Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Summer Eating: The Good Life
Year round, Saturday mornings bring tennis, one of the ultimate joys in my life. In late March these mornings move into joy explosion as the Columbia Farmer’s Market opens the outdoor season at its quarters in central city. The scheduling of tennis and shopping for scrumptious foods becomes a juggling act that has me bouncing from bed to merge two of my life’s great passions.
For many years, I’ve pursued good eating often to more success than others. In college, I waitressed at Alfalfa Restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, where I learned about wholegrain foods and the simplicity of good eating. I credit many meals there and incorporating what I attempted to replicate in my kitchen to countering weight that would surely have packed on by beer and the inevitable late night pizzas ordered to satisfy the “munchies.”
My post college decade brought a more intellectual approach to good eating, driven in part by my readings of the books by Helen and Scott Nearing, considered the grandparents of the “back to the land” movement. Part fascination of a lifestyle I knew little about (google their names if interested) and a dash of incorporation of their practices, the marriage of lessons learned at Alfalfa and their example of unattainable but noble ideals moved me forward in my good eating goals. Still, my love for beer and the lifestyle of an on-the-go career woman led to lots of eating out--a killer for positive food choices. My eating habits ran the spectrum and I had little middle ground. On a regular basis I either ate with conviction or moved to the other end of eating with convenience and lack of care.
By my late 30s into my 40s, I found myself acutely aware of what goes in and what comes out is a matter of life and death. Like most indulgent Americans, my choices continued to dance across the spectrum but my inner voice spoke louder than ever. Good eating led to many rewards: beautiful skin; a figure that is long, muscular, and lean; and support of local establishments and farmers that matches my ethos in both eating and consumerism. Coupled with my joy of hitting the little yellow ball across the tennis court and fresh, unprocessed foods, my life and health maintains a balance that honors both body and spirit.
Below I relay this year’s food passion that finally finds a delicious use for the wonder food kale and some tips for storing market food that brings out the best taste possible and prolongs the life of the produce. A few weeks ago, visiting with a friend prior to a Summerfest concert, I shared the recipe for this merging of nutrition and awesome taste with my friend Susan. Though interested, Susan admitted with a scrunched nose that she couldn’t hide, that “kale can be very scary.” Rest assured, my readers, the kale can only be seen in the color and the health benefits of my new breakfast are both vitamin loaded and full of taste.
Annie’s Green Goddess Smoothie
In blender, combine coconut milk, flax seed (for protein), a handful of kale (ribs removed), several chunks of fresh pineapple (this is what I taste the most), a banana and blend. Then add ice. The proper amount of each ingredient is trial and error to refine the consistency of the drink that suits individual taste. I prefer plenty of ice so I can drink it while others like a less watered down version to be eaten with a spoon. The smoothie can also be modified by adding fruits or vegetables (peaches, blueberries, cucumber, and spinach so far) that are nearing the end of their fresh lives to avoid any waste in my kitchen. This treat jumpstarts my day and gives me a power on the tennis courts that I frequent on a summer schedule that is hard to beat. And, like most women, I have a bit of vanity running through my blood. I love all the compliments that come from having the best physique of my life--thin but not too thin and the glow of good living.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about food storage of fresh produce.
Some foods are best not refrigerated until they become very ripe and life extension prevails over optimum taste. These include tomatoes, fresh peaches, and apples, which are best stored on the counter out of direct sunlight. On the flip side, berries should be stored in the refrigerator from the onset. Fresh greens, squash, asparagus, and cucumbers also benefit from the refrigerator though best practice in storing varies. I refer you to a web link that offers some valuable tips that, if followed, will minimize waste and maximize both taste and life of the produce.
Summer: Tennis and the Farmer’s Market equates pure joy for this tall blonde in mid-Missouri. Toss in summer concerts, a little air conditioning when needed, and the blooms of my flower garden and I find the heat a small price to pay for my heaven on earth.