Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eating the Rainbow

Next time you load up a plate, take a mental picture of it and ask yourself, how colorful are the foods I'm eating?  For example, if your plate is completely filled with neutral tones -- i.e., french fries, bread, chicken and applesauce -- you're probably not availing yourself of the best nutrition. 

We found a fun article today about a New York City-based artist who has developed a Nature Matching System to representing in a colorful way 88 common fruits and vegetables by their colors.   As we head into prime growing seasons in most regions of the US, this is a great time to consider adding some new produce -- and new colors -- to your menu. 

Want to know what kinds of produce are coming into season at your local farmer's market? 
Visit and click on the links for your state. Sharon lives in Missouri, so her link took her to the Missouri Farmers Market Directory .  This month, she should be able to find local asparagus, green onions, spinach, lettuce, and green peas.  Barb's list for April and May in Phoenix is, not surprisingly, much more extensive and diverse. 

Here are some simple ways to add asparagus "spring" green to your next meal:

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted Asparagus
Cut off the ends of fresh asparagus and coat lightly in olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a baking dish and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Pull the dish out of the oven and toss some cherry tomatoes into the hot dish, toss and serve.

Blanched Asparagus
Cut off the ends of fresh asparagus.  Add enough water to cover the bottom of a saute pan.  Bring water to boil.  In another pan, saute sliced shallots in a bit of olive oil (I like to cook them until they're almost crunchy).  Add asparagus to boiling water and blanch for 4-6 minutes depending on the diameter of the stalks and how crunchy or soft you like your asparagus.  Drain water.  Add a bit of balsamic vinegar to the shallots and olive oil, and toss the mixture with the cooked asparagus.  Serve.  (Note:  if you want to make asparagus ahead, immerse the stalks in ice water immediately after cooking to stop the cooking process and keep them that wonderful bionic green color.)How are you adding color to your plate? 

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