You guys probably know by now that a trip to the farmer’s market is always a highlights of my weekend. There’s nothing I love more than heading downtown with Adam and Phoebe, stocking my bag with seasonal fruits and veggies, flowers, jam, bread and usually stopping for a farm-fresh breakfast, too. A couple weeks ago, I picked up my first ever CSA box at our downtown farmers market. Do you guys know about CSA (community supported agriculture) programs? Basically, it’s a direct partnership with a farm – in my case, Johnson’s Backyard Garden – where you pay in advance for a share of its upcoming harvest. Everybody wins, since the farm is promised a consistent market, and the customer gets to take home a box brimming with beautiful, local, organic produce.
Since becoming a mom (can y’all believe it’s been almost a year?!), I’ve become increasingly focused on making our home a safe and nourishing environment in every aspect of life. In the last edition of our summertime series with Honest, I talked about how Phoebe’s bathtime ritual is a healthy and bonding part of each day, and today I wanted to spend some time looking at how our meals have become more plant-focused and nutritious without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. It all starts with (1) choosing the best seasonal produce (organic when possible), (2) looking for produce that’s not bruised or battered, (3) washing it right when you get home and (4) making sure it’s free of pesticides, pathogens, dirt and germs (thank you, Fruit + Veggie Wash!) Keep reading for my weekly routine…
Any meal is only as good as the quality of ingredients that go into it, so it’s crucial to start with fresh, mostly-organic foods that look as close as possible to the way they grew in nature. There are so many messages out there about what not to eat, and after tons of reading and research, I’ve finally decided that a diet that includes a little bit of everything (yep, dairy and bread included!) in its whole, natural state is what’s best for me. That means I try not to eat things out of a package and avoid ingredients lists that have words too long to pronounce, and it means that I get to be creative and come up with lots of different ways to prepare the seasonal veggies that I stock my fridge with after bringing my CSA box home. If you guys haven’t read The Honest Life yet, it’s chock full of more detailed info on why to buy organic, as well as some of the simplest and yummiest ways to prepare seasonal produce.
Once I get all my loot home, I clean everything in order to cut down on prep time on busy weeknights. I fill the sink with water and dump all my firm produce in to loosen any dirt that’s stuck to it. Then I take each item out and give it a few sprays of Fruit + Veggie Wash, rub well with my hands and rinse with clean water. I place leafy greens in a colander and spray generously, allow to sit for a couple minutes, then rinse. Now, I know what you’re about to ask: Can you skip this step and use just water? Sure, but I’ve been really impressed by the fact that the Fruit + Veggie Wash has been shown to be way more effective with getting rid of pathogens and bacteria that’s found even on organic produce, not to mention the fact that it inhibits browning and helps food last twice as long (check out these photos comparing veggies just rinsed in water with those sprayed with the Fruit + Veggie Wash… major difference, right?)
Taking the time on weekends to stock our fridge with high-quality, seasonal produce has totally changed our weeknight dinners. I’m always scouring websites and cookbooks for new, creative ways to use the abundant veggies in my CSA box – and I’m often challenged to cook with ingredients I might never have purchased otherwise! Even though we do eat all kinds of meat and fish at our house, I’ve noticed that we’ve just naturally been doing a lot more vegetarian dinners lately – comforting soups made with squash and sweet potatoes, salads brimming with roasted beets and avocados, this quinoa salad – we don’t even miss the meat! What are all of you doing with late summer produce right now? I’d love to hear in the comments, and this afternoon I’ll share what I’m currently doing with my bumper crop of baby eggplant and sweet peppers.
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*photos 1, 2 & 3 by Buff Strickland.