‘Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables! Summertime in Ontario is one of the best for accessing fresh, locally grown and organic produce. Due to many months of cold, unfavourable growing conditions for fruits and vegetables, we only have a handful of months to source and use local produce. For many crops, we’re right at the peak of harvest time. We’ve put together some unique recipes for you to indulge in this August when these produce items are readily available. But before we get to the recipes, we think it’s important to understand the importance of eating local whenever possible.
Why should I buy local produce?
When it comes to eating local, there are three main categories of reasons as to why it’s best to support local when you can:
- For Your Health. It’s easy to do something when you know it’s better for you. Purchasing local produce when you can, provides fresher, more nutrient-dense foods than conventional products that are brought in from all over the world. When we import produce, it’s picked before it is fully ripe. This is done, so it doesn’t rot before arriving at the grocery store. Sometimes, companies will use artificial ripening practices. These practices aren’t good for our health. When food is grown locally, the produce has more time to develop its nutrient profile in the proper conditions. It will have more of a particular vitamin, mineral or phytonutrient than it’s imported counterpart. Additionally, when a crop has the appropriate time to develop in its natural habitat, it tends to develop a better and more robust taste. This leads to a more enjoyable experience eating that produce.
- For Your Community Comradery in your community is something that needs to be more of a focus. By purchasing local foods, you are supporting your community in several ways. First and foremost, it helps to boost the local economy by supporting the farmers near you that work hard for their money. There’s a reason why there are fewer local farms, and it’s because it’s hard work. Supporting your local farmers means money is staying within the community, allows those farms to continue to farm year after year and also potentially helps create more job opportunities.
- For the Environment: Lastly, over the past 200 years, we have not been kind to Mother Nature. Up until recently, we weren’t even aware of the effects of what industrializing our world has done to the beautiful life source that we call home. When we purchase foods that aren’t local, they have to get here somehow, often in a truck, which contributes to our carbon footprint. While there is a still truck that has to deliver the produce to the grocery store, the drive is way shorter coming from a farm in the same province, as opposed to say, California. Purchasing local also helps us to preserve precious farmland. As previously mentioned, there are a lot fewer farms than there used to be. By purchasing locally, you are supporting the farm financially, which means they are pressured into selling their land, thus contributing to urban sprawl.
These are just some of the crucial reasons as to why we should continue to support local farmers and buy local produce. If not for you—then for your community. If not for the community, then for the world itself. We cannot always buy local food. Some fruits and vegetables can’t grow here due to our climate. Still, at the end of the day, it’s essential to do your part by buying locally grown produce when you can. Also, for the winter months, when local food isn’t as readily available, a good tip is to buy extra and freeze it for these months. Not only will you end up saving some money, but you’re also still supporting local farmers! Now onto the deliciousness of this post, the recipes! Below you find both information on five produce items currently in season, with a recipe on how to enjoy these seasonal favourites!
Cherries also contain a high amount of potassium, comparable to that of banana. Potassium keeps our blood pressure regulated by balancing the sodium in our bodies. Besides being rich in potassium, cherries are also high in Vitamin C, which helps keep our immune system healthy and happy.
If you’re experiencing trouble sleeping at night, cherries are known to contain high levels of melatonin. Melatonin helps promote sleep, so snacking on a few before bedtime might just help you fall into a slumber.
Flavour-wise, cherries pair beautifully with many different foods including, almonds, cheese, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, and can be used in a variety of recipes, including pies, jams, loaves, muffins, fruit salad and more!
For the crust:
- 1 package Purest Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix or you can use your favourite pie crust/recipe
For the filling:
- 4 cups organic cherries de-stoned and quartered
- ¼-⅓ cup Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener based on your preference of sweetness
- 4 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Powder
- 4 tbsp organic lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Baking Sticks
For the topping:
- 1 Nature's Emporium Egg large
- 1 tbsp Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Preheat the oven to 390°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Follow the instructions on the package of the Purest Gluten Free Pie Mix and set aside.
- Mix all filling ingredients together and ensure powders are fully dissolved and evenly coated. Set aside.
- Roll out the dough to the preference of size (1 large or 4 small). Place it directly on the prepared baking sheet.
- Leaving a 1-2-inch border, place cherry filling in the center of the crust and fold over the edges.
- For the topping, beat the egg and brush onto the edges of the crust and sprinkle Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener on top.
- Bake at for 20 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 355°F and continue to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes (or when the crust becomes golden brown). Keep an eye on it, as it can burn easily. If it’s browning too quickly, you can cover the galette with foil paper.
- Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!
“You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to!”
Whichever way you say it, there’s no doubt that this bright red, sweet yet acidic and juicy member of produce is a favourite of summer! They are healthy for you for so many reasons and should be included in your diet regularly. They are known to contain high amounts of lycopene, which is beneficial to us for several reasons, but especially important for heart health. They also provide a compound known as lutein, which is essential for supporting the vision and reducing age-related macular degeneration.
Not only are these fruit veggies good for your heart and vision, but they also contain a good amount of Vitamin K, which is essential for bone health and blood clotting. Lastly, tomatoes contain specific phytonutrients that can be protective against UVB damage. This is not to say you should replace sunscreen application with eating a ton of tomatoes.
Still, it may help have protective purposes from the sun. The flavours of tomatoes pair well with basil, beans, bell peppers, cheese, chiles, chives, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, oil, onions, oregano, parsley, thyme, vinegar and zucchini. This makes them a super versatile food with a ton of possible flavour profiles!
Try mixing these ingredients together and whip up gazpachos, salsas, sauces, in frittatas, stuff them or as an addition to salads.
Zucchini & Tomato Summer Salad Boats
- 4 medium organic zucchini ends cut off and cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 cups Nature’s EmporiumOrganic White Quinoa cooked
- ½ cup organic sweet potato cubed and roasted
- 1 cup organic cherry tomatoes quartered
- ⅓ cup Sunflower Kitchen Basil Pesto
- ¼ cup Miyokos Mozzarella crumbled
- A. Vogel Herbamare to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Scoop out inside of the zucchini carefully. Try not to remove all of the inside, ensure there is enough so you can fill it. You can pan fry the scooped zucchini with avocado oil and onions and add to the salad.
- Preheat a grill pan and brush or spray avocado oil to cover the entire grill pan.
- Drizzle the zucchini with avocado oil and rub it all over both sides of the zucchini to ensure it’s all evenly coated. Sprinkle Herbamare and black pepper.
- Place the zucchini on the preheated grill for approximately 5 minutes on each side or until it’s somewhat soft, but not mushy, or it will fall apart. When placing the flesh side down, try not to move or flip it, so it makes the grill marks.
- Remove the zucchini and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the quinoa, sweet potato, tomatoes, mozzarella, (pan-fried zucchini centers if you’ve kept them), and basil pesto and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats and garnish with crumbled mozzarella cheese and dollops of basil pesto. Serve immediately and enjoy!
When we speak of produce items, we often only think of fruits and vegetables. This next seasonal crop we’ve included can often be confused as a vegetable when in fact, it is actually a whole grain. That’s right, sweet & creamy corn is actually a grain and not a vegetable. Its extensive use across the world (especially as animal feed), has quickly made it one of the most genetically modified crops. Since we don’t know the long-term effects of consuming GMOs, it is in our best interest to avoid consuming them when at all possible.
That is why we recommend always opting to purchase organic corn whenever you can. There are no chemicals used while growing organic crops. Secondly, for a food to be considered organic, it cannot be genetically modified, so that’s a win-win. Corn does have some great benefits as well. It is high in vitamin B9 (folate), which is especially important during pregnancy for the neural tube development and can prevent major birth defects. It’s also vital for the average person for healthy red blood cells.
Additionally, corn is higher in complex carbohydrates. This means it can help sustain energy because these carbohydrates take longer to digest and won’t automatically be rushed into your bloodstream, unlike simple sugars. It also has a fair amount of magnesium, which helps to regulate muscle and nerve function. Magnesium is especially important if you suffer from leg cramps as it acts as a relaxant. In regards to culinary use, corn pairs nicely with flavours of basil, beans, bell pepper, cheese, chiles, cilantro, garlic, lime, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
Summer Corn & Black Bean Salad
- 5 organic corn on the cob shuck and remove them from the cob
- 1 ½ tbsp avocado oil
- ⅓ cup organic red peppers
- ⅓ cup organic red onions diced
- 1 ½ cups organic avocado diced
- ¼ cup organic flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1 organic garlic clove minced
- ¾ cup Nature’s Emporium Black Beans
- 2 oz Mikoyos Mozzarella crumbled
- 2 tbsp Bio Bandits Egg Free Mayo
- 1 ½ tbsp organic lime juice freshly squeezed
- ½ tsp chili powder
- A. Vogel Herbamare to taste
- Heat the avocado oil in a skillet on the stovetop to medium heat.
- Add the corn and season with salt. Continue to cook it for about 8-10 minutes (or until it's fully cooked). Once it iscooked, set aside to cool.
- In a medium-sized bowl, toss together red peppers, black beans, red onions, avocados, mozzarella, parsley, mayo, garlic, lime juice and chilli powder with the cooled corn. Mix until the mixture is evenly coated.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
Southern states (like Georgia) can grow peaches year-round. They are known for their peaches. Here in Ontario, peaches reach the peak of their growing season in August. They are just as sweet and juicy as their southern relatives at this time. Similar to cherries, peaches contain a good amount of Vitamin C, which was previously mentioned as being important for immune health.
Still, it’s also important for skin health and preventing premature ageing. Peaches are also a low-calorie food. We typically don’t encourage calorie counting, it’s more important to recognize the quality of the calories you’re consuming. For those that do see benefits from counting calories, peaches offer a low-calorie option.
They can be paired with almonds or Greek yogurt, or any protein and fat for that matter. They are an easy, balanced snack that will keep your body full and happy. You get so many extra beneficial nutrients from peaches, such as prebiotic fibres. These fibres are what the beneficial probiotics consume in your digestive tract, making them happy and able to thrive. This contributes to a proper functioning digestive tract, which is where health stems from.
They are delicious in salads and salsas, and are a perfect topping for most proteins like fish and chicken. In regards to flavour, peaches pair perfectly with berries, cinnamon, cream, ginger, honey, lemon, maple syrup, mint, nuts, orange, sugar vanilla and vinegar.
Peach & Mint Iced Tea
- 8-10 cups water to boil
- 2 organic peaches thinly sliced
- 1 tsp organic ginger grated
- 1 tbsp Beekeeper’s Naturals Ontario Wildflower Raw Honey
- 4 Nature’s Emporium Organic Green Tea Bags
- 10 sprigs of organic mint torn
- Bring the water to a boil.
- In the meantime, slice the peaches and add them into your pitcher.
- Grate the ginger, tear the mint and add the honey to the pitcher.
- Add four Nature’s Emporium Organic Green Tea Bags and carefully pour the boiling-hot water and mix it all together.
- Serve on ice and enjoy!
Now that we’ve shared with you some of our favourite seasonal picks for August, what are your favourite seasonal crops and what are your favourite recipes to make using them?
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