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Taino Farm Ceviche

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!

 

When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I can picture myself so vividly – crouching over a little cubicle desk. I am staring at my computer – working on a paper or maybe a problem set. I am distracted from my work only by other things popping up on a screen in front of me – a facebook notification or a text message. But nothing around me draws my eyes away from my thirteen inch computer screen. My headphones are playing some genre of music into my ears, masking the sounds of the world around me – of people flowing in and out of the library. Maybe a friend has passed by…I wouldn’t notice.

When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I am using tangled headphones connecting my phone in my pocket to my ears as I walk to class. Sometimes, if I am in a “loving life” type of mood, I will listen to country. Isn’t that ironic? I am loving life yet so definitively severing myself off from it.

When I am back at school, I am plugged in. I am lying in bed with my white noise machine on. It blurs all the sounds around me. I can’t even hear my breathing or the soft and steady beating of my heart, just the white noise that fills my ears and dulls my senses.

It is different here.

11430292_10154025875853009_1074470989_nWhen I run in the morning in Los Brazos, the small Dominican town in which Taino Organic Farm is located, I don’t use my headphones. I can hear my breath, the soft gallop of Piggy–the loyal farm dog of Finca Taino, the roosters talking to each other across the valley, the moos of the various cows we pass, the occasional “hola” from the early risers sitting on their porches enjoying the first yellow light of the day, the squeals of pigs (they didn’t sound particularly happy to be waking up), the sound of the wind and the subsequent elegant sway of the green that surrounded me. There are an infinite amount of sounds at any point in time, no matter where you are in this world. We can’t hear all of them–we couldn’t possibly. But that’s not a reason to miss the beautiful ones that we can hear.

When I go to bed at night at Finca Taino it seems that everyone around me is having their bedside chat with each other. I fall asleep to the occasional heehaw of the donkey who lives a floor down from me, to the chitter chatter of the chickens, the wind, the insects enveloped by the dark sky, the sound of far-away bachata dance music, a moto zooming by – a night just beginning or ending.

11121147_10154025875738009_611323531_n

 

When I wake up at Finca Taino it is early – 5:50 typically. It seems the world is wide awake and the light is just beginning to illuminate the world. I think it would be wrong to be frustrated by this, to be mad at the light and and the creatures for waking me up. It would be sad for these early morning sounds to anger me.

“Wake up grateful”; I read that somewhere recently. It is so easy to do that here.

At home I wake up to my alarm clock as well. It typically goes off around 6:15. In the winter, it would be dark still. It’s not the early morning blue kind of dark, but a black – an endless thick black – dark that makes the morning feel so far away. Even still, there were so many reasons to be grateful to be jolted awake by the alarming noise coming from my phone.

11638002_10154025875813009_430329023_nHere, waking up to the sound of the rest of the world, to the light streaming through my window–that is such an easy, obvious, and accessible reason to be grateful. It is so easy that gratitude is becoming a habit – almost an instinct. That is what nature can do; that is what can happen when I am no longer plugged in.

I think that when I return home, back to school, back to the “grind” after two months here in Los Brazos and Cabarete on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, it will be hard not to wake up grateful. A hard habit to break.

 

Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook is a resource that we are sharing with our eXtreme Hotel and Taino Farm’s community, as well as the rest of the world! We hope it will help motivate and guide us in our quest to make healthy, amazing food from sustainable resources.

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!

Fresh Cheese Recipe

 

Taino Farm's fresh cheese in the making!

Taino Farm’s fresh cheese in the making!

Making homemade cheese is easier than most think. It is fresh and delicious, and not quite as sour as most store bought varieties. Once you have fresh cheese, it is hard to go back to the store bought stuff. You will need cheesecloth, or some similar type fabric to strain the whey out of the cheese.

Ingredients:

2 litres full fat milk GL

2 tablespoons lemon juice GL

Salt & pepper Fresh herbs GL

 

Ingredients for our fresh cheese ready to go.

Ingredients for our fresh cheese ready to go.

1.) Put milk in a large pot over medium heat. Slowly heat, stirring regularly.

2.) Bring the milk to an ‘almost’ boil (you can use a thermometer and heat to 175 degrees fahrenheit. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat and let sit a few minutes.

Raw milk from our cows at Taino Farm being heated to make fresh cheese.

Raw milk from our cows at Taino Farm being heated to make fresh cheese.

3.) Stir in the lemon juice. Milk should be starting to separate, or curdle.

4.) Let the temperature of the mixture drop until you can easily put your finger in it (warm bath temperature).

5.) Milk should be completely separated by now. Line a colander with 4- 6 layers of cheesecloth. Slowly pour the mixture through the colander, separating the whey and the cheese curd. The liquid that is left over is called the ‘whey’ and can be used in bread in lieu of water, or used in smoothies. It is very high in protein.

Draining the curds from the whey to make our fresh cheese.

Draining the curds from the whey to make our fresh cheese.

6.) The curd that remains in the cheesecloth will need to drain for a few hours. The best way to do this is to tie it up tightly in the cheesecloth, and place it in a colander or strainer over top of a bowl. Place a weight of some type on top for a few hours to let the remaining liquid come out.

7.) When the cheese has drained, put in a bowl, and add salt to taste. It generally takes a fair amount of salt to make a flavorful cheese.

8.) Chop up the fresh herbs (basil, tarragon….) and put them in the bottom of a small plastic container, and top with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Squish the cheese on top, put the lid on the container and flip over to let the herbs and oil drizzle down the cheese. Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.

9.) Serve with fresh bread, and a bottle of wine. Enjoy!

Delicious fresh cheese ready to be enjoyed by all!

Delicious fresh cheese ready to be enjoyed by all!

Thanks to Kelsey Rush for the original recipes! Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

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.