Sundays are Farmer’s Market days for Matt and I. We wake up early, take a walk down sleepy Ventura to get a big ol’ cup of coffee and before we come home to make a big breakfast, we stop at our local farmer’s market to pick up produce for that week’s meals. I love how Matt will now refuse to buy any produce that looks too good to be true. If it doesn’t have dirt on it and isn’t deformed, he moves on. Makes me so proud really that he takes ownership of where his food is coming from. I honestly could not have done this diet change without him. We both have really embraced significantly improving our diet and have gotten into this concept of eating seasonally that Sundays have now become our favorite day of the week.
I am so excited to introduce you to a new series that is dear to my heart, in fact this was actually a series that I started three years ago in the beginning of Fork & Beans. I’m so happy to be getting back to my roots! The first week of the month I’m going to share with you what produce is in season and a glimpse of what recipes I am going to create this month, spotlighting the items that I have bought at the local farmer’s market. You will be educated about what each fruit or vegetable is, how it tastes and how to store and prepare it best, leaving you with healthy options for eating whole foods that are fresh to the season.
Since we just started off the month of February and because Phil the groundhog saw his shadow, we continue through the winter months. Fruit in the wintertime isn’t as abundant as summertime but there are still some great choices for citrus fruits. But since I am doing an anti-candida diet, consuming fruit is bit scarce for me so I am sticking to vegetables this month.
DESCRIPTION: Belonging to the pumpkin family and possibly the most popular of the winter squash, Butternut Squash is known for it’s pear-shaped figure and golden yellow/orange flesh.
SEASON: Starts in early fall and lasts throughout winter. Milder temperate states will see this squash throughout the month of February.
FLAVOR: Mildly sweet with a nutty flavor to it, Butternut Squash makes for a great savory cream sauce or even mashed for a sweet dessert.
BEST COOKED AS: The squash will need to be sliced in half and baked in the oven until soft (approx.. 30-40 minutes in a heated oven of 350 degrees). From there you can blend it, mash it, or cube it.
STORAGE: Keep in a cool section of you kitchen at room temperature. Can last up to 2 weeks but make sure to check for spoiling.
NUTRITION: There is a reason why this is such a popular vegetable: It is incredibly rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and nutrients, it’s ridiculous. It has a higher vitamin A count than pumpkins, bursting of vitamin B-complex goodies and will fill you with iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Be sure to cook up the seeds as well. They are rich in protein and heart-healthy minerals.
ON THE MENU: Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
DESCRIPTION: Radishes are a low calorie and an extremely nutritious root vegetable that comes in a variety of forms, from daikon to even black radishes.
SEASON: Winter months
FLAVOR: Known for their sharp, pungent flavor, red globe radishes have a mild spiciness with each bite.
BEST COOKED AS: Radishes are the perfect accompaniment to salads and are delicious eaten raw but its taste becomes more flavorful when baked or sauted with olive oil and sea salt.
STORAGE: Remove the stems before storing and keep in a plastic bag in the veggie compartment of your refrigerator. Do not wash until you are ready to eat.
NUTRITION: Radishes are a great source of vitamins C and fiber. They are also a good source of antioxidants, minerals and has a compound called sulforophane that is known to combat cancer cells.
ON THE MENU: Roasted Radishes
DESCRIPTION: A root vegetable also known as Celeriac, celery root grows an underground tuber with long stalks and is just as its name suggests; it is the root of celery.
SEASON: October until April.
FLAVOR: Its texture is more like a potato and its flavor tastes mildly like celery.
BEST COOKED AS: Celery root can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted and/or mashed. Remove the skin before cooking.
STORAGE: Remove the stalks and store in your refrigerator. Can be kept fresh for up to 1 month.
NUTRITION: Bursting in vitamin C, K, and high in iron and calcium, celery root has been known to be a very calming food with anti-inflammatory minerals.
DESCRIPTION: Known for it’s other names Broccoflower, Romanesco Broccoli, and Roman Cauliflower, this heirloom vegetable is a good balance between cauliflower and broccoli.
SEASON: It is considered a cool season vegetable like cauliflower and broccoli, beginning around late summer time and goes through winter until the frost arrives. Those living in more temperate climates like California will see Romanesco in the later months of winter.
TASTE: Milder and a bit sweeter than cauliflower or broccoli, Romanesco has a dense texture that is perfect for heating and keeping its structure. .
BEST COOKED AS: This is a very versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, steamed, and even sauted.
STORAGE: Keep cold in the refrigerator and can last for up to 1 week. It will brown and get soft once it begins to go bad.
NUTRITION: Rich in vitamins C and K and high in fiber, it’s nutrition with every bite.
DESCRIPTION: Parsnips are an underground root vegetable that closely resemble carrots in texture and taste.
SEASON: Begins at winter and lasts through the end of March.
FLAVOR: Packed with a great crunch, parsnips are slightly sweet with a nutty taste to them. Do note that they have a higher sugar content than carrots.
BEST COOKED AS: Can be eaten raw, steamed, or even sauted.
STORAGE: Keep parsnips in a plastic bag in the veggie compartment of your refrigerator. They will stay fresh for a few weeks.
NUTRITION: Parsnips are a great source of vitamins C, K and E and is a great go-to for an anti-inflammatory veggie. It is also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
ON THE MENU: Southwestern Parsnip Hash
DESCRIPTION: Also known as dinosaur kale because its leaf looks like the skin of a dinosaur, Lacinato Kale is a hearty, leafy green that is comparable to Swiss Chard.
SEASON: November until March
FLAVOR: Kale has a firmer and durable structure more so than spinach with an earthy flavor.
BEST COOKED AS: Can be eaten raw as in salads, steamed, or even sauted.
STORAGE: Don’t wash until you are ready to eat. Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.
NUTRITION: Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, B-6 and K. It also serves up a great dose of beta-carotene, minerals like iron, and antioxidants.
We are going to be cooking up some good food this month so stay tuned but in the meantime, check out my Candida-Friendly recipe section for an array of delicious, yet healthy-for-your-gut recipes.