Is organic eating really necessary? After all, a conventional apple is better than chips any day, right? Does it really make a difference if you choose organic versus non-organic? Maybe not…The real difference? It’s ALL ABOUT the season. Read on…
There’s no place like home. After a weekend getaway with my two best gal pals—my mom and sis—for a much-needed girls’ retreat, there’s no place like home. Traveling is fun and all, but I always look forward to the return back to Austin with a fresh pep in my step to get back to my simple routine here.
- Morning writing sessions.
- Friend coffee dates.
- Meeting with my favorite clients.
- Walking Town Lake.
- People watching at Whole Foods.
- 100.7 country beats on my radio.
- And Farmer’s Market Sundays.
Hit up the Farmer’s Market yesterday for a little seasonal variety to throw into my weekly meal prep mix.
On the grocery list?
Fresh peaches from Austin’s Orchard.
Shopping at farmer’s markets is more than just a fad or hype.
Farmer’s markets typically showcase the foods that are freshest and most in-season, based upon where you live—which means, not only are you buying some of the best tasting foods, but some of the healthiest foods for you!
And, perhaps even MORE IMPORTANT than getting caught up in “buying ALL organic” versus “non-organic”, farmer’s markets do one thing really well: Showcase the foods that are currently in season.
Here are some benefits seasonal eating boasts:
- MORE Nutrients. The nutrient density of foods changes, depending on the seasons in which they were produced. Sure, it’s nice to be able to buy strawberries while snow falls, but chances are you’re getting less than what you would’ve got in the spring or summer: fewer nutrients, less taste and less value (up to $7 a pop in off season!). Produce picked and eaten at its peak generally has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods harvested before they’re ripe and then shipped long distances. In fact, according to research from the University of California, Davis, spinach and green beans lose two-thirds of their vitamin C alone within one week of harvest. Couple this with long transport times, gas emissions from 18-wheelers, varying temperature storage environments, days sitting on the grocery store shelves, and days in your fridge and who knows how nutrient dense your produce really is?
- Less Chemicals. Organic and non-organic, alike, seasonal foods have fewer chemicals. Why? Science did not have to produce them—nature did. Foods that have been harvested out of season, picked too early and shipped long distances won’t look as pretty or taste as fresh as the seasonal ones that grew during their time to shine. To make them look more appealing and “taste better”, producers add chemical ripening agents, wax coatings, and other preservatives.
- Getting what your body needs. Different times of year require different nutrients, and when you eat in season, chances are that you meet a lot of your body’s innate needs.
For instance: In the summer, when it is much warmer and we’re outside more often, we need more fluids—including what we get from water-rich foods. In fact 20% of our fluid intake comes from food. Look no further than in-season water-rich peaches, watermelon and juicy tomatoes.
Fall is typically the beginning of “flu season.” Ironically, some of the freshest foods during this time of year include foods rich in quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, grapes and apples, known to help reduce susceptibility to the flu virus. And foods that contain the antioxidant allicin — such as garlic, onions and chives — also pack antiviral properties.
Winter time is a time for less activity (think: hibernation), and lower Vitamin-D levels, mood and energy, due to lack of sunlight and cooler temps. Thankfully, serotonin-boosting carbohydrate sources, like winter squash and sweet potatoes are best in the winter. And rich green leafy veggies also provide us with an extra punch of much-needed energy. Wintertime is also the best time for hard cheeses and fermented yogurts—both which boast Vitamin D.
Spring and “allergy season” go hand-in-hand, until we know how to arm our gut with foods that promote a healthy flora and boast antioxidants and Vitamin C like: Oranges, strawberries, lemons, beets, collard greens, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, mint and broccoli.
- Save Money. Who doesn’t like to save a little bit of dinero? Did you ever see the show “The Look for Less” on the Style Channel with Elizabeth Hasselback back in the day? If you did not, the premise was this: $100 was given to contestants to assemble an entire outfit, straight off the runway of one of their favorite designers. Well seasonal grocery shopping can almost be the same thing: How can you create a week’s worth of delicious, healthy, Food Network worthy meals without breaking the bank?! Buy seasonally! In fact, one of the EASIEST ways to tell what is “in season” at your local grocery store is simply to look at what produce is on sale or cheaper depending on the time of year. Sweet potatoes and squash are super cheap in the winter. Berries go for $1.99-$2.99 in the summer, compared to the $7 berries in the winter. And apples can be bought in bulk during the fall for under $3-5. Score! Not only are you getting more nutrients, but also keeping some change.
Want to eat seasonally this summer? Look no further than these fruits and veggies to include in your meals:
Seasonal Fruits & Veggies
- Tropical fruit
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Summer Squash (zucchini, yellow squash)
Even if farmer’s markets are not big where you live, incorporating more seasonal-based from your neighborhood grocery store will still provide you with more bang for your nutrient buck. In addition, consider signing up for a local CSA—a community share agriculture biz that provides you with a weekly box of in-season produce to incorporate into your weekly meals. (Check out the Local Harvest website here to find local resources close to you )
And now…without further ado, I present to you…
Summer Chicken Salad with Fresh Peaches & Cinnamon Toasted Almonds
- 2 large ripe peaches
- 2 cups cooked chicken (I used rotessire)
- 1/3 cup (about) Primal Kitchen Primal Mayo
- Leafy greens (for wraps)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds or walnuts
- Cinnamon, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
- Place nuts on a lined baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Toast for 8-12 minutes.
- While cooking, cut peaches into chunks; place in large bowl.
- Add chicken and mayo.
- Stir well to combine.
- Add nuts.
- Wrap up in a leaf or two (collard greens or rainbow chard)