Monday, July 14, 2014

Tips for Shopping Your Local Farmer's Market

This is a photo from my very favorite local farmer's market, courtesy of Dane County Farmer's Market. My favorite time of year is farmer's market season! I grow a small urban garden in my back yard, and I belong to a local CSA, but there is always a reason to visit the market every weekend. Likely, it's to get local, fresh, grass-fed cheese curds. And of course, when cherry season is upon us, as it currently is, well, you have to get up bright and early to score some lovely tart cherries for your next homemade pie. Whatever your fancy, the market has it, and there's not a better way to support your favorite local farmers!

Check out this article listing some very practical advice for shopping at your local farmer's market.

I am pleased that the article points out the importance about asking the farmer what types of sprays and/or pesticides are used if they are not certified organic. The certification process is extremely costly, so many small producers cannot afford it. However, much of the time, if you ask, you will find that they practice organic farming, and the result is produce that may even be cleaner than certified organic standards. If you can find these farmers, you're likely to save a little money, but still get very high quality, organic produce, so don't be afraid to ask! Buy local and know your farmer. It makes all the difference!

What are your favorite farmer's market tips? Please share in the comments section below.

Zucchini Everywhere!

The following link has three great ideas to use up your overflowing zucchini harvest:

What is your favorite way to use up zucchini? Mine - and my entire family's - favorite way to enjoy zucchini is the amazing Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe from

World's Best Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I did tweak this recipe just a tad, to reduce the sugar content and modify for use of healthy oils.  If you feel like trying my substitutions, use only 1 CUP of sugar. We used organic unrefined sugar from Trader Joe's. The finished result was plenty sweet, especially with the chocolate chips. Friends who don't limit sugar in their household said they noticed no difference in flavor. Instead of one cup of canola oil, I substituted 1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil and 1/2 cup organic applesauce.

Here are a few pics of what mine looked like last week, before they were devoured.

Very large zucchini

Big bowl of shredded zucchini:

Before baking

Cooling.  This is my least favorite part. I hate this even more than waiting for them to finish baking.
The loaf on the left has walnuts and chocolate chips added to the top, as well as mixed into the batter. I like it this way, and think I will be making all of them like this from this point forward. The one on the right has all those goodies mixed into the batter only, but I used less of them because my eldest recently had her wisdom teeth pulled. 

                     My crazy girls, enjoying the final product. They did not last long. Not at all. We made two more batches - 6 loaves total - and froze one.  The rest are demolished.


 Did you know zucchini bread is really good with ice cream? It's also fabulous with a cup of coffee for breakfast. What is your favorite way to use up an abundance of zucchini? Please share in the comments below!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Brownies - Dairy and Gluten Free

A recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver, using only dates as a sweetener.

Healthy Chocolate Brownies from Paging Fun Mums

If you haven't already jumped on the date bandwagon, now is the time! I have made several bake and no-bake sweets with dates, and kids love them! 

I was truly skeptical at first, but quickly became hooked when all three of my eldest daughters scarfed down some Larabar-inspired no-bake chocolatey date balls of doom. The two elementary aged girls loved them so much that they both BEGGED me to make them for their classroom birthday treats. Who am I to deny them the opportunity to bring in a non-preservative-laden treat to share with their friends? I will definitely share that recipe and photos with you soon, but for now, you can check them out at

Have you tried any treats using only dates as a sweetener yet? What is your favorite no-bake, or brownie recipe? Please share your comments below.

Monday, July 7, 2014

6 Ways to Preserve Food

Check out this page for a basic list of popular preserving methods. There is a link at the bottom of the page to download a free e-book. This guide will provide details and info needed to learn all six preservation methods.

6 Ways to Preserve Food at Home

I hope you like it! Let me know what you think and please leave a comment related to your favorite preservation method!

Strawberry Picking at our CSA

Two of the girls, hubby, and I went to the strawberry u-pick at our CSA farm. It was a gorgeous day! Too bad the mosquitoes tried carrying us away while picking mulberries.

After a long day picking strawberries, peas, and mulberries.

Hubby scored some Swiss chard!!

A greenhouse on the farm.

Farm tour.

Picking strawberries has left them parched!

Strawberry Smoothie Recipes

Did you pick strawberries this year? Do you have a farm CSA? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments below! My goal for summer recipes is to share favorites that utilize the goodies in my CSA box each week. What is your favorite strawberry recipe? Your favorite summer garden goodie?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Admittedly, the holiday weekend is over, but it was filled with fun and chaos, so here I sit, late at night, catching up with Pinterest and Facebook.

The weather was gorgeous, so I got to spend loads of time outside with the girls, at the Farmer's Market, and in the garden weeding and adding a few more peppers and herbs to the mix.

My goal for the month is to start posting more. I have so many recipes to post. Pictures taken, deliciousness consumed, just waiting to share with my followers. Please share my page with your friends who enjoy fresh, in-season produce, and local products. I have so much to share, and am a bit unorganized, so I apologize in advance for my idiosyncrasies until I am able to better craft the flow and ideas on the blog.

If you love Pinterest, please follow me there! I do not have a FB page yet, but that is on the agenda!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Welcome to Crunchy Urban Mama. My desire is to provide recipes for real food lifestyles, info on sustainable living, gardening, homesteading, and parenting. My passions are real food cooking on a budget, natural living, and homesteading in an urban setting.

We are currently under construction, but please follow the blog so you will be notified of new posts. And please feel free to comment below or send me a message if there is anything you wish me to cover.

I am looking forward to the journey!