Here are some recipes to get you going on using fresh fruit and vegetables that you grow or find at the farmers market.
Honeydew dew it smoothies
Source: The Smoothie Deck
2 1/2 cups diced fresh honeydew melon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
6 ice cubes
Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Share with your friend on a hot summer day.
Fresh strawberry and spinach salad
This recipe was based from a couple of Betty Crocker recipes.
1 medium bunch spinach, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups fresh strawberries
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup walnuts
Make raspberry dressing below.
Toss dressing and remaining ingredients.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Shake all ingredients in a tightly covered container.
This recipe came from Keep The Beat Heart Healthy Recipes, a booklet published by the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. Substituting low sodium vegetable cocktail for the regular vegetable juice can lower the sodium content of this recipe.
3 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper or yellow pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 cups vegetable juice cocktail
2 tablespoons fresh basil or fresh cilantro
1 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Serves 4.
Growing your own produce or buying locally grown produce from a farmers market may improve your health in more ways than one. Exercising your body while shopping in the fresh air or working in your garden are great activities that could help your health.
Then there is the food. Most homegrown or locally grown produce is of superior quality and nutritional value as compared to what you may find anywhere else.
More tasty and fresh
Produce picked and eaten at the height of ripeness has exceptional flavor and is packed with nutrients. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested. If you garden, the produce can be picked and on your dinner table within minutes. You can't get any fresher than that. Families who garden also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. By choosing locally grown produce from a farmers market or by producing your own fruits and vegetables, you get fantastic flavor, freshness, color and abundant nutrients.
Good for the local economy
Buying from a farmers market gives purchasers an opportunity to help the family farms survive and thrive. In return, you and your neighbors have access to the best tasting and most nutritious foods possible. If going to a farmers market is out of your budget, growing your own fruits and vegetables is much less expensive. Many packages of seeds are less than $2.
Unique varieties of produce
Local farmers often grow a large assortment of unique produce to provide the most flavorful choices throughout the season. Local farmers often select the varieties of produce they grow based on flavor, growing season and, sometimes, color. Many varieties of produce are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation because they taste good. You also can grow many different varieties of one kind of product. Just think about the different varieties of tomatoes. There are Big Boys, German, Beefsteak, Green zebra and Cherokee purple.
When you buy locally, you can ask whether the farmers use safe farming practices, what they spray on their crops, what they use for fertilizer and what they feed to their animals. Buying from local farmers gives you the opportunity to support local, environmentally sound producers. Small, independent farms can encourage plant diversity by enriching the landscape. Such diversity also reduces soil degradation, decreases agricultural runoff into rivers and streams and provides habitat for wildlife. When you decide to grow your own food, you know exactly what you are getting.
Soon, an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables will be available for your consideration. The possibilities are limited only by the growing season and climate. Supermarkets need to choose varieties of produce that can survive rough handling that occurs during harvesting and shipping. This limits what is available to you. By growing your own food or visiting a farmers market, you will treat your palate and body to perfectly ripe, nutritious and tasty eats.
Pam Wooster, RD, has a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Nebraska. Pam began work at Yampa Valley Medical Center in November 2003. Wooster writes a healthy eating piece each issue. If you have questions about nutrition and diet, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. She'll be happy to answer your question in an upcoming issue.