Hide the spinach with a Vitamix

My eldest son will not eat green foods, except for M&Ms, and there are only so many battles a mom can have with her son.  He's in good shape and very healthy, so I stopped fighting this problem. And that's when a solution popped up. 

As we traversed Costco last weekend, he stopped me by a demonstration of a Vitamix blender. I was skeptical - we have a blender and it didn't cost half of what this blender costs. The first sample was a strawberry-banana smoothie similar to Jamba Juice (in fact, Jamba Juice apparently uses Vitamixes). Then the demonstrator pulled out all the stops and made a drink that had oranges, pineapple, carrots and...spinach. 

My son watched him put every ingredient in the blender. Vitamix is known for liquifying foods - so every food, including the spinach, was in full view. The mix was made and the green sludge was poured into Dixie Cups for the tasting. His green aversion was mounting but so was his curiosity. And then I had a stroke of brilliance... 


For a boy who loves playing plants vs. zombies whenever I'll let him have access to my iphone, this was the most incredible possibility. He had to taste it.  He wanted to like it.  And like it he did. A lot.  And that's how I wound up with a Vitamix 5200 in my kitchen.

At the farmer's market the next day, my son trotted to the farmer with bags of fresh, organic spinach and briskly purchased two bags. And after a few tries, I am now a highly successful smoothie barrista making bright green zombie juice virtually every day.  Sometimes we make pink smoothies (strawberries, pomegranite, orange).  Or green smoothies (yellow fruits plus spinach).  Even made fresh butternut squash soup (pretty good). Nothing quite as fabulous as zombie juice, but hey, he's drinking his vegetables.

Order your 100% grass-fed, kosher beef

For the last month, I've been exploring, researching and talking with people in the Bay Area (and beyond) about sourcing 100% grass-fed, kosher beef for our community.  And I'm pleased to let you know about two options to have this delicious meat on your table for the holidays and beyond.

First - a community grocery, Piazza's Fine Foods, is taking orders for both 100% grass-fed kosher beef AND empire kosher chicken.

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What's your appetite for 100% grass fed beef?

I've been researching the health benefits and logistics of buying 100% grass fed, kosher beef.  It's been a fun project, but now I'm at a decision point about whether to make this something I make happen (and invest) or just wait for someone else to do it.  And that is dependent upon you - and our community's interest in 100% grass fed beef, kosher or not.

Please take the following short and anonymous survey and let me know your thoughts.


The linchpin for kosher, grass fed beef

To start from the beginning of my quest for locally grown, kosher grass fed beef, click here.

The key to locally raised, kosher grass fed beef is a kosher slaughter. And we don't have a kosher slaughterer (schohet) or slaughterhouse here in the Bay Area.  And until we proven there's demand to sustain such an enterprise, we probably won't. But there is a schohet in Los Angeles who comes to the Bay Area frequently - and with minimal effort, he and I connected. Rabbi Kagan is educating me about kosher slaughter AND grass fed beef.  Turns out, he's a strong advocate for grass fed beef.

He comes to the bay area because his son lives in Walnut Creek with the Walnut Creek Chabad House and his nephew is moving there. Rabbi Kagan is very committed to grass fed beef – for health and ethical reasons. So much so that he has a Los Angeles supply available. 

I have a lot to learn from Rabbi Kagan – but most importantly, he is a large animal schohet (i.e. he doesn’t handle chickens) and he is working with a ranch up here as well.  Hopefully we can partner to bring quality kosher grass fed beef to the community.

Rabbi Kagan did emphasize that you have to cook this beef differently – it’s very lean.  That means marinating, slow cooking and paying attention on the grill or stove top.  This beef is 30% leaner than conventional beef. Adding some healthy fats is sometimes desired.


Rabbi Kagan is exploring a line of pre-cooked products – rare roast beef you can cut and serve, for example. That’s an interesting extension – although my first priority is getting kosher local, grass fed beef in the hands of the Peninsula community at a competitive price. Then we'll do the pre-cooked to make it even better.

Rabbi Kagan has a problem - he cannot sell all the meat from his cows because Jewish law prohibits certain cuts - the round roast, for example.  So he asks me do I have "goyim" - non-Jews - who would be interested?  And I'm pretty sure that we have plenty of non-Jews who would be interested in this quality product. 

Holding Ranch and Marin Sun Farms are both educating me on the combinations of cuts that our community would expect to get through this process. And we'll definitely get some kosher slaughtered, non-kosher grass fed meat - for those who want the product and don't care about the kashruth.

Are you interested?  Let me know!

The Quest for Kosher Grass Fed Beef, second in a series

Where to buy Kosher Beef on the Peninsula

Northern California is tough for a kosher Jew. There is one elegant kosher restaurant (Kitchen Table). There are two chains that stock some fresh and frozen kosher meat and poultry (Mollie Stones, Trader Joes). And there are some kosher butchers – in San Francisco and in Oakland – but neither of these are convenient for a working mom on the Peninsula. And NONE supply kosher grass fed beef. In fact, there is no information on how their beef is raised other than it’s healthy and kosher slaughtered.

About a year ago, a ranch in Colorado began marketing Glatt Kosher beef mail-order.  Having tried other mail order in order to get more variety than rib-eye, stew and ground beef (the Mollie Stones with variety is in Palo Alto – and you have to go when the shipment arrives because everyone knows they have the only variety in cuts), I knew the shipping could be egregious.  But Golden West Glatt deep freezers their cuts and ships 3-day ground.  Their products are delicious.  And the shipping is almost reasonable.

Learning about the feeding of my food

Naturally, the first email went to Golden West Glatt.  After getting through the form letter response, their customer service rep and I had a 6 email exchange.

“We are proud of the taste and quality of our product.”

“You should be.  It’s good.  Is it 100% grass fed?”

The cattle are grass fed until the last 4-6 weeks before harvesting.”

Pause. I didn’t know the impact of 4-6 weeks of non-grass feed. I needed someone who did know.

So I reached out to Professor Cindy Daley of the University of California-Chico. And she responded within an hour – amazing.

The lipid profile of the beef changes within 30 days of changing the feed.  And she shared with me research she is publishing showing the lipid profiles of cattle with different feeds. Since this is not yet published, I won’t post here – but trust me, unless your cattle is being fed grass or rice bran/almond hulls, the beef is effectively ruined from a nutritional (specifically fats) perspective.

Back to Golden West.

“What’s the feed for those last 4-6 weeks?  I’d really like to buy your product.  By the way, here’s the impact of those last 4-6 weeks, by feed, from Professor Daley.”

“Working on it.”

And that’s where we stand with Golden West.  Here’s what Mark’s Daily Apple says about these feeds - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/concentrated-animal-feeding-operations/

Seeing as Golden West isn’t grass fed (yet, but I’m hoping), I needed to widen my search.

Tune in tomorrow for my round up of all the options so far to solve this dilemma.