By Pattie Garrett
August is a peak produce period for farmers, and the vendor stalls at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market are bursting with color. Everything looks so good that you want to buy everything. But that abundant array also can feel a bit overwhelming.
As a Registered Dietitian, let me propose the following strategies:
• First, start with your seasonal favorites. For instance, if you love corn on the cob, now is the time to savor it. Make sure to buy some to eat now, and perhaps some to freeze for later.
• Next, think about color. A popular notion is to eat the colors of the rainbow. It’s a fun, easy way to think about the foods we eat. Colorful vegetables and fruit are generally considered to be rich in nutrients. And since we need a variety of nutrients, eating an array of colors is one way to ensure that you’re getting a balance.
• How can a trip to the farmers’ market help you eat the rainbow? Well, start with the color green, the easiest color. Think about broccoli, spinach, cabbage, salad greens, Swiss chard, kale, collards, and the huge array of Asian greens. These leafy green vegetables are often a good source of folic acid, Vitamin K, potassium, and carotenoids.
• Then, think red. Tomatoes and watermelon are not only bright and beautiful. They also are associated with lycopene, an antioxidant. Red vegetables and fruit also are usually high in Vitamin C and folate.
• For orange, there’s carrots, cantaloupe, and soon sweet potatoes. The color orange is associated with beta-carotene, an antioxidant. This is converted to Vitamin A in our body. Often these foods have high levels of Vitamin C.
• We’ve covered yellow, with corn. But there’s also yellow summer squash, crooknecks and patty-pans.
• And, finally, think purple: beautiful blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant. Their deep blue to purplish hues signify a rich level of phytochemicals.
All vegetables and fruits, of course, are a good source of fiber and each has their own unique combination of vitamins and minerals. It is recommended that we eat at least 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. So, fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. And if your bags are too heavy, ask the market’s Veggie Valet volunteers for some help.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October at High Rock Park.
Playing the Rainbow Dinner game
The following “recipe” for a rainbow meal is adapted from a game by the Whole Kids Foundation. It’s a great game for adults, too. Using the rainbow, you can plan a meal or several meals.
Play the game, and share your results with the Friends of the Market volunteers tomorrow at the Veggie Valet tent:
1. Draw a rainbow on a sheet of paper. Bring it with you to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
2. Look for a food to match each color while browsing through the farmers’ market.
3. Devise a salad, a stir-fry, or a grilled plate of veggies that would include all of the foods you chose. Or, perhaps make your rainbow dinner into a multi-course meal.
4. Share your results with your friends and with us.
You can view the game here.
Rainbow Summer Vegetable Salad
Adapted from Eating Well
* Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 1/3 cup cider vinegar *
• 2 teaspoon honey *
• 1 small clove garlic, minced *
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
• 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes *
• ½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced thin *
• ½ medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced thin (use both for color) *
• ½ medium sweet onion *
• Kernels from 2 ears of corn *
• 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill or basil *
Whisk vinegar, honey, garlic, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onion and corn. Stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, before serving. Garnish with dill or basil.
Nutrition Facts: 52 calories, Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 11 g, Sugar 7 g, Added Sugar 3 g, Protein 2 g, Fiber 2 g, Sodium 149 mg.