Year of Food: August is Zucchini
Summertime in August, no matter where you live in North America, should pretty much have a full harvest of locally grown foods - basically the best time of the year. The bittersweet offerings from the market like swiss chard, heirloom tomatoes and the never-ending sweet and tart cherries are overflowing here in Colorado.
Summer squashes like zucchini, is one of those vegetables that is extremely versatile. Contains 95% water and a lot, I mean a LOT of vitamin A, Potassium + Folate. Holy healthy! For maximum absorption - serve slightly steamed with a slab of butter or olive oil, sea salt + a squeeze of lemon.
Or if you're anything like me, you enjoy baking something sweet but healthy. This protein-packed, spiced zucchini + hemp loaf is a quick recipe you can interchange the squash depending on what's available. The addition of hemp powder gives it a huge nutritional boost of Calcium + Iron. Hemp powder is a complete protein, containing all the amino acids required for the body, it's great in smoothies, granola, oatmeal and soups. There's no better protein powder that I've seen yet. This is pure and doesn't give digestive issues like some other powders like brown rice or yikes soy!
No I didn't use brown sugar like most recipes call for. I like using coconut sugar in most of my baking, for many reasons but mainly because of it's lower GI rating. Especially better than the hyped-up agave nectar, which is a processed fructose and is not the same fructose as in fruits and vegetables (which is assimilated more effectively). Agave goes straight to the liver just like alcohol. It's inflammatory and increases body fat. Forget what I'm saying, just listen to Jenny over at The Nourished Kitchen, she knows what she's talking about. Like her, I favor more natural sweeteners, maple syrup, molasses for that deep earthy sweetness. Honey is great as well, be careful not to heat honey, in Ayurveda wisdom it's shown to increase inflammation and heating can actually increase the GI rating. Booo! And to top it off, you're loosing so many natural nutrients available in the raw form. Save honey for your tongue and toast!
Summer Spice Zucchini Loaf with Hemp
Preheat oven: 350°F
3/4 cup coconut oil, softened
2 T maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 t vanilla extract
2 large zucchini, grated and patted with towel
1 1/2 cups organic unbleached whole wheat flour
2 T hemp powder
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
3/4 t sea salt
Mix: dry ingredients
Beat: eggs and add sweeteners in a separate bowl
Add in: remaining wet ingredients except zucchini - stir
Fold in: zucchini into wet ingredients
Combine: dry ingredients into wet
Pour: into a greased loaf pan
Bake: for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!
Year of Food: July is Peaches
Finally! We wait all year long for these sweet, juicy + sometimes sour peaches. Simply snacking on them freshly washed alone, in a freshly baked pie or in a delicious leafy greens salad. Peaches apart of the carotene family and provide vitamin C + A, along with a big dose of minerals like iron + potassium - perfect for hot summer days. Energetically speaking, yellow fruits are linked to the throat chakra in the body. Enjoying fruits and vegetables high in juices, offer a sense of open truthfulness, great for clearing out stuck energy!
Year of Food: June is Asparagus
Coming from the state of California where fruit like peaches + nectarines are in the markets. I had to change the focus for June to something more seasonal in Colorado + no less than the mighty asparagus. This pungent Mediterranean vegetable, is an excellent source of potassium, a key mineral for heart disease prevention. Asparagus naturally rich in vitamin B6 which supports healthy skin, digestive issues + all other nervous system + hormonal issues.
Roast these beautifully, long, green stalks wrapped with bacon, make a creamy vegetable soup like below or simply steamed with lemon, olive oil + balsamic vinegar.
Asparagus spinach soup with coconut + basil
3 tbsp ghee or butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cups vegetable or bone broth
1 can of coconut milk
2 red potatoes, peeled + chopped
5 basil leaves, minced
1 bunch of spinach
freshly ground white pepper
sea salt to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
Melt: 2 tbsp ghee or butter in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat
Sauteé: the chopped onions + garlic on med/low until soft about 10 minutes
Add: broth, coconut milk, potatoes - bring to a boil over high
Reduce: to med/low
Stir in: basil + spinach, cover + simmer low for 20 minutes
Blend: using a immersion stick or blender - pureé until silky smooth
Season: with salt + pepper + lemon juice
Year of Food: May is Spring Onion
For the month of May, I found there was still an abundance of leafy greens. While I love leafy greens for many different uses. I really wanted to try something different - but unique to May. The spring onion with purple, yellow + green skin, have always caught my eye. (BTW, for those of you on the eastern coast, I recently was visiting and found it to be a popular time for locally grown cucumbers - and that actually tasted good!)
Spring onions in particular have a distinct look and shape - like giant green onions! And have unexpected nutritional capabilities like powerful anti-biotic strength + even more impressive is the feeding to good gut bacteria in prebiotic form - supporting the growth of good bacteria + to prevent many auto-immune disorders. These both in taendum are great for the immune system + most effective when eaten raw or lightly simmered in a mineral broth.
SPRING ONION SOUP WITH LENTILS + SPINACH
2 tbsp bacon fat
4 spring onions, bulbs sliced, stalks in longer pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup french green lentils soaking in water for 20min
8 cups chicken broth
3 potatoes, small dice
1 cup filtered water
5 basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch spinach
Melt: 2 tbsp bacon fat in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat
note: stainless steel is the safest material for boiling + sauteéing
Sauteé: the sliced spring onions until soft
Add: butter + garlic, sauteé for a minute
Add: broth then potatoes + lentils - bring to a boil over high
Reduce: to med/low
Stir in: reserved onion stalks, basil + spinach
Add: cover + simmer low for 20 minutes
Season: with salt + pepper
Year of Food: April is Artichoke
Artichokes used to be one of those vegetables that I never touched in the grocery store. It looked daunting + not really that appetizing. Truthfully, the artichoke is a relative of the Mediterranean, thistle family + withholds vitamin K - anti-aging phytonutrients aka longevity!
But really, the best part requires a little digging + steaming or braising. Some moisture + heat to unlock the heart. This little gem is packed with cancer-fighting, anti-oxidants + magnesium for osteoporosis prevention.
Toss the warm hearts in olive oil, sea salt + squeeze of lemon juice with some arugula… too good.
Year of Food: March is Kale
March on the northern west coast, winter foods start to fade away and the sweetness of spring beings to shine. Kale tends to be available at farmers' markets most of the year, but seems to have the best flavor right about now! And kale is one of those leafy greens that seems to get the most attention - we're not the only ones that think so. It's likely because of it's jam-packed nutrient density - from calcium to folate both important for bone health. Amazing anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting powers, it's no joke - kale is ready to rumble! (1)
quick cook: Toss it in your green smoothie, sauté with garlic, butter + sea salt with a squeeze of lemon to better absorb nutrients - or mix it with herbs that will soon to be overflowing at the market in the months to come!
quick tip: for individuals with thyroid conditions, steam slightly for 5 minutes to reduce goitrogens - an enemy to your thyroid!
Year of Food: February is Citrus
Citrus fruits are a key immune supportive food.(1) Loaded with vitamin C, electrolytes + trace minerals. Prepare with bitter greens, apples, shallots +cabbage. Preserve the rinds for a softer citrus, sweet treat or use in a traditionally made Moroccan dish called Tagine.(2) This, is why we cook!
There's so many recipes that require citrus fruits as for adding a acid or brightness to the dish. But to showcase the actual fruit itself, preserving lemons seems like a worthwhile technique - and it isn't as complex you may think - patience is the key. Fermentation takes up to 8 weeks! The Nourished Kitchen has it figured out, along with other ways you can preserve and pickle different local foods that are only available only some seasons of the year. Meyer lemons are seasonal in California for most of January thru to late April, but that's a stretch. Let's savor the sweetness!
(1) BAUMAN COLLEGE NATURAL CHEF TEXTBOOK (2013) BAUMAN, E., ET AL.
(2) Charlottes kitchen diary
FROM left COUNTER-CLOCKWISE: savoy, RED + GREEN
Supports digestion, is anti-cancer + anti-inflammatory. Contains vitamin C, B6 + folic acid.(1) Cook with apples, bacon, shallots, apple cider vinegar + olive oil.(2)
For a tasty twist on a potato salad, try this recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. A woman who knows her vegetables! This recipe is great since the only thing you need to pick-up from the grocery store is the honk'n head of cabbage. The rest of the ingredients, you most likely have on hand (see the pantry base + fresh foods list). You could serve this with a fried egg or for meat-eaters, sausage or ham.
The savoy cabbage was so beautiful with the outer leaves as a gradient from green to purple. Red cabbage looks awesome in a raw salad and the green is perfect for long cooking stews. This is the beauty of winter in food. What natural foods do you like to cook with in January?
note: You could substitute the feta for goat cheese or cilantro for the dill. I made a mix of cilantro, parsley + dill.
1 lb fingerling potatoes, halved
3 T apple cider vinegar + a splash
2 T high heat fat
1/2 green or savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
handful of herbs like dill, parsley or cilantro, minced
goat cheese or feta, crumbled
1. Cover potatoes in water with a splash of acv - cover + bring to a simmer until you can pierce with a fork
3. Warm some high heat oil like ghee or coconut oil to a sauté pan, transfer potatoes to pan
4. Turn to brown on both sides - about 10 minutes - remove from heat, set aside
5. Add about a half a cup of water to the pan + braise cabbage for about 10 minutes
6. Add cabbage to a big bowl and toss with olive oil, herbs + cheese + reserved potatoes - season + enjoy
(1) Michael T.Murray - Joseph E.Pizzorno - Lara Pizzorno - Atria Books - 2005
(2) Karen Page - Andrew Dornenburg - Little, Brown and Co. - 2008