In part 4 of the best foods we should be eating…let’s start off by discussing the best place to buy our superfoods…
Our Local Farmers Market
Farmers market season is in full swing and they’re sprouting up all over. Some people call them the breeding ground for fresh food. You can find anything from fresh organic fruits and vegetables to fresh cut flowers, homemade baked goods to locally harvested raw honey. Please read Part 3 of “What are the best foods to eat?” where I discuss the health benefits of adding honey to your diet. Then, I hope you will check out my subsequent post entitled “A Honey of a Retraction”, an eye opening and heart wrenching read on the plight of the honey bee and honey production. You’ll be glad you took the time…trust me.
Why shop at the farmers market?
You’ll find that most of the produce is grown organically by local farmers. That means no pesticides or chemicals. If you can’t or wish not to have your own garden – this is the next best thing AND the vegetables you buy today at the farmers market have more nutrients than the same vegetables available at the supermarket. Who knows where they came from or how long they’ve been sitting there.
Farmers markets come in all different sizes. One little market I visit on a regular basis during the summer months is a one-man-show. It may be small, but it boasts the freshest and best tasting corn I have ever enjoyed and his vegetables are picked that morning.
Some of the larger farmers markets do offer more variety. You may decide to stop and pick up a dozen ears of fresh corn on the cob but end up pleasantly surprised at what you discover. There could be live music…anything from an acoustic or blues guitarist to a fiddler or two. This sort of entertainment just keeps people coming back again and again…supporting local farmers. It’s a win win situation for everyone.
Make it a family experience.
Farmers markets in larger towns even offer activities for children. One market here in New England has popular events such as scavenger hunts for the kids or they can learn about planting vegetables. Everything is provided for them like pots, soil and seeds. The children even get to take their projects home. What a fantastic learning experience for young children. And…there’s always events taking place where market goers can enter their pumpkins, or giant zucchini plants dressed in costumes. Oh yea…it happens. I’m not sure how these contests work or what the trophies look like BUT…it sounds like fun for the entire family.
Your bigger farmers markets could have vendors offering arts and crafts, all natural skin care products and soaps. You may even see vendors selling homemade clothing items and beautiful jewelery. Browse around and you can find homemade relishes, pickles, fruit butters and spreads. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh local eggs. And in the fall before the markets close for the season, you may see vendors selling hand-spun yarns and books to get you through the winter months.
So…get your fill of fresh organic fruits and vegetables while you can and support your local farmers.
One superfood that is readily available at the farmers market is Sweet Peppers. Sweet peppers come in beautiful colors of dark green, yellow, orange and my favorite…fire engine red.
Why a superfood?
Peppers are a good example of a powerhouse food, packed with nutrients that have been shown to fight cataracts as well as heart disease. Loaded with potent antioxidants, peppers are among the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can buy. They fight tissue-damaging oxygen molecules known as free radicals. They’re packed with generous amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene. In fact, the darkest of the red sweet peppers contain the most beta-carotene. Just one red pepper provides 4 milligrams of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body which, in turn, is vital in keeping the immune system healthy. It’s this combination of vitamin C and beta-carotene that can provide potent protection against cataracts.
Did you know…Christopher Columbus first brought sweet peppers back with him to Spain after discovering the world wasn’t flat. The rest is history.
Eat ’em raw or with a little heat.
Because Vitamin C is fragile, it can be quickly destroyed during cooking. Eating sweet peppers raw insures you are getting the most nutrients. Give them a good wash, slice them up and add them to your next garden salad or do as I do and enjoy them with Ranch Dip. The dip actually helps beta-carotene get absorbed into the bloodstream.
Beta-carotene requires a little heat to release it from the fiber cells of the pepper. So, to get the most out of your pepper experience, just steam them or do as I do…sauté them with a little olive oil until done but still with a crunch. Drizzling peppers with a bit of olive oil while cooking helps the beta-carotene absorb into the bloodstream. Or…again…eat ’em raw with a bit of dip. Yum
Mix ’em up…
Add sweet peppers to your next garden salad, pasta dish, tuna, chicken or turkey salad…they will add a sweet punch of flavor. The next time you take out your juicer, try this supercharged antioxidant cocktail: 4-5 carrots and 2 green bell peppers. Delicious
⇒Please check out my product review on the Breville JE98XL Juicer. It’s extremely affordable and you’ll find yourself using it every day…I do.
Grow Your Own Organic
Sweet peppers are very easy to grow and by growing your own, you’ll feel confidant that you are eating the best and freshest. If you don’t have space for a garden, grow them in large pots on your deck or patio. If you don’t have the space, the next best thing is to pick up a few at the farmers market. I’m growing my own red and green organic peppers and it’s a thrill to observe how fast they grow in size each day. Right now, my little peppers range from the size of a pea to a small marble….so cute.
⇒Please check out my delicious recipe, Stuffed Sweet Peppers and serve up some good summer flavors… from the garden to the table.
Part 5 of “What are the best foods to eat?” will continue my focus on this summer’s bounty and the freshest of the fresh.
As always, I welcome your feedback and questions. Is there a particular food you’d like researched? Have a favorite “superfood” you’d like to share? Please share below or leave your comments. In addition, I’ll do my best to help you find an answer to your question or request.