Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eating With the Seasons

You hear a lot of talk about eating in season these days, and I had to ask the question "but why"? I understand that this is when fruits and veggies have the most amount of nutrients and are the freshest, but I wanted to understand if there were other reasons. There are of course, several other reasons.

Eating seasonally is a relatively new concept. Refrigeration and transportation revolutionized our ability to eat foods from far and distant lands, and our ability to store and eat foods that were grown two seasons ago. There is an amazing synchronicity between the foods that grow in the ground and the animals that eat them. What is even more amazing, is that these seasonal foods produce compounds that help us get through seasonal challenges, such as colds, allergies, etc... Eating seasonally (and therefore locally), supports farmers in your area and greatly reduces your carbon footprint by purchasing less items that were trucked, flown, and boated over for you to consume.

How do I find out what is in season where I live? Local Harvest is a fantastic resource for all things local. Discover nearby Farmer's Markets, farms, restaurants that serve organic food, and wealth of other information on how to rein in the radius of your families footprint.

If you want to get more deeply involved, check out Sustainable Table, which also contains incredible information about eating (and thinking) more sustainably, and has a very helpful tool to determine exactly what is in season in your area - by the month! If you feel passionate about this issue and want to spread the word in your community, consider giving a presentation to your neighbors or friends. You can even get your kids involved in this one.

And, if you don't already take your family to the Farmer's Market, please consider it. Our two year old absolutely loves tasting all the different samples of seasonal fruits and veggies, and he loves to help. He likes to help carry the bag, or the kale, or the delicious cottage cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. He also loves the live music, the bouncy castle, and the other random performers and artists that show up. We also stock up on our Oaklandish gear, but you may have other independent artists to support in your area.

Does this topic interest you? I recommend reading Simple Food for Busy Families by Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner.

And now, for the recipe du jur. Spinach is now in season (and often is in our area), and this amazing versitile recipe is slightly sweet, good for the whole family, and great for kids! I made
this spread for my Nutrition Educator class at Bauman College and received rave reviews. Use it as a dip for crackers or veggies, spread it on a sandwich for your kids, spread it on an apple, or eat it by the spoonful! It is a very nice way to get your family to get all the benefits from spinach, a little extra vitamin C for the season, and the healthy fats from cashews. As it turns out, cashews have a lower fat content and higher protein than most other nuts. However, they do contain oxalates, so don't overdue it if you are sensitive, and you may want to avoid them all together if you have digestive issues. Read more about the nutritional profile of cashews (and oxalates) here.

Raw Spinach Dip


1-1/2 cups cashews

1 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup water

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

sea salt or pink himalayan salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

mustard powder, to taste

2 to 3 cups spinach (this is approximate, I use two or 3 good handfuls)


1. Place cashews into food processor, crank up to high and grind into a fine, almost flour like consistency.

***The faster the speed the better when adding your liquids***

2. Add in your lemon juice and slowly add in your water until it is a little runnier than you would like as it will thicken once you let it stand.

3. Add minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, mustard powder (and any additional spices you think will meld well).

4. Once this is processed into an ultra smooth paste (or thinner) consistency, add in your spinach and pulse on medium if you like the traditional chunky spinach dip texture or on high for an ultra smooth dip!! Enjoy with raw crackers or pita.

Original recipe can be found at:

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