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Chef Wendell: Don’t panic because you can’t afford organic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -The most frequent complaint I receive about cooking, preparing and eating organic produce is ‘A’: “It’s too expensive” or ‘B’: “I end up throwing most of it out because it goes bad before I can use it up. Why should I bother?”

Ask yourself this: What is the price of good health, happiness and lowered insurance premiums?

First of all, to extend shelf-life be sure your refrigerator runs within a 33 and 40 ° window. At home, Sandi and I keep a plastic ‘Veggie bucket’ in the refrigerator for accumulating half used produce parts, ends, and butts that are still quite usable and nutritious, but not so attractive. Americans demand perfection. May I suggest when the veggie bucket gets half-full or full, make a batch of soup, a smoothie, or plan a stir-fry for supper. Those of you who assemble rather than cook from scratch, must developed what I call “refrigerator awareness”. Poke around and know your inventory. When something starts to go south, eat or cook with it before it does.

To solve the waste issue, grocery freezers have IQF bags of frozen organic vegetables. (IQF: Individually Quick Frozen). When you keep everything conveniently frozen, there’s no waste. All you need to do is turn around, open the freezer door, pull out a bag-o-veggies, take only what you need, then promptly return the organic garden gems to the freezer. Make sense?Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, black and green olives in fresh tomato sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pound diced Roma tomatoes

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 pound total: broccoli and cauliflower florets and baby carrots

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Kalamata olives, pitted and cut into rings

Green olives, pitted and cut into rings

Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. Parmesan for garnish

¼ cup fresh basil leaves for garnish

• Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook briefly, stirring constantly.

• Pour in the tomatoes with their juices and simmer several minutes.

• Place the broccoli on top of the tomatoes and season with a little salt and pepper.

• Cover, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

• Don’t overcook veggies.

• Toss in the olives and gently toss.

• Place into a serving dish and garnish with basil and parmesan before serving.