Before we know it, spring will be upon us! Along with sunny skies, greener grass, and flowering trees comes the opening weekends for local farmers markets! They pop up all across the city and county and offer a fresh array of local and seasonal produce.
In the earlier months (April through June) you may find selections such as spinach, parsnips, fresh herbs, mushrooms, rhubarb, radishes, chard, lettuces, and asparagus. More variety makes it way to the markets throughout the summer and fall months including berries, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, kale, onions, peppers, and squash. Now I’m getting hungry!
But what should you do with all of these nutrient-rich, fresh, local ingredients? Too often I hear of people going to the market, coming home with a bag of goodies, and letting them rot while they are eating out and relying on convenience foods. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then I encourage you to make a change and devote yourself to home cooking!
While there is no need to use a formal recipe, it can be helpful when you are working with unfamiliar ingredients. We live in a society inundated with information, including recipes, so try picking two to three recipe sources and sticking with them. Follow blogs or download recipe apps so you can stay up to date and get daily inspiration right at your fingertips. Recipe apps I enjoy include Whole Foods Recipes, Yummly, and Epicurious.
Another great tip to incorporate fresh farmer’s market produce into your diet is to prepare the food in different ways. I know plenty of my clients who claim to dislike Brussels sprouts (boiled and bland) until one day they try them in a new way (roasted and flavorful!) Cooking techniques such as roasting, sautéing, grilling, and even drying can bring out unique flavors and textures to your produce.
Browsing the Market
Also, keep in mind that eating fresh produce can taste drastically different than its grocery store counterpart. I remember as a child despising peas, which came from a can or from the freezer, but once I tried fresh peas from the garden I couldn’t get enough! So, be open minded about produce when you’re browsing the market.
Lastly, do not be afraid to ask the local farmer how he or she prepares the ingredient. Farmers are often experts in what they grow and may have some excellent tips on how to prepare and use the ingredients you are interested in purchasing.