Health Habits: Seasonal Eating
Every season brings variety to nutritious eating. Seasonal eating involves the purchase and consumption of food grown during a particular season. The food picked at each season is at its peak in flavor and nutrition. Have you ever noticed how produce does not look or taste as good during the offseason? Fruit and vegetables are harvested early to be shipped and distributed. Produce may continue to ripen in transit, but the nutritional value is not as good as when allowed to ripen on the parent plants. This is because the flavor and nutrients come from the soil.
Seasonal eating can help provide well-rounded meals. What’s a well-rounded meal, you ask? Well-rounded meals contain all the components necessary for health and satiety. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat combined in a meal provide satiety due to the length of time each nutrient takes to digest. The fruit and vegetables of the season provide most of the carbohydrates, protein, and fats. We have the option of purchasing our meat (protein and fats) from local farmers, the local grocery store, or hunt for it. The plants we eat get their nutrients from the soil, which gets consumed by the animals we hunt. By consuming animal proteins we are consuming some of the nutrients from the plants they ate. In a nutshell, this is why we benefit the most from seasonal eating.
Here are some combinations of summer seasonal foods to try:
Bass with heirloom tomato salad and roasted Yukon gold potatoes
Grilled chicken breasts with baked summer squash sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and pesto pasta
Seared steak tossed in balsamic vinaigrette with spinach, chard, & romaine as the salad base, finished with fresh garden tomatoes and grilled corn.
Tilapia with a side of Mediterranean chopped salad (romaine, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, dill, and feta cheese) and pita bread
Shrimp and veggie foil packs: toss shrimp and veggies (roughly chopped bell peppers, squash, onions, and corn with grape tomatoes) in a bowl, with herbs and spices such as paprika, celery seed, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Then divide onto foil squares, fold the edges to seal them, and grill them until they’re cooked through. For food safety rules, check out usda.gov and search for “food safety.”
When we eat what nature provides us during each particular season, we are saving money and reducing environmental impact. Purchasing local seasonal food allows for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use, supports the local economy, and gives the body dense nutrition. I would be remiss if I did not tell you that Cameron is blessed with an organic produce farm, Thistledown Gardens. You may find them on their Facebook page for updates and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) sign-ups. Please give them a try, as well as a combination, or two from the listed above.
This week’s health habit: Learn about seasonal vegetables in your area and share a seasonal meal with friends or family.