My absolutely favorite activity to do on Saturday is to visit our local Farmer's Market. I mix it up each weekend between Downingtown's Farmers Market and West Chester. The smells and bright colors always inspire me for my family's healthy meals. August yields so many fresh and inexpensive produce including beans, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, pears, potatoes, berries, squash, tomatoes and watermelon. I always check the website What's in Season to get an idea of meals. The Farmer's Markets usually have recipe cards featuring their seasonal products, so you are never at loss for how to cook it! The produce at this markets are fresh, local and recently picked which means it has the highest nutrition content. A win-win for sure!
Today I took a small group of our patients to the West Chester Grower's Market. The Market has been operating on Saturdays since 1995 and is located at the corner of North Market and West Chestnut Streets in West Chester, PA. I used to venture there as a college student and buy the cheaper bruised produce that was on sale. The same farmer is still there! If he only knew he was my only fruit supply throughout college! We found some great deals on produce today that were not bruised. Queens Produce, a local farm that specializes in Asian based fruits, herbs and vegetables, was selling Asian Pears for $2.00 a pound and long green beans at a very low price. Additionally, all of their produce is organic and free of pesticides. As an added plus, the Farmer at this farm is very knowledgeable about what nutrients and minerals are in his produce. If you are looking for leafy greens high in iron or avoiding high vitamin K produce, this is the farmer to speak to!
There was a game called Guess the Vegetable operated by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program in which you won green peppers. Our entire group guessed the tomato, fennel, and corn mystery produce! Everyone won a pepper and a Guide to Pennsylvania Tomatoes. We enjoyed each farmer stand and the unique foods at each booth. Everyone tasted their way through goat cheese and vegetable samplings. It was a tasty Saturday for everyone!
Our last booth we toured had carrots with green tops on them. They were 50 cents less that the carrots without the tops. The carrots tops can be made into pesto, a raw salad, or as vegetable stock. Carrot green tops are high in vitamin C and calcium. You can boil them into a nutrient rich low sodium broth to retain the nutrients. I clean off the entire carrot and cut the tops off. Once a week, I do food preparation for the entire week. One of my "prep" items is to cut up raw vegetables such as peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers for snacks throughout the week. I save the vegetable scraps (and any other ends of vegetables like garlic and onion from dinner prep) and freeze so I can make vegetable stock. This week I have enough vegetable scraps, along with the carrot tops to make about 50 cups! This can be frozen into 2-4 cup containers and saved for future soups or to use for cooking instead of oil. It's a great way to add even more nutrition to a dish!
Hopefully I will see you at our next Farmer's Market tour or at our Weight Loss Wednesdays Group! Stay tuned for our 21 day Vegetarian Challenge that starts after Labor Day. Its a great way to increase your vegetable intake and will include easy recipes for the whole family.
Recipe for Vegetable Stock
4 cups of vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, peppers, root vegetables, onion, garlic, etc)
2 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 filled stockpot of water
Boil water with scraps, bay leaf and seasons for 1 hour. Let cool. Using a strainer, pour broth into small containers to freeze and save for later.
*Nutrition: the nutrition varies on this depending on what vegetable scraps and how much salt you use.
The Dieting Dietitian