Simple, healthy, high in protein and fiber, low carb (dressing recipe here)
When you raise your own meat, your attitude towards buying it naturally changes. It's harder to justify spending money on chicken or pork if you already have several hundred pounds of grass fed lamb and black Angus beef sitting in your freezers. And then there's the wild venison our hunter friends supply us with each year, too. Buying somebody else's meat has become a special treat.
Since lamb chops and sirloin steaks are everyday fare for us (you'll find links to my favorite lamb recipes here), roasting one of the ten big pastured chickens we order and pick up at the farm each year always turns dinner into a celebration. Splurging on Volpi Red Wine Italian Salami during trips to St. Louis when we already have 40 or 50 frozen packages of our own custom made beef bolonga, salami, and pepperoni waiting to be eaten at home is an infrequent guilty pleasure. Grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut night is a big deal around here, and we get very excited over chicken salad sandwiches.
So when Coleman Natural Foods offered me a couple of free packages of their Hans All Natural chicken sausages—which contain no antibiotics, added hormones, preservatives, nitrates, nitrites, or MSG—I naturally said yes. I also started poking around their website, and learned that this company, which has been around since 1875, is doing some really great things.
From their website:
Coleman offers a complete line of natural and organic pork, chicken, lamb, and prepared foods made with our pioneering protocols: raised with no antibiotics, no added hormones or preservatives EVER, and always 100% vegetarian fed.
We work exclusively with small family farms throughout the country that share this conviction to provide American families with premium natural and organic meat, poultry, and prepared foods.
We allow our animals to grow at their natural pace, with open air access in a comfortable, reduced-stress environment. Coleman's passion for natural and organic extends to the ecosystem, focusing on sustainable land, water, and soil conservation for future generations.
You can read more about Coleman Natural, including where and how their chickens are raised, on their Frequently Asked Questions page. They also offer several all natural lunch foods for schools, including hamburgers, uncured beef hot dogs, breaded chicken breast nuggets, and deli sliced oven roasted turkey breast. You'll find ideas and help on how you can get natural foods into your child's lunchroom here and here. Schools currently serving Coleman Natural are listed here.
I wasn't thrilled to learn that their chickens are fed a diet of corn and soy, as I don't think these are the best choices—for either the animals, the consumers, or the environment—especially since nearly all non-organic corn (85%) and soy (91%) grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified (GMO). Many people, including myself, believe GMO foods to be unhealthy and very dangerous, and they also threaten and ruin organically grown corn and soy.
Unfortunately, feed options for farmers in this country are currently very limited. (Certified organic meat comes animals who have not been fed any GMOs.) It's obvious, though, that all Coleman Natural animals are raised in a sustainable, healthy manner that is far better than that of giant factory farms, where conditions are are often horrid and inhumane.
When I picked out chicken sausages with roasted artichokes and black olives, I was thinking about tossing them in pasta with some marinated artichoke hearts, black olives, and freshly grated Pecorino Romano. I decided I should taste a sausage first before launching into my recipe, so I sliced one up, browned the slices in a pan (they're already fully cooked), and laid them over an impromptu salad of arugula, volunteer cherry tomatoes from the garden (my only tomatoes this year!), olives, Romano, and some of my quick and easy, relatively lowfat homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.
And for the next three nights, I ate each of the other sausages the same way.
I did share the package of organic chicken bratwurst with Joe, which he grilled. Neither of us cared for the overpowering spice flavor—I think from the cardomom—but I'm sure some people love it. Coleman's Hans All Natural Chicken Sausages are available exclusively at Whole Foods. Other Coleman products can be found at Costco, Trader Joe's, and many other stores.
Chicken Sausage Salad for Dinner
Serves 1 or more
The fourth time I made this quick and healthy salad I used fresh organic baby spinach, and it was really good. A combination of arugula and spinach would be nice. One night I added a handful of canned organic garbanzo beans (a bargain pantry staple I purchase by the case) for extra flavor, fiber, and protein.
There are plenty of other things you could put in this salad, such as chunks of sweet red pepper (one of my favorites to grow and eat is Aconcagua), some shredded carrot and purple cabbage, or a few sliced radishes. I would have tossed in a few chopped marinated artichoke hearts if I'd had some.
1 or 2 fully cooked chicken sausages, such as Hans All Natural Roasted Artichokes and Olives, per person
Fresh organic arugula or baby spinach (or your favorite salad greens)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Black olives (I love Lindsay Naturals black and green California olives)
Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed if canned
Marinated artichoke hearts, if desired
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Heat a drizzle of olive oil frying pan over medium heat. Slice the sausage and add it to the pan. Cook until browned and sizzling, then turn the slices over and brown the other sides.
Meanwhile, combine the other ingredients in your favorite salad bowl, top with the warm sausage slices, and dig in.
What else do I like to do with arugula?
Arugula Pesto (and Arugula Pesto Pizza)
Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula (I love this stuff!)
Arugula salad recipes from other bloggers you might enjoy:
Simple Arugula Salad from A Veggie Venture
Arugula and Grated Apple Salad with Gorgonzola from 80 Breakfasts
Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese from Simply Recipes
Baby Arugula Chopped Salad with Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and Tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen
Arugula Chickpea Salad with Feta and Balsamic-Tahini Vinaigrette from Kalyn's Kitchen
Warm Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad from the Kitchn