Eating for the Seasons–Spring

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Spring is here, and it brings us closer to the farmer’s markets with their fresh vegetables. We are coming out of the cold season, where we have been indoors more than usual, sitting more, eating warming soups and heavier, fattier foods. We have usually gotten less exercise and may feel a bit “stagnated”. This is the time for fresh and green, to give us that light feeling of clean and fresh. Sound crazy? Or do you know what I mean?

Some people believe that we should be eating closer to what our great, great grandparents would have eaten; in other words, things we would have grown or raised ourselves, and at times we would have been able to either grow, raise or trade for. For example, eggs only when the hens are laying, greens in the spring, berries and melons in the heat of the summer, root vegetables in the fall and winter, etc…. In fact, there is an argument that most of our health issues are directly related to our deviation from this practice.

Improved Health

Eating according to the seasons sounds like some crazy new fad, but it is really just what everyone did because they had no choice, up until about 100 years ago. Up until 100 years ago, people were generally pretty healthy, too. Diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, heart problems and autoimmune disorders just weren’t as common. Clearly, something is different. Studies have also shown that the nutrition levels in fresher foods are higher than those that have been transported and stored for periods of time. These are just some reasons to look for those fresh greens this spring, and eat more of them.

Freshness

Food that is locally harvested hasn’t been sitting in transit for days, as well as sitting in the grocery store for days. It is fresher and you will taste the difference. This also eliminates the waste of getting home and having it go bad in 24 hours. Look at lettuce in the winter, it has been shipped from somewhere, and lasts a couple days before it turns brown and limp, if that. Just wait a few months and it will be fresh and green and last much longer in the fridge.

Flavor

How likely are you to buy a tomato in the winter and enjoy it? We all know they have no flavor in the winter. Apples that have been sitting in a cooler for months also have very little flavor, but have you tasted an apple fresh off the tree? Or a tomato fresh off the vine? Oh my!

Economical

When something is in season, there is usually an abundance of it, and the price goes down. Think of zucchini in the late summer, people can’t give it away. The difference in taste and cost of tomatoes in the winter versus the summer are significant. Think of strawberries in the winter, the cost is prohibitive, but some people still buy them. Why we buy chocolate covered strawberries in February for our Valentines is a mystery to me, and think how expensive those are! It is cheaper to buy berries frozen, where they have at least been frozen at a time when they were freshly ripened. It is amazing to buy them fresh picked, though, or pick your own!

Variety

Let’s admit it, we get sick of the same foods all year long. It’s so exciting when different things are in season, fresh strawberries, or blackberries; fresh produce at the farmers markets; tomatoes in season; pesto from the abundance of basil in our garden; pumpkins and squash in the fall; they add to the feeling of the season itself. We love variety, and so do our bodies.

Reduce Fuel Consumption

Another look at this topic could point out that eating things grown locally and seasonally reduce the rate of consumption of fuel it took to get those products shipped from other countries to our grocery stores. It also limits the possible exposure to whatever toxins those countries may be allowing that our country deems toxic; just a warning, don’t buy food from China!

Your Body Loves It!

Aside from all these arguments, I just want to say that I think my body just appreciates food that is locally grown and in season. I just think it is a natural thing for my body to want. You can decide for yourself. Either way, I just want to point out some ideas for trying to eat more in tune with the season we are in. Right now we are just entering spring, and not a lot is available in our area, because our last frost is usually mid April. However, many farmers can grow in green houses and “tunnels”, that really extend the natural growing season. The cold weather crops are also the ones that are most prevalent…such as those fresh leafy greens.

So what am I going to suggest to you? Put them in your diet in abundance! Juices, smoothies and salads are great ways to add those nutrient rich foods into your day. Many people start spring with some sort of a fast of foods they usually love, such as meat or coffee or chocolate or alcohol. Lent is a big one for some people to do just that. There are other religious fasts, as well. Traditionally, “hunters and gatherers” would have been gathering whatever is edible, because they just want to eat. True hunger is a great motivator.

In our culture of quick and convenient, we forget that it hasn’t always been like this. In addition to probably not having had the stress most people have today, most people on the earth up to this point ate what they had on hand, and cooked their meals at home.

Here are just some ideas for how to eat all those fresh, organic, grown in the US, vegetables and greens:

Vegetable Slaw:

Shred cabbage, carrots, turnips and whatever vegetables sound good, add a good dressing and mix well. Throw in sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and you will have a delicious mix for you and your family.

Creamy Soups:

Cream of broccoli soup, beet soup, there are an abundance of recipes available.

Smoothies:

Throw in some milk or nut milk into a blender, add a couple handfuls of greens (be sure to change them out, if you do this many days in a row); add some frozen berries; some collagen or protein powder; a couple dates to sweeten; vanilla, cacao or coconut for flavor; add any superfoods or herbs you want to add, add ice and blend. Once you get the hang of what flavors you really enjoy, you can make some amazing smoothies. Just don’t gulp it down, sip and enjoy.

Salads:

Be inventive here. Don’t stick with lettuce and tomato; add herbs, unusual vegetables like shredded beets and turnips; make sure it has lots of color to make it visually appealing. Dressings can be made ahead of time, and kept in the refrigerator, use your imagination: asian dressings, simple oil and vinegar (try balsamic), yogurt based dressings; there are so many recipes to choose from.

These are just some ideas to get you inspired and ready to add some seasonal foods into your diet. I hope I have given you some places to start. If you need help on incorporating these things into your life, feel free to contact me.

To your health,
Patti Bealer

 

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