A Guide to Winter Vegetables

Even though it’s been an unseasonably warm winter*, we know we’re not the only ones missing fresh veggies and sunshine.

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*Minus that crazy snowstorm we had last weekend… The Duck Pond looked beautiful all in white! Photo by VT employee Ivan Morozov.

Sometimes during the winter months, it can feel like the produce pickings are slim – so to combat a brainfreeze while planning your winter meals, VT Sustainable Dining has devised a guide to help you select the most seasonal, cold-loving winter vegetables. Hopefully, armed with this list (and some easy, tasty recipes!), you’ll have so many veggie options that it’ll feel like the middle of summer again.  Some of these can even be found at your local market, grocery store (Eat’s, & Annie Kay’s) or campus eatery (Farms & Fields!).

Beets: these heart-healthy babies love the chilly temperatures, and they store well year-round. Roast these in the oven or try out this amazing beet and goat cheese salad recipe.

Brussels Sprouts: while these tiny veggies have earned a bad reputation, they are so easy and so delicious when properly prepared. Cover with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice (or cheese…) and roast, or if you’re feeling bold try this spicy brussels sprouts salad with almonds and mint.

Carrots: a tried-and-true snack. How about this roasted carrot salad (with kale, another winter veggie)? Hint: it also calls for bacon.

Cauliflower: ever heard of cauliflower mashed potatoes? No? It’s time you check that out.

Kale: this and other brassicas are tolerant of low temperatures and can grow in the ice and snow. Put them in the oven to make kale chips and they crisp up beautifully.

Radicchio: if you’ve never heard of this beautiful, purple-cabbage-cousin, don’t fear – there are many ways to prepare and consume it. You’ll be happier and healthier for trying it!

Winter Squash: did you know that most winter squash can be stored over three months in the right conditions? Make this amazing butternut squash lasagna recipe your next snow day project – just like the one served at Farms & Fields!

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Just going to leave this warm, cheesy squash masterpiece here to inspire you… Photo: @vtgreendining

This is just a short list of winter veggie options, but we hope at least one item inspired you to turn up the heat in the kitchen. And don’t despair – spring is less than 50 days away!

Here is also a reminder that the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market does indeed have winter hours (Saturdays, 10-2 from Jan. 1-March 31). Don’t let the winter blues keep you from eating healthy & local!

Local Food Spotlight: Blacksburg Bagels!

Wondering where the insanely delicious bagel you ate at Farms & Fields this week came from? Meet our featured local producer, Blacksburg Bagels: responsible for your delectable, doughy, ring-shaped snack!

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Hole-y moly, would you look at that spread!

Jessica and Pete – also known as the “Bagel Lady” and “Pie Guy” – have each been baking for a while, but only started working as business partners in the last couple years. Jessica, a Virginia Tech grad, started realizing her talent when she was a student involved with the Sustainable Food Corps. After apprenticing on a farm in Montana, she decided to bring her skills back home and pursue working with local markets full-time! Pete also has a VT background, and after many years working for the university, he decided he wanted to apply his business and communication skills to something he could sink his teeth into. From this, a beautiful, bountiful, bagel-baking business was born!

Although Blacksburg Bagels just started producing for Dining Services this year, they supply a wide variety of baked goods to businesses throughout Blacksburg and beyond. They also sell much more than just the obvious: their pitas, pies, pizza doughs, and breads are just a few examples of what’s usually on the menu. You’re most likely to catch Blacksburg Bagels at the downtown Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays (Gluten-free day! 2-6) and Saturdays (9-2). Hint: if you buy their t-shirt, you get free bagels for life (sorry – offer not valid in dining halls)!

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Grab one of these (or a dozen…) and some local veggies at the farmer’s market for a healthy Saturday lunch!

Perhaps the best part about Blacksburg Bagels – yes, even better than their buttery pretzels – is their love for sustainability and the local community. Because they don’t have an established bakeshop, Jessica and Pete are able to focus on working with and supporting other local businesses. This also means that they can create small, custom batches and develop their recipes – which is good for the rest of us, too!

Blacksburg Bagels is excited to be working with Dining Services, and the partnership means much more than just bagels on our plates: it means nourishing ourselves and our local community in a sustainable way.

Check out our twitter (@VTGreenDining) to make sure you catch Blacksburg Bagels on the Farms & Fields menu. Believe me – you don’t want to miss what they’ve baked up for us!

Reflecting on Blacksburg Sustainability Week

Hard to believe Sustainability Week was almost a month ago – hope you had as much fun as we did! While Sustainable Dining Services encourages eco-friendly behavior every week, we wanted to share our highlights from some of the fun events put on by Sustainable Blacksburg, both on campus and around town:

We caught you green-handed with your reusable to-go containers, shopping locally at the Farmer’s Market (with reusable bags!), and with your Dining Services reusable Camelbak water bottle:

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We enjoyed dining hall specials with locally-grown ingredients – this butternut squash lasagna at Farms & Fields was *so* yummy:

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Check back soon for a how-to recipe guide and make this dish at home!

Students and community members alike attended the documentary screening of “New Farms, Big Success” at the YMCA and learned all about the benefits of small-scale sustainable agriculture:

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Students cut the cars and “bike-mobbed” over to the Y for the event!

Thanks for making Sustainability Week so great, and keep up the good work! Don’t forget to check back here for more information about how to be more sustainable with Dining Services.

Celebrate Sustainability Week with Dining Services!

Happy Sustainability Week, Blacksburg!

Sustainable Dining Services has some exciting specials this week, plus we’d like to highlight events and activities that are going on within the greater community as well.

1. Taste the season’s first winter squash at selected dining halls this week, all grown at the Dining Services Farm at Kentland! Make sure to catch every one of these delicious specials:

  • At D2: Kentland Harvest Pizza – Roasted Winter Squash Medley, Mixed Herbs, Fall Greens, Caramelized onions, Bleu Cheese, Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan Cheese, and Balsamic Glaze (served all week)
  • At Owens: Pumpkin Pie (Tuesday & Wednesday), Buttercup Squash & Apple Bake (Thursday) – all at Sweet Temptations
  • At Turner: Apple, Butternut & Kuri Squash Bisque (all week, Soup Garden); Roasted tomato pizza (Tuesday & Thursday) Garlic scape and mushroom pizza (Wednesday), plus all marinara sauce will be from the farm (Atomic Pizza); Roasted beets and potatoes (Friday, 1872 Fire Grill)

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2. Attend the New River Land Trust’s screening of the documentary “New Farms, Big Success” – a film about three farmers who are working to develop an enduring, local food network in a time of climate change. The screening will be Tuesday (9/15), starting at 7 PM in the YMCA Building (1000 N. Main).

3. Make sure to use your Dining Services Reusable To-Go container and Camelbak water bottle for the chance to get #caughtgreenhanded! Caught Green Handed Ambassadors will be roaming campus and the Town, waiting to catch someone committing a sustainable act. Your picture could be featured on the Facebook page, plus you get a cool sticker!

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Visit Sustainability Week website for full list of events. Sign up for something fun and let us know what you try!

To-Go Options

DS_to-go-charge-socialmediapostWhen you order “to-go” you have more options now.

Compostable To-Go Containers are available in Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill, Turner Place, and West End Market for your to-go meals.  All large, 9 inch compostable to-go containers cost $0.20 cash/ $0.10 flex to use.

Reusable To-Go Containers are available at Owens Food Court, Turner Place and West End Market.  For $3.50, buy-in to the Reusable To-Go Container program and use this program your entire college career and you save $0.20 cash/ $0.10 flex every time you use it.

Remember to ask for your meal in a Reusable To-Go container when you order and buy in or hand over your token to the cashier.  All Reusable To-Go containers should be returned to one of our three OZZI machines located in the units where we offer the program.

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Volunteer for the Hokie Hi Picnic!

Volunteer with us this coming Sunday 8/23. Spend your Sunday afternoon in Lane Stadium welcoming incoming freshmen and promoting sustainability on campus!

There are two shifts available on Sunday, set up and clean up, respectively.  Volunteers will be able to eat at the event and are encourage to work both shifts, if able.  Please follow the link below to sign up!

http://bit.ly/1NB8CEB

 

 

A Sustainable School Year: 2014-15 in Review

What a year! Hard to believe that the semester has come to a close. It seems as though we were just slicing up all of the Kentland-grown watermelon at the inaugural Zero Waste Hokie Hi picnic to welcome our new students!

The Sustainability team in Dining Services has been busy implementing new projects over the 2014-15 school year, all of which we are very proud of! Here’s a brief run-down:

July

  • Began sale of reusable Camelbak water bottles during summer orientation.

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August

  • Zero-Waste Hokie Hi Picnic – we composted 3,180 lbs of food waste and recycled the rest!
  • Began use of the OZZI machine in West End Market, expanded the reusable to-go program with token system.
  • Class commenced for the first-ever Sustainable Agriculture Practicum, in which eleven students learned day-to-day management of a small-scale sustainable farm.
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Waste Station Volunteers welcome Freshmen at the Hokie Hi Picnic

SEPTEMBER

  • Celebrated Sustainability Week with the ribbon-cutting of the Dining Services High Tunnel at the Urban Horticulture Center.
Dining Services Director Ted Faulkner and Farm Manager Alex Hessler at the ribbon-cutting for the High Tunnel

Dining Services Director Ted Faulkner, Farm Manager Alex Hessler and UHC Director, Susan Day at the ribbon-cutting for the High Tunnel

October

  • Family Weekend – Tribute to Local Ingredients sourced almost exclusively from Virginia producers and farmers and premiered our “table to farm video” that can be seen here.

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November

  • Collaborated with SGA to pass legislation to provide every incoming freshman (in Fall 2015) with a reusable to-go container.

January

  • Farewell, styrofoam – hello compostable containers! Transitioned from styrofoam to-go containers to a compostable alternative.
  • First salad greens harvested from the High Tunnel!

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February

  • “We See You” Table Card Campaign inspired diners at West End Market to reduce their to-go use from 40% to 31% over two weeks.
  • Brought on our sustainability intern, Millie Smith, who has been involved in Zero Waste event planning, compost audits and much more! We’re excited she’ll be back with us next semester!
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Creepy but successful!

April

  • Brought Red Sun Farms tomatoes on board in all of our dining units and offered a tomato tasting station at D2 during Earth Week.

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May

  • Attended the Sustainable Food Systems Symposium and learned about sustainable food initiatives at other VA schools including UVA, JMU & GMU.

VT Dining Services is also proud to have been ranked Best Food in the annual Princeton Review, awarded silver for Outreach and Education in Sustainability by the National Association of College & University Food Services, registered as an official VA Green Restaurant, and featured on the VT homepage as an example for our achievements in sustainable, local dining!

As much as these accomplishments call for celebration, we are eager to get started on plans for the fall. Looking ahead, some changes you can expect upon return in August include:

  • Expansion of the reusable to-go program through installation of TWO new OZZI machines (!!!) in Owens and Turner Place, thanks to the Green RFP Program offered through the Office of Energy and Sustainability (VT received record funding through the program this year!)
  • Partnership with Sea to Table, an intermediary that ensures the purchase of local and sustainable seafood, and local business Blacksburg Bagels for delicious home-baked goods offered at the Farms & Fields Project!

While you’re getting into plans for summer, be sure to stay tuned with Sustainable Dining Services as we gear up for our busiest season! If you’re staycationing in Blacksburg until the fall, keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to receive updates.

Cheers to a great year and have a sustainable summer break!