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Beets with Garlic and Fennel

I planted my beets in February this year and I received a bumper crop! Unfortunately, they began to bolt last week so I knew it was time to harvest them. What to do with a sink full of beets? Ferment them!

 

Fermentation? Like beer? Well, yes, but . . .  You know that yogurt you enjoy? That’s fermented milk. Not only does it taste good, but it has probiotics – good bacteria – which benefit your digestion.  Did you realize that every civilization throughout time has had their history of fermented foods and beverages? They had to utilize fermentation for lack of refrigeration. Today, many of us eat versions of these ferments such as aged cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, wine and cider which all began as naturally fermented foods.

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Zucchini Boats

Happy first day of summer! Here in the Pacific Northwest, we joke that summer doesn’t actually start until after the 4th of July. The last couple of years our weather has been so cold in the spring that tomatoes didn’t grow very well or produce much at all. Squash? Never a problem, is it?

This year we’ve had bouts of warmer than usual weather…followed by periods of chilly, wet days when we wish our tomatoes were getting more heat. I have my fingers crossed that this will be a great year for my heirloom varieties and I’ll be harvesting plenty of tomatoes to can, dry, freeze, and, of course, eat off the vine by August.

With the activities of summer swinging into high gear, before we know it we’re going to have oodles of tomatoes and tons of zucchini squash. You can’t give all your squash away so I think we should plan ahead.

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Blood Orange Vinaigrette with Spicy Greens

There is nothing tastier to brighten up a meal in the dead of winter than a refreshing orange. Citrus is in abundance in supermarkets right now, but have you tried a blood orange? Grown since the 18th century in China and the Southern Mediterranean regions, blood oranges are now primarily grown in Italy, Texas and California.

Along with the usual citrus notes, a  blood orange has an almost raspberry flavor though it is less acidic than most oranges. The anthocyanins – some of the strongest antioxidants available – give this fruit its crimson blood-colored flesh. Other than its antioxidant activity, anthocyanins have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, reduce the risk of cancer, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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Have You Tried Delicata Squash?

Piled in front of the acorn and butternut squash, the distinctive dark-green longitudinal stripes of this winter squash’s creamy yellow body is what initially attracted me at the farmer’s market. Cooking that first beautiful delicata several years ago, I’ve been hooked ever since! I’m not sure if I had my eyes closed to them before, but they are in most US grocery produce departments all fall, winter and, if they last, into the spring. Why not pick one up next time and try one of the recipes below?

 

Many of you may moan here thinking if the delicata is akin to the butternut squash, then you won’t bother. That awkward peeling of that behemoth is not for you! Let’s then refer to this heirloom squash as the delicate cousin of the butternut. After halving and scooping the seeds, the delicata has a similar taste to a butternut, is as easy to prepare as an acorn squash, but better than either of those because the skin is also sweetly edible!

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Sweet On Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving! I found this recipe for Chili-Bathed Sweet Potatoes from the NYT. Drooling over this mix of hot and sweet flavors on a cold winter’s night made me want to share the benefits of enjoying this incredibly delicious vegetable with you. Keep it simple and bake one for dinner, or make some baked sweet potato fries with lunch, or have a bowl of left-over mashed sweet potatoes with crumbled bacon for breakfast. Sweet potatoes also make a great dip or spread for snacks, appetizers or even on your morning toast. Check out some recipe ideas I’ve included below!

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Kale Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

Have you noticed how gorgeous the grapefruits in your market are this year? Why not get a few Ruby Reds or Rios on your next visit for a refreshing, tangy pick-me-up full of many micronutrients including vitamin A and C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, folate and many B-vitamins. Some of the health benefits attributed to grapefruit include treating colds, fever and pneumonia, weight loss, boosting the liver, breaking up gallstones, lowering cholesterol, lessening joint pain, and promoting better digestion and immunity.

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You Can’t Beat Beets!

I have bad memories of the lunch ladies in grade school “making” us eat our warm, mushy canned beets. But now as a Nutritional Therapist, I realize there is so much more to beets! In the last year, I’ve come to appreciate beets in many forms – raw and shredded in a salad, pickled on a sandwich, roasted and eaten cold, as a fermented beverage called kvass, and sauteed beet greens and garlic with my eggs for breakfast. (Honestly, sooo delicious!)

I grew beets in my garden this year – traditional red beets, golden beets, and white Chiogga beets, which, when sliced, look like a bulls-eye. I harvested a whole sink full of beets the other day so I’ve been looking for more inspiration for how to use them in my diet. I’ve shared additional recipes with you at the end of this post.

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Pumpkin Mole

On the way home from a Cyclocross race in Astoria, Oregon a few weeks ago, we stopped by a a restaurant in Seaside where Mark had Chicken Enchiladas with a Pumpkin Mole sauce that was, well, to die for. I had to recreate it!

Mole, a type of Mexican sauce, comes in a variety of flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. Modern “Americanized” moles usually have the spice from the pepper, the sweet from the fruit (blackberry, raspberry, and in our case, pumpkin) and a good hint of chocolate.

When I looked online for a healthy pumpkin mole recipe, most contained wheat bread for thickening and since I’m currently gluten-free I kept looking. Alas, I found several recipes without gluten that I could adapt. Here’s my recipe remake which can be used as an enchilada sauce, to top baked chicken pieces, or drizzled over slices of pork tenderloin.

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