Posts Tagged ‘fresh produce’

Fresh From the Garden

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Zucchini!  This time of year, those of us with vegetable gardens are blessed with an abundance of fresh vegetables, but anyone who planted zucchini can be facing too much of a good thing.  Stored in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable bin, fresh picked zucchini should keep well for 4-5 days.  Well known for being the star of zucchini bread, it is versatile enough to be used in many other creative ways:

Slice thinly or shredded, it can be added to quiches or frittatas, used in a wrap or as a topping for pizza. Cut into thicker slices or ‘wands’, it can be served with a creamy dip or yogurt sauce.  It makes a delicious baked vegetarian entrée layered with slices of onion, eggplant, tomatoes and feta cheese.  Chop it and toss with spaghetti, a little pesto and toasted pine nuts.  Cut in half lengthwise, the seeds can be scooped out to create a ‘boat’ to hold a variety of meat, vegetable, grain, or cheese fillings.  Cut crosswise into thick slices, a melon baller can be used to create a little bowl to hold 2-bite servings of tabouleh, chicken or tuna salads.  Use a vegetable peeler to create zucchini ribbons and toss with a flavorful vinaigrette for a tasty salad.  And there’s always ratatouille!

The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini. It’s quick enough for a weeknight meal, but elegant enough to serve when entertaining as well!

Almond-Topped Zucchini

3 medium zucchini, sliced thin

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon butter

4 teaspoon thyme

1/3 cup smoked almonds, chopped coarsely

Heat skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and butter and swirl til butter melts and bottom of skillet is coated. Add the sliced zucchini and minced garlic and saute briefly til zucchini is crisp tender. Toss with thyme, season with salt and pepper if desired,  and serve, garnished with chopped almonds.


The Clean 15

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

There are many reasons for choosing organic over conventionally-grown produce. Certainly, the presence of pesticides in our food supply is a very real concern. The Environmental Working Group has identified the twelve most contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables (listed in a previous post) as well as the 15 least contaminated. The Clean 15 are:

1.  Onions

2.  Sweet corn

3.  Pineapple

4.  Avocado

5.  Asparagus

6.  Sweet peas

7.  Mangoes

8.  Eggplant

9.  Cantaloupe (domestic)

10. Kiwifruit

11.  Cabbage

12.  Watermelon

13.  Sweet potatoes

14.  Grapefruit

15.  Mushrooms

This is good news for my budget! Sweet potatoes, peas and asparagus are client favorites, mango sorbet and watermelon soup are wonderful summertime treats, and I have a new recipe using eggplant, onions, and mushrooms that I want to try.  Keeping both of these lists handy helps me shop healthy AND smart.

Healthy Choices

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

A trip to the grocery store can be rather daunting – so many choices, so many distractions! The aromas from the bakery, vendors offering free samples, boxes and cans neatly arrayed on shelves or artfully stacked, all enticing you to “Try me!” My favorite section is the produce aisle. I love the colors, the shapes, the textures, and the possibilities that present themselves as I consider what to buy. What’s in season? What’s on sale? What do I need to make this week’s recipes? My first choice is always to go organic, but availability can be a problem.  And then there’s the cost. In order to make those grocery dollars stretch, and still make the healthiest choices possible, I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s findings. According to the EWP, the twelve most pesticide-laden conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale and collard greens

My healthy choices start there – these fruits and vegetables are the ones I always buy organic. Consider which of these you eat most often. Switching from conventional to organic produce on the two or three items you use the most will help you keep that New Year’s resolution to “Eat healthier!”