On enjoying the bounty of the season
Once again it is the time of year when we are outside more, enjoying the sun and activities like swimming, hiking, bicycling, etc. The farms and farmers’ markets are bustling. There are wonderful farmer’s markets all over the Monadnock region. Often, there are fruits and vegetables available that we may not be familiar with or we don’t know how to prepare them. Below are a few ideas that maybe you already enjoy, or will inspire you to try something in a different way.
Veggies and fruits on the grill
The fruits and veggies of the season are abundant, and it is fun to pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and more. The weather lately seems to be either deliciously cool or swelteringly humid. It’s hard to cook on those hot, humid days! If you have a grill, cooking outside makes it easier. Most of us think of the grill for cooking meats, but it is a great tool for cooking veggies and even fruits, too! Skewers — usually metal, bamboo, or even clean twigs — can be used to put some cut up veggies on. Keep an eye on them and flip them regularly, so they cook evenly and don’t burn. Try zucchini or other summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, onion, or any veggies you like. Stone fruits, like peaches, nectarines, apricots, etc., taste delicious when lightly grilled. No need to use any oil — and please steer clear of vegetable oils like corn or “canola” as these are highly processed and impossible for the body to properly digest. Instead, after your veggies are grilled to your liking, slather them with real butter —not margarine - again, not real food — a little sea salt and/or some herbs and enjoy!
Ferment your vegetables
Another way to enjoy them is to culture them, which is also known as fermenting. This is different than pickling, which adds vinegar and sugar. When you ferment veggies, they actually become more nutritious. Not so much when pickled. To culture veggies, put them in a glass jar with a lid. Add about 1 tablespoon of sea salt — it’s important not to use table salt here — enough water to cover; use filtered water if your tap water has chlorine, etc. in it, as that will void the healthful qualities of the veggies and fermenting process. Leave about 1 inch from the top of the water to the top of the jar. Cover and keep in a dry, dark place for a few days. Open the top of the lid each day to release any gas. After a few days, you will notice tiny white bubbles at the top of the water. This lets you know that the process is working.
Taste the veggies after a few days. If it is too salty, let it sit a day or two more. It will have that sour, pickled taste. Think sauerkraut or real dill pickles. Once fermented to your liking, they will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Any veggie can be fermented in this way. Bigger ones need to be cut into smaller pieces but this is one of those techniques that is very adaptable and forgiving. The actual time it takes to complete the process depends on factors, such as the temperature of the room — the warmer it is, the faster it happens — the type of vegetable, etc. This is one of the main ways that people preserved their harvest. It is simple and inexpensive to do.
Right now, radishes are abundant! I’ve never been a big fan of their bitter taste when raw, but a friend introduced me to the joy of roasting radishes! Simply cut them into halves or quarters, Cover them in melted butter or coconut oil —again, avoid highly processed and refined vegetable oils — place them on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Flip them half way through and check for the consistency of your liking. When roasted, they lose their bitterness. Enjoy with some garlic salt and butter. Yum!
Just a reminder to drink water! With the weather as hot and humid as it is, and our upped activity levels, keeping your body hydrated is so important. Avoid the highly processed “sports drinks” that are really just sugar water with toxic chemicals and colors. Instead, choose water with some lemon or lime, a dash (just a few granuals per drink) of sea salt (not table salt), and a tablespoon of honey — local and raw if possible. This will go a long way to bring back those electrolytes that your body sweats out. Add some fruit, like berries, for a nice twist.
Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower you to heal your own body and keep it healthy. See www.jenihall.com, for more information.