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Eating According to Seasons

Eating According to Seasons

Healthy and happy spring eating!

by

Nature was created with literally thousands of different foods in every category containing the most suitable nutrients that our bodies require. The world's healthiest foods, however, are those that are the richest sources of many essential nutrients needed for optimal health and vitality; therefore, these foods do the most to promote our well being. Not only are these foods the most nutrient-dense, they are familiar, affordable and provide great taste as well as exceptional nutrition. They are perfect in their natural state nothing more added and nothing taken away.

The key to maximizing the many nutritional benefits offered by our supermarket is to enjoy them as unprocessed as possible. Every season provides us with produce that is appropriate for consumption at that time. Spring brings with it crops of bitter variety of vegetables, while summer abounds with delicious sweet fruits.

Choosing to rely on nature's bounty for the majority of our meals, will automatically help us to:

 

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meats and fish, olive and flaxseed oils as the main components of our diet. Without effort, we will be consuming a rich variety of essential nutrients that will promote optimal health and energy.
  • Use monounsaturated fats like pure extra virgin olive oil that does not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, rather than hydrogenated fats also called trans-fatty acids or trans-fats.
  • Use foods rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flax seeds.
  • Favor only lean meats that afford us more protein with less saturated fat.
  • Avoid white sugar, "white" wheat, white pasta and white refined rice. By avoiding these highly refined foods, which have had the majority of their key nutrients removed and remain good sources only of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, we will lower our risk of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, Type II diabetes and cancer.

 

As we usher in spring, we would benefit from the new growth of this season's fresh produce such as tender, leafy vegetables, mixed in fresh salads and raw grated vegetables. Be creative and experiment with Swiss chard, dandelion greens, spinach, Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, and basil, each of these vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that can protect our bodies from serious illnesses, such as stomach ailments and cancer to name just a few.

In summer, it is recommended that we consume lighter meals and cooling foods. The produce department of most supermarket will be chock full of berries like strawberries, blueberries and other fruits such as watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, pears, plum, nectarines and peaches that will delight young and old. Vegetables are abundantly available such as summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn; as well as cooling spices and seasonings like peppermint and cilantro.

The Rambam advocated eating fruits and vegetables that were in season, ripened naturally, and locally grown, as he avers that unripe produce are like daggers to the body.

Let your creative side soar with a visit to your local supermarket where you can choose from the vast array of green leafy choices and other produce available by the design from our infinitely kind Creator.

Recipe corner

Oriental Slaw

Delightful served as an entrée, as a side dish, or in a whole wheat pita pocket.

1 small head of Napa (also known as Chinese cabbage)
1 small purple cabbage, washed and thoroughly checked
1 large carrot, shredded
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dressing (homemade mayonnaise, tahini, Italian, or dill) Cut Napa lettuce into ½ inch strips. Cut the cabbage into thin strips. Combine the Napa, cabbage, carrot and onion. Add the dressing. Toss gently until all the vegetables are well coated.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves 6- people

Guacamole Dip (Avocado based)

You can embellish your Yom Tov table by serving this dip in a scooped out red pepper, if you are feeding a larger crowd you can scoop out and stuff a small red cabbage for an original and beautiful center piece.

1 soft avocado
1/2 onion
1/2 hot pepper (optional)
1/2 tomato
1/2 juice of a lime
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise
Salt and crushed garlic to taste

Blend all ingredients in food processor with an all purpose blade for 60 seconds. Guacamole can be served as a delicious dip for any party. It is sure to get compliments.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Yields many servings

Pasta Primavera

This delicious meal all in one takes advantage of fresh spring produce. Great served hot or cold.

1/2 package whole-grain pasta (There are many varieties in the health food store: buckwheat, whole wheat, spelt, corn)
1 medium onion, cut in strips
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs.Tamari sauce
1 red pepper, cubed
1 yellow pepper, cubed
4 leaves Napa lettuce, or Chinese lettuce, or bok choy
1 large carrot, sliced in rounds
1 medium zucchini, sliced in rounds
1/2 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
Steamfry onions and garlic in water for 5 minutes. Stir in the Tamari sauce. Add remaining vegetables, except for the mushrooms. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Once noodles are cooked, mix with the vegetables.

Preparation: 30 minutes
Serves 8

Asparagus soup

 

Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to come out of the ground in spring, that has few calories but very nutritious. Asparagus contain carotene, vitamin B, C, E. This vegetable has demonstrated to be a great cleanser, which protects from cardiovascular diseases, reduces cholesterol and helps protect against cancer. It can be eaten raw in salads but also makes a delectably light soup.

 

This is a very easy soup to make that does not require much advance preparation, so it is a good choice, if you are running late!

 

 

1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. oil
2 lbs asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
2 zucchini peeled and diced
4 quarts water
2 Tbs oatmeal (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin (optional)

Sauté onions and garlic in 1 Tbs oil until translucent, add the asparagus and zucchini and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, cook for 20 minutes, season to taste with salt and garlic. For a thicker soup, add the two Tbs of oatmeal, stir for a few minutes and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with home made croutons.

Easy, light and delicious! Enjoy!

Preparation: 30 minutes
Serves 8

Brownies

This cake is impressively tasty considering that it is eggless as it is moist and fluffy.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs arrowroot
1/2 cup carob or cocoa powder
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup Rice Dream or Almond Breeze
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Mix well, then spread into oiled 8x8 pan. Bake in oven at 375 for about 25 minutes. Do not over bake. Test brownies with a knife. It should come out clean.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Serves 8-10

 

Published: May 16, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 11

(11) Adina H., June 17, 2009 2:58 AM

Rambam Says

It is very good that Aish has articles devoted to healthy dietary habits, as it is extremely important to keep your body in shape. As Rambam says in The Eight Chapters: "Man acts like a human being only when he eats wholesome food, even avoiding enjoyable dishes and eating uappealing fare if his health demands it. Such a person is guided by reason and thus distinguishes himself from other creatures......The body must be in perfect condition so that your soul will not be hindered in its pursuit of moral and intellectual virtues."--The Eight Chapters, Maimonide's Introduction to the Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter Five under 'A Healthy Soul in a Healthy Body')

(10) Gitta, May 21, 2009 3:30 PM

Response

I am delighted with your interest in this column, and the respnse of readers to one another. Just a few comments on your queries. Nutrition has become a very confusing topic, one day research says one thing and a while later they say something else if not the opposite. According to the latest data canola oil is the best oil to cook with since olive oil does heat up faster and can cause free radicals if overheated. Yes for salads and raw dining it is great, along with flaxseed oil, but in cooking it is controversial. As far as coconut oil-it is considered a saturated fat and unless you are diabetic in which case you should be eating more fats to compensate for less carbs, it should be consumed in limited amounts. As far as eating with the seasons and unripe produce, nature has it's way of showing us what to eat when. In the spring the vegetables coming out now in the fields are mostly bitter, arugula, dandelions leaves, endives, radiccio,all of which are extremely beneficial to cleanse the liver, which has been overtaxed during the winter months processing heavier products. asparagus are indeed difficult to check, so I cut off the tops and bottoms and juiced them with other vegetables for my morning vegetable cocktail. Asparagus now are juicy, tender and easy to cut, while in the fall they are stringy, and not as tender and palatable. Red delicious apples are in season in the fall and right now they taste like "potatoes" very dry and unapetizing. Personally, nature is scientific enough. If you read the whole article you will notice what the Rambam says about eating unripe fruits."They are daggers to the body" and thus they could be causing more harm than good. Wishing you all a wonderful Yom Tov

(9) Batsheva, May 21, 2009 7:14 AM

No such thing as seasonal fruit anymore

I agree that it is better to eat local produce, and that means seasonally. But in today's global economy, we can enjoy plums, berries and melons year-round as they are shipped/flown in from warmer climes. And don't discount fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables, when fresh isn't available. I keep mine in the freezer for when I haven't had time to make it to the green grocer.

(8) nyj, May 19, 2009 10:05 PM

asparagus are usually infested

I just went to a shiur by the OU about insect infestation in foods. They said that asparagus usually has insects under the triangular leaves. The best way to use asparagus is to peel the entire outer layer off.

(7) Anon, May 19, 2009 12:33 PM

oils

i just did a bit of research and confirmed what I always knew - after olive oil, canola is the healthiest. (the places I looked also had coconut as the worst)

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