Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life's a Bowl of Cherries

There is nothing I love more than fresh cherries in the summertime! I do not care that they cost an arm and a leg; they are my treat and I deserve to treat myself on a weekly basis! Besides satisfying my sweet tooth and craving for this delicious fruit, cherries have many health benefits.

Deemed a "super fruit" these tart delights pack more disease fighting antioxidants than almost any other fruit.
They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Cherries aid in the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

I have already eaten a full bowl of cherries today and I can rest easy because they are good for me and life is good!

Pecan Pesto

Using the organic pecans and living basil I received in my CSA produce bag last week, I decided to make a pecan pesto for dinner the other night. Normally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but other nuts can be used as well. Walnuts are a good substitute and.... well, pecans held up mighty fine, too! This is such a quick meal to prepare. It took about 20 minutes- tops. That's what so amazing about fresh produce, you do not have to do too much to them, because the flavors speak for themselves.

· 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
· 1/2 cup pecans
· 3 cloves garlic
· 1 tbsp. lime juice or balsamic vinegar
· 2/3 cup olive oil
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 1 tbsp. black pepper
· 4 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

· combine all ingredients except cheese in a blender or food processor.
· after blended well, stir in cheese.
· refrigerate until use

I used my pecan pesto on whole wheat penne pasta and a sauteed heirloom tomato for dinner. The pesto comes out very tangy and nutty. The heirloom tomato added extra moisture to the pasta. It was absolutely divine.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Buy Fresh-Buy Local

There is a growing movement to eat foods that are grown and raised locally. People are feeling a need now more than ever to live close to the land. It feels good to support local farmers and eat the food that is grown on the land in which you live. Buying local also means that the produce that you are enjoying is in season and undeniably fresh.

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers. There are many benefits to the farmers and consumers involved in CSA Programs. The farmers get to spend time marketing the food early in the year before their 16 hour days in the field begin, they receive payment early in the season which helps with the farm's cash flow, and they have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. Consumers get to eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits while getting exposed to new vegetables and new ways of seasonal cooking. That's my favorite part; learning new recipes with fresh ingredients. They also get to develop relationships with the farmers who grow their food and learn more about how food is grown.

This year, I have become a proud member of Hallmark's CSA program and look forward to my weekly bag of seasonal produce, meats, and cheeses. For a weekly fee, I get a variety of goodies that may vary week to week based on what's in season. This past week was the first week of deliveries and in my sack I received a bag of organic pecans, living basil, heirloom tomatoes, farm fresh eggs, locally grown lettuce, and all natural country style sausage. It was like Christmas! Every Wednesday is pick-up day and I am sad to say that I forgot to pay for this upcoming week before Friday's deadline, but will keep you posted on upcoming selections. I will also try to post recipes based on the fresh ingredients I receive form week to week.