of making a dessert dish like I usually do.  We arranged the second meeting with our business partners over “Google Hangout” video chat, instead of going to their house for dinner as was initially planned.  Since I would be getting home later, Ben made a wonderful fish and squash dish that also provided us with leftovers for tonight, as we will be short on time to make dinner since we’re going to see The Black Keys in concert at the Bowl!

We plan on doing smoothies for breakfast most of the week, as Ben is now a smoothie expert after we took Charity’s Green Smoothie Class.  Ben does a smoothie routine in the morning while I get lunch together.  I don’t like green things in my smoothies as much as Ben (sorry Charity) so he serves mine, then adds greens to the other half:

Smoothie (for 2)

2 C. goat’s milk

2 pineapple-guavas, whole (including skins)

1 C. ice

½ frozen banana

1 orange

1 C. frozen apples

Handful of frozen blueberries and strawberries

½ to 1 whole avocado

Leafy part of Chard

For lunch, I finally used the quinoa I had so laboriously collected and winnowed from the plant parts.  I briefly soaked the quinoa in an attempt to remove the bitter tasting saponins from the seeds, but I didn’t soak long enough, because the cooked product tastes more bitter than the store-bought stuff.

Quinoa Salad

1 C. quinoa (well-rinsed)

2 med. sized tomatoes

1 carrot, grated

1-2 TBS olive oil

Juice from 1 large lemon

¼ C chopped parsley

3 sprigs of green onions

1 cucumber (if you can find a fresh one, I didn’t have one to use)

Salt & Pepper

Cook the quinoa using 2 parts water to 1 part grain.  After cooking let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.  Add all other ingredients and mix, then refrigerate.