Fall is the traditional time to harvest fruits and vegetables. If you have your own vegetable garden, you may already know this. However, if you’re new to the in-season-produce game,trying to figure out the ins and outs of eating seasonally may be a little intimidating. Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasonal produce.
What Does “In Season” Mean?
Simply put, “in season” refers to food that’s harvested at a particular time of year. This ensures that you’re getting produce when it’s at its very best. This produce will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Also, your produce won’t be treated with harmful chemicals, so it’s even more healthy for your family.
What’s “Peak Season”?
“Peak season” is the time of the season when buying a particular fruit or veggie is most beneficial. First off, it’s when the produce is most available. Next, since it’s in abundance during peak season, the produce is far cheaper than any other time of year. Another benefit is that the produce has the most flavor during this time because it’s been allowed to fully ripen. However, perhaps the most important reason to buy produce in peak season is that it also has the maximum amount of nutrients.
Why Buy Local?
Buying locally grown produce ensures that there are little to no chemicals used as preservatives. If you were to buy seasonal produce from a farm out West and you live in the South, it’s highly probable that the farm will treat the produce with preservatives. Also, local produce doesn’t have to be shipped from another location, cutting down on pollutants like carbon dioxide gas. You can either purchase produce directly from the farmer at a farmer’s market or from a nearby farm.As an added bonus, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area, which is good for everyone in the long run.
Not in the mood to shop and cook for produce? Here at Market Table, we partner with local farms and food distributors to make sure we use locally grown and responsibly farmed produce whenever possible.
Finding Out What’s in Season
The best way to find out what’s in season in your area is to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website. They will have a list of produce with information on when the season for something starts and when it ends. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers convenient seasonality charts. On Alabama Farmers Market Authority’s website, you’ll find a list of seasonal produce and information about when it’s in peak season. This Alabama Cooperative Extension System guide, put together by Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, lists seasonal produce and ideas for preparing it.
What’s in Season Now?
Here’s a list of what’s in season this fall and winter in the Southeast:
Text by Amber Pope
If you’re still eating your food off of a plate, it’s time to get with the hottest new trend: bowls. Need further proof? Go search #bowl on Instagram, and you’ll see over two million pictures of food bowls. Even at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markel, reception guests ate various options of the food bowl. Though you probably won’t be dining with the Queen of England, you’re still going to want to get in the bowl game. Here’s why these aesthetically pleasing dishes are on the rise.
Food bowls may look too beautiful to eat, but they are definitely good for your health. This is why the trend is so popular amongst healthy eaters. You’re getting all your grains, proteins, and vegetables right in one main dish, and the heartiness of the meal will leave you full for hours.
This bowl trend also means there’s more healthy food options. Restaurants are competing to “out bowl” each other. More restaurants offer healthy bowl options, which is a win for you. Instead of driving across town for your food bowl, you’ll probably find a nearby restaurant that’s caught on to the new trend.
They’re Easy to Make
If you’re trying to save some money, food bowls are also simple to make. Another great thing about food bowls is that they’re infinitely customizable. You can mix and match bases, toppings, and dressings to your heart’s desire. This make food bowls great for meal preppers, lunch lovers, and picky eaters.
If you’re skeptical about joining the craze, just know that this is no fad. In fact, food bowls have been around for a long time. They get their origins from Hawaiian and Brazilian culture with the poke and açaí bowls, respectively.
Poke is a staple Hawaiian dish and traditionally includes raw cubed tuna. But, there are other options such as octopus, salmon or tofu. All of this is served on a bed of rice and topped with furikake, a Japanese seasoning equivalent to America’s salt and pepper. This dish has left the island and established itself as a popular food bowl throughout the rest of the country.
Açaí is a superfruit with lots of health benefits. It gained its popularity through smoothie bowls, but it’s also a popular icecream flavor. Açaí bowls, or Açaí na tigela in Brazil, are fruit smoothie bowls topped with granola, bananas, other berries and syrups. These are the bowls you’ll see the most on Instagram.
If stepping up your Instagram game or the Royal family wasn’t enough motivation to join the food bowl movement, then maybe these benefits and cool origins will inspire you to join soon.
Text by Kendal Harris
Do you find yourself struggling to find a recipe at the last minute? Never seem to have what you need from the grocery store? Have no fear! Creating a weekly meal plan can make after-school evenings run much more smoothly!
Choose the Meals Your Family Loves
Start by making a list of all the meals and snacks your family likes to eat on a regular basis. Pro-tip: get some sticky tabs or magnets and write the name of each meal on a tab. Place them all in a notebook or on your refrigerator, spread out so that they’re easily accounted for. These meals will be the building blocks of a weekly meal plan for your family.
Chart It Up
If you went with sticky tabs, create a chart with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add rows for each day of the week. This layout allows you to easily account for each meal and snack you’ll be responsible for throughout the week. Although there are often occasions where you’ll go out to eat, it’s always better to have a plan that you stray from than to have no plan at all.
Organize the Days
Now, decide which meals should fall into which slot. When this process is completed, you should have a planned dish for every meal and snack throughout the week. When you get home from work, it’ll be so easy to just check the meal chart and start cooking. You also won’t have to worry about changing the meal halfway through preparation, as your family can see the meal plan. You can even collaborate on the plan before the week begins to avoid any arguments. As a bonus, this is an excellent way to teach the kids about balance and nutrition!
Check the Diet
Ever wondered if you’ve been giving your kids enough nutrients? This meal planning system makes it easy to keep your family’s diet (or, more often, diets) in check. You can easily outline and implement your family’s dietary needs with a structured meal plan. Also, seeing the meal plan spread out before you will make it easy to find places where leafy greens can be best disguised.
Shop and Prep
No more opening the fridge on a Wednesday night to find an empty milk carton! When you know what dishes you’ll be preparing a week ahead, you can easily buy everything you need from the grocery store in one go. Go through your meal chart and make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for the week. After purchasing them, you can even prep for the meals ahead of time. Maybe a lot of your meals require chopped veggies or peeled fruit. Maybe you have to soak some lentils for another dish. Finishing the prep work for multiple meals once or twice a week is a huge time saver.
Of course, not everyone has time to meal prep or plan. That’s where Market Table comes in! Our freezer meals and prepared dishes offer options for the whole family — just pop them in the oven and have a healthy, delicious meal in no time. Stumped when it comes to lunch? We’ve got you covered there, too: you can pre-order and pick up our Light Lunchboxes, saving you time and sanity.
Greek food established its popularity long ago. Due to its healthy nature and flavorful taste, Greek food is a genre that many are sure to love.
Greek food is considered a healthy cuisine because of its typical ingredients. Many Greek dishes center around a type of lean meat or fish. You’ll commonly find pork, lamb, mussels and shrimp mixed with spices and herbs in different types of Greek recipes. You’ll also often find feta, the national cheese of Greece, in Greek dishes. Feta cheese can also only be produced in Greece, so it’s always 100% Greek. Beans are also another healthy ingredient found in Greek dishes. Because of the fertile wet soil in northern Greece, beans are popular for gardening and for cooking.
One of the most common Greek dishes is Moussaka. This widely-recognized casserole consists of eggplants and potatoes layered with a spiced meat filling then topped with a creamy sauce. A popular Greek soup found on the menus of most Greek restaurants is Chicken Soup Avgolemono. This creamy soup typically serves as the first course for Greek holiday celebrations. A popular appetizer that can also be used as a condiment is Tzatziki. This yogurt-based cucumber dip is the perfect dip for grilled meat, veggies or pita bread.
Baklava, a classic and popular dessert, consists of flaky phyllo dough layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling. Another delicious dessert consisting of flaky phyllo dough is Galaktoboureko. This custard pie is covered with a lemon and orange infused syrup. Shortbread cookies, known as Kourabiethes, are a classic at Greek family celebrations. These light yet rich-in-flavor cookies melt right in your mouth.
Greek cuisine is one that the whole family is sure to love. With the various ingredients used, there is something out there that will satisfy every member of the family.
With the kids out of school and summer in full swing, we put together a few healthy frozen treats to cool everyone down on any hot summer day. These treats are easy to make and utilize natural sugars and healthy sweeteners. Enjoy!
Strawberry Watermelon Homemade Popsicles
Homemade pops are a favorite healthy treat on those hot summer afternoons. The key to any good ice pop is the mold. You can find a popsicle mold just about anywhere, but we love Nopro’s ten-pop mold (Amazon, Walmart, Target). The pops look store bought and are easy to remove. For the strawberry watermelon pops, you need two cups of strawberries, two cups of watermelon and one the juice of one lemon. Combine all three ingredients in a blender and blend until they are liquified. Fill the molds and freeze for four to six hours. And there you have it – a sweet summer treat with only natural sugars. This will make 10 pops.
Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bark
Here’s another frozen treat to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. You will need a sheet pan that can fit in your freezer. We suggest lining it with wax paper before you begin for easy cleanup. Grab a large container of your favorite plain yogurt and mix it with a tablespoon of vanilla. Pour the yogurt directly on to the pan, evening it out slightly with a knife or spoon. Add fruit directly to the yogurt. Get creative with your combinations! Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries make a good combo as does kiwi, pineapple, blueberries and strawberries. Freeze the bark as-is for four to six hours. Slice and enjoy! For a fun twist, add granola and raisins or used flavored yogurt.
Lemon Raspberry Sorbet
This easy sorbet recipe doesn’t even require an ice cream maker! Simply blend together one cup of frozen raspberries, one-half cup of water, and one-half tablespoon of lemon juice (add a bit more if you like it tart). As these are blending, slowly add up to one-third of a cup of raw honey. This will add a natural sweetness. Taste it regularly as it blends until you reach the desired flavor. Then freeze until the desired consistency is acquired. This only makes one serving but the recipe is easy to double (or triple!).
And there you have it: three quick, easy, and healthy desserts your whole family will love — even the picky eaters! Wondering what’s for dinner, now that dessert is covered? These frozen desserts are the perfect treat to complete a meal begun with one of our fully-prepared freezer meals or meal kits. The One Pan CBG (Chicken, Bacon, and Green Beans) meal kit and the Vegetarian Lasagna freezer meal are both staff family favorites.
Text by Amy Haupt
You’ve probably seen posts about the Whole30 Diet circulating on social media. That’s because Whole30 encourages participants in the diet to share their stories. Not only does this keep them accountable, but it also helps them to find encouragement from fellow dieters. But what exactly is Whole30? And why is it all over your social media feeds?
What Is Whole30?
This program revolves around 30 days of clean eating. The program promises that if you try clean eating for just 30 days, it’ll change your relationship with food. According to Whole30, certain foods negatively impact your mental and physical health. Some of these food include sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. So, rather than counting calories, you simply focus on eating foods that are good for your health.
What Can I Eat?
There are pretty specific rules as to what you cannot eat. The number-one food group on the list is sugar, whether real or artificial — including substitutes like stevia and honey. The program also doesn’t allow for alcohol or tobacco. Grains, legumes, and dairy? Also not allowed. Don’t panic, though — that’s just for 30 days. If you feel stuck and unsure of what you can eat, Whole30 has a list of approved foods and brands, as well as their own meal plans.
What Are the Benefits?
This diet sounds a little extreme, but the program promises a vast variety of benefits. For one, it’s only 30 days to clean out your body and allow yourself to start fresh with a new mentality with food. After those 30 days, it’s not necessary to be as restrictive with your food choices, but you can keep the lessons learned from Whole30 in mind. Some of the benefits listed on Whole30’s website are weight loss, improvement to body composition, high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus andmental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.
If you’re struggling to get started on your Whole30 journey, you can try one of Market Table’s salads, Light Lunchboxes, or frittatas — just ask for it without cheese. We even have meal kits to help you cook healthy food at home. If you see anything else on the menu that looks good but doesn’t meet the Whole30 requirement, we can help you find a substitute.
Text by Katherine Polcari