Seasonal Eating

summer vegSaturday, October 4th
The ongoing theme of my presentations at the North Gower Farmers Market has been the promotion of fresh, locally available foods, and the nutritional value of those foods.
The recipes I have demonstrated are not only nutritious but easy to make. It does not have to cost a lot, nor take a lot of time to prepare dishes that support good health.
Seasonal eating refers to consuming fresh fruit and vegetables at the time when they are naturally available. The advantages are many:
– Generally cost less when they are abundant, volumes ripen around the same time eg asparagus, or berries. Cost increases when they must be stored, or shipped from greater distances.
– Fresh seasonal foods taste better and are more nutritious as they are picked at peak ripeness, this means the full potential of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals are available. If these foods undergo any processing, such as canning or dehydration, much of these nutrients are lost in the process. Freezing is somewhat less detrimental, but any application of heat, such as parboiling, initiates some of this loss. Even refrigeration can diminish flavor (phytonutritents)
– Many whole foods contain natural enzymes that aid in the digestion of that food, these also can be degraded with processing.
– Looking at this from an environmental aspect fresh local foods require less energy compared to those that are stored, refridgerated, shipped and/or processed.

Shop at local Farmers Markets – the biggest advantage is you can get to know the producer and his farming practices, and know that you are supporting local families, business and economy.

Growing some of your own foods also has its benefits, when you know exactly what is in the soil and on the produce – hopefully nothing chemical, man-made or otherwise harmful!

Just remember – “our health is our most valuable resource”, so many negative things can happen if you don’t have good health. As a Nutritionist, I encourage you to explore genuine cooking – by this I mean from scratch, with wholesome, fresh foods. It can be simple recipes that are fun to prepare and tantalize the taste buds. The benefits are subtle, but in the long term can provide you and your family with a long and vital life.

In the words of Jennifer Raymond (The Best of Jenny’s Kitchen) “ There is real pleasure and deep satisfaction in the proper handling and careful preparation of fresh, beautiful foods from the earth.”

Some examples of cool season spring/early summer
asparagus, peas, lettuce, spring onion, radish, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries.
Fall
Artichoke, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, leek, carrot
onion, potato, squash, turnip, cauliflower, parsnip, apples, pear
Warm season
Beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melons, okra, peppers, zucchini, sweet potato, tomato, swiss chard, berries, peaches, cherries, plums

Another aspect of seasonal eating is what we prefer as the seasons change, particularly in Canada where there are distinct differences.
• Hot humid days encourage us to consume foods that are higher in moisture, fresh fruits and softer vegetables all high in vitamin content.
• ‘cooling’ herbs such as mint, lemon balm, lemon grass, citrus and melons
• With the colder weather we need ‘warming’ foods, herbal teas and dishes made with those fall seasonals, root vegetables and dark leafy greens that can be lightly steamed. Warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, curry and turmeric also foot the bill and are a great source of antioxidants. A leafy salad at this time just does not satisfy.

Pumpkin Energy Balls

Energy BallsLoaded with nutrients, one or two of these little guys will keep you going for hours. Based on recipe from A. Grange, RHN

½ c Sunflower seeds
¼ c pecans
¾ c almonds
8- 10 pitted dates
¾ c pumpkin puree
½ c unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger, pinch of cloves
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea salt
Soak nuts and dates in hot (not boiling) water for 1 hour.
Drain and chop, place in food processor with
remaining ingredients. Pulse until sticking
together. Form into balls, roll in shredded
coconut. Refridgerate or freeze, to firm up.
Substitute your choice of nuts & seed, preferably unsalted.

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

Choc Zucchini
Summer squash such as Zucchini, have pale flesh, a delicate flavor and can be eaten raw. Very low in calories they are up to 94% water and for this reason should not be boiled as they will lose most of their nutrient value.

1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
¼ c oat bran
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Large pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
1/3 c butter
½ c cane sugar, ¼ c brown
2 heaping tbsp cocoa
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ c milk, ¼ c plain yoghurt
1 ½ c grated zucchini
Melt butter in a bowl, sift in dry ingredients, add remaining 5 ingredients and blend.
Bake at 350 degrees in a greased loaf pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Or make mini loafs, bake 15 – 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for a bit before removing.

Pumpkin Sage Scones

Pumpkin Sage sconeFall is a great time of year to enjoy members of the Squash family. Primarily starchy carbohydrate they are a source of soluble fiber. The orange flesh is a good source of beta carotene (a form of Vitamin A) These are a wonderful twist on the standard scone with sage providing subtle flavor once baked.
1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ c cold butter
½ c brown sugar
¾ c pureed pumpkin
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift flours and leavener with a pinch of sea salt into a bowl. Add the sugar. Using your fingertips first rub the butter into the mix then the pumpkin and blend in the sage. Bring the mixture together to form a ball. Sprinkle additional flour to prevent sticking.
Place on tray and role out to about 1 ¼ “ thick. Gently score the dough into 8 wedges.
Brush the top with a bit of beaten egg and milk. Bake 15 – 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven on the upper middle shelf. Bake until lightly browned and scone is cooked through.