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    Supporting Local Farmers During the Harvest Season

     farmersmarket2015

    Adapted from original post on Barbara Mendez Nutrition 

    When I first moved to New York City, the only farmer’s market was in Union Square. Saturday’s I’d meander downtown and marvel at vegetable varietals I never knew existed. Purple tomatoes, rainbow chard, maitake mushrooms, orange cauliflower and white eggplants? How fantastic! There, in the bustling stalls of the Union Square Market my passion for cooking took off.

    Since then, Markets have proliferated, and are now as ubiquitous to the NYC landscape as Citibikes. Within blocks of home, I find inspiration for the week’s menu from a seasonal assortment of fruits and vegetables and Autumn’s harvest is the best because nature is bursting with offerings.

    If you value good, clean food, I encourage you to find your local farmer’s market and purchase as much as you can from its vendors. You’re not only supporting an important economy, you’re participating in the preservation of a food ideology that’s struggling in the face of big business agriculture. It’s not enough to believe that GMO foods should be labeled in order to know what you’re eating. Better is to vote with your dollars by buying non-GMO foods. Where you spend your money says more about your beliefs and values than the ballots you cast on voting day.

    Heirloom tomatoes make me happy. Colorful, plump and sweet, they enliven salads and make excellent side dishes. Chopped with fresh basil and avocado, they’re great with my breakfast veggie omelet. I’ll also use them to make Heirloom Gazpacho, garnished with avocado chunks. On late nights I’ll dice them up for a wonderful Pasta Roma, a fresh and comforting meal to end a busy day. Not into pasta? Then use the same tomato mixture over grilled chicken for a delicious protein-rich, low-carb option.

    I love herbs! Fragrant and beautiful, they add so much flavor to meals. Minced, raw herbs blended with olive oil and lemon juice go well on salads and are healthier than bottled dressings. Dill or cilantro work well for this but so would mint and basil. Mint gives a nice bite to Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a fantastic kick of flavor to my green juice. I also garnish sparkling water with sprigs of it and a splash of lemon juice. Refreshing!

    heirloomtomatoes

    farmersmarketmeals2

    pinenuts

    Purple basil is at the end of its season, but I made fresh pesto that I’ll freeze and enjoy all winter long in soups and pastas. I’ll also use a mixture of these herbs to spice up olives.

    Autumn’s cranberry bean season, which always reminds me of my mother-in-law, Jennie. Every fall we’d go to her local market and get bags of perfect tie-dyed beans that she’d expertly simmer into a rich Pasta Fagiole, a staple in my Autumn kitchen. GStaying on a healthy eating plan is made much easier when you have a variety of wonderful meals to choose from. If you commit to making one recipe a week that you can freeze, you’ll have a fridge full of options in no time. Once you get into the habit, you’ll see that cooking at home is accessible, healthy and cost efficient. Using fresh, organic ingredients that you purchased at the Farmer’s Market is an additional boon to your wellbeing.

    Pasta Fagiole

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
    • 1-15 oz carton POM crushed tomatoes
    • 3 cups vegetable broth (you can also use chicken broth)
    • 1.5 cups fresh cranberry beans (or 1 can cannellini or Great Northern beans)
    • Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
    • Cooked rice pasta

    Directions

    • Using a stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent then add the garlic and cook till fragrant. Add the oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir.
    • Add stock, tomatoes and beans and bring to a simmer. Simmer until beans are tender if using fresh, about an hour to an hour and a half. Canned beans can be cooked for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend together.
    • Stir in fresh basil. Adjust salt and pepper.
    • Turn off heat and allow to cool somewhat before serving.
    • In soup bowls, place a couple of tablespoons of cooked rice pasta. Ladle soup over pasta and garnish with a dollop of pesto and chopped fresh basil. Enjoy!

     

    Sautéed Greens with Garlic Over Pasta

    Ingredients

    • 1 bunch of greens like chard, spinach or kale, clean, chopped, with stems removed (save them for green juices)
    • 2 to 3 cloves garlic (or to taste preference… I use 4 J)
    • 1-tablespoon olive oil
    • Homemade vegetable stock (chicken stock is fine too), about ½ cup
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
    • Himalayan salt
    • Rice pasta
    • Garnish: Chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes and pesto

    Directions

    • Bring water to a boil to make the pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
    • In a frying pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic. Add red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until fragrant.
    • Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth, creating a sauce. You’ll be cooking all the greens in this sauce so if it feels like it won’t be enough to coat and flavor all the greens, add more stock, simmering with the garlic and red pepper.
    • Once it’s simmered for a couple of minutes, add the greens. Using tongs, turn the greens to submerge in sauce. Cover and cook until greens are wilted. Remove cover and allow the sauce to thicken a little bit.
    • When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the green mixture. Toss well and serve with chopped fresh tomatoes and a dollop of pesto. Enjoy!

    CLEANSE Adviser Barbara Mendez is a Nutritional Consultant, Registered Pharmacist and CLEANSE Adviser practicing in New York City.

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