I’ve chatted about this in previous posts, but along with plant based eating, I can not emphasize enough the value of a seasonal table. This past week I was given the opportunity to share my two-sense with DC’s FRESHFARM Market’s audience – highlighting my late springtime farmers market must haves, their nutritional benefits, and why you’ll find them in my basket. Sunday mornings you’ll find my husband and me wandering through DC’s Dupont market – piping hot coffees in hand- swooning over Mother Nature’s magic and planning how we can best utilize a market haul to prepare our vibrant, delicious, and affordable meals. As we welcome springtime and early summer, here are a few tips on why you should shop seasonal and, though the list is always evolving, my current Washington, DC favorite market finds.
Taste // foods that are in season tend to retain a much more delicious and vibrant taste than ones that are being grown out of out of season. Flavors are stronger, more developed, and the textures are as they’re meant to be.
Price // seasonal produce are priced much more economically than those out of season, saving you money on your grocery bills. Because fruits and vegetables are easier to grow in their proper seasons, they’re more abundant, less time-intensive, and more affordable for consumers.
Eating Locally // eating locally tends to go hand-in-hand with eating seasonally -purchasing both seasonal and locally grown foods help provide financial support to the farmers in your area, help grow your local economy, and help reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on the pollution and fuel produced from extensive transportation.
Nutrition // eating seasonally provides variety to your diet, helping you get a full array of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients over the course of the year. Also, when produce are grown in their proper season, under the appropriate growing conditions, they’re able to produce their optimal nutrient content and are often picked at their nutritional peak. Studies have shown that some crops can have up to three times more nutrients when grown in season. [line][line]
1. Chaia Tacos – I’m the first to admit I eat with my eyes (and perhaps my nose) – smitten by seasonal colors, vibrancy, and a passion that can only be identified through thoughtful detail and intention. With lines seen winding through DC’s farmers markets, Chaia, the ‘farm to taco’ brainchild of founders Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon, continues to top my list as a fast-casual favorite on a sunny Sunday morning (cue: warm breezy picnic in the midst of Dupont Circle hubbub). With menu options ranging from zucchini with farmstead cheese to skillet charred corn with green chilies and a fried farm fresh egg, market goers find themselves immersed in seasonality and the local and sustainable minded attention it dictates. This past April, Chia and I collaborated on their first vegan taco (!), a ‘Five Greens’ taco, the epitome of warm weather, sunshine, light and bright flavors, and Goddess Vibes. The locally sourced, seasonal bite featured five springtime greens: collards, mustard greens, spinach, lacinato kale and turnip tops. Although the taco is no longer available at market, it will be available at their brick and mortar location opening this summer. In the meantime, you can always prepare Chaia’s Smoky Tomatillo Salsa recipe at home!
2. Kale – a day doesn’t go by where I don’t add kale (or some other dark leafy green!) into a smoothie or salad bowl. Although kale can seem coarse and prehistoric looking, don’t be intimidated- properly prepared it’s truly delicious packed to the brim with healthful benefits. As a nutritional powerhouse, kale is a great source of iron, vitamin K, bone building calcium and magnesium, and is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy. I add kale to everything, from a heaping handful in my Banana Avocado ‘Ice Cream’ smoothie to a base of my Baked Pistachio and Mint Falafel salad.
3. Sauerkraut + Kimchi; Number 1 Sons – A life long fan of all things fermented, I love seeing Sauerkraut and Kimchi at the market – ingredients I reach for on a daily basis to munch on by the forkful or add to my Rainbow Buddha Bowl salads. For those unfamiliar, fermentation is simply a process where a carbohydrate is converted into an acid or an alcohol; it involves live bacteria and often results in higher yields of good bacteria, probiotics! Probiotics are the good guys, they’re the bacteria army you want on your side and you want to keep their home (your gut) thriving with food for them to grow and in balance to create a happy ecosystem. I’m especially partial to Number 1 Son’s red cabbage and kale Kimchi (Purple Haze) and caraway kraut (Stinkin’ Rye)!
4. Raw Honey + Bee Pollen – Right in the midst of springtime allergy season, I couldn’t be more thankful for the accessibility of raw and local honey and bee pollen – nature’s immune booster and allergy vaccine. Although many vegans tend to stay clear of all animal byproducts, I lean towards treating my body with natural, holistic, and humanely soured ingredients instead of reaching for a Zyrtec or cough medicine to qualm ailments. During allergy season I make sure to stock up on locally sourced bee pollen and have about 1-2 teaspoons/day. Exposing my body to the bee pollen is like giving myself a natural vaccine, allowing my body to build up the antibodies it needs so my allergy symptoms aren’t as severe. This season I’ve been especially drawn to raw honey, adding it as a healthful sweetener to my Grilled Pineapple & Coconut Popsicles.
5. Baguette – Although I do have my go-to stands at the market, these past few weeks I’ve been most excited by the ever rotating rounds of local bread artisans, inching my way to the front of their crowded lines and pining over their crustiest, freshest, warmest loaves. Weekdays, I tend to stick with grains like farro, quinoa, and brown rice as my main sources of carbohydrates, but there’s something so cozy and nostalgic about tearing off a fresh baked hunk and dunking it into homemade jam or a piping bowl of seasonally inspired stew. Although we usually associate soups and stews with colder weather months, I love throwing leftover greens and produce into a simmering pot for a quick, simple, and affordable weeknight meal – like my So Many Vegetables Soup or Weekday Vegetable Bean Soup, served with a crusty knob of baguette and a fresh lemon juice.