Saturday, May 7, 2011

Farmer's Markets ideas

A few ideas for your next trip to the farmer's market.

Walk around and check out all of the vendors before purchasing. This allows you to compare prices and ask questions about farming methods, new produce, etc.

Chard leaves makes excellent wraps. They are big and thick enough to contain whatever you pack them with. They are also packed with an array of vitamins, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and minerals. It is spring, put back the bread, tortillas and taco shells and give the chard leaves a try.

Snow peas and sugar snap peas make a great, crunchy, raw snack. They are loaded with B vitamins which we need to properly metabolize protein, carbohydrates and fats. They are also antioxidant rich providing protection against cell damage. Pass on the chips and snack on these beautifully nutritious powerhouses.

Fresh herbs like basil, thyme and mint can add enough flavor to a dish to eliminate the need to add salt. Mint leaves steeped in hot water make a refreshing tea.

Garlic & onions are very medicinal foods. Onions are nutrient rich in flavonnoid phytonutrients which act as anti-inflammatory agents and they contain chromium which is a mineral that is not easy to find and plays a vital role in balancing blood sugar.
Garlic is antiviral and antibacterial and when coupled with vitamin C it kills microbes. It also contains antioxidants. Garlic needs to be chopped to release the nutrients. After chopping let it sit for up to 10 minutes in order for its' important health promoting compounds to be released fully.
Fresh onions and garlic are great additions to most salads and homemade salsas and sauces.

Zucchini contains vitamin C a powerful antioxidant, manganese which is necessary for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and a few phytochemicals that are also antioxidants.
Raw zucchini humus is super easy and fast to make. You can find recipes for it on youtube or in the "uncookbook" Rawvolution by Matt Amsden which will give you some awesome, creative ideas on ways to prepare some of the produce you will find at the farmer's markets.

Cucumbers are very hydrating and good for the skin. They are a cooling food and make great additions to salads or spring rolls as well as homemade juices. Toss a few cucumber slices into pitcher of water to add a summery flavor.

If your market carries meat, eggs and dairy that is a great opportunity to get these products from a local source. Of course you want to make certain that the farm is organic and the animals are raised in an organic, free range, humane way. A big plus if you live in a state that allows the sale of raw dairy.

Pure honey, preferably raw, is a great spring and summer buy at the markets. I like to get my honey from the local markets because, well, it is local and that is really the optimal choice when picking honey. Honey from different regions will likely taste different because honey gets its flavor from the particular flowers the bees used. Instead of mixing nutrient poor and damaging refined white sugar into things for sweetness you can replace that with enzyme rich raw honey. It is great drizzled over berries or added to your mint tea. But as always not for kids under 2 years old.

Asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and onion make great homemade pizza toppings and omelet fillings.

The farmer's markets give us the opportunity to eat locally and seasonally which is how we are meant to eat. When we eat this way we are not only getting optimal nutritional values from our foods and helping our local economies but we are adapting to our regions by eating what grows where we live which allows us to adapt to the weather changes and natural environmental surroundings. So explore your local market, get to know your food and marvel at the colors, textures and smells of the real stuff instead of packaging labels and boxes under harsh fluorescent lights in the stores. This is our chance to reconnect with our food, creativity and each other.

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