Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's in season?

Have you been to the Farmer's Market lately? New, delicious fresh foods are rolling in, and melons are sure to arrive very soon. I recently had a honeydew from Whole Foods that was out of this world. An interesting tidbit that I learned on an NPR show today, is that EBT cards (formerly known as Food Stamps) can be used at Farmer's Markets! How civilized is that? I was so happy to hear of this news, but of course this is largely underutilized benefit likely due to lack of funding to advertise the program. The Ecology Center in Berkeley has a great page on their website about EBT at Farmer's Markets, including a Guide for Market Managers to help get their Market set up to accept EBT cards.

A quick tip I have to offer about making the most out of your available dollars to spend at the Farmer's Market is: start with making a quick round through the whole market making mental notes about prices for items, especially items that are abundant and in season. Don't be afraid to compare prices, and make sure the quality is comparable (with a taste or two). Try not to just dive right in and start buying, get a lay of the land first and figure out what seems reasonable. I am also guilty of the instant gratification of arriving at a market and immediately inhaling a bag of blueberries, only to discover that there are much cheaper ones right down the way.

On that note, I thought it a good time to talk about what is fresh and delicious at the Farmer's Market right now. Here is a list of your best choices with a recipe to follow. Enjoy this bountiful (and fruity) time of year:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Watermelons
  • Zucchini
  • Corn 
  • Berries of all kinds
  • Melons (June-November)
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines 
  • Plums
  • Pluots
Watermelon Salad with Jalapeno and Lime 
Source: Vegetarian Times Farmer's Market Cookbook, 2010

This is a simple and delicious way to cool down on hot days, but still hold on to a little bit of that heat! Watermelons are a great source of Vitamins A and C, and contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium ( They are low in calories, but should be eaten with a fat source (such as cheese or nuts) to slow down the digestion of those sugars. I would add 3-4 tablespoons of feta cheese to this dish, or eat a small handful (10-12) nuts as a chaser. 

3 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/8 tsp. lime zest
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and sliced
1/4 cup basil or Thai basil, cut into thin strips
1 tsp. black sesame seeds (or white if you can't find black)
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. Whisk together lime juice, oil, and lime zest. Set aside.
2. Place watermelon cubes in a single layer in a large shallow dish. Pour lime juice mixture over watermelon, and gently toss to combine. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Place 5 jalapeno rings in each of the 4 shallow serving bowls. Mound 1 cup watermelon in center of each bowl. Divide marinade among bowls. Sprinkle each serving with basil, sesame seeds, and salt. 

Nutrition profile per 1-cup serving: 181 calories; 1 g protein; 15 g fat; 14 g carb; 1 g fiber; 10 g sugars.