Now that September is upon us, summer’s most luscious produce is available. How can you maximize your shopping and storage options to take advantage of the powerhouse potential that fresh produce offers this sunny season?
TIP # 1 - Fresh fruits and vegetables have the best taste of the whole year’s seasons, and buying them at their peak means that they are at their nutritional peak as the most vital nutrients enter only the last 24-48 hours before they have ripened.
TIP #2 - Give fruit the sniff test--ripe fruit is fragrant. Press a cantaloupe or watermelon at their end tip and inhale. Thanks to instructor Lucy Vaserfirer for this key tip.
TIP #3 – When at the Farmer’s Market – Shop around. You arrive at the market and are awestruck by the first stand and want to buy now. But wait – walk around to every stall and consider what they have, and what the price is. The best deals may very well await you at the back of the market.
TIP # 4 - Look for Heirloom Tomatoes. These old fashioned varieties are bred for flavor. Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are the reason many gardeners get into vegetable gardening in the first place. They're also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is especially good for men’s health. It is only absorbed through cooking, so go Spaghetti sauce!
TIP # 5 – Learn to love the Cabbage Family. Cancer fighting veggies include the cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts family. They can get a bad rap mostly due to overcooking. Prepare them right by roasting them in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness. One cup of raw broccoli florets provides 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
TIP # 6 – Eat more Berries! The pigments that give berries their beautiful blue and red hues contain “phytochemicals” – natural formulas that help to prevent some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that lessens bladder infections. Ripe berries may be frozen in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray and transferred to a zip-top bag when frozen solid so you can pop them individually like candy!
TIP #7 – Check out the book and website "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" by Barbara Kingsolver. This great summer read about choosing a “locavore” lifestyle gives oodles of reasons to buy or grow fresh plus amazing information about food in general – visit Kingsolver’s website to learn more.
TIP # 8 – Avoid refrigerating fruit, especially tomatoes. Contrary to what may seem to make perfect sense you can not only destroy the full flavor by refrigerating you can also cause a faster breakdown of the flesh, especially in stone fruits. When you do refrigerate, always keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene – a natural gas - can be emitted by the fruits in the fridge, causing spoilage to veggies, especially greens.
TIP# 9 – Don’t just buy ‘em – cook ‘em! Looking to learn more about the pleasures of healthy eating? Visit the homepage of the Slow Food Movement.
TIP #10 – Try taking a cooking class to broaden your cooking horizons. These tips above (and more!) are from our cooking instructors. Great cooks know that the process of cooking itself is joyous pastime. Try one of our terrific cooking classes today to find out for yourself that cooking CAN be fun!