Reasons To Include More Vibrant Vegetables In Your Life

carrots

Food has always been regarded as medicine in cultures throughout the world. People reached for plants, vegetables, and even animal proteins to cure ailments. Food was the first source people went to before seeking other kinds of treatments. With the advantages and brainwashing of convenience food, we  forget what is essential for us to maintain and improve health. As pointed out by many scientists and doctors, our health became complicated with the introduction of packaged and processed foods, overproduction of wheat, corn, and soy, and the industrialization of meat, poultry, and dairy.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of highly processed meats and wheat. Americans are over-consuming food with little nutritional benefits and not consuming enough of whole foods- mostly vegetables. The SAD diet has no room for fresh, whole foods and has lead to the rise of Western Diseases– breast cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The dependency of processed foods is also giving rise to allergies and sensitivities to foods like wheat and diary.

All of us need to eat more vegetables for good health, weight loss, and reversing diseases. I am not advocating vegetarianism. What I am saying is that the more vegetables and plant-based foods you consume daily will have the most positive impact on your health. The best possible sources of obtaining micronutrients that your body needs to function healthily come from plant-based foods. Vegetables are grown on a farm, not manufactured in a lab, and do not require a degree to figure out that they are good for you.

Plant foods are complex systems and are the best sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. These nutrients have hundreds of roles in the body. Our body uses them to make hormones, send nerve impulses, maintain bone and teeth strength, bolster the immune system, prevent cell and tissue damage, increase digestion and absorption, and maintain a normal heartbeat.

Examples of minerals include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium.  Minerals are mostly found in plant foods and are essential for healthy minds and bodies. Minerals are not vulnerable to heat and cooking does not destroy them. It is much easier to obtain minerals from food than vitamins. Vitamins are easily destroyed due to heat and storage duration. Examples of vitamins include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and carotenoids. Vitamins and minerals depend on each other to be useful. For example, vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption from food. Similarly, too much of one nutrient can cause a deficiency of another nutrient, since they can interfere with each other’s function. Though, this is rarely the case when you eat varied, whole foods.

Vegetables come in a vibrant array of colors, not just green. These colors signify the type of vitamins and antioxidants are present in them. Purple foods have the antioxidant anthocyanins, which is prevents aging, boost memory, and fights off diseases like Alzheimer’s. Red foods include strawberries, pomegranates, and tomatoes. These foods are known to prevent cancer, reduce pain and inflammation, and lower blood pressure.  Orange foods include pumpkins, bell peppers, and carrots. These foods are high in vitamin C and beat-carotene, which help support the immune system, delay cognitive aging, and rebuild collagen in the skin. In order to ensure you are getting all of these different nutrients, you have to eat a variety of foods. Sticking to just a few vegetables throughout the year will make you loose out on the benefits other plant-based foods offer. Eating a varied, vibrant diet is the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

peppers

It is pretty difficult to overdose on micronutrients that come from whole, unprocessed foods since they contain low levels.  We only need miniscule amounts of them, hence the name micronutrients. On the contrary, supplements may contain fillers and additives, and come in high dosages that can be harmful. Many supplements also contain contaminants such as arsenic and mercury. Our body stores certain nutrients and releases them as needed, thus toxic levels can build up. Dietary supplements are unregulated and do not have to go through testing for safety. Supplements are not intended to replace whole foods, but support people with certain conditions who just cannot get all the nutrients. It is wise to talk to a doctor or nutritionist before taking supplements. Whole foods are complex and contain many nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that a pill cannot provide. Vegetables are also a lot more affordable than quality supplements.

Pesticide exposure is linked to many health concerns and should not be overlooked. Though, the health benefits of vegetables outweigh the alternative of not eating them at all. Nutrient deficiencies from the lack of vegetables are also the cause of many health issues. Fresh, whole foods are often replaced with processed foods when they are eliminated from the diet, causing more health troubles. I recommend choosing food from sustainable farms. If you are not sure about where or how the food is grown, opt to buy organic, local, and/or seasonal. Local and seasonal food is usually sprayed with less or no pesticides, since they do not have to travel as far. Of course, the best way to learn and ensure you are getting high-quality food is to shop at the farmers market or join a CSA. You can ask the farmers directly about their farming practices. Buying 100% organic produce may not always be possible, but you should at least try to get organic for the vegetables (and fruits) that have the most pesticide residue. You can download the list onto your phone.  If none of these are options for you, start your own vegetable garden. Do what you can to feed yourself and your family more fresh vegetables.

Vegetables should be the star of your plate, not cast off to the side. So what are you waiting for?

radish

This is part one of a three-part series on vegetables. Next week, I will discuss simple ways to eat more vegetables and include a protein-balanced vegetable recipe. 

Farmers Market Finds: Blueberries, Cherries, and Nectarines!

I was totally blown away at the farmers market today. My most favorite fruit ever is in season! Blueberries. I love blueberries. They are just so beautiful, taste heavenly, and are a purple food. Blueberries rate among the highest in fruits and vegetables for antioxidants. Researchers have found that the compounds in blueberries reduce the effects of age-related conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s and age-related macular degeneration). Blueberries act in the same ways as cranberries to promote urinary tract health. They are also full of fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and are low in calories.

blueberries

Blueberries are one of those foods that you should buy organic. The blueberries I bought today are not certified organic, but the farm is in  transition and it will take them sometime before they will become certified. I also bought the blueberries from Serendipity Farms, who is selling it on the behalf of another farm. Jamie, the farmer, has become my friend over the years. I trust her and visit her stand weekly.

When Jamie posted a picture on Facebook about their first crop of blueberries, my mouth started to salivate. I immediately wanted to make buttermilk blueberry pancakes (gluten-free, of course), compote, salads, and top them with my homemade granola. I just ended up eating the entire basket of blueberries with my husband and dad. Next week, I’ll find more interesting uses for them.

blueberries

Spring is really short at the farmers markets. Summer and winter produce last for months and months, but ramps, green garlic, asparagus, and English peas seem to only be around for two short months. Even though it’s foggy and cold in San Francisco, it has been really hot in the farm country just outside of the city. Which means, the early arrival of summer produce. This week there were stone fruits, zucchini, squash blossoms, and three varieties of basil!

cherriesCherries from Hamada Farm

The intermingling of spring and summer produce at the farmers market is going to make for some delicious meals. Checkout my Pinterest boards for recipe ideas.

Photo May 05, 11 56 47 AMSpring onions, sugar snap peas and zucchini from Happy Boy Farms.

Photo May 05, 11 54 31 AMNectarines from Ken’s Top Notch

squash blossoms

I absolutely love squash blossoms as well. They have a delicate, nutty flavor and taste great on salads, pizzas, and frittatas. However, I refused to buy these since they were unnecessarily packaged in plastic bags. Major environmental fail.

kale blossoms

Kale blossoms are also a short-season food. Cook them like you would broccolini. Happy Boy Farms.

What is your favorite super food?

The True Cost of Food

Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food and are always looking for bargains. In fact, we are the only nation who spends so little upfront on food. Huge costs go into the way our food is produced, but these costs are hidden in the dollar amount charged at the supermarkets. However, we end up paying for the cost of our food in taxes. There are also costs to the environment (pollution, loss of wildlife habitat, wastage, fuel) and public health (cancer, obesity, allergies, diseases, food poisoning).

This is a short animation that  does a great job on showing the true cost of our food. It’s worth a viewing and sharing with your friends and families. Kids will even enjoy it.

The True Cost of Food from Sierra Club National on Vimeo.

 

How to Shed the Pounds When They Won’t Seem to Budge

Cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream

Image via Wikipedia

Little Black Dress Personal Training is based out of New York by Anne Marie. Anne is a personal trainer who writes about practical ways to include fitness into our daily routine, staying motivated, and eating healthy. Follow Anne on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Shed the Pounds When They Won’t Seem to Budge

Sometimes you do all the right things and yet, you’re still not losing weight. It’s frustrating and annoying to say the least, and it causes a lot of people to mosey on down to the Golden Corral, pausing ever so slightly before opening the door to reconsider, and then pushing forward and diving head first into buffet bliss. I can’t blame you. Many times I’ve been equally frustrated and annoyed and drowned my sorrows in chocolate covered caramels and white chocolate truffles. (Shockingly those did nothing to make me feel better afterwards.)

If you feel you’re in a weight loss rut, there are a few things you can review about your lifestyle that maybe with a minor adjustment here and there can translate into newfound weight loss joy. With me, once I started keeping a food journal I found that I was able to shed a few of the stubborn pounds, plus I ate much better (because who wants to see buttered popcorn, chocolate chip cookies and three glasses of wine staring back at you in your own handwriting? It’s eye-opening when you begin to become accountable for what you ingest!)

So here’s another list (before starting this blog earlier this year, I was never a list person… and now I’m all about them, a rabid list maker if you will) on things you should take a look at to see if maybe a little adjustment is all you need to get your body burning those calories again!

1 – Are you getting enough sleep? Big important question here. I pretty much always get eight hours of sleep. I’m a sleeper, I love my bed and I love being in it. Now some people are five to six-hour sleepers and then set off for a marathon kind of day, shuttling kids off to school, attending all sorts of work meetings, then preparing dinner and helping with homework. Half way through the day they’re bleary eyed looking for their next caffeine fix. Your body needs rest and relief from the day’s activities. Some proper sleep just may be the ticket that will allow you to eat better and exercise more.

2 – You’re skipping meals. Going too long without eating sends messages to your brain that you’re in starvation mode and guess what? It’s the fat cells that bunker down and refuse to burn off in times like these. Instead your body starts looking at your lean mass as proper food and starts churning away at it. Not good. Don’t go too long without eating, it messes up your metabolism and your blood sugar levels. Eat every three hours so you never hear the rumbling of the belly beast…  besides, it leads to embarrassing moments and comments/smirks from others!

3 – You’re not exercising enough. Or at all! Please don’t be an “or at all” person, that just makes me sad. If you’re consuming calories on a daily basis, then you should be burning some of those same calories on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just look at what Monday’s blog suggested (another list) and try to incorporate some of those fabulous ideas into your life. And for the casual exerciser, once a week ain’t gonna cut it if you’re looking for weight loss. It’s commitment time and your number is up. Make it a point to attend more classes or hire a personal trainer, they’ll help keep you honest and motivated. Exercise does a body good so make sure you’re getting in enough of it.

4 – You’re ODing on mocha frappucinos. Calories galore lurk in all sorts of creative drinks that specialty shops create in some ill-conceived effort to inject the population with sugar, causing them to all come back for more. (Sugary drinks = More money for the Man.) Just the other day a barista informed me before I ordered that they were out of the gingerbread flavor so he couldn’t make a gingerbread latte but he happily suggested a peppermint mocha latte with a shot of caramel and whipped cream on top or a creme brulee latte with the caramel and whipped cream additions, they’re both delicious he said. No kidding. A drink with a bucket of sugar thrown in would probably taste great and get my head and body spinning in all sorts of directions for the next hour. I declined both offers for an iced tea (but not after having to say no six times to the dude… he was very persistent that I consume a bucket of sugar. My guess is he was flying high from a caramel mocha creme brulee peppermint gingerbread—that’s where it must have all gone—latte himself.) Be careful what you drink, those calories count just the same as food calories.

5 – Your weekends are an orgy filled food fest. I used to be of the thinking that since I was so good all week-long that the weekends didn’t count, like the calories lifted magically off my body and into the vast black hole that was my weekend. Not the case. Dinner and drinks with friends on the weekend add up big time. Going out to dinner can easily lead to an extra days worth of calories being consumed and you don’t even realize it because, hey, it’s the weekend… I deserve a little fun. If your weekends are turning into diet pitfalls, you need to rethink your plan. Don’t ‘save’ your calories for when you’re out, that’s bogus and doesn’t work. Eat throughout the day and even right before you go out because a slightly filled belly won’t have you jumping into the bread basket when it rears it’s warm, soft and crusty head. You’ll have more control and will feel much better come Monday.

This post was originally published on December 7, 2010.

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Farmer’s Market Finds: The Color Purple and Antioxidants

All I could notice at the farmers market this weekend was the color purple. It reminded me of my high school English teacher, who asked us to look out for the color in nature. We were reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker in class. All of us agreed that purple was a rare color in nature. Though, I completely disagree with that conclusion now.

purple turnipsPurple turnips

I have always kept Mrs. Kindle’s observation in mind and subconsciously seek out the color purple wherever I go. The color purple is everywhere, especially at the farmers market – year round. Fruits, vegetables, and plants get the purple pigmentation from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that prevent oxidation (which is what happens when a sliced apple turns brown). Oxidation causes free radicals to form and free radicals cause damage and death to cells. Some free radicals are formed through natural processes, but free radicals can “spiral” out of control and disrupt living cells. To put it in a very simple manner, when the levels of free radicals in your body become disproportionate (due to aging, poor eating and lifestyle choices, and environmental triggers) disease and cancer happens.

purple radish asparagusPurple asparagus, chive flowers, and purple radish

Antioxidants protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals. Eating foods rich in antioxidants prevent and delay cell damage, which in turn prevent cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and immune dysfunction. Luckily, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants available year round. It’s important to eat a variety of foods, because not all foods contain all the antioxidants your body needs. Supplements do not provide the same benefits as eating whole foods do. Antioxidants in purple foods particularly help boost memory, slow down the aging process, prevent heart disease, and prevent and shorten the duration of colds.

Purple lettucePurple lettuce

Purple foods in the Spring
ArtichokesAsparagus, blueberries, chive flowers, chocolate mint, purple top turnips, radishes, and spring onions

herbs Chocolate mint and chive flowers

Other purple foods by season: 

Summer
Basil, berries, eggplants, figs, lavender, peppers, pluots, plums, and tomatoes

Fall/Winter
Dates, grapes, potatoes and olives

Year Round
Beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endives, kale, kohlrabi, lambsquarter, lettuce, orachi, and radicchio

purple asparagusWhat are your favorite purple foods? Which purple foods did I leave out? Please add in the comments. 

Purple Asparagus and Herbs in an Omelette {Recipe}

Ah, asparagus season. There are so many ways to eat them, yet I find the simplest recipes are the most flavorful. Cooking is really about letting the quality of the produce speak for itself, so there isn’t much technique involved. My friends and family think I am a great cook, but I attribute my skills to the high quality ingredients I get at the farmers market. And, I can’t think of much that is easier and tastier than asparagus and good quality eggs together. There are so many ways to combine them- grilled asparagus topped with poached eggs, roasted asparagus frittatasautéed vegetables with a soft-boiled egg.

asparagus eggs

Though, this  recipe is the prettiest. And pretty food is lovely to serve and eat. I make this on a weekday morning for just Satish, and I and over the weekend, when we have friends over. However, instead of making several individual omelettes, I just make one large omelette and put the pan in the middle of the table for friends to serve themselves. The prep and cook time is rather fast, with hardly a minute in between. When making individual omelettes, have two pans going at the same time, to get to the eating part faster. 

herbs

When I do not have spring onions on hand, I use sweet yellow onions. The herbs are arbitrary, as long as they are fresh, you can use whatever you already have or what you where able to find at the farmers market or grocery store. Use one herb or a combination of herbs. Thyme, basil, flat-leafed parsley, and chives work wonderful together and alone. I use chive flowers when I can find them at the market. Flavored salts work well too, but fine grain sea salt is just fine. I was able to find purple asparagus at the farmers market and thought they would make for pretty pictures. They also make for a great wow factor, but taste the same in flavor as green asparagus. Just use the thin ones for this recipe, because they are more tender and sweet. 

Simple Spring Omelette

Serves 2, cook time ~15 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup spring onions, minced
12-14 spears of thin asparagus
1 teaspoon lavender salt
4 eggs

The vegetables. Mince the chives and parsley. In a small bowl, mix the herbs and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat up a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan on medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and a little butter. Mince the white part of the spring onion. Add the minced spring onions in the heated pan and stir. Cook until crispy and light brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, wash asparagus under cool water. Cut off the woody ends and pat off excess water with a towel. Remove the crispy spring onions from pan and set aside. If they feel greasy, you can put them on a paper towel.

cutting board

Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil to the same pan let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add the asparagus to the pan. Make sure they do not overlap.  Stir a couple of times to cook all sides. Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle lavender salt over the spears. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. It really depends on how tender you like the spears. The purple asparagus will turn bright green from the heat. Transfer the asparagus to a cool plate once done cooking.

purple asparagus

The eggs. While asparagus are cooking, beat 2 eggs vigorously with a fork, until they are frothy and whites are incorporated with the yolks. Heat a 6″ nonstick pan with 2 teaspoons butter. Coat the entire pan with the butter by swirling it around the pan. Pour the eggs into pan and cook for 45-60 seconds. With a thin silicone spatula, carefully lift the cooked portions and tilt the pan to let the runny portions reach the bottom of pan. Do this again in 30 seconds, until most of the egg is set. 

Sprinkle 1/2 of the herb mixture over the omelette. You don’t need to add sea salt here, since the asparagus is already salted. Carefully slide onto serving plate. Repeat for the remaining omelette.

herb omelette

Now, carefully arrange asparagus spears on top of each omelette. Sprinkle the browned spring onions and herb flowers on top and serve.

asparagus eggs

What are your favorite ways to eat asparagus? Please share recipes!

5 Really Good Reasons To Eat Seasonally

Eating seasonally makes me feel happier and there are traditions around seasonal food around the world. In India, mango season is celebrated religiously. Actually, most people in India refer to seasons by the foods available at that time of the year. Having grown up in the United States, I didn’t really experience the joys of seasonal eating, since most foods were available year round. Though, I distinctly remember mango and green flat bean season, since my family made a huge celebration out of them. These foods were bought at an international market and were internationally imported foods. I have never appreciated fresh food as much as I do now until I started eating them in season. That is when mango and bean season clicked and I gained a better appreciation for how the world works.

dino kale garden

Aside from culture, there are many reasons to eat seasonally. From a health perspective, eating fresh, seasonal food makes the most sense. Hopefully, the points I make below are enough to convince you to include seasonal foods in your life.

1. Variety. Cooking with the seasons breaks up the monotony of your meals. There comes a time at the end of each season, where I cannot wait for the arrival of new crops. I become bored with the flavors and crops by eating them at home and at every  local restaurant all season long. It almost makes me want to stop eating the vegetables and fruits altogether, which I suspect is the case for many people. However, by shopping at the farmers market, I am constantly introduced to new vegetables and fruits which help stave off boredom on the plate and palate. Even dining out at local restaurants becomes exciting, be able to experience and taste what the talented chefs can make with the seasonal food.

strawberry lentils

2. Healthier. There are many health benefits to eating in season. Vegetables and fruits have the most nutrients when they are at their peak ripeness. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in the food starts to decrease as soon as they are picked. Vegetables and fruit that are grown to travel long distances (1,500 miles on average) are picked before they can develop their full range of nutrients. Fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits usually travel a lot less and are exposed to a lot less heat and light (both degrade delicate vitamins). Also, you can buy seasonal food in its whole, unprocessed form, instead of canned or frozen varieties. Canned foods are usually soaked in sugars, salts, BPA and are highly processed. Frozen foods are a pretty good option when you do not have fresh food available, however, there is a bit of processing and nutrient loss that goes on when freezing the food.

3. Environment. Seasonal produce usually means local produce, which is also great for the environment and local community. As pointed out in #2, local foods travel a lot less and are fresher, thus they retain much of their nutritive value. Fewer green houses are produced and less fuel is used in transporting local food. Food that is closer to the source also has less, if any, preservatives and pesticides sprayed on them and are unprocessed. The best place to find local, seasonal food is at the farmers market or by subscribing to a CSA. Though, if these are not options for you, look for the local sign in the produce section of your grocery store. More and more grocery chains are catching on to the fact that people want higher quality food. Spring does not arrive in San Francisco at the same time it does in New York City; seasons change at different times everywhere. Seasonal food gives you the opportunity to connect with the land you live on and the people who grow your food.

4. Wide Range of Nutrients. This one is a slight combination of #1 and #2. Eating seasonally ensures you are eating a variety of nutrients. A magical vegetable or fruit that has all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and fiber your body needs just does not exist. There are some pretty powerful fruits and vegetables out there, but even they lack a little something. Thus, it’s important to eat a variety of food and the best way to avoid eating broccoli year round is to eat the food that is in season.

5. Taste. Quite simply, food grown in its rightful season tastes better. If you are not convinced, do a taste test. A winter tomato, grown indoors or in hot houses, does not taste anything like a tomato grown under the hot sun, picked right off the vine just before it got to you. The better the fruits and vegetables taste, the more likely you will eat them. The more you eat them, the more health benefits and happiness you will gain. Give the vegetables and fruits you wrote off a second chance, by eating them in the season they were always meant to be grown.

tomatoes

Just shortly after experiencing seasonal food, I started to anticipate what the newest food will be at the farmers market. A partial reason, why I started Farmers Market Finds. I look forward to each season equally. Towards the end of winter, I start to look forward to asparagus, strawberries, and English peas. By mid-June, I can almost taste the heirloom tomatoes, peaches, and squash blossoms. And, by the end of September, I am making roasted butternut squash and thinking about Thanksgiving. In February, I am obsessing over blood oranges and kale.

What is your favorite food season and what do you anticipate eating most?  Please share your culture and food traditions with me. 

Farmers Market Finds: An Orange Proposal

I decided to break away from my usual farmers market routine and visit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. There are so many reasons why I love this farmers market. It is hailed as one of the best farmers markets in the country and the diversity of farm fresh food is astounding. I believe in the summer, you will be able to find over 75 varieties of tomatoes! For all the reasons listed below, it can get very crowded and even hard to move when the weather is nice. Therefore, it is wise to go on the earlier side if you want to get the best selection.

ferry buildingThe location is magnificent. There is an intermingling of locals, tourists, chefs, and celebrities. The farmers are all verified and have sustainable farming practices. CUESA’s website has detailed information about the farmers,  seasonality charts, and recipes. They also send out a free weekly eletter highlighting the current seasonal food, upcoming events, recipes, and spotlights on volunteers and farmers.

rampsThe ever so rare and coveted ramps. 

The farmers who sell at this market go through an application process and only those who meet CUESA’s guidelines on sustainable agriculture are accepted when there are openings. I definitely feel more comfortable and safer when I buy from these farmers.

Photo Apr 20, 12 07 55 PMCrowd sourced marriage proposals.

Sawn, the gentleman pictured, enlisted his farmer friends to recruit shoppers to help him out on the proposal. The crowd recited a question to the unsuspecting girlfriend in unison and Sawn got down on one knee to propose. The girlfriend was in disbelief, but did say yes! Oh, yeah, the ring was inside of the Cara Cara orange!

horseradish root

The diversity of food is incredible. Chefs and serious cooks come here early in the morning to pick up things like horseradish root (pictured), green strawberries, and ramps for their restaurants.

schoolyard to market

I know, many locals complain that this farmers market is too expensive. I agree, most things cost a bit more at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. One of the reasons for the higher cost is that farmers pay a higher stall fee to set up and sell at this market. This fee is not for profit, but goes back into all of the amazing and positive things CUESA does for the food system. Each week, CUESA puts on educational demos, classes, and exhibits for people to learn about food and agriculture. CUESA is a nonprofit organization and largely run by volunteers.

fiddlehead fernsFiddlehead Fern- Far West Fungi

The awesomeness of SF is that we have roughly 22 farmers market each week! We are lucky to be choosy about where we get our local, seasonal food.

Being Human

I had a post ready to publish this morning, but with a heavy heart I decided against it. Today we should focus on kindness, love, and the people around us. Focus on the beauty of humanity. Remember that we should stand as one, united against evil, not against each other. xo

20130419-110155.jpg

Farmers Market Finds: Thorny Artichokes

My Instagram feed has been flooded with pictures of cherries, rhubarb, purple artichokes, and naturally pigmented cauliflower from other farmers market goers, which got me curious about what I would find. It was another, unusually sunny Sunday morning and I knew the good weather crowd would be at the farmers market too. Satish joined me today, which is something I always welcome since he can help me carry my bags back home!

Photo Apr 14, 12 04 37 PM

The cauliflower had a pinkish-purple pigment, which is naturally occurring from an antioxidant in the purple vegetables and fruits. 

Photo Apr 14, 11 58 02 AM

I did find these gorgeous artichokes, which were not at the market last week. The purple ones had really sharp thorns, which I pricked my thumb on! 

I was especially eager to go to the farmers market after being inspired by what the students at Mission High school (where I volunteer) made in class. The high school has a nutrition and leadership program, where the students learn healthy cooking and eating skills, teach their peers, celebrate cultural recipes, and tend to their school garden. The students harvest fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to use in the cooking portion of the class. Every week, they make something impressive and extraordinary. I certainly did not learn about kale or romanesco in my Home Ec class nor did I grow up eating these foods. Last week, the students made strawberry short cake using whole wheat flour, homemade whip cream, and just picked strawberries. They also made a stunningly beautiful Three Pea Radish Salad, which I couldn’t resist Instagramming. Actually, I was not the only one, the teacher and other students also whipped out their cell phones to take pictures of the beautiful food.

Pea Salad

After this class, all I wanted to do was rush to a farmers market to pick up these ingredients and make this for dinner.

Mission High School school food
The students made farro with asparagus, arugula, crispy pancetta and herbs along with the pea salad and strawberry short cake.

What did you find at your farmers market?