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Filtering by Tag: Seasonal Eating

16 Foods to Eat This Winter

Seth Strickland

 
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Winter brings more than just shorter days and colder temperatures. This time of year also presents an opportunity to expand your food horizons and get your taste buds excited for all the variety the season has to offer. Eating seasonally increases your overall health by nourishing your body with an array of essential vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, choosing seasonal foods helps to promote sustainable food practices and has less of an impact on the environment.

So, how do you know what’s in season? Here are some clues that will help when you are shopping at your local grocer. Price, quantity and source country are a good place to start. You’ll notice your favorite summer delicacies like strawberries and stone fruits have a very small presence in the produce section, have nearly doubled in price or are missing from the store altogether. When items like fruit are out of season, they are often flown in from more tropical countries, increasing the fruit’s footprint and decreasing its nutritional value. If you need nonseasonal items, look for those that have been grown in countries closer to home.

Another way to ensure you’re getting what’s in peak season is to sign up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership. These services work with nearby farms to select and share produce that is grown locally and seasonally. Although you typically don’t get much choice of what foods you receive, rest assured you’ll be in for a culinary adventure that will encourage you to include the freshest, most seasonable ingredients in your cooking every week.

The ultimate way to find out what’s in season is to take a trip to a few local farms. Not only will you get the freshest produce possible, you’ll also be supporting your local economy. Not up for the drive? Find out if your city hosts a local farmers’ market, and opt to buy your fruits and veggies there instead of from the grocery store. Here’s a mini cheat sheet to get you started.

Veggies

  • Broccoli: Although it’s available year-round, broccoli is at its peak in the cooler months.
  • Brussels sprouts: If you can, buy sprouts on the stalk; they’ll last longer and taste fresher.
  • Endive: Great for salads or stuff with pear and blue cheese for an easy, beautiful appetizer.
  • Pumpkins: Use the meat of the pumpkin for soups or baking and the seeds for an easy treat.
  • Snow peas: Add crisp snow peas for a dash of green in your vegetable stir-fry.
  • Spinach: Winter spinach is greener, leafier and tastier.
  • Squash: Acorn, butternut, spaghetti—each one has a different, delicious taste and texture.
  • Sweet potatoes & yams: Try baking a whole potato or yam as a filling, low-fat snack.

Fruits

  • Apples: Fall and winter provide a delicious assortment of apples from honeycrisp to Granny Smith.
  • Cranberries: Let cranberries be more than just a side dish to turkey this year.
  • Grapes: Stick with red grapes throughout the end of the year for the sweetest flavor.
  • Kiwis: Even though they may remind you of tropical islands, kiwis are ripest during the coldest time of year.
  • Pears: Bartlett, d’anjou, bosc—pears are in their heyday this time of year.
  • Persimmons: Delicious in a salad or mixed in baked goods for a tangy twist.
  • Pomegranates: Add the seeds, which are a great source of vitamins A and C, to a salad, or make a marmalade.
  • Satsuma oranges and tangerines: These easy-to-peel fruits are a great, vitamin C–filled treat.

Try eating a different seasonal fruit or vegetable each week and cooking a meal with locally grown ingredients this month. Varying what you eat boosts your immune system and improves your body’s ability to fight cancer-causing free radicals. Along with the health benefits for you and your family, eating locally grown food supports your community’s economy and has positive implications for the environment, which affects our global community too.

[These tips were brought to you by our friends at Fig. Fig's app helps you to pursue wellness holistically. They encourage laughter, date nights, napping, checking in with friends and having a positive outlook in addition to eating well and exercising. We appreciate this well-rounded approach (and naps), so we thought we’d give them a shout-out. Check Fig out yourself by downloading the app for your iPhone.] 

This post is a reprint from the inaugural Issue no. 1 available in our store  and in the iTunes store. For more excellent, helpful, and thoughtful content like this and so much more, subscribe today. 

 

Farm with Tables NY - Blue Hill

Seth Strickland

Transient

by  Jessica Wright

The latest and greatest buzz these days in restaurants is the "farm to table" experience where you can feel as if your food was hand-picked moments earlier. For us, it actually was.

Typically, the chef will construct dishes based on whatever food is available in that season locally, as well as garnishes and variations he comes up with himself. When you eat farm to table, you know that the food you're served is as fresh as it comes. 

It wasn't any different on a cloudy day up in Westchester County, New York. We took a day trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This farm is enchanting, and free range chickens and turkeys roam the fields. As you walk through the greenhouse, a farmer herds sheep behind you. When you work up an appetite, they have a restaurant on site that sources all the ingredients from their fields and pastures.

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This restaurant includes dishes such as "The Fence", which is a long, elegantly stained beam with the morning's vegetables nailed to it. After this, you can enjoy dishes like one consisting of home-made pesto and greens you cut yourself. 

This interactive dining experience not only allows you to feel good about the food you are consuming, it brings an added, earthy awareness to your everyday food choices. Not only can you know where your food came from, you can walk the fields and scatter the animals. While Blue Hills at Stone Barns is the ultimate farm-to-table, since the tables are on the farm, it's easy to find a good farm-to-table experience nearby.

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If there's no restaurant like this near you, why not do it at home? We thought it would be a great way to be deliberate by picking up some fresh, local ingredients, and re-creating a farm to table experience at the house so that we can share it with our friends. Happy farming everyone, whether you go out or stay in.

Spring Picking

Terry Chi

By Terry Chi

The growth of early spring blooms, sprouts, and swells into abundance in late spring and early summer, bringing copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies to our tables. You might notice a difference in the amount and variety of produce coloring the aisles of your local grocery stores and farmers markets. Apples and oranges are no longer the only fruit available—they are joined by nectarines, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and others. A lovely array of vegetables also enters the scene, opening up the door to exciting summer salads and a diverse range of vegetable dishes, from a summer squash salad to stuffed gypsy peppers.

To help you prepare healthy in-season fare for your family and friends alike, we spoke with the head chef at Oakland’s Boot and Shoe Service about what you might enjoy this season. A weathered wood haven for early morning risers and afternoon lunching locals, this café restaurant is one of the growing number of eating establishments that are dedicated to using fresh, local, organic ingredients to make dishes that change with the seasons. Started by the owner of Pizzaiolo and former kitchen aide at Chez Panisse, Charlie Hallowell, Boot and Shoe has a similar, if not the same goal as both those restaurants —to take ingredients from the community and transform them into delicious fare for the community.

Drawing from the Slow Food Movement,  the people at Boot and Shoe Service strive to follow the Slow Food mission to, “counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” This mission does not have to be confined to the restaurant world—each and every one of us can apply the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement to our own lives and eating habits. Taking time to make a meal and then sit down and enjoy it makes a great difference in the quality of our lives. Whether we enjoy food by ourselves or in the company of those we love, we should appreciate what nourishes us. By eating local, organic foods, we help to protect both our health and the health of the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and avoiding the chemicals in pesticides that are harmful to our bodies. In order to live deliberately, we must eat deliberately.

Note: ‘Slow food’ does not have to mean hours of cooking. A healthy slow food meal can be as simple as ripping up some organic kale and tossing it with pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil for a refreshingly simple salad. With some help from the head chef at Boot and Shoe Service, Marc Baltes, we’ve put together a list of food and easy recipes that we love and that you may want to try this May: 

Asparagus Harvested from March until June, depending on geographical location, these tasty spears are wonderful steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Available in white or green, asparagus stalks vary in width, but you may be surprised to find that the thickness does not correlate directly with their tenderness. The asparagus’ tenderness depends on how the plant is grown and how soon it is eaten after it has been harvested. They are wonderful steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Marc Baltes recommends serving them roasted or grilled with mustard vinaigrette, hard cooked eggs and bits of pancetta.

Rhubarb Known for its tart taste, this sour stalk acts as a great pairing to sweet fruits like strawberries and cherries. Put it in a pie, make it into a jam, or turn it into chutney. For the freshest rhubarb, look for heavy crisp stalks with shiny skin.  

 

Via TheKitchen

Via TheKitchen

Cherries Cherry blossoms turn to cherry fruit at the end of spring, which means you can enjoy these sweet, antioxidant and melatonin-rich treats at the beginning of summer. While sweet cherries, like Bing or Rainier, can be found from May to August, sour cherries have a much shorter season, and are only available for a week or two, usually during the middle of June in warmer locations and as late as July and August in colder areas. Have a pit-spitting contest for fun!

Mint This herb starts to thrive in the spring and adds a refreshing taste to fruit or veggie salads and iced drinks or cocktails. At Boot and Shoe, Baltes tosses whole leaves of mint with arugula, drizzling it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a simple, but delightful salad that goes great with their buttery avocado toast and marinated beets. He also recommends adding some feta to the salad for a little extra richness.

Nettles Rich in iron, these dark leafy greens can be found at farmers’ markets sold by foragers and farmers. In some regions, they may be growing as "weeds" in gardens. Purée them into a soup or make a sun tea by plunging them into hot water and letting them sit in the sun while their nutrients seep into the water. According to Baltes, you can also wilt them quickly in a hot pan, squeeze out the water, chop them up coarsely, and mix them into beaten eggs for a bright green frittata.