Farm Boy Kombucha Found throughout Central Florida

Cooking, FL, Growing, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

This week blog post features another local Orlando business: Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Produce is a Orlando locally owned and operated company that was established in 2011. At Farm Boy, they strive to produce the highest quality Kombucha by using only the best organic ingredients. All the teas used in the brewing process are USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. All the water used is treated with a four stage reverse osmosis system to remove all contaminants including chlorine and fluoride, to insure the healthiest Kombucha. In addition to this, all the tea used during brewing, and all other biodegradable ingrednts and materials are placed into productive compost bins and worm bins and recycled into productive soil, and generating hardly any waste in the process. These are some of key components on what makes Farm Boy different, and what makes Farm Boy a truly sustainable company.

Farm Boy Produce LLC
Local. Sustainable. Organic.

Farm Boy Kombucha can be found at Dandelion Communitea Cafe:

One good way to get involved in your Central Florida Community

Cooking, FL, Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Orlando News and Events
Picnic Project Sanford Florida

Picnic Project Sanford Florida

THE PICNIC PROJECT.  Like Food Not Bombs, the Picnic Project feeds people and families in need in the Sanford area every Sunday (FYI – Picnic Project prepares conventional non-vegetarian food for the families they serve).
Mark a Dandelion Cafe team member is involved in the creation and development of the This Picnic Project and has volunteered countless hours with them over the past 5+ years.  Most weeks Mark gets involved with the SundayCommunity Meal that’s served at 1pm in Downtown Sanford area.

If any of you are interested in supporting the Picnic Project, please talk to Mark or email them at, or visit their Facebook Page –

Win a FREE Ticket to the 2016 Florida Herbal Conference!

Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

Mountain Rose Herbs is giving away one free ticket before January 8th

We are so excited to share this interview with Emily Ruff, the Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Her studies have taken her around three continents where she has studied under healers of many traditions. Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to serve as a Board Member of United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012, an event which continues to sell out annually. Enjoy the interview and be sure to enter for a chance to win free registration to the 2016 conference!  
Florida Herbal Conference - win a free ticket!

Want to start off the New Year Healthy?

Cooking, Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

Homegrown Local Food Cooperative Orlando, FL

Homegrown Local Food Cooperative Orlando, FL

Order from:


Homegrown Local Food Cooperative is your resource for locally grown organic produce, pastured eggs and meats, raw dairy, honey and a variety of artisanal goods for the home and garden.

Homegrown goods are available every week through our Signature Online Farmer’s Market.  Simply log in, shop and pick-up your local goods at our boutique farm store on Orange Avenue where Ivanhoe and Health Villages connect.

Our local Farmer’s list what’s growing each week and you get to pick what farm fresh goodies you want and, they are harvested just for you!

Our local Artisans cook and prepare to order what you have requested.

Quality and transparency are important at Homegrown, and you can shop with ease, knowing that we are looking out for the best tasting, healthiest, most nutritionally packed, unadulterated, local food available.  At Homegrown our goal is to source the best quality food grown as close to home as possible.
Our produce is grown without pesticides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers and never from GMO seeds!  Our animal products come from animals who are treated humanely and do not receive routine hormones or antibiotics.  Our artisanal  food products are made without preservatives or artificial ingredients.  Our artisanal home products are made without parabens or sulfates.  Our garden products come from our local organic farmers.

Each product listed at our Online Farmer’s Market is identified by the farm, kitchen or craftsman who is creating the unique offering.  To learn more about our Producers, visit the Producers section.

Online Farmer’s Market Hours:Tuesday at 9am through Friday at 9am

Boutique Farm Store Hours:
Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4:00pm and Monday from 2:00pm until 7:00pm

We accept cash, check, ebt and all major credit cards.


Cooking, Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Uncategorized

We came across some yummy looking tangerines and decided to make some sherbet! We adapted from this recipe here from, which they adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe here to make it vegan. See, it’s all about making a recipe your own!


  • 2 Cups Orange Juice, fresh-squeezed tangerines. This will require 2-3 lbs of oranges. Refrigerate the oranges overnight if possible.
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Granulated Cane Sugar
  • ⅛ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1¾ C, or 13.6 oz can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 2 Tbs Orange Zest, 2 small oranges


  1. The night before making the sherbet, place the oranges and coconut milk in the refrigerator. Place the ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in the freezer.
  2. In a high speed blender (or a food processor), blend the orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and coconut milk until the sugar is dissolved. Strain into a large bowl. Add the orange zest. Stir.
  3. Refrigerate until mixture is 40F or less (I refrigerated mine overnight to reach appropriate temperature).
  4. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When finished, the sherbet will be like soft-serve (mine took 25 minutes).
  5. While the sherbet is processing, line a storage container with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
  6. Spoon the sherbet into the storage container making sure to redistribute the zest evenly as it tends to get stuck and clump up on the mixer attachment.
  7. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface of the Sherbet and freeze until desired consistency. I freeze mine overnight, but a softer serve consistency can be enjoyed in about three hours.
  8. Serve in a bowl or cone.
  9. Store for up to two weeks in the covered container in the freezer.

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Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Inspiration, Organic Herbs and Teas

by: Chef Mark Thompson

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I love books. A lot. Real books – printed books that I can hold, flip through and put on my bookshelves. Old school. No e-books for me. But if thats your thing, don’t let me stop you.

Culinary books are a great resource – for techniques, flavor combinations, ideas and inspiration. Oh, and recipes. There are tons of tomes out there, but these are my personal favorites when it comes to plant-based cooking.



The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based On the Culinary Wisdom of Leading American Chefs

by Karen Page

That’s one heck of a subtitle. But it’s true. This book has been indispensable to me. Hands down the book I use the most often. It was preceded by Culinary Artistry (I bought three copies, because friends kept ‘borrowing’!), then an updated and expanded version was released, The Flavor Bible. This vegetarian version came out in 2014. The bulk of the book is dedicated to ingredient matches and affinities. Want to know what goes with mangoes? It’s there. Really want to know? Everything from almonds to yuzu. Classic and clever pairings garnered from the input of some of the best chefs in America. As well as methods of preparation, seasonality, flavor profiles, sample dish ideas, nutritional profile, botanical relatives and tips. Also, there is a fascinating timeline of vegetarian history, great quotes, information on eating plant-based, menus from top restaurants and more. Learn about it, and buy it here.



The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

by Michael Ruhlman

A New York Times bestseller, Ratio, like the Flavor Bible, is another book to help break beyond recipes and find a new freedom in cooking. Recipes, of course, are helpful, especially when starting out or experimenting with new cuisines. However, knowing a basic ratio makes cooking easier and more intuitive. For example, a classic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Where you go from there is completely up to you (and half the fun!). Oil? The standard is olive. But what about avocado or hazelnut or sesame? Instead of the traditional white wine vinegar, try sherry, raspberry or balsamic. Or go crazy and use lemon juice! It’s your world now. Add in some salt and pepper, it’s that easy. Other common additions would be shallots, dijon mustard and herbs. Just the beginning… There are 32 other ratios with countless variations. While not a vegetarian book, it is incredibly helpful nonetheless.

This book is also available as an app. Which, even given my affinity for books, I will admit is pretty handy. Ruhlman also has a very informative blog, as well as many other great books. I like them all, including the ones having nothing at all to do with cooking. Such as The Elements of Cooking, Ruhlman’s Twenty, The Making of a Chef, House, Walking on Water and Wooden Boats. You can find it all here.


How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food

by Mark Bittman

I’ve liked Mark Bittman for some time now. Up until recently he was a columnist with the New York Times, but has since left to work with a vegan startup. He is also an outspoken commentator on our broken food system appearing often on news programs, in documentaries and writing other books like Food Matters. His column, The Minimalist, was known for straightforward, simple recipes. This volume, one of a series, carries on that theme. This is a more traditional cookbook, but a massive one. And while there are over 2,000 recipes, there are also variations and substitutions and techniques to help facilitate spontaneous and seasonal cooking. The recipes run the gamut of soups, salads, breads, desserts, grains and way more. My personal favorite is the section on spices, condiments and sauces. It’s a great way to build up your pantry with natural, homemade goodness, without all the chemicals and superfluous ingredients found in mass market convenience products. With this book, you can make your own pesto, ketchup, eggless mayo, mustard, vegan fish sauce, barbeque sauce and mix your own curry powder, chili powder, garam masala and tons more.

This book is also available as an app, which makes a convenient, searchable, portable companion. Other books I like by Bittman include the aforementioned Food Matters, as well as VB6 and Kitchen Express (not entirely plant-based, but easily customizable). For more information, visit his website here.




Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine

by Tal Ronnen with Scot Jones and Serafina Magnussen

Just know this – Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney and Jay-Z are all fans of Ronnen. So, you don’t really need me to tell you. But I will anyway. This is vegan food taken to the highest level. Primarily Mediterranean, it is beautiful just to peruse, but there is plenty here that you could make at home. The first thing I did was make his simple, but tasty Walnut Parmesan. Some very interesting flavors and a section on basics, with recipes for almond Greek yogurt, cashew cream, vegetable stocks and a demi-glace that is next up on my hit list. He also has another book, The Conscious Cook, which is also worth checking out.


Dirt Candy: A Cookbook

Flavor-forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant

by Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey with Grady Hendrix

My new favorite cookbook. Funny, clever and filled with great recipes, ideas and techniques. Written in graphic novel form, it is part memoir, a history of her NY restaurant, and a cookbook all in one. Learn the trials of opening a restaurant and how to make Smoked Corn Dumplings or Huitlacoche Cream. What I like most is ideas for components to reinforce and add extra layers of flavor. For example, her recipe for Roasted Carrot Buns also includes a carrot & cucumber salad, carrot hoisin and a carrot halvah garnish to really bring out the carrot flavor in different ways and textures.


The Accidental Vegetarian

Delicious Food Without Meat

By Simon Rimmer

The chef at the Greens, in Manchester, England, Simon Rimmer has put together this tasty collection of dishes that could please anyone, omnivores included. Pulling inspiration from around the globe, there are dishes with Thai, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Italian influences. Most of the dishes are simple enough even for a weeknight, but there are plenty to impress at your next dinner party as well. Samples include Leek & Potato Rosti, Phyllo Strudel with Port and Eggplant Tikka Masala.



The Omnivore’s Dilemma

A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

Basically an exposé of what it takes to get food on your plate. An attempt to answer the question, “What should we eat?” Delves into the benefits and problems with organic production, fast food, the meat industry, and foraging. A fascinating look into a broken system. The book earned Pollan a James Beard Award. There is also a young readers version available. Also great is In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and I also enjoyed Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.


The China Study

Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health

by T. Colin Campbell, PHD and Thomas M. Campbell, MD

An eye-opening look at the effect our diet has on every facet of our health. The book is based on the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. The main focus is the correlation between animal protein consumption and chronic illnesses. It can be a bit tedious, but the information is incredible. The study is featured in the film Forks Over Knives.



600 Recipes, 1500 Photographs, One Kitchen Education

by James Peterson

Somehow this guy seems to know everything about cooking. I mean, he did teach for seventeen years and write the advanced curriculum for The French Culinary Institute. So there’s that. He also has a degree in chemistry. He’s also written over a dozen books. This is the culmination of all of them, in one convenient package. It won a James Beard Award, as have several of his others. This is not all plant-based cooking, this is all cooking. So if you would be offended at pictures on trussing a veal roast, skip it. If you want to learn how to make concassée, Borscht, grill zucchini, and find out what the heck herbs de Provence is, then this is the book for you.


Cooking, Healthy activities, Healthy Food

adapted from The Minimalist Baker

Granola is great to have ready to go in the kitchen. It’s great by itself, on ice cream, yogurt, mixed with your favorite cereal, take some on a hike or for a work snack – really the possibilities are limitless. You can also make it seasonal, based on what you have in the kitchen already or just based on the flavors you like. We made this one into an autumn-y blend, just for fun! Feel free to adapt as you would like. We used almonds and walnuts as our nut blend, but peanuts or cashews work just as well. It’s best to use the raw versions, if they are already roasted they will burn in the oven. The chia seeds, flax meal (or flax seeds), cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato puree are all things we had already and wanted to use. Other good ingredient options are coconut, raisins, craisins, or any kind of dried fruit, be it mango, pineapple, banana, or apple. Follow your heart!


  • sweet potato puree – ½ cup, which is less than one sweet potato
  • oats – 3 cups
  • almonds & walnuts – 1.5 cups, chopped coarsely
  • chia seeds – 2 tbsp
  • flax meal – 2 tbsp
  • coconut sugar (can also use white or cane sugar) – 3 tbsp
  • kosher salt (or sea salt) – ¼ tbsp
  • cinnamon – ½ tbsp
  • nutmeg – ¼ tsp
  • coconut oil – ¼ cup, melted (we used unrefined, it has less coconut flavor)
  • maple syrup – 1/3 cup (agave works also, but doesn’t have that yummy maple flavor!)
  • zante currants – ¼ cup


To make the sweet potato puree: Bake a whole sweet potato at 375 degrees until tender. Let cool, scoop out flesh, and puree in your blender. Any extra can of course be eaten!

For granola: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients except currants (or any dried fruit & raisins) – nuts, seeds, oats, salt, spices, sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the sweet potato puree, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Combine into one bowl, and mix them together thoroughly. Spread the mixture into an even single layer on two baking sheets. Cook for 10 minutes, then rotate and switch shelves, also add currants or dried fruit on top at this point. Back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes. Check frequently to make sure it’s not burning – it should be toasted and dried out, but not burnt. When finished, remove from oven and let cool until room temperature, then transfer to your desired container. This will last at least a week at room temp, or you can freeze some to last longer, up to six months.

Mixing everything together ensures consistency in flavor.

Mixing everything together ensures consistency in flavor.


Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Now, some crunchy granola to add some energy to your day!

Now, some crunchy granola to add some energy to your day!

Organic Urban Gardening In Orlando, Florida

Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Uncategorized

On this blog, The Dandelion Community is sharing stories from urban organic farmers to help those who want to add fresh vegetables to their daily meals at home, and those who are thinking about going even bigger by contributing to local restaurants, co-ops, and famers’ markets.


Photo Caption: Mint growing in soil at Southern Urban Gardens. They trim often to ensure continuous growth throughout the year.

The biggest challenges associated with organic urban gardening include finding space to grow enough food to feed a family. Much like gardeners all over the world, they must also find a way to cope with local environmental conditions such as weather and access to clean water and soil.


Photo Caption: Constantly developing seedlings is necessary to support the growth needed to grow daily vegetables for meals.

Here is a story of Ralph Holweck and Gail Tyree from Southern Urban Gardens in Orlando, Florida. They have been organic gardening seriously for several years and have found solutions for overcoming the challenges of space, heat, water, and soil, so they can produce vegetables for their own table and grow enough extra vegetables to supply two local co-ops.


Photo Caption: Organic aeroponic “Tower Garden” used by Southern Urban Gardens supports their family and two local co-ops with leafy vegetables throughout the year.

Gail and Ralph currently combine an aeroponic growing system and soil-based gardening to get the best results. Ralph and Gail spent a lot of time researching the best methods of urban gardening and started out slowly so they would not get overwhelmed and quit. They continue to find better ways to get more vegetables within the small space of their backyard.


Photo Caption: Ralph and Gail found suitable organic seeds to grow healthy and great tasting bell peppers in their tower garden.

They made a decision to use their tower garden for the steady production of leafy vegetables as it reduces the amount of space needed and is easy enough to manage without needing a greenhouse. Finding the right varieties of vegetables that will grow in the heat and tower garden is a challenge. However, Gail and Ralph learned that urban gardening is a lot like the rest of life. You have good days with wonderful leafy vegetables for a daily salad. Then, there are bad days in which the heat is too much for the seedlings they choose to plant that week. Or, to know how to have enough seedlings growing constantly so you will enjoy vegetables daily.

Yet, Ralph and Gail seem to thrive on these little challenges and find ways to make it work. They both agree that there is nothing better than having organic vegetables to set upon their table day in and day out.

To accommodate the heat in Orlando, Gail and Ralph have added a reflective gardening shade cloth over the towers. They found that it is worth the extra money, in comparison, to the performance of typical gardening shade covers.


Photo Caption: Gail and Ralph invested in reflective gardening shades in order to be able to grow veggies throughout the summer.

Gail and Ralph put a lot of effort towards developing the right soil mixture to grow additional plants that are not suited for the tower gardens. Due to the unusual heat throughout October of this year, Southern Urban Gardens has just started to plant additional vegetables in the soil area of the garden. This area in their yard is finally seeing the cooler nights that are the right temperature for growing in soil. They are looking forward to digging in the soil and seeing what varieties of vegetables successfully grow this year, as compared to last year.

Photo caption for the two images below: Gail loves nothing better than walking out in the soil section of their garden, in the morning, to find the red cranberry hibiscus in full bloom. Days like this make the work seem more like a labor of love.urbanlr5urbanlr7

Ralph and Gail of Southern Urban Gardens are more than willing to share their stories of urban farming and show you how you can benefit by using a mix of aeroponic systems and soil gardening to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables almost every day of the year.  Southern Urban Gardens sell the “Tower Garden” (by Juice Plus) systems.  We (**or Dandelion**) purchased a system from them and Ralph and Gail were extremely helpful in educating and helping us get setup to have a running start.   If you’re interested in organic hydroponic gardening, contact Southern Urban Gardens through Ralph at, or call at (407) 247-3843.


Cooking, Healthy Food


serves 6-8

Mark made this dish for us in Colorado after another day of hiking. This is a beautiful fall weather dish! (Even if you’re in Florida and it’s not cold!)


  • 1 lb box whole wheat pasta
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • dash red chili flakes
  • dash of sage
  • nutmeg to taste if desired
  • salt & pepper to taste


Place 2/3 of the cubed squash into a medium/large pot, cover with water, and lightly salt. Boil until tender enough to puree.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, simmer chopped onions, 3 tbsp EVOO, salt, bay leaf, 2 pinches of rosemary, red chili flakes, and black pepper. Sweat until onions are translucent.

While these are cooking, toss remaining 1/3 of cubed squash in 2 tbsp EVOO, salt, pepper, and remaining rosemary, then place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook in 400 degree oven until browned, flipping once.

When the pot of squash is done boiling, drain, then cook for a few more minutes on low heat to evaporate excess water, then transfer to the blender. Puree until smooth, set aside.

Start cooking pasta al dente.

In the pan of onion blend, add flour and whisk thoroughly until moisture is soaked up. Let this cook for a few minutes until light brown. Whisk in almond milk. Bring to a strong simmer, stirring often, until it thickens. Careful not to burn! Once it thickens, add pinch more salt, a dash of sage, and the pureed squash, mix, then take off the heat. If desired, add nutmeg to taste. This should be the consistency of an alfredo sauce.

Put sauce, roasted squash cubes, and drained pasta into a mixing bowl, then stir until coated. Put into oiled baking dish, top with cheese (vegan or dairy). Cover with foil, bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover, cook for additional 10 minutes. Then switch to broil to brown the cheese for approximately 3 minutes.

This pairs well with a nice light salad and a fireplace!

For more wholesome recipes visit:

Tuscan Bean Soup

Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food


Serves 4-6 hearty bowls

While we were in Colorado, we went on a truly gorgeous hike to Emerald Lake in the Rockies. It was an all day excursion, and while we did bring snacks, we were ready for a hearty dinner when we got back home. Mark whipped us up this ridiculously good stew, and it really hit the spot.


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • rosemary, to taste
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • salt, to taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans cannelini beans, drained
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • crushed red pepper, to taste


Lightly simmer EVOO, salt, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, and rosemary until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Then add garlic, crushed red pepper, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir. Mix in veg broth, then kale, stir. Bring to a full boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add more veg broth if desired. Simmer at least until kale is tender, but the longer it simmers, the more the flavors come out.

Serve with some crusty bread, and enjoy!

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