Written by Avance Care registered dietitian Christopher Thompson, MS, RDN, LDN
Savor the Seasons
The birds are chirping as we get our morning caffeine fix, car windows are rolled down on the way home from work, and you’re considering your favorite pair of shorts for Saturday lunch. The weather is turning and summer is upon us. But, what does this really mean? The best time of year for local seasonal eating is right around the corner!
Be a “Locavore”
Seasonal eating is something we’ve done as humans since the dawn of existence. We ate what was around before modern transportation and shipping enabled access to food from around the world to appear in our grocery stores. We ate locally. We ate the seasons. We were Locavores!
Back in the day, fresh strawberries were only available for a short summer window, so we moved on to peaches, and then apples as their respective seasons come around. Now, we have all our favorites year-round. However, there are huge benefits to taking advantage of our seasons and the produce readily available at local markets. What are they? Look no further.
More Nutrients and Variety
Did you know – fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients almost immediately after harvest? Meaning, frozen strawberries likely have more nutrients than fresh – especially in the middle of winter. Lengthy transit times from farm to grocery store to kitchen and eventually our tables can result in a loss of nutrients. Most foods we eat from the grocery store are at least one week old. Eating locally and seasonally will ensure you get the freshest produce packed with the most nutrients!
It’s Cheaper – Save Some $$$
Since produce is travelling a shorter distance, sometimes right down the street from smaller, local markets, shipping costs are kept down, which lowers the seller’s price and ultimately impacts our wallet. Also, think about supply and demand. If it’s in season, it’s in abundance. Farmers will be stocked and prices lower than normal. For example, North Carolina broccoli is in season April through May – look for prices to be down at farmers markets and the grocery store.
Support Local Agriculture and Community
Try the farmers market on for size. The North Carolina State Farmers Market is open seven days a week from 5:00am-6:00pm. Additionally, most communities have their own farmers markets but usually operate one day each week. For example, Apex has a weekly market on Saturdays from 8:30am-12:30pm (click here for details), Chapel Hill’s farmers market is open Saturdays from 9:00am-12:00pm (click here for details), and Durham’s farmers market is open Saturdays from 10:00am-12:00pm (click here for details). Check out www.localharvest.org for a farmers market near you.
Farmers Market Tips
- Does it look new or unfamiliar? Ask the farmer for details about that variety of mushroom you’ve never seen before. Not only will the farmer tell you about the mushroom but can help you prepare it.
- Go in the morning or near closing. Going in the morning will give you the greatest selection and best opportunity to ask farmers questions. However, end of day shopping can be helpful for those of us on a tight budget. Great deals and price negotiations are most successful later in the day.
- Plan with cash and bring reusable bags. It can be difficult on the farmer to make change for large bills or you may be charged a transaction fee when using plastic. Bring smaller bills and environmentally friendly bags to put a smile on your farmer’s face.
Seasonal Recipe Spotlight – Try Something New
– Ingredients: 1 bunch radishes, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
– Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash, trim, and quarter radishes. Toss in small bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread evenly on cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until desired color and tenderness.
– Tips: Line cookie sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Top radishes with sour cream (or non-fat Greek Yogurt) and green onions for extra flavor.
Parmesan Garlic Cabbage Steaks
– Ingredients: ¼ of purple cabbage, 3+ tbsp olive oil, 5 minced garlic cloves, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, salt to taste
– Instructions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice cabbage into ½-inch to ¾-inch steaks. Line baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil. Mix 3 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, and grated parmesan cheese in bowl. Spoon mixture over cabbage steaks and season with salt to taste. Bake for 15-20, until desired tenderness. Broil last 3-5 minutes for extra crunch.
– Ingredients: 6 red beetroot, washed and tops trimmed. Juice of 1 lemon. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley. Salt and freshly ground black pepper. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. 1/4 cup chopped roasted pistachios
– Instructions: Preheat the oven to 190°C. Wrap the beets in a square of tin foil. Place on a sheet tray and roast until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins of the beets. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices using a mandoline. (Use a sharp chef’s knife if you don’t have a mandoline.) Add the lemon juice to a small bowl along with the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Lay the beets on platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the pistachios or serve them on the side for some salty crunch.
– Source/Inspiration: http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/roasted-beet-salad.html
What’s in Season?
Romaine (second half)
Strawberries (second half)
Blueberries (second half)
Squash – yellow
ZucchiniNotice how the list gets longer as we get closer to summer? Plan a family outing to the farmer’s market and try some new foods with everyone. Click here for North Carolina’s seasonal eating chart.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
– Michael Jordan
Chris is a registered dietitian at Avance Care’s Apex and Holly Springs locations. He loves experimenting in the kitchen, staying active, playing and watching sports, spending quality time with his two dogs, and reading Michael Jordan quotes.