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Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook

 At the eXtreme Hotel and Taino Farm, our focus is on living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We all love eating delicious food but many of us don’t realize many of the tasty treats you find at a grocery store are detrimental to both your health and your environment. On the other hand, we know after the hundredth time that plain kale and olive oil salad can get pretty tiresome. So, we decided to put our wonderful produce from Taino Farm to use and create the Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook. The collaborative project is designed to benefit not only the eXtreme staff, Taino farm workers and hotel guests, it can also be tweaked slightly (depending on what is local and available) to make healthy, amazing food wherever you are in the world. We chose recipes with three things in mind:

1. Are the ingredients grown locally and sustainably? Read about the importance of growing and buying local and organic food in my previous article.

2. Is it affordable and easy to make?

3. Are the ingredients nutritious and delicious?

I’ll be posting the recipes individually on the Taino Farm blog and the whole thing will be available at the end. Look out for a “GL” throughout the recipes to signify which ingredients are grown locally!

Eggplant and Sweet Potato Salad

A colorful and delicious salad for the Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel's Organic Cookbook!

A colorful and delicious salad for the Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook!

This salad is a nice break from traditional green salads.  All the vegetables in it can be grown locally in the north of the Dominican Republic, and are often in abundant supply.  Eggplants and sweet potatoes are great ground cover plants and thus are staples at our developing farm. It can be made in advance, and stores in the fridge quite well.  Just be sure to add the avocados and tomatoes right before serving.

Eggplants, sweet potatoes and tomatoes from Taino Farm as well as locally sourced garlic and cucumbers.

Eggplants, sweet potatoes and tomatoes from Taino Farm as well as locally sourced garlic and cucumbers.

Ingredients:

2 eggplants, purple or yellow GL (Or replace with squash or portabella mushrooms)

2 sweet potatoes GL

1-2 large avocados GL (Out of season or don’t grow locally? Try pureed and cooked asparagus or broccoli!)

4-6 tomatoes, yellow or red GL

1 whole cucumber, skinned and chopped GL

salt/pepper to taste

¼ onion finely chopped GL

2 cloves raw garlic, grated GL

a sprig or two of fresh tarragon GL

¼ olive oil (or coconut oil)

1.)  Slice eggplants into bite sized chunks, toss with about 1/8 cup olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at about 375 for approximately half an hour, or until done.  Let cool.

2.)  Slice sweet potatoes into bite sized chunks and toss in 1/8 cup olive oil.  Bake at 375 until done, set aside to cool.

3.)  Slice tomatoes, cucumber & avocado into a large bowl.  Add the cooked vegetables, and the remaining ingredients.

Variations:  This salad can be made with any root vegetable (yucca, potato etc…) and with or without eggplant.  It is an example of a filling vegetarian side dish, utilizing local vegetables, that is both healthy and delicious.  The tarragon can be replaced with cilantro, or basil.  Also delicious with fresh lime juice served on top.

A giant bowl of locally sourced eggplant and sweet potato salad!

A giant bowl of locally sourced eggplant and sweet potato salad!

Note: Original recipes by Kelsey Rush. Post and photography by Lynsey Wyatt.

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How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign

Living a sustainable lifestyle is all about getting creative and doing things yourself. On Tuesday the Taino Organic Farm crew combined the two and learned how to make a recycled mosaic sign!

Taino Organic Farm's new DIY mosaic sign! Made from colorful  recycled pieces of sea glass and ceramics.

Taino Organic Farm’s new DIY mosaic sign! Made from recycled materials.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 1: Collect materials.

You will need:

-Colorful tiles. This is a great opportunity to recycle! You can collect pieces of broken glass from the street, sea glass from the beach, pieces of a broken mirror or that favorite broken mug you just can’t seem to let go of.

-Cement or grout.

-Hand shovel.

-Wood or picture frames to use as a mold.

-Plastic bags.

-Water.

-Sandpaper.

Colorful pieces of sea glass from a beach in Puerto Plata.

Pieces of sea glass from a beach in Puerto Plata.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 2: Lay out the design you want for your sign. The Taino Organic Farm volunteers each made a letter for the “Taino” sign. Keep in mind the cement in between the pieces may alter the shape/size of your design a bit.

Karin designing the letter "O" in a recycled picture frame.

Karin designing the letter “O” in a recycled picture frame.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 3: Mix together the water and cement/grout. The texture should be thick but spreadable (for minimal effort sanding you want to make the top as smooth as possible whilst still thick enough that it won’t take forever to dry).

Selin and Peyton getting ready to combine the water and cement to pour into the frames.

Selin and Peyton getting ready to combine the water and cement to pour into the frames.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 4: Pour the cement into individual frames and let sit for 1.5-2 hours.

Selin and Peyton pouring a cement mixture into the frames to set.

Selin and Peyton pouring a cement mixture into the frames to set.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 5: Gently push tiles into the cement, embedding fully. Use a damp sponge to remove any residue on the tops and smooth out any cracking in the cement.

How to Make a Recycled Mosaic Sign Step 6: Let dry overnight and then admire your new Recycled Mosaic Sign!

Peyton and Karin designing letters for the sign together.

Peyton and Karin designing letters for the sign together.

Have any project ideas for the farm? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page!

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How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven

Sun Oven photo by Ready Nutrition.

At Taino Organic Farm, we love harnessing some solar energy to make tasty treats in our Sun Oven. A Sun Oven is a great alternative energy source for developing countries as they are low cost, eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Actually, they’re pretty great no matter where you live. Today I decided to test out how to make cookies in a sun oven with a Recipe for Organic Banana Cacao Cookies.

Organic Banana Cacao Cookies:

1 cup of sugar (substitute with ¾ cup of raw honey for a healthier option)

1 stick of butter

1 egg

1 cup of oats

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 banana

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of raw cacao

How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 1: In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Lightly beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. I try and use as many local and organic ingredients as possible in my Sun Oven recipes. The butter is made in Sosua and the egg is from a chicken at Taino Organic Farm. You can read about the 5 Benefits of Eating Local and Organic Food in my previous blog post.

Adding a hint of vanilla and creaming together the sugar and butter.

On left: Adding a hint of vanilla. On right: Blending together local butter and sugar.

 How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 2: Stir in oats, flour and baking soda.

Adding in some oats and flour to the mixture.

Adding in some oats and flour to the mixture.

How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 3: Make cookie dough into balls and place 2 inches apart or create a giant one (maximizes space).

How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 4: Place onto cookie sheet or pan and fasten the tabs on the Sun Oven (bake setting). You can read more about how to use your Sun Oven on their website.

Cookie dough balls ready to go into the oven!

Cookie dough balls ready to go into the Sun Oven!

How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 5: Cook, shifting every 20min or so to maximize sunlight and checking every so often to see if they’re ready. Tip: Don’t open it and let the heat out, just look inside the glass. My crispy cookies took about an hour and a half.

After an hour or so in the Sun Oven, a giant cookie ready to be shared and enjoyed by all.

After an hour or so in the Sun Oven, a giant cookie ready to be shared and enjoyed by all.

How to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 6ow to Make Cookies in a Sun Oven Step 6: Let cool and enjoy your Sun Oven yum-yums! Tip: they’re great with a glass of fresh farm milk. Buen provecho!

 

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5 Benefits of Eating Local and Organic Food.

When people hear the word “organic” in Western culture, they often picture a stereotypical green washed aisle of the grocery store marketed to the upper middle class. However, local and organic food is of global importance and benefits our health, community, and environment.

Organic farming is based on a holistic approach to managing crops and farmland that respects and uses the power of natural processes. It does not use synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or synthetic hormones.

Local food comes from non-corporately owned farms in the area. The standard to be considered local is within a 160km radius of where it is being sold.

  1. Health benefits. Eating local and organic food means you are eating fresh food that is rich in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. When food is transported or processed, it is often harvested prematurely to increase shelf life, sacrificing some of its nutritional value. An even bigger issue is if you are buying food that was not produced locally it is likely that you are consuming either genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) or food produced using pesticides and chemicals that are detrimental to human health. Consuming GMO’s comes with the risk of new allergens, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition and antibiotic resistance. Local and organic food on the other hand, especially in areas like the tropics where it is grown year round, offers you a wide variety of fresh nutritional foods without the negative side effects

    Left: Newly planted organic tomatoes at Taino Organic Farm. Right: Tomato sauce made from organic tomatoes, oregano, basil and onion at Taino Organic Farm.

    Left: Newly planted organic tomatoes at Taino Organic Farm. Right: Tomato sauce made from organic tomatoes, oregano, basil and onion at Taino Organic Farm.

  2.  Environmental Implications. Pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are not only harmful to human health, they also dramatically impact the environment. In commercial farming, the use of pesticides and GMO’s obliterates biodiversity, contributing to major issues such as bee colony collapse disorder. Bees are vitally important to human life as they are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our crops. Albert Einstein once said “If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live”. You can read more about the importance of bees to ecosystems in my last blog post. In addition to the destruction of biodiversity, the local and organic food movement serves as an alternative to commercial monoculture agriculture, which is a major contributor to issues such as soil degradation as well as air and water pollution. You can find a more comprehensive comparison in Greg Seaman’s article on organic versus commercial agriculture.
  3. Protect future generations. Nearly all of the processes in the modern food system are reliant on oil. This finite resource is coming nearer to depletion everyday, at the rate we are consuming it is likely our supply could be exhausted by 2040. If we do not change our ways, our planet will not be able to sustain future generations. “Even organic supplies are becoming hugely damaging as imports fill our shelves. One shopping basket of 26 imported organic products could have travelled 241,000 kilometers and released as much CO2 into the atmosphere as an average four bedroom household does through cooking meals over eight months” – Norman Church. Hence, shopping for local food is equally important to ensure there will be enough resources to sustain future generations.  You can find more information on food and oil dependency in Norman J. Church’s article on Resilience.org. Oil is a valuable resource, however the rate at which we are using it creates a vast number of problems. Simply put, feeding your children local and organic food benefits their health and their future.

    Buying organic may be healthier, but until you combine it with buying locally sourced food you are still supporting corporations that are responsible for major environmental impacts.

    Buying organic may be healthier, but until you combine it with buying locally sourced food you are still supporting corporations that are responsible for major environmental impacts.

  4. Reduce your Eco-Footprint By growing and buying local organic food, you can decrease your impact on the earth. A major part of living unsustainably is a direct result of the fossil fuels used to grow, process and transport food. Growing and buying local and organic food also decreases our consumption of water, “agriculture is officially the most thirsty industry on the planet, consuming a staggering 72 per cent of all global freshwater” (Organic Farming Benefits). It is our responsibility as humans on this earth to take action and live more sustainable lifestyles, starting with our food.
  5. Build community. Especially in areas like the tropics where food can be grown locally year round, we have an amazing opportunity to support our neighbors and nourish our bodies at the same time. Community gardens, farm shares, work exchange and other co-operatives allow us to connect with one another and perpetuate sustainability.

    Taino Organic Farm volunteer Karin with local kids at the farm.

    Taino Organic Farm volunteer Karin with local kids at the farm.

Tips for buying locally:

– Find a farmers market in your area and get to know your local farmers! Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to eat foods that aren’t picture perfect. That huge, unblemished, imported apple likely does not compare nutritionally or flavor wise to the “funny shaped” apple at the farmers market.

– When you shop at the grocery store, look for in-season foods that come from farms near you. Co-operatives and natural foods stores are often geared towards local foods and even corporate grocery stores often have some items sourced from the surrounding area.

– Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and get regular deliveries of fresh local produce. A mutually beneficial relationship for you and your local farmer friend, you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping all the time and they don’t have to worry all of their customers won’t show at the market on Saturday because it’s raining.