A Few Veggies To Look Forward to This Year with Central Michigan CSA

There is nothing quite like spring. A somewhat in-between season that is full of hope, excitement and anticipation.

This year, like every other year before it, I find myself ready for not only consistently warmer days here in Michigan, but flavorful, local produce as well!

If you live in Michigan like I, you too are probably pretty excited to leave winter behind. Hopefully, you are also pretty excited about fresh produce and the added flavors, textures, aromas, and experience the versatility Michigan produce can provide.

Farmer's Basket

Thanks to some of our local farmers, getting access to that local produce has never been easier. In fact, this year, I’d encourage you to check out the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs in your area. Not only will this ensure you get fresh, quality produce consistently throughout the growing season, but you’ll also enjoy the convenience of nearby pick up locations within your community.

Although CSA programs can vary in what they offer, I spoke with Joe Crawford from the Central Michigan CSA in order to discover what produce one might expect here in Central Michigan. For my veggie lover fanatics, you’ll be pretty excited about what Joe expects to be available this year. For my not-so-keen-on-veggie fans, perhaps I can entice you to at least consider incorporating an extra serving or two.

Although Michigan has a variety of produce to choose from each growing season, there are a few veggies in particular that you may want to take note of– especially throughout the earlier part of the season. Although all veggies offer great benefits, there are a few that tend to stand out from the rest. You can expect to find these and more in your Central Michigan CSA shares this season.

Curious to know which veggies I’m talking about? This year, let’s get excited about kale, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, radishes, and tomatoes! All are expected to be in supply and are loaded with good-for-you nutrients. Of course, these aren’t all you’ll find in your shares this year, but these may be ones you’ll want to get more familiar with after you discover their unique nutrient profiles.

Kale and Chinese Cabbage 

Kale and Chinese cabbage may be utilized differently in the kitchen, but both share some pretty interesting nutritional benefits. First, both kale and Chinese cabbage have cholesterol lowering benefits thanks to the fiber they contain. To maximize these benefits though, you may want to consider steaming these particular veggies first. This will allow the fiber to better bind with bile acids in your gastrointestinal tract.

Kale and Chinese cabbage also contain glucosinolates – natural components that have shown certain cancer prevention properties in some studies.

Kale is also considered to be a “super food” by many. This may be because it contains over 45 different flavonoids, making it both an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse! It also contains almost 3 grams of protein, which is pretty impressive for a vegetable, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chinese cabbage doesn’t tout quite as many nutritional accolades as kale, but it can add a unique flavor and crunch to your favorite summer burger while also ensuring you are getting more vitamin C and K into your meal plan plus all that great fiber it provides.

Swiss Chard 

I bet you never realized all the versatility found in leafy greens! Swiss chard is another leafy green that you may want to give a go this season. Not quite sure how to incorporate it? Simply sauté in olive oil and add a little cheese! Or throw into your next omelet or batch of scrambled eggs. Swiss chard belongs to the chenopod family along with beets, spinach and quinoa. Talk about a power family! You’ll find 13 different types of polyphenols in Swiss chard in addition to vitamin K, C, and A. Again, this means we’ve got some major anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action going on here. Some animal studies have also shown benefits in blood sugar regulation with the incorporation of Swiss chard into a regular meal plan.

Radishes

Radishes may not seem super versatile, but in reality, they can add great flavor and crunch to all sorts of dishes. From a nutritional standpoint, you’ll find that radishes are also loaded with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

To make good use of them, here are a few suggestions our own Nutrition Expert, Michelle Voss, RD, shared at her last in-store class:

  • Slice into everyday salads
  • Top off some whole grain crackers and add some Laughing Cow Cheese
  • Throw into a light cucumber salad
  • Create radish chips in your oven
  • Pickle them and add to fish tacos

Tomatoes

This vegetable (or fruit, depending on how you label things) is probably a little more common to most households, but let’s not forget all a tomato has to offer. First, they contain all four types of carotenoids – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. They too are also rich in fiber and have a pretty high water content – something especially important to consider during the hot days of summer. Because of its unique nutrient profile, tomatoes have been linked to reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

This year, I hope you are able to incorporate fresh produce from your corner of the world into your day. Not quite sure where to look? Check out LocalHarvest.org to discover fresh, local foods in your area.

For my Central Michigan fans, consider checking out Central Michigan CSA and learn more about the farming philosophy behind it and what you can expect from one of your local farmer’s this year.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Central Michigan CSA. We did receive compensation for writing it; however, all opinions expressed are Kati’s alone. We just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclaimer and disclosure policies, please visit our legal page.

Top 5 Reasons to Make Curry Your Favorite Spice

Yellow, zesty and wonderful, curry powder has more to offer than just making your taste buds tingle. An Indian staple, curry powder is a combination of spices that include turmeric, coriander, and cardamom plus a variety of other spices that make each combination unique. Put these spices together and viola- an antioxidant power house is born, which makes using this spice high on the “use often” list.

Curry Powder
Our favorite Curry Powder is from Spice Society! We have it available at thePlate Boutique in Mt. Pleasant if you want to come and check it out!

 

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Curry Powder should be in your next meal:

1. Out of this World Flavor. We are all about how things taste here at Around the Plate, and the ethnic blend of curry spices melts perfectly together on your taste buds and takes homemade to a whole new level. It does not have to be complicated to be delicious with curry; consider sprinkling a bit of curry powder on your popcorn, or on top of your baked sweet potato fries.

2. Reduce inflammation. When you consider that stress can increase overall inflammation and that it can lead to all sorts of other health problems, it is really exciting to find a food (or spice!) that will help reduce that pesky precursor.  Luckily, curry powder is on the research hot list for this exact reason. Spice up, and spice often!

3. Indigestion Relief.  Since some of the spices in curry are from the ginger family, which is known to aid in indigestion, it only makes sense that their curry cousin would want to help too.  Strong studies show that curry powder may help with an upset tummy by stimulating the gallbladder to release extra bile.

4. Natural Food Coloring. Turmeric, one of the spices included in many curry powder combos can add a yellow hue to food.  Consider adding a fun color to mashed cauliflower with curry powder, changing the color scheme from white to exciting yellow!

5. Heart Healthy. Working on reducing hypertension or avoiding the morning bloat? Curry powder is an excellent choice to season with because it will skip adding salt to your meal but will definitely add mega flavor.  This spice can substitute garlic salt, season salt, or even sea salt giving you an overall savings of up to 25% of daily salt intake!

Need a few ideas on how to incorporate curry in your next meal? Check out this recipe for an amazing way to utilize curry at the dinner table, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Curry. Or, get creative with curry in a current recipe by swapping out a spice and putting curry in its place.  Happy cooking!

Have you ever cooked with curry before? What are some of your favorite meals and snacks to incorporate it in? 

Think Water is Boring? We’ll Change Your Mind with these Flavored Water Recipes!

Staying hydrated is important! In fact, so important that our nutrition expert, Sarah Schuetz, RD highlights drinking more water as the one small actionable step you can take this month to start bettering your overall health.

But what if you don’t like water? Luckily, there are many ways to flavor up your drink naturally and beneficially with fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Related: Drink more water for a better grade

During our Ask the RD event yesterday, our newest nutrition expert Michelle Voss, RD also highlighted the importance of hydration and showed us just how easy and tasty it can be to flavor our water in this way. Here are the two recipes she had us all try:

Pineapple Orange Ginger Water
Orange Pineapple Ginger Water

 

FullSizeRender (15)
Blood Orange Rosemary Sparkling Water

You can try both of these recipes at home by clicking on each picture.

Want even more options? Here are a few other fun and easy combinations:

Citrus Water. Slice 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 lemon into rounds, then cut rounds in half. Add to a jar and muddle; add ice and water.

Raspberry Lime Water. Quarter 1 lime. Squeeze into a jar, then throw in squeezed lime quarters. Add 1 cup raspberries. Muddle; add ice and water.

Pineapple Mint Water. Add a sprig of mint to the jar; muddle. Add 1 cup pineapple pieces and muddle; add ice and water to jar.

Blackberry Sage Water. Add sage sprig to jar and muddle. Add 1 cup blackberries and muddle; add ice and water.

Watermelon Rosemary Water. Add rosemary sprig to jar & muddle. Add 1 cup watermelon to jar and muddle; add ice and water.

Want even MORE ideas? Here’s a great round up from Brit.Co that we love! 20 Ways to Drink More Water Without Knowing It

Meet our Newest Nutrition Expert, Michelle Voss, RDN!

Eating your best isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be down right difficult; not to mention confusing, frustrating, and lonely. That’s why we think its essential to have a nutrition expert in your corner. Someone you can answer those tough nutrition questions you have, keep you accountable, and inspire you to have a little fun with your food. After all, eating well isn’t just about the nutrients. Its about the experience too.

At Around the Plate, we have an amazing team of dietitians who are ready to help you out. From answering your toughest food and nutrition related questions here on Around the Plate to meeting up with you one-on-one, our team of nutrition experts are here to make a difference for you and your family.

A few months ago, Sarah Schuetz, RDN joined our team. Sarah is not only our West Michigan Nutrition Expert, but the Store Director at thePlate Boutique in Grand Rapids, MI. Sarah wears many hats, but you’ll often find her sharing nutrition wisdom at in-store demos and cooking classes held at thePlate Boutique in Grand Rapids once month.

Today we’re excited to welcome another amazing dietitian to our team. Meet Michelle Voss, RDN, our new Central Michigan Nutrition Expert!

Michelle Voss

To help you get to know Michelle a bit better, we asked her a few questions.

What’s your signature dish? 

“My favorite thing to make is a homemade whole-wheat pizza topped with spinach and feta cheese.”

What 3 foods can always be found in your pantry? 

“I love oatmeal for breakfast and snacks so we always have it stocked, canned beans are quick and an easy way to add protein to a meal, and I keep a stash of dark chocolate on hand for those times when I need a treat. :)”

What’s your favorite foodie locale? 

“Fresh, local food is something I am passionate about, so my favorite foodie place would have to be the farmer’s market.”

If you only had one gadget in your kitchen, what would it be? 

“Definitely a sharp chef’s knife for chopping veggies!”

When you have the day off, how do you enjoy your time? 

“I try to keep active in my spare time by going to group exercise classes, running races with friends and going for walks. I also spend a lot of time looking for and trying new recipes found on Pinterest!

Who is your perfect client? 

“My perfect client would be someone who’s goal is to live a healthy lifestyle and who is willing to try new things.”

What excites you most about working at “thePlate”? 

“To quote Around the Plate’s motto, I’m most excited about helping others “live healthy” and “eat happy.”

Michelle is currently accepting new clients and would love to work with you! You can meet with Michelle in person at thePlate Boutique in downtown Mt. Pleasant or book an online meal planning session if you aren’t from the Central Michigan area. Sarah Scheutz, RDN can also see clients online.
To book your session, please contact us today for more information! And to learn more about Michelle, follow her on Twitter at @MichelleMarieRD.

 

 

5 Facts About Olive Oil You Should Know

Olive oil is a great type of fat to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle.  Rich in mono-unsaturated fats, it has the ability to have a positive affect on your overall health when utilized properly.  Get familiar with these 5 facts to make sure olive oil is doing the best job it can in your kitchen!

Olive Oil

Fact #1: It is best to use  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) in cold dishes, like salad dressing or drizzled over a crusty piece of bread.  Being extra virgin means the extraction process was mechanical only and involved no heat to get the job done.  When heat is applied to EVOO it’s antioxidant properties diminish.  To keep nutrition high with this oil, keep it cool.

Fact #2.  If your olive oil lives in the cupboard above the stove, consider moving it to a new home.  The way olive oil is stored plays a key role in the maintenance of the oil and its healthy power.  Both heat and light will affect olive oil negatively.  To prevent olive oil rancidity and free radical formation, store olive oil in a cool dark place and away from the stove.

Fact #3. The FDA defines Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) very leniently, but in general it means the highest quality grade virgin olive oil. By many experts standards, what is often considered to be Extra Virgin is far more limited than what is found on the grocery store shelves.  According to Tom Meuller, an EVOO expert, two gold standard choices often found at your local grocery store across the country include Corto Olive and California Olive Ranch.  So on your next trip to the grocery store, choose wisely and keep an eye out for these two particular brands.

If you are fortunate enough to be near one of our retail store locations, we’re excited to be bringing in another high quality brand of olive oil, Sutter Buttes Olive Oil Co., into the store within the next month or two as well.

Fact #4. Not all olive oils are a good choice to use in the cooking process. This is, in part, due to fact number one, but also because EVOO has a low temperature smoke point.  The good news is, refined olive oil is safe to heat and use when cooking because it has about a 465 degree smoke point, vs EVOO which tops out between 320-400 degrees.

Fact #5.  Non-stick pans, even ceramic, don’t play well with EVOO.  EVOO and cooking sprays alike should not be used on these sort of pans as it can diminish the non-stick properties of the kitchenware by leaving a carbonized layer on top of the non-stick coating.  To keep non-stick pans in top notch condition think about using a refined olive or canola oil instead.

What sort of questions do you have about olive oil? I’d love to help you out!