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A True Farm-to-Table Plant-Based Culinary Experience

Flatbread. Arizona Winter Roots. Green Pesto. Edible Flowers.

by Melanie Albert

Winter is an incredible growing season for our local Arizona farmers. Our farmers and farmers’ markets work so passionately to bring fresh, beautiful food to our community. And it’s a great time to enjoy an afternoon of mindfully cooking with family and friends. This season, enjoy the experience of shopping for, creating and eating a beautiful Arizona Winter Flatbread with local roots, greens, herbs and edible flowers. 
Be inspired by the beauty and bounty of our local farmers’ winter produce.

Five Steps to Cook Mindfully and Intuitively with Local Arizona Farmers’ Produce

1. Visit a farmers’ market or even a farm. Throughout Arizona and the Valley of the Sun, we are so fortunate with so many incredible local Arizona farms and farmers’ markets. This season, visit a few farmers’ markets and farm stores and get to know your farmers and what they are growing. A week before you decide to prepare the Arizona Winter Flatbread, visit a farmers’ market to explore what's growing to be ready to cook your flatbread.

2. Get into a shopping mindset. When shopping at your favorite farmers’ market or farm, think about what you will be cooking. For the flatbread meal, which roots would you like to roast, what greens and herbs are you attracted to for your green pesto, and which edible flowers will complement the deep-roasted roots and add a pop of color to your dish? Use your vision of the dish as a shopping guide.

3. Shop intuitively. When you’re shopping, notice the different colors, shapes and textures of the roots and greens, plus the aroma of fresh herbs. Be mindful. Pause. Intuitively choose the produce, herbs and edible flowers you get most excited about. Remember, what grows together, goes together. So have fun being creative with the food you’ll be cooking.

4. Cook mindfully. When it’s time to cook, clear your space. Clear your day. Focus on the cooking experience. Again, pause and enjoy the beauty of our local farmers’ produce. Stay organized when you cook. Gather your mise en place, that is, get everything into place—all your ingredients and cooking tools—before you start cooking.

When you prepare the flatbread, focus on one component (part of the recipe) at a time. First, make your dough, as it will take a few hours to rise. Next, prepare the Hemp Seed Cream. Then, the Winter Green Pesto. After that, roast the roots. Finally, bake the flatbread. While you are cooking, taste and even smell each ingredient. Be sure to taste the different components of the flatbread, especially the Hemp Seed Cream and Winter Green Pesto. Intuitively adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

5. Enjoy your meal. Take time to really enjoy your beautifully created meal with your family, friends or even yourself. Offer gratitude to our Earth, the farmers, and yourself for creating your beautiful meal. Set your table with your favorite dishes, napkins and flowers. And totally enjoy the experience of the beauty and all the flavors of the food. Enjoy and savor every bite.

Soil & Seed Garden at The Farm at South Mountain, Phoenix.

Arizona Winter Farm-to-Table Plant-Based Flatbread

This Arizona Winter Flatbread highlights local roots and greens our local farmers are growing so beautifully this season.

For this intuitively created flatbread, I met with Billy Anthony, lead grower at the Soil & Seed Garden at The Farm at South Mountain and owner of Tropizona Urban Farm. Together we walked the Soil & Seed Garden to see firsthand what’s growing this winter season.

I was especially excited about the variety of beautifully colored roots for the flatbread: baby tropical black carrots, baby cylindra beets, purple daikon radish, French breakfast radishes, and scarlet queen turnips. The fresh green pesto for the flatbread was inspired by shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), a sweet floral green, typically cooked in Asian cuisine; hon tsai tai, a beautiful Asian leafy green with purple veins; native moringa; and fresh purple sage for depth of flavor.

Flatbread made with the ancient grain spelt is an excellent option to traditional wheat-based bread for many people who are sensitive to gluten. For those who have celiac disease, spelt should be totally avoided. The Hemp Seed Cream is a simple, quick raw nut cream that works well as a cheesy taste on the flatbread. Finally, the beautiful, colorful edible flowers bring life to the dish.

�The beauty of the winter roots at the Soil & Seed Garden at �the Farm at South Mountain.
For your Arizona Winter Flatbread, intuitively choose a few farmers’ market roots (carrots, radishes, beets, turnips), fresh greens (chrysanthemum, kale), and herbs (sage, mint, tarragon). And have fun with your family and friends cooking and enjoying your beautiful flatbread.

Yields: 4 servings

Sprouted Spelt Flatbread

It’s a fun and very mindful experience to create your own flatbread with your family and friends and a lovely wintertime tradition. If you don’t have the time to make your own flatbread, no worries, buy a premade flatbread or pizza for the Arizona Winter Flatbread, and add the roasted roots, Hemp Seed Cream, Winter Green Pesto, and edible flowers to that base.

Simple Ingredients

¾ cup hot (112-115° F) water

1 Tbsp dry yeast

½ Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

2 cups organic sprouted spelt flour

½ tsp sea salt

Simple Steps

Make the Dough:

·       Add dry yeast, honey and olive oil into the ¾ cup of hot water. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve all ingredients. Set aside to activate for about 20 minutes. The liquid will foam when activated.

·       Place spelt flour and sea salt in a large bowl.

·       Make a well with your hand in the flour and add the water with yeast, honey and olive oil.

·       Mix to combine ingredients with a wooden spoon a few minutes, then gently knead with your hands another few minutes. Only knead for about 4-5 minutes total. Otherwise the flatbread will be tough. If the dough is sticky, add more flour. If it’s dry, add more water.

·       Form dough into a ball.

Dough Rises and Form the Flatbread:

·       Coat a large bowl with olive oil.

·       Place dough in bowl, cover with a towel, and rest for about 15 minutes. Any additional water in the dough will soak into the flour.

·       Split the dough in half. Place 2 balls of dough into a bowl coated with olive oil and cover for about 2 hours (to rise).

·       Once the dough has risen, place half of the dough onto a floured surface (I use parchment paper).

·       With your hands, form dough into desired size and shape.

·       Cover dough with another layer of parchment paper.

·       With a rolling pin, roll dough about ¼-inch thick, then make a small ridge around the edges to hold in sauce and ingredients.

Prep the Pizza Stone:

Once the dough is prepared and rolled out for the flatbread, it’s time to put it into the oven.

·       Place pizza stone in oven.

·       Preheat oven to 500° F.

·       Warm pizza stone in the oven for about 15 minutes.

·       Carefully remove pizza stone from the oven.


·       Carefully move the flatbread onto the preheated pizza stone.

·       Lightly top the flatbread with 1 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil. The oil will make the bread a little crisp and the topping ingredients will not soak into the bread.

·       Bake flatbread for 3 minutes.

·       Remove flatbread from the oven.

·       Spread Hemp Seed Cream onto the flatbread.

·       Top the flatbread with the roasted beets, carrots, radishes and turnips.

·       Bake for another 3-5 minutes, as needed.


Garnish and Enjoy!

·       Mindfully garnish the flatbread with the Winter Green Pesto, mint and edible flowers.

·       Enjoy your beautiful flatbread with your family and friends.

Arizona Winter Roasted Roots

Roasting is simple, and the cooking process caramelizes the veggies, keeping them crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. The flavor is always delicious, and roasting can be used in any season with any vegetables our farmers grow. Choose a few of your favorite Arizona winter roots (carrots, radishes, turnips, beets) to roast for your Arizona Winter Flatbread. Also enjoy roasted roots as a delicious side dish with quinoa or brown rice.

Simple Ingredients

3-4 rainbow carrots, such as baby tropical black carrots

1 large purple daikon radish

5-6 French breakfast radishes

2-3 beets, such as baby cylindra or red

2-3 turnips

2-3 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

Simple Steps

·       Preheat oven to 525° F.

·       Slice all veggies into equal-sized pieces.

·       One by one, place veggies into a small bowl.

·       Drizzle with olive oil.

·       Sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt.

·       Toss to coat all veggies.

·       Place veggies flat side down on parchment paper-lined flat sheet pan.

·       Cook for 15 minutes.

·       Flip.

·       Cook another 12-15 minutes.

·       Use roots as flatbread toppings.

Winter Green Pesto

Pesto is a quick, flavorful sauce to create with our local farmers’ fresh herbs and greens. This Winter Green Pesto, inspired by the floral shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), is perfect for adding a fresh taste to the flatbread. For the pesto, be creative and have fun experimenting with different leafy greens (all kinds of kale and shungiku), nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts) and herbs (sage, tarragon, mint).

Simple Ingredients

2 cups shungiku (chrysanthemum greens)

1 cup hon tsai tai (or other greens, such as kale)

1 Tbsp moringa leaves

3 purple sage leaves

¼ cup Arizona pecans

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest

3 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

Pinch sea salt

Simple Steps

·       Gather mise en place (get all ingredients organized).

·       Place chrysanthemum greens, hon tsai tai, moringa leaves, sage, pecans, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt into food processor.

·       Pulse 8-10 times, until desired level of chunkiness.

·       Stream in olive oil and pulse a few more times.

·       Enjoy as garnish for your flatbread.

Hemp Seed Cream

Nut creams are a great alternative to cheesy sauces for plant-based eaters and work well on flatbreads. Hemp seeds add an earthy, grassy flavor to the cream, complementing the earthiness of root veggies. Hemp seeds do not need to be presoaked, so this cream is quick and simple.

Simple Ingredients

1 cup raw hemp seeds

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

Pinch sea salt

¼ cup water, adjust for desired creaminess

Simple Steps

·       Pour all ingredients into a blender.

·       Blend to desired smoothness.


Melanie Albert, founder and CEO of Experience Nutrition Group LLC, in Phoenix, is the author of the award-winning cookbook A New View of Healthy Eating and plant-based recipe blog at, and offers plant-based farm-to-table culinary experiences, corporate wellness programs, team-building events, and retreats. Albert has step-by-step cooking photos of these recipes on her blog for those who are interested. Recipes and photos courtesy of Albert. For more information, visit



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