Wellness: The Bountiful Season of Spring!
Eating well this season is EASY!
First, the sales pitch
Fruits and vegetables are good for you. And, kiddies, the older you get the more you need your veggies. Your cells start breaking down, and you stop absorbing nutrients as well, so you gotta LOAD UP to bolster those cell processes. According to the CDC only 10% of adults get the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. (That’s about 5 cups combined if you’re keeping score.) That CRAZY! Especially during farmers market season! A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check and stave off the old diabetes monster. Also keep in mind that some nutrients only exist in plants. Those are: Vitamin C, quercetin, lignans, beta-glucan, Inulin, pectin, and resistant starch. Why do we need those? I have no idea, but I do know that eating a variety of fruits and veggies has been shown to REVERSE signs of aging and the world populations that subsist mostly on plants have a longer (and if you believe the Blue Zones guy, happier) life. Sign me up!
(This is actually deadly serious stuff. 30% - 35% of all cancer diagnoses could be eliminated if people just ate better.)
But, you’re afraid of being deprived and HUNGRY if you replace your Big Mac (or ribeye or macaroni and cheese, or whatever it is you put in your muzzle) with something from the damn farmers market, right? Check out these meals. This is breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack for person A and person B. Guess what? They have roughly the same number of calories. Still worried about being deprived?
Menu A Menu B
The proof is in the calculator
For the naysayers, here’s the nutrition information for each of the days-worth of meals above. Menu B actually has about 200 MORE calories, not to mention twice as much fat, over 2.5 times as much saturated fat, less than half the fiber and less protein than menu A. I see you eyeing the sugar content. Menu A has more sugar, but that’s mostly due to the blackberries, strawberries, peaches and tomatoes, which also have fiber to help you absorb it more slowly (ie it’s better for you). The added sugar is what you’re looking for and that’s about the same between the two meals. (The sandwich roll, the pancakes and the crackers have about as much added sugar as the cookie AND the whipped cream combined.) And micro-nutrients like Vitamin D and potassium? Well, meal A blows meal B out of the water on those, too.
So, my little chickadees, what’s your excuse now?
To be fair, it is HARD to change habits and eat things you’re not used to eating. You’re leaving a LOT of comfort behind and that doesn’t feel good. So, my advice? Try just ONE thing. Get a few raspberries to have instead of the fries, or a purple carrot to munch on while you’re making dinner. Whatever you can do, even baby steps, will move you one step further away from the cancer diagnosis or the diabetes death trap. And, once you try some of this juicy goodness, you may find yourself reaching for more.
NOW is the time to start, because the ripe, local produce is at its peak in the spring and summer. The stuff actually tastes good! Farmers markets are everywhere, so it’s easy to grab some of that goodness, too.
You’d love to eat more plants, but there just isn’t time!
Let me dispel that little myth. Fruits and veggies mostly come in their own ready-to-eat package. Here are some examples:
How about peas? If you rush out TODAY there will probably still be some fresh English peas at your local farmers market. They come in their own little pod for easy carrying and all ya gotta do is pop ‘em out of the pod and into your mouth. Easy “peas”y!
Rather start with something sweet? I gotcha covered there, too. It’s strawberry season and just about to be peach season at the farmers market! Cut a bunch of strawberries in half and SLATHER them with whipped cream. Go ahead! Pile it on! It’s mostly air and satisfaction with very little fat and sugar by volume, believe it or not. And, if you’re craving a frozen treat, no problem. Cut berries or peaches in chunks and freeze them. Then, when you’re watching Diners Drive-ins and Dives and Guy wants you to go to Flavortown, just pop the frozen treats out of the freezer, go heavy on the whipped cream and top it with some chopped nuts. And leave the guilt to the guys on the screen.
My FAVORITE time at the farmers market is coming up in a month or two and my mouth can’t wait. It’s almost tomato season! Fresh, just picked tomatoes are nothing like you get at the grocery store. They’re sweet and juicy! And those couldn’t be easier to enjoy, either. Slice ‘em and top them with fresh basil that you picked up while you were hanging out with the farmers. Then, put pinch of salt and either a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic on them, or cheat a bit and buy some balsamic glaze at Trader Joe’s. THE. BEST. SUMMER. SALAD. EVER!
Toast with the Most
Ready to try something a little more complicated, but still ready in 10 minutes or less? My newest go-to is toast. Yep. Toast. Just like you used to eat when you were a kid. I like Dave’s thin sliced Powerseed bread because it has a bunch of whole grains, nuts and seeds instead of refined grains and sugar. Toast it. See, ya gotta toast it or it’s not toast. Anyway, toast it, then top it.
We’re in GREAT luck because it is also avocado season, so we can go with the traditional avocado toast. Smash up half of a farmers market avocado with a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Scramble up two eggs that the guy at the farmers market said were just laid this morning. Spread the avocado on two pieces of toast. Put a tablespoon or two of feta cheese on top and then the eggs on top of that. Top it with some sunflower seeds (that you can probably pick up from the farmers). Voila! The best avocado toast this side of the tropics.
Next up, how about asparagus toast? Asparagus is very much in season right now and it’s tremendous! Take your two pieces of toast and spread a couple (or four) tablespoons of hummus on top. Many farmers markets have a guy selling hummus. Look for him! If you can’t find him, your local grocery store variety will do. (Or call my son. He makes the best hummus you’ve ever had! No joke.) Anyway, spread on the hummus. Steam up some asparagus and then cut it into bite size pieces and generously cover the hummus with that. Add your feta and sunflower seeds (and maybe a sprinkle of turmeric if you’re feeling really healthy) and dig in! Delish!
Wild and wonderful
Ready to try something new? I recommend green garlic.
It’s the end of the season for the green stuff, so rush out right now and grab yourself some! It’s going to be actual garlic here, pretty soon. Green garlic is the same plant as the better known variety, but you pick it before it’s had a chance for the bulb to mature. See the little cloves in this picture of a cross-section of the bulb?
OK, so it’s cute, but how do you use it? You can use it in any recipe that calls for scallions or leeks or even shallots. It has a very mild flavor that is kind of a cross between a scallion and garlic. It’s da bomb! Try some!
The farmers are waiting for you!
So, what are you waiting for? Run (don’t walk) out to your local farmers market and pick up some of the bounty of the season! It’s easy; it’s nutritious; it’s delicious; it’s fun AND you get to feel cute as a button for eating like a grown up!