It Ain't Over Yet!
I Remember being young and dreading the beginning of the new school year but it wasn't at all because I was enjoying the sweltering hot Mississippi summer. In fact my entire life I have hated summer until about three years ago when I started spending them in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Now, I dread the end of summer weather! Besides the great hiking, biking, and outdoor music festivals, the growing season is very long there compared to the Deep South. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and corn are still plentiful at my farmer's market through September.
I strongly believe we are designed to eat seasonally. My degree in horticulture confirmed my belief. Vegetables aren't as sweet, tender, or juicy when they are grown in forced conditions such as in a green house. When they have to be chemically treated, heated or chilled to make them grow outside normal conditions they lose flavor. Also, cultivars of plants sold in super markets out of season are selected based on their color, size, shape, and ability to withstand transport long distances, not based on taste or nutrition.
Our Bodies' Seasonal Requirements
Food doesn't just taste better when it is in season, our bodies need what they produce in the same season. Dr. Fuhrman writes that lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, protects the cells from oxidative stress including damage from the sun’s UV rays, which gives us protection from skin cancer. Dr. Fuhrman also says that tomatoes contain other carotenoids and that they have a synergistic effect that can’t be replicated with supplements. So eat as many fresh raw or cooked tomatoes as you can!
Besides giving us much-needed extra water with which to sweat, melons and berries of summer are great sources of carotenoids including lycopene. They hydrate and protect us from DNA damage caused by free radicals. Remember, free radicals are a product of metabolism. We make them just by breathing. When we abuse our bodies with lack of sleep, alcohol, sugar, sunburn, meat, excess exercise (sounds like a party, huh?) we make more free radicals. So…eat more berries and melons while they are in season.
One thing I learned this year while hiking in the mountains is that mushrooms are seasonal at the end of summer when it is hot and humid. (Didn’t know this because I am a city girl and buy them in the grocery store year-round.) Mushrooms are great immune boosters. They enhance the body’s natural killer cells. NK cells destroy cancer cells and virus-infected cells. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are the big cancer-killers but even the lowly white button mushroom has been proven to boost the immune response in mucosal tissue such as the lining of the nose, mouth, stomach and lungs. Wouldn’t it be great to have a leg-up going into cold and flu season? Eat more mushrooms in late summer going into fall.
Speaking of fall, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage all come into season when the weather turns cool. These vegetables and all their cruciferous relatives contain glucosinolates, which convert to isothiocyanates when chopped or chewed. ITC’s are potent cancer killers. (Remember all the summer parties and the DNA damage they caused?) ITC’s also have antimicrobial properties. We increase our contact with microbes such as bacteria and viruses in winter because of close quarters with other humans. Also, our immune systems suffer a of lack of vitamin D caused by the shorter days and harsh outdoor climate of winter which force us indoors.
Our magnificent Creator made all these delicious plants to heal and protect our bodies and He hands them to us at the exact time when our bodies need them most.
Here are some ideas to help squeeze the last bit out of summer!
My Soon-to-be-Famous AT&T
Serves one. Eaten preferably alone so that no sharing is even suggested.
2 slices of vegan, gluten free, whole grain bread, such as Sami’s Bakery Ancient Grain
2 slices of Cherokee tomato
¼ Haas avocado, sliced
2 slices, smokey tempeh
1 T Vegenaise
salt and pepper
Toast the bread under the broiler so that it is crispy on one side and soft on the other.
Spread the crispy side of one slice of bread with Vegenaise.
Smash the avocado slices into the crispy side of the other piece of bread.
Pile the tomato on one piece of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pile the tempeh on top of the tomato and cover with the other slice of bread.
Slice the sandwich in half from corner to corner. (Rules are rules. What can I say?)
Serve with a napkin.
Farmer’s Market Salad
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped
¼ Vidalia onion, diced
½ avocado, chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries, 1 chopped peach, 3 chopped figs, or two chopped plums
2 T apple cider vinegar
salt, pepper, and stevia to taste
Toss and serve.
Warm Corn and Zucchini Salad with Mint
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
1/3 cup vegetable broth, low sodium or no salt
added, or more if needed to achieve desired
1 cup diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat vegetable broth in a large saute pan. Add onion, garlic, zucchini, and corn and saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add cumin and coriander and continue cooking until liquid is evaporated.
Remove from heat. Add mint, lemon juice and pepper.
Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes with Spicy Cilantro Pesto
From Forks Over Knives
By Del Stroufe
Ready In: 65 minutes
4 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced small
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 ears corn, kernels removed (about 1 cup)
2 cups cooked black beans, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked quinoa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup Spicy Cilantro Pesto
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/2-inch wall. Set the tomatoes aside while you prepare the filling.
Place the onion and red pepper in a large saucepan and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn, black beans, and cooked quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the cilantro pesto to the pan and mix well.
Divide the quinoa mixture evenly among the prepared tomatoes and arrange them in a baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Spicy Cilantro Pesto
2 cups packed cilantro
¼ cup hulled sunflower seeds, toasted, optional
1 jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
½ package extra firm silken tofu (about
6 ounces), drained
¼ cup nutritional yeast, optional
Combine the cilantro, sunflower seeds (if using), jalapeño pepper, garlic, lime zest and juice, salt, tofu, and nutritional yeast (if using) in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.
Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
Eating Seasonally: Summer