Taino Farms, located in the picturesque town of Los Brazos within the Espaillat Province of the Dominican Republic, is a chef’s inspirational zen garden.  Matter of fact, it could be any food enthusiast’s inspirational playground.

My name is Matthew Arnold and I am chef, foodie and culinary enthusiast.  There is not a type of food that I am not interested in or don’t want to learn to cook.  Since I arrived at the farm 2 weeks ago, I have been brimming with new and creative spins to my vastly growing repertoire of recipes. My apologies for not getting this blog up and running sooner but the overwhelming amount creativity, tranquility, and inspiration that exudes from this farm and the townspeople located here has kept me otherwise occupied. But here we go (better late than never).

Locals here grow and raise such a variety of fruit, vegetables, and livestock that the combinations of dishes seems to be endless. At Taino Farm alone we are currently producing 35+ different fruits, vegetables, herbs, greens, and livestock.  We are producing things such as, but not limited to, eggplant, cucumber, thai basil, oregano, sage, habaneros, kale, mustard green, chicken, turkey, tilapia; the list goes on and on. (for full list of available in season items email tainofarm@gmail.com)

My hope for this blog is to inspire you to play and have fun with your cooking, to take the things from here and begin to tweak them to your own liking, take variations of what I have done and show me really what different cooks can collaborate on and bring together. Being inspired to make things that you never thought to attempt before. SHOW ME WHAT YOU DO!! I want to see anything you cook involving organic, locally grown, and whole foods.  What you do inspires me and with any luck what I do will inspire you.

One of my first few days I found myself laying back and trying to collect my thoughts and organize all the things I had seen here at Taino Farm into a dish that would that would represent me to my fellow coworkers and the staff here. I felt that my first big dish needed to really show them a side of my cooking that drew from both my personal tastes as well as incorporate all this farm has to offer. You know, sometimes you just need to step back and take a look at what’s around you, the larger picture, to find your own direction (thanks dad for that one). This is exactly what I did.

The dish will be explain in the following blog. For the actually recipe with full details please send an email to tainofarm@gmail.com and ask me 🙂

A picture perfect plate of farm fresh greens, eggs, tomatoes and avocado.

Taino Farm is a beautiful place to work and live. Sustainability is essential for success here because resources are precious and the margin for error is very small. Wasting time, money, water, etc. impacts the Taino Farm community in a big way. Sustainability in agriculture is quite a popular topic on the blogosphere these days but it never hit home for me until I came to the north coast of the Dominican Republic. In California, every type of food is available right at my finger tips. The concept of sustainability and protecting our resources (namely water!) is often discussed, but for me, there was no real weight behind the issue until I stepped outside of my all too familiar surroundings.

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The concept of sustainability and my quest for nutrient dense food go hand in hand at the farm.  The food that grows the best on a permaculture farm is both nutrient dense, because it is happy in the soil, and has the lowest impact on the environment because the plants are using their resources efficiently.  This makes good nutrition choices much simpler. Instead of trying to hold onto this idea of good nutrition that was so vastly different at home, I remembered the main principals of what I tried to implement in California:

Nutrition-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food options for a Nutrivore are numerous but aren’t a picture perfect fit for the standard Paleo diet. I know that I need to avoid gluten, sugar, dairy and poor quality fats above all else. I have a tendency to get bogged down in the tiny details of my ever changing diet.  But on the farm, it is quite easy to find what will bring the most vibrant health into my life. The freshest produce that has the most developed flavors are the basis of a Nutrivore diet.

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Hibiscus

So I decided to approach the “What should I eat” question in the simplest way possible. What are the prettiest veggies in our garden? We have eggplant, cucumber, green beans, peppers, pumpkin, and TONS of delicious greens – spicy, sweet and mild. Arugula, kale, mustard greens and cranberry hibiscus are the farm favorites! Also on the list for special treats and simple sugars to revitalize thirsty, sweaty farmers quickly are coconuts, plantains, cacao, and delicious tropical fruits like Abiyu and Mangos.

 

Arugula

Arugula

In California, my paleo diet consisted of high protein and low carb.  So far in the Dominican Republic, clean protein sources have been hard to come by. Luckily on the farm we have delicious pastured eggs and Tilapia from our aquaponics system. As part of the internship program, I spend half my time on Kite Beach, Cabarete at the Extreme Hotel where I eat at restaurants 1-2 meals per day. I have found that most lean animal proteins aren’t high quality and are most certainly covered in industrial seed oils and sauces that do not promote good health in my body. This does not go with the Nutrivore theme! Therefore…gasp…I have started eating beans and legumes to supplement my diet. Perhaps I am picking the lesser of two evils. I am pairing legumes with tons of anti-inflammatory foods and my body has been able to find some balance. Nutrition choices can be confusing especially when you have dietary restrictions. But, as Liz Wolfe says ” Get back to basics. Let intuition be your guide”.


What is nutrient dense, fresh, and grows right in front of my face?

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A slightly hidden pumpkin

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Coconuts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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mmmmm Cacao

The darling of the health and wellness industry is versatile, sweet, anti-inflammatory, and abundant here in the Dominican Republic. And why else are they so popular? First of all, coconuts include minerals to support hydration. This is key to maintaining your health in a tropical climate! Coconut also serves as an immunity booster. The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral activities of coconuts allow them to fight against common infections that attack the body. The best way to get the immune boosting benefits of coconut is by consuming both the flesh of the coconut and the water. And besides the health benefits, there’s the delicious taste!!!

At Taino Organic Farm we love to make coconut milk. This is a wonderful option for a dairy replacement that is home made, organic and nutrient dense. We use it in our coffee and as a base for smoothies, soups, cookies, ice cream and more. Coconut milk makes our food creamier and when you know all the benefits it has for your body, of course you will want to eat as much as possible!

11350106_10205327800692057_878393907_nHealth Benefits

  • Helps the body maintain proper blood sugar levels
  • Keeps blood vessels and skin elastic and flexible (contains 50{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} copper)
  • Strong bones (rich in phosphorus)
  • Relaxes nerves and muscles (magnesium)
  • It helps in weight control (fiber)
  • Reduces the risk of inflammation of the joints (selenium)
  • Lowers high blood pressure potassium
  • Supports prostate (mineral Zinc)

As nutrition junkies, we are living to create vibrant health! The Finca is delighted to share this simple, delicious, locally sourced recipe with you. So easy, so tasty and so healthy.

Coconut Milk Recipe

Yield: 24 oz depending on size of coconuts

Ingredients

  • Water and flesh from 3 coconuts (Ask a local to help open the coconuts as they know what they’re doing … keeping all of our fingers is important to us!)
  • Vanilla
  • Himalayan Salt

Process

Simply combine all ingredients together and blend until desired consistency

Enjoy!

 

Here at Finca Taino we get up early to harvest and work in the garden before it gets too hot, so this quick and easy breakfast treat is ideal. This is a strong, whole foods blend that creates a “euphoric” feeling. Perfect as a pre-workout supplement or in our case, pre-harvest! Trust us, 6 AM isn’t fun for anyone, but this drink makes us smile.

What are the key players and why do they optimize our health?

Coffee – a rich source of antioxidants and a clean source of caffeine

Pastured eggs – dense with micro-nutrients, brain boosting fats, complete protein

Coconut oil– healthy medium chain triglycerides that helps your body burn more calories, feel fuller for longer, and boosts brain function

*Think of this as a whole foods protein shake to supplement a busy morning*


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Recipe

Ingredients

Serves 2

2 Pastured Eggs (from our Taino Farm chickens)

16 oz Coffee

1tsp Vanilla

2 tsp Coconut Oil

Cinnamon and Himalayan Salt to taste

*optional: liquid Stevia drops and Turmeric


Process

 Brew coffee as you normally would. Pour coffee, vanilla, coconut oil, pastured eggs, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into blender. Blend or pulse on low until frothy. Be careful and hold the lid of the blender down, as blending hot ingredients creates an air pressure build up. This coffee is DELICIOUS and foamy. It should be consumed fairly quickly as it tends to separate as it cools.

 

Enjoy!

What are plantains? This Caribbean staple is a member of the banana family. Green plantains are lower in sugar and starchier (read: not sweet!) than the traditional banana. They are a great source of dense carbohydrates, soluble fiber, vitamins, magnesium and potassium – nutrients that are essential in tropical climates as they help to restore electrolyte balance.

There are many ways to get plantains on your plate – grilled, baked, or fried. At Taino Organic Farm, our favorite combination is to serve garlic mangú topped with spicy scrambled eggs on a bed of freshly picked greens. The best part about this meal is that all of the ingredients can be found within steps of our sustainable farm’s kitchen!


Mangú Recipe

Ingredients- Serves 4

  • Green Plantains (2-3 per person)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 Cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 Cup chopped garlic chives
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 Cup raw milk
  • Salt to taste

Process:

  1. Slit sides of green plantains
  2. Boil plantains with the skin ON for 10 minutes or until skin is tender
  3. Carefully peel skin off plantains and slice into 1/4 inch pieces
  4. Continue to boil until soft
  5. Add garlic, onions, garlic chives, salt, butter, and raw milk
  6. Using a potato masher, blend all ingredients together to a creamy consistency

 Serving Suggestion: Top with local Dominican cheese and crispy onions. Enjoy your meal!

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Our Taino Farm style mangú on a bed of freshly picked greens with farm fresh scrambled eggs on top. Yum!