by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 2, 2017
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, May 13, 2017
With their luscious, velvety texture and sweet-tart flavor, fresh apricots are one of the highlights of summer. But unless you’re lucky enough to live near a local grower, you may never have tasted one that’s truly worth biting into. That’s because, like peaches and plums, these tender little fruits are best when allowed to ripen on the tree. One of the first of the stone fruits to arrive at markets, apricots are only available for two short months, beginning in late May and extending through mid-July. There are about a dozen common varieties, produced primarily in California, but they are also grown on a small scale in many other regions of the country. Any fruit you see during the winter months have been imported from either South America or New Zealand.
Apricots are rich in carotenoids and xanthophylls, nutrients that researchers believe may help protect eyesight from aging-related damage. They are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. When dried, they lose some of their vitamin C, but become a concentrated source of iron–a particular boon to those who follow a vegetarian diet. Read more
by Natalie Rizzo in Farmers' Market Finds, May 11, 2017
With its spiky tips and armadillo-like scales, the artichoke has been known to repel many a timid eater. If you can get past their formidable appearance, though, artichokes are a delight — mild in flavor, and even fun to eat. What’s not to like about a vegetable that can be eaten with your hands, and is a vehicle for melted butter?
Grown primarily in California, artichokes are actually unopened flowers from the thistle family. Though there are over 50 varieties, the most common is the Green Globe, an Italian type with a bright green hue. The choke — or thistle — is inedible, as are the tough outer leaves and prickly tips. The heart, which is really the base of the artichoke, is considered the tastiest part. Though they are harvested year-round, artichokes are at their peak in spring, from March through May. Read more
by Serena Ball in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 27, 2017
One of the best things about the arrival of spring is the re-emergence of farmers markets. Who doesn’t love a good weekend stroll through rows of locally grown produce? But although the produce is fresh and beautiful, it can also be quite expensive. Instead of dropping $10 on two apples and a carton of berries, use these dietitian-approved money saving tips to spare your wallet during your next trip to the farmers market.
1. Get to know your farmer.
Farmers are people too! Because they spend all day standing around in what can be rough climates, they like to break up the day and have a conversation about the produce. “Farmers are passionate about their work and they’ll appreciate when you are too,” says Christy Brissette, MSc, RD of 80 Twenty Nutrition. She adds that striking up a conversation with a local farmer will not only provide insight into the origins of your food, but you may also find some extra veggies added to your bag. Plus, you’ll have made a knowledgeable friend, who can help you navigate the ins and outs of the market. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 11, 2017
One of the few truly seasonal foods, rhubarb is available now through the summer. Long red and green stalks of rhubarb are often used as a fruit – think pie, jam, and sweet-tart sauces – but it is actually a vegetable.
Perennial rhubarb plants must be subjected to a hard freeze in order to grow and flourish in the spring. Hearty Midwestern and Northern gardeners are rewarded for making it through the winter when rhubarb is one of the first plants – along with asparagus – to emerge from their gardens. Read more
by Alexandra Caspero in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 31, 2017
The arrival of asparagus at farmer’s markets makes it official: spring has finally sprung. Thick or thin, green, white, or even purple, asparagus reins supreme for a few short months — beginning in March or April, and ending sometime in early June. It’s said that this member of the lily family was the favorite vegetable of Thomas Jefferson. King Louis XIV of France was another fan, referring to it as the “king of vegetables.” Today, it retains its hoity-toity reputation, with chefs devising entire tasting menus to showcase its bright, springy flavor. For home chefs, asparagus can lend a sophisticated feel to an ordinary weeknight dinner, not to mention an Easter feast.
Closely related to garlic, onions, and leeks, asparagus is high in fiber, and a good source of iron, vitamin C and folate.
While thickness is a matter of taste, there’s no arguing about freshness. Choose stalks that are bright in color and firm, with tightly closed tips. Avoid any spears that are bent, or have open flowers. Wrap the ends of a bunch of asparagus in a wet paper towel, place in the crisper drawer and store up to three days. For best results, though, cook asparagus the same day you purchase it. In addition to tasting better, fresher asparagus will also retain more Vitamin C. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 16, 2017
Seeing the first glimpse of spring vegetables make their appearance at the farmer’s market this month is a welcome change from winter’s hearty abundance. While the usual suspects — bright pink radishes, tender asparagus spears, and bright green snap peas — are there, you’ll also find more unexpected options like fiddleheads, ramps, morels and more. While these vegetables aren’t as common, don’t be intimidated! Familiarize yourself with each of these unique spring market finds and ways you can use each in a fresh and flavorful spring recipe.
Fiddlehead ferns are the coiled tips of a young fern; deriving their name from the resemblance to the decorative end of a fiddle. This unique vegetable has a grassy, slight nutty flavor that’s similar to asparagus. Try them lightly steamed or boiled, then finished with olive oil and lemon for a quick side dish. They can also be swapped into almost any cooked recipe that features asparagus or haricot verts.
Let fiddleheads take center stage by replacing them for the asparagus in this Healthy Roast Asparagus with Creamy Almond Vinaigrette. Read more
by Serena Ball in Healthy Tips, In Season, March 9, 2017
Grown throughout the world, radishes come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the large, white daikon to the ping-pong ball sized red globe radish. They range in flavor too, from slightly peppery to seriously pungent. What they have in common is a satisfyingly crunchy texture and an ability to add fresh flavor to all sorts of dishes. Though they are in season all year long, they are at their peak from spring to summer. Look for them at local farmer’s markets, where you are likely to find varieties like the whimsically named French breakfast radish, an elongated red-skinned radish with a white tip and a mild flavor, striking black radishes that pack a seriously spicy punch, and gorgeous pale green watermelon radishes that reveal a hot pink interior once sliced.
Radishes belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and like cousins broccoli and cabbage, offer up a wealth of nutrition. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals called indoles, which have a detoxifying effect on the body. What’s more: radishes have only 20 calories in an entire cup.
Choose radishes that are firm and free of cracks or brown spots. Before refrigerating them, snip off the greens and place the red bulbs in a plastic bag. If the greens are still crisp and not beginning to wilt, rinse them and refrigerate them separately. Plan on using the leaves within a day or so, as they won’t stay fresh for long. The radish bulbs can be stored up to two weeks. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017
Little flecks of green parsley make plates look pretty, but antioxidant-rich herbs are more than just a garnish. Using handfuls of herbs instead of pinches can pack more nutrition onto your plate. Basil contains the antioxidant beta-carotene and may decrease the immune response to allergens. Mint has phenolic compounds with strong antioxidant activity, along with vitamin A, folate and potassium.
Here are easy ways to use big bunches of basil, mint, parsley, arugula and other herbs as healthy leafy greens.
Make classic herb sauces from around the globe
Pureeing fistfuls of parsley, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil is the basic recipe for the classic Argentinian steak sauce chimichurri; try it on our Dry-Rubbed Flank Steak. An Indian chatni or chutney contains similar ingredients with the addition of fresh mint like in Curry Rubbed Swordfish Steaks with Fresh Green Herb Chutney. Italian Blanched Basil Pesto includes bunches of basil along with parsley, olive oil and cheese. Liberally drizzle any or all of these zesty green sauces over eggs, vegetables, or whole grains.
Slice and dice up spicy salsas
The addition of tomatoes, mangos or avocados to the classic herb sauce makes for a colorful salsa. Cilantro combines with garlic, avocado and tomatillos in our recipe for Avocado Salsa Verde. When making pureed-style salsas, add another couple handful of herbs for extra nutrition, and to use up bits of herbs that may otherwise become food waste. Even a chunk-style Mango Salsa is delicious when the amount of fresh herbs is doubled. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 3, 2017
With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.
Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.
When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more
Long popular in Italy and Spain, these ruby-hued oranges are now being cultivated in Texas and California. Available from December to April, blood oranges are often both sweeter and less tart than other types of oranges, with a pleasantly bitter edge. Some people say they can even detect a hint of raspberry flavor.
Blood Orange Facts:
Harvesting blood oranges in the winter, when they are at the peak of ripeness, ensures that they are highest in anthocyanins, the compound that gives them their vivid blood-red color. Anthocyanins are thought to help stave off heart disease and cancer, as well protect eye health. Blood oranges are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin C.
Choose firm oranges that are heavy for their size and store for a week at room temperature, or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Read more