Summer is the perfect time to visit your local farmers markets because the produce is super fresh, ready to eat, local and oh so yummy. You even get to meet the farmers who grew it, so you know where your food comes from and you are supporting your local economy. Better yet, you can support local organic farmers, which assures that your family will not be eating GMO's and produce that is potentially contaminated with the residues of hazardous herbicides and insecticides. After all the health of your family is of utmost importance!
Cooking at home is not only theraputic, it also gives you the ability to control what goes into your food, which in many cases can make it healthier by using less added fats, sugar and salt. If you have children, by all means get them involved too!!! The more they participate in cooking with you, the more likely they are to try new things and consume a broad spectrum of healthy fruits and vegetables. The younger ones can pour and stir. The older ones, with supervision, can start to chop, slice, measure and use the stove.
When I grew my first garden in 2010, I planted eggplant and that was the first year my kids tried eggplant Parmesan and loved it! They ate it because they thought it was so beautiful! It is easy and fun to eat colorfully in the summer and it is proven that the more colorfully we eat, the more likely that we and our children will receive the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that we need to grow and live a healthy lives.
For or those who do not like to cook, or live alone and feel overwhelmed by too much food when you cook, I get it! But, summer is a great time for simple, healthy dishes where portions are easy to control. By shopping at local farmers markets you can buy single amounts of tomatoes, zucchini, corn, cucumbers, small eggplants... The possibilities are endless!
Here are some incredibly simple and healthy meal ideas that take less than 15 minutes to prepare and are best prepared with fresh and local veggies in the summer:
TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD
1. Slice fresh tomato, top with mozzarella cheese, drizzle with good balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Also feel free to add fresh basil leaves. Mmmm, it tastes so incredibly delicious this time of year! *Tip: no need for oil here- save it for your bread to go with this and you have a complete light meal.
GRILLED SEASONED CORN ON THE COB
2. Peel the husks from an ear of corn, lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, feel free to add the seasoning you like such as cumin, chili powder, garlic, tumeric... Grill 5-10 min. Cut off the corn off of the cob and toss it with black beans, cucumber and tomato. Finish it with 1T of red wine vinegar and salt to taste. Top it with feta or blue cheese if you like and enjoy!
FRESH HOMEMADE PESTO
3. Place a cup of basil in a food processor, add a clove of garlic, a sprinkle of salt, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and the juice of half a lemon. Start to blend, slowly add good quality extra virgin olive oil just until blended (maybe 1/4 c). Use this pesto on roasted grilled veggies, eggs, pasta, steak or chicken if you eat meat, potato salad w green beans... It will keep 1-3 days in your fridge. It is also great drizzled over the tomato mozzarella salad or on a sandwich!
Make plans to visit your local farmers market this weekend and try one of these delicious and easy to make recipes. You'll be so happy that you did!
Happy Healthy Eating,
PS - If you are concerned about the the food that you are feeding your family and its impact on the environment, I highly recommend the documentary film, "Food Inc." Check it out on Netflix or YouTube and tell me what you think.