Treasures at the Farmer’s Market!
Have you ever tried garlic scapes? I saw them at our local farmer’s market this week and they look similar to the leaves of green onions and chives, but they are curved. They are the plant that grows out of the garlic bulb. Scapes have a fresh, mildly garlicky flavor and crisp texture. Once chopped, which is much easier than peeling and chopping the individual pieces of the garlic bulb, they can be added to salads raw, blended into a pesto or cooked with a stir fry or soup and can top any cooked whole grain. Current research supports garlic’s role in improving immune function and also cancer and heart disease prevention. They are a source for Vitamin C, iron and calcium .
While looking at the farmer’s market this week you will find strawberries too! Strawberries are high in fiber, Vitamin C and phytochemicals! Add them to your fruit salads, green salads, yogurt parfaits and eat them as a snack without the chocolate dip..sometimes!:)
Cabbage is Cool
Cabbage is a vegetable used in March for the familiar ‘Corned Beef and Cabbage” meal for St. Patrick’s Day, but why not use it more often and without the meat? Cabbage is high in Vitamin K, Vitamin C and low in calories and carbohydrate. For 1 cup chopped it is only 22 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate! It also has 2 grams of fiber and almost 3 grams of protein! It can be added as one of the vegetables in stir-fries, soups, and salads. One of my favorite ways to eat cabbage is cooked with tomato sauce over the top! It can be cut into wedges and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes with 2 Tbsp of olive or canola oil or vegetable broth drizzled on top for less fat, add some pepper and a teaspoon of fennel seed. It could also be microwaved: cut it into wedges, add 2 Tbsp water or broth, the spices and microwave on high 6-13 minutes.
Try “New” Produce Foods
I thought I would pick a fruit or vegetable for you to try each month this year. In my nutrition counseling practice, I hear about patients using the same fruits and vegetables over and over and not trying different ones. They all give us different nutrition, helps add more plant foods into the diet for wellness and disease prevention and it keeps us from getting menu boredom!
Try Brussels Sprouts this month. They are part of the cabbage family and look like mini cabbages! They are considered cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and are a good source of fiber, potassium and an excellent source of vitamin C, K and folate. These vegetables may help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A simple way to fix them is to sauté in a pan with vegetable broth and any spices you like. My daughter and I used fresh ground pepper and garlic powder. Simmer until tender about 10 minutes. Eat them as a side dish or I added them into my pasta with marinara sauce….they look like meat balls (not the same color, but the shape is the same)! They are also good roasted in the oven with a tablespoon each of olive oil and pure maple syrup drizzled on top. Roast about 30-40 minutes until crisp and browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
Enjoy and I hope you are inspired throughout this year to try new fruits and veggies and not be stuck in the common monotonous choices of corn, peas, and green beans!
Have you tried kale yet?
It is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and a good source of calcium and potassium. The calcium absorbs better than from some other higher calcium green leafy vegetables because kale is low in oxalate which can inhibit the absorption of calcium. It is a non-starchy vegetable so it is very low in carbohydrate which makes it also lower in calories. The fiber helps keep you full longer which is good for everyone, especially those trying to lose weight.
Kale chips are a popular way to eat kale and they are delicious. However, there are many other ways to add it into your daily meals. Try it in smoothies, add chopped kale the last 5 minutes your pasta is cooking to eat mixed with your pasta dish, add to stir-fries, and add chopped fresh or frozen kale to vegetable or bean soups.
Try some this week!
They smell amazing in your kitchen while you’re cooking, but like fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices contain healthy, disease preventing phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that help protect the plant from disease. We also benefit from disease prevention when we eat plant foods! Use some of these holiday spices in your cooking this season and year round for health benefits!
Allspice-A versatile spice and can be used with meats, veggies and sweets. It pairs well with apples, beets, cabbage and game meats.
Anise- A distinct flavor of licorice. Use in baked goods and fruit preserves and savory dishes like soups and stews. Pairs well with fish, game, pork, peaches, pumpkin, seafood, root veggies and tea.
Cinnamon- One of the most popular holiday spice. It is used to enhance fruit flavor and also bring out the natural sweetness in foods so less sugar can be used. It pairs well with fruit, coffee, grains, meats, squash, yams, pumpkins and more.
Cloves- Used in baked goods like cookies, cake and pie. Pairs well with apples, carrots, peaches pineapple, pumpkin and root vegetables.
Ginger- Used in gingerbread, gingersnaps, fruit pies, savory and Asian dishes. Pairs well with peaches, pears, poultry, pumpkin, root veggies, seafood and tea. It enhances the flavor in salt-free seasonings.
Nutmeg- Mostly used in baking, but can be used in savory dishes like soups, stews and meats. Nutmeg is commonly added to egg nog (try a lower-fat version).
Sage- Used to flavor poultry, soups, stews, rice, bread and more. It pairs well with apples, beans, cheese, seafood and tomatoes.
Try sprinkling cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves on yogurt and apples! Delicious and reap the health benefits!