Locally Grown Food – What to Buy, Why and When

buy fresh buy localI wanted to share with you one of my topics of interest.  What, why and when to buy locally grown foods.  No matter what time of year, if you’re working in the yard or garden you can keep very busy. Gardening, fishing and birding is more and more interesting and time consuming these days. What is important is that you grow and buy locally produced organic food, because it is in season and it means it’ll be the freshest and tastiest selection.  Spring and summer are always said to be the abundant seasons but as you can see each month has plenty of options to offer.

In the winter, farmers’ root crops will be the most abundant produce: potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips, and the like. But you should also be able to find some leafy greens, like kale, Swiss chard and leaf lettuces. Some farmers even have some tomatoes and green peppers that time of year.

Why bother shopping for local food when there’s so much else going on? For the same reasons you do any other time.
Taste!  Produce that’s eaten shortly after it’s harvested tastes better than produce that’s been wrapped in plastic and trucked from another state. Vegetables that don’t have to make such a journey can be selected for their unique flavor rather than their ability to withstand mechanical harvesting and shipping.

Locally grown foods may or may not be organic.  Although we often think these should go hand in hand, they don’t.  You may still be buying local foods that are not organic.  The definition of organic is minimal use of off-farm inputs, this typically means no pesticides or preservatives added.

Food purchased during its peak season will also be less expensive not to mention, tastier!  The following is a sample of fruits and vegetables in season each month.

Use this as a guide to your menu planning and produce purchasing.  You will get to enjoy all of your favorites while they are in season and much less expensive!

Also, as you read this, consider planning your meals around fruit and vegetables.  Think of those 2 foods first and then your grain or meat.  This is much different than how we usually plan a meal so it’ll take practice.

Lastly, keep on the lookout each month for cruciferous vegetables that are in season.  Remember, including these into your diet each day will help reduce an unhealthy estrogen load.

A list of cruciferous vegetables :

  • Horseradish
  • Land cress
  • Ethiopian mustard
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoflower
  • Broccoli romanesco
  • Cauliflower
  • Wild broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Rapini (broccoli rabe)
  • Flowering cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage
  • Turnip root; greens
  • Rutabaga
  • Siberian kale
  • Canola/rapeseed
  • Mustard cabbage
  • Mustard seeds, brown
  • Mustard seeds, white
  • Mustard seeds, black
  • Arugula
  • Field pepperweed
  • Garden cress
  • Watercress
  • Radish
  • Daikon
  • Wasabi

 In addition, some low glycemic index snacks that you may want to try include:

  • Soy beans
  • Peanuts
  • Chick peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Hummas with carrots to dip
  • Low fat string cheese
  • Salsa with celery or carrots to dip

January:
Apples, beetroot, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, clementine, grapefruit, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kiwi fruit, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, passion fruit, pears, pineapple, pomegranate, potatoes, rhubarb, satsumas, spinach, swede, tangerines, turnips, avocados, bananas, cabbage, mushrooms.

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for January could include:

Breakfast:

  1. Enjoy breakfast each month with green tea and prescribed vitamins.
  2. Baked apple with cinnamon, vanilla Greek yogurt, 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed and 2 Tbsp. walnuts.
  3. 2-3 egg whites with mushrooms, spinach, shaved carrots, celery and cayenne pepper, topped with ½ sliced avocado and enjoy with ½ orange or sectioned clementine.
  4. Sectioned grapefruit, stone ground whole meal bread with natural peanut butter (peanuts and salt) and pomegranate seeds

Lunch:

  1. 100% whole wheat bread with 2 Tbsp. hummas, pureed garlic cauliflower and sliced kiwi.
  2. Spinach salad with avocado slices, grilled lemon pepper chicken with oil and vinegar based dressing.  Enjoy with ½ cup sliced fresh pineapple.
  3. Homemade guacamole with avocado, sliced tomato, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Serve with grilled chicken, black beans and cubed pumpernickel bread.

Dinner

  1. Kale salad with sliced 2 hardboiled eggs, 1/2 c chick peas, toasted almonds and 2 sectioned clementine.
  2. Grilled mushrooms, spinach and sliced cabbage with 96% lean ground beef over 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti and a side of sliced pears.
  3. Grilled tuna steak, steamed Brussels sprouts, lentil soup and sliced apple.

February:
Avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mangoes, mushrooms, winter squash, arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, cilantro, clementine, dill, fennel, grapefruit, kale, lemons, all types of leaf lettuce, leeks, oranges, onions, parsnips, pears, shallots, sweet potatoes, tangelos, tangerines, turnips, rhubarb

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for February could include:

Breakfast

  1. 2 scrambled eggs with a side of sliced banana with Nutella
  2. Veggie omelet with any and all veggies listed above along with cayenne pepper and topped with sliced avocado.  Served with sectioned grapefruit.
  3. 1 sweet potato with 2 Tbsp. melted natural peanut butter and sliced pears.

Lunch

  1. Soup: arugula, butter beans, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, cubed sweet potatoes, broccoli and ground flax seed.  Enjoy over barley or whole wheat pasta.
  2. Kale salad with grilled beets, goat cheese, pine nuts and vinegar based dressing serve with sliced mango.
  3. Broccoli salad with grilled salmon topped with mango salsa and a side of couscous.

Dinner

  1. 96% lean ground hamburger used to make chili with kidney beans, butter beans, crushed tomatoes and low sodium chili powder.  Serve with a leaf lettuce salad including fresh veggies and cilantro.
  2. Seasoned sauteed ground chicken used to make lettuce wraps.  Served with sliced avocado and tangerines.
  3. Baked dill chicken with broiled asparagus served mashed sweet potatoes and sliced pears.

March:
Artichokes, avocados, bananas, broccoli, grapefruit, lettuce, pears, tangerines, winter squash, arugula, asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chives, collards, endive, garlic, guavas, kumquats, leeks, lemons, limes, mandarins, mint, onions, oranges, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, strawberries, tangerines, turnips, spinach, walnuts

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for March could include:

Breakfast

  1. Oatmeal made with rolled oats and water or skim milk, sliced strawberries, 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed, 2 Tbsp. walnuts
  2. 2 hard boiled eggs sliced, sliced sautéed sliced beets, garlic and spinach.  Layer, eggs, beets and spinach on 100% whole wheat bread and eat with a fork.  Enjoy with ½ sectioned grapefruit.
  3. Homemade pancakes with coconut flour, sliced banana, heated natural peanut butter and sliced strawberries.  Cover pancake with sliced fruit and drizzle with PB.

Lunch

  1. Grilled or fresh veggie (broccoli, spinach, sliced beets, cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions) wrap in wheat tortilla with feta cheese and kalamata olive spread.
  2. Cold stew mixture of black beans, chick peas, chopped avocado, garlic, lime and canned tomato with green chilis, served with baked wheat tortilla cut into triangles for scooping.
  3. Greek vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries, sunflower seeds, cashews, flax seed and 1 Tbsp. raisins.  Served with a side of sectioned oranges.

Dinner

  1. Sliced turnips and turnip greens sautéed in water, oil, salt and pepper served with barley and lean Italian turkey sausage and parmesan cheese.
  2. Steamed broccoli, garlic and onions served with cubed, baked lemon lime chicken, sliced avocado, shaved mint leaves and diced pears
  3. Mashed cauliflower with chives and low fat sour cream served with steamed asparagus and roasted pork tenderloin.

April:
Asparagus, bananas, cabbage, escarole, onions, pineapples, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, arugula (Rocket), beans, beets, chicory, chives, dandelion greens, fava beans, fiddlehead fern, horseradish, leeks (end of season), lettuce (leaf and head), limes, oranges, papayas, peas, ramps, rhubarb, shallots, strawberries, sweet onions, turnips, watercress

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for April could include:

Breakfast

  1. Shake made with frozen bananas, unsweetened soy milk, Greek plain yogurt, ground flax seed and 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  2. Strawberry crisp made with sliced strawberries topped with a mixture of equal amounts oil, rolled oats, whole wheat flour and small amount of agave nectar for sweetness (to taste).  Serve with a side of cottage cheese or string cheese.
  3. All Bran cereal with sliced bananas and strawberries and unsweetened soy milk and 2 ounces sliced almonds.

Lunch

  1. Black bean burger topped with sliced sweet onion, lettuce, spinach and tomato served on 100% whole wheat bread.  Enjoy with sliced pineapples.
  2. Skewers of cooked grilled shrimp in cayenne pepper, low-fat chedder cheese, strawberries, pineapples and papaya.  Serve with a shake made with low-fat milk,frozen banana and plain greek yogurt.
  3. Salad made with watercress, oranges, onion, broken chicory and olive oil topped with grilled salmon.

Dinner

  1. Escarole soup with a mixture of beans and greens served with sliced roast beef and fresh horseradish.
  2. Cabbage rolls made with filling of 96% lean ground beef, onions, egg, milk and brown rice (cooked), bake and serve topped with crushed tomato sauce.
  3. Salmon patties with couscous, steamed asparagus and roasted beets.  Serve with a salad with sliced strawberries, toasted pecans and sweet onions.

May:
Asparagus, bananas, celery, papaya, peas, pineapples, strawberries, tomatoes, apricots, artichokes, broccoli, collard greens, leeks, rhubarb, spinach, onions, peas, boysenberries,

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for May could include:

Breakfast

  1. 2 Scrambled eggs, 1 whole tomato, sliced, and cottage cheese mixed with 2 chopped apricots
  2. Spinach and tomato frittata and a side of boysenberries.
  3. Bananas sliced with peanut butter between 2 slices of bananas.  Serve with 1 cup skim milk and a small apple.

Lunch

  1. Fresh tomato soup with lots of fresh basil and topped with fat free sour cream.  Serve with tossed salad with crumbled blue cheese and chopped toasted almonds.
  2. Large chopped salad with grilled steak, chopped onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, peas, corn, black beans and a small amount of tortilla chip strips.  Serve with salsa as the salad dressing.
  3. Use large broccoli spears as dippers for chicken salad and serve with 2 apricots and sliced strawberries.

Dinner

  1. Grilled chicken topped with sautéed spinach, diced tomatoes and artichokes.  Serve with a side salad and cooked barley with peas
  2. Broccoli parmesan with meatballs and homemade tomato sauce.
  3. Grilled pork with pineapple slices, collard greens and boiled potatoes.

June:
Avocados, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, figs, green beans, limes, mangoes, nectarines, onions, peaches, peas, peppers, pineapples, plums, summer squash, beets, blueberries, kiwi, nectarines, strawberries, watermelon

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for June could include:

Breakfast

  1. ½ cantaloupe with cottage cheese and 2 hard-boiled eggs
  2. 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices Canadian bacon, sliced mango and a slice of 100% whole wheat bread
  3. Shake made with frozen blueberries, strawberries, banana, Greek yogurt,  unsweetened soy milk, 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed and 2 Tbsp peanut butter.

Lunch

  1. Quesadillas made on 100% whole wheat tortillas with steak, onion and sautéed peppers.
  2. Romaine lettuce salad with cubed chicken, mixed veggies, cherries, a squeeze of lime and topped with avocado slices.  Serve with kiwi slices.
  3. Mini crisp cracker sandwiches with sliced avocado, crockpot turkey breast (homemade), sliced tomatoes and spicy mustard.  Serve with cherries.

Dinner

  1. Turkey breast made in the crockpot with side of sautéed green beans and summer squash.  Serve with 100% whole wheat dinner roll and mixed berries.
  2. 96% lean hamburgers served on !00% whole wheat pita bread with grilled corn on the cob, grilled squash and grilled pineapple rings.
  3. Pea soup made with peas, carrots, onions, celery and diced ham (this can be frozen so that it can be ready to go in small glass containers for a quick and easy meal to pack for work).  Serve with a fruit salad on the side including strawberries, kiwi, peaches and plums.

July:
Apricots, bananas, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, figs, green beans, nectarines, okra, peaches, peppers, plums, prunes, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, yellow squash, zucchini.

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for July could include:

Breakfast

  1. Layered Greek yogurt parfaits with warm cooked peaches, cherries and wheat germ.  Add nuts or peanut butter for added protein.
  2. Breakfast skewers made with a variety of cubed cheeses, blueberries, peaches, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon.
  3. Oatmeal mixed with chopped prunes, apricots, flax seed, mixed nuts and agave nectar for sweetness.

Lunch

  1. Chicken and cucumber dill salad served with mixed melons.
  2. Tabbouleh with chicken and red peppers.  Serve with whole wheat pita chips and a side of hummas.
  3. Kitchen sink salad with everything!  Start with shredded cabbage and red leaf lettuce and then add julienned cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and squash.  Throw in corn, beans, shredded cheeses and cilantro and toss with olive oil and vinegar.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and 1 Tbsp raisins.

Dinner

  1. Crockpot BBQ pork shredded over steamed cabbage and served with fresh sliced cucumbers.
  2. Eggplant parmesan with hot Italian turkey sausages and sprinkled with fresh pecorino Romano cheese.
  3. Grilled shrimp skewers with zucchini, multi-colored peppers, onions and fresh pineapple chunks. Serve with cubed melons and cherries.

August:
Apples, bananas, basil, beets, berries, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, corn, crenshaw melons, green beans, strawberries, watermelon, yellow squash, zucchini

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for August could include:

Breakfast

  1. 2 eggs sprinkled with shredded Monterey Jack cheese, covered with sliced tomato and jalapeño rings.   Serve with a sectioned nectarine.
  2. Melted peanut butter with dippers including: bananas, apples, pears and cherries.  Serve with string cheese or a mixture of 1 Tbsp. each of nuts, raisins and chopped figs.
  3. Puree blueberries and strawberries, freeze in freezer popsicles.  Enjoy a berry popsicle with cheese toast made with 1 slice 100% whole wheat bread and  Laughing Cow cheese spread.

Lunch

  1. Homemade zucchini bread very thinly sliced to make a natural peanut butter and sliced strawberry sandwich.  Serve with hummas and fresh cucumber slices.
  2. 2 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup grapes, 2 oz whole pecans, sliced fresh veggies—tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini and eggplant with fat free sour cream and dry vegetables soup mix dip.
  3. Cabbage soup with carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and shredded chicken.  (This can be stored in small containers and brought for lunch all week!)  Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper and poached pears.

Dinner

  1. Grilled Salmon burgers with corn on the cob, grilled green beans and pitted cherries.
  2. Tomato red pepper salad with chick peas, fresh basil, oil and vinegar.  Enjoy with fresh potatoes julienned and baked with olive oil and seasoned salt.
  3. Flatbread pizza with 100% whole wheat flatbread topped with fat free ricotta cheese and covered in fresh mozzarella slices, basil, sliced tomatoes and shredded peppers.  Serve with a side salad and mixed berries.


September:

Apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, dill, figs, grapes, greens, melons, okra, onions, pears, potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes, yams, artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, chile peppers, curly kale, french beans, garlic, horseradish, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, nectarines, new potatoes, peaches, plums, pumpkins, red onions, spinach.

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for September could include:

Breakfast

  1. Lean Italian turkey sausage links chopped up and sautéed with 2 scrambled eggs, peppers, onions, spinach and mushrooms.  Enjoy with a side of fresh blackberries.
  2. Breakfast pizza crisps.  Take 4 cracker crisps, top with fat free ricotta cheese, sliced tomato, spinach and mushroom.  Broil.  Serve with sliced plum.
  3. Cereal sundae made with All Bran cereal, vanilla greek yogurt and topped with ground flax seed, berries and 1 oz of nuts.

Lunch

  1. Curly kale salad with toasted pine nuts, goat cheese and red onions.  Serve with tuna fish and a cup of red grapes.
  2. Broccoli and cauliflower salad with crumbled turkey bacon, chopped hard boiled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, red onions and plain Greek yogurt.  Serve with a side of sliced peaches.
  3. Sliced beef sandwiches with horseradish and sea salt served with cabbage and broccoli slaw with vinegar based dressing.

Dinner

  1. Beef and barley stew with new potatoes, cubed carrots, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, and corn.
  2. Skillet sauteed cabbage with 96% lean beef served with cubed new potatoes and sliced pears.
  3. Spicy 3 bean vegetarian chili with kidney, white and butter beans, lots of fresh chili peppers, onions, corn, diced tomatoes, carrots and broccoli.  Let simmer all day.  Can be packed up for lunches as well!

October:
Apples, bananas, broccoli, grapes, peppers, persimmons, pumpkin, yams, beets, blackberries, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory, cranberries, dates, figs, leeks and lettuce

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for October could include:

Breakfast

  1. Warm oatmeal with boiled cranberries, chopped dates and toasted almonds.
  2. Baked, roasted beets, peppers and broccoli frittata with a side of fresh blackberries.
  3. Use some leftover brown rice to make a pudding with unsweetened soy milk and eggs, serve hot topped with sliced cooked apples, ground flax seed and slivered almonds.

Lunch

  1. Spicy and sweet pumpkin soup.  Make this on the weekend and store in small lunch size containers in the fridge or freezer for future use.  Use it as a dip for broccoli.
  2. Curry lemon cashew chicken salad with yogurt dressing.  Serve with broccoli over lettuce leaves.
  3. Shredded pork, thinly sliced apples and cheese whole wheat quesadilla.  Serve with sweet pepper strips.

Dinner

  1. Swiss steak, bulger wheat, blanched Brussels sprouts topped with olive oil and a side of fresh blackberries.
  2. Stir fry with tofu, broccoli, peppers, beets, cauliflower and cranberries.  Serve over couscous or brown rice.
  3. Homemade chicken nuggets—cube chicken, shake in barbeque sauce and bake.  Serve with garlic mashed cauliflower and cubed cooked yams.

November:
Apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, dates, eggplant, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, artichokes, arugula, brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, celery, clementine’s, endive, figs, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, pears, peppers, persimmons, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, squash, swiss chard, turnips, watercress and pumpkin–don’t forget those pumpkins you picked!  Slice open, dig out the seeds and bake for 2 hours.  Scrape out the pumpkin and puree.  You can freeze this and use it all year in soups, side dishes, pies etc.

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for November could include:

Breakfast

  1. Cooked sweet potato split open and heated with peanut butter and then topped with chopped apples.
  2. Sausage, artichoke and goat cheese quiche.  Serve with sliced warm pears
  3. Vegetable smoothie with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, apples, pureed cooked pumpkin and parsley.  Add soy protein powder, flax seed or chopped nuts for added protein.

Lunch

  1. Baked artichoke bottoms topped with egg whites and goat cheese.  Serve with a salad and chopped apple.
  2. Greens pizza.  Using a thin crust or flat bread, spread tomato based sauce, cover in steamed greens (leeks, arugula, endive, Swiss Chard) and top with shaved parmesan cheese.  Serve with sliced apples.
  3. Egg drop soup with arugula, garlic, onions, cabbage and coin cut carrots.  Serve with a side salad and enjoy.

Dinner

  1. Kale, steak and mushroom stroganoff with wide egg noodles.
  2. Cheese fondue with lots of vegetables including cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, fresh cubed cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, julienned eggplant, celery and peppers.  Serve with fresh cranberry sauce made with cranberries, water and fresh clementine’s as the sweetener.
  3. Healthier shepherd’s pie.  Top chopped lean steak with a very small layer of mashed potatoes, cover with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and peppers and then a layer of low-fat cheese and bake.

December:
Apples, avocados, bananas, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mushrooms, oranges, pears, pineapples, tangerines, beets, Belgian Eedive, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cranberries, dates, escarole, fennel, kale, kiwifruit, leeks, mustard greens, onions, papayas, passion fruit, persimmons, pomegranates, potatoes, radicchio, radish, rutabaga, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tangelos, turnips, winter squash

Combining glycemic index with foods in season, your best meals for December could include:

Breakfast

  1. Veggie omelet with fresh mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, onions and peppers.  Serve with Canadian bacon and fresh dates.
  2. Sectioned grapefruit mixed with fresh granola and topped with Greek vanilla yogurt.
  3. Instead of oatmeal, try dried quinoa, chopped apple, cinnamon, chopped nuts, ground flax seed with fresh pears on top.

Lunch

  1. Beans and greens broth based soup with escarole, cannellini beans, garlic and red peppers, served with sectioned grapefruits.
  2. Tomato and avocado grilled cheese on pumpernickel bread sliced very thin.  Serve with fresh cauliflower and dip into pureed black bean and salsa mixture.
  3. Make homemade kale chips by cleaning, drying and spraying kale leaves with olive oil and baking.  Use the chips to make nachos with chicken, cheese, avocado and lime juice.

Dinner

  1. Turkey chili with beans and cubed sweet potatoes with a side of kiwifruit.
  2. Baked pork chops with greens and cooked pears.
  3. Almond crusted chicken. Dip chicken tenderloins in egg yolks, roll in sliced toasted almonds and bake.  Serve with a small portion of whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onions and shredded cheese for a homemade veggie macaroni and cheese.  A comfort food meal!