A farmer’s market is an excellent place to get fresh and healthy food directly from growers. Going to a farmer’s market is a fun outing and eating locally grown produce offers many benefits.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients, all of which protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The nutritional value in fruit and vegetables declines over time, so buying locally ensures maximum freshness and nutrient retention.
Fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market are in season and at peak freshness. Even if the produce is not certified organic, local farmers typically minimize the use of pesticides and chemicals fertilizers on their crops.
From growers you can buy only the amount of fresh food that you need, thereby reducing waste. Because the food isn’t prepackaged, you aren’t required to buy an entire bag of carrots or onions when you only need a few.
Local growers work incredibly hard to bring the best food that the season offers and they take a great deal of pride in their harvests.
In July and August, spectacular farmer’s market produce includes Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, fairy tale eggplant, gorgeous bell peppers and hot peppers, (the colors really come out in August), Clemson spineless okra and fantastic musk melons and cantaloupes in varieties such as Rocky Ford and Edisto.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Here are simple and light recipes to help you enjoy these amazing fruits and vegetables.
Leslie Harrison, of Tyler, Texas, is a certified Food For Life nutrition and cooking instructor.
QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock, broth or water
4 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
½ cup salsa
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tsp cumin powder
1 ½ tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ cup cooked black beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained
1 cup whole kernel corn, drained
Preheat oven to 375º and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place quinoa and vegetable stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Place quinoa in a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well to combine. Stuff the halved peppers with the quinoa mixture until all of the peppers are full, then cover the dish with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and increase the heat to 400. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the peppers are soft. Serve with avocado slices, extra salsa, lime and/or cilantro.
Because of their vibrant flavor, heirloom tomatoes should either be left raw or cooked just enough to warm them.
4 large heirloom tomatoes, diced finely
4 stalks celery, diced finely
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced finely
1/4 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped red onion, diced finely
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
Diced avocado pieces and cilantro for garnish
Combine the first seven ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pulse once more. Chill, then serve with diced avocado and cilantro for garnish.
SUN GOLD CHERRY TOMATOES & PASTA
1 pint Sun Gold cherry tomatoes
1-2 ounces vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces whole wheat pasta (capellini pairs nicely)
Several fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Heat the vegetable broth and tomatoes over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and cook, mixing frequently to avoid any tomatoes sticking to the pan, until the tomatoes burst. Remove from heat and set aside. Prepare the pasta according to package directions, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes and the ½ cup cooking water. Cook the mixture, stirring often to ensure all of the ingredients are well blended. Top with torn basil.
A sweet, ripe melon really needs no adornment, but for a treat give this a try.
1 large cantaloupe
1 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
½ tsp ground ginger
Cut the cantaloupe in half. Scoop out the seeds and cut the flesh into chunks. Sprinkle the crystallized and ground ginger over the cantaloupe and stir. Chill thoroughly before serving.
Recipe curtesy of Neal D. Barnard, M.D., “The Cancer Survivor’s Guide, Foods That Help You Fight Back!“