Get It Fresh!

Get It Fresh!

Now that spring has sprung, it’s the perfect time to start incorporating fresh fruits and 
veggies into your healthy eating plan and with so many delicious varieties coming into season now, it’s easier than you think!

The best place to select your produce will always be the farmers market, as 

everything will be in season and at optimal freshness! It’s always great to meet and greet with the person who actually grew your food and really feel connected to the whole process. Check out the Toronto Farmers Market Network and this awesome map of markets in T.O. or go to which makes it so easy to find a great market close to you! For most of us, however it’s not always possible to get to the farmer’s market and we need to hit up our local grocery store or supermarket to get our fresh produce. The key word here is fresh, so if it’s coming from somewhere on the other side of the world, chances are it’s not fresh. So your first step is to look for the Foodland Ontario symbol or better yet the Local Foods Plus symbol which guarantees that your food is not only local, but that it’s also environmentally and socially sustainable, Bonus!

Foodland and LFP will highlight fruits and veg when in season, but here’s a handy dandy reference guide to know what to eat and when!

FYI for spring you'll want to load up on:


(rich in the phytochemical Glycine betaine, folates and vitamin C)

(lots of Vit A and Beta-carotene for healthy eyes and vision)
Cucumber (greenhouse)  

(low carb, yet high in fibre! Full of water to keep you hydrated)
Lettuce (greenhouse)  

(good source of chlorophyll, vitamin K, fibre and water!)

(excellent source of potassium, riboflavin, niacin and selenium)

(protects against cardiovascular disease and certain infections)

(a shining beacon of soluble FIBRE! lowers cholesterol)
Peppers (greenhouse) 

(burns fat with its spicy (or sweet) compounds capsaicin & CH-19)

(chock-a-block with Potassium, Minerals, Vitamin C and Fibre!)
Sweet Potatoes  
(high in Vitamins B6, C and D. Also easy to cook and so delish!)
Tomatoes (greenhouse)  
(an excellent source of Lycopene to help prevent UV damage to skin and eyes (the number 1 cause of Age-Related Macular Degeneration) & cancer, helps maintain strong healthy bones and helps lower total cholesterol, GO tomatoes!)

(an apple a day, keeps the type 2 Diabetes and cholesterol away!)
(lutein for healthy skin & bones and loads of calcium, 105mg/cup!)
Strawberries (late spring)  
(nutrient-rich and packed with Vit-C and antioxidants, Sweet!)

Click on the links on the fruits and veg to see how they measure up with the Environmental Working Group’s  Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list, from our earlier post to determine how much pesticide residue can be left on produce if it’s not organic.

To sum things up here are your main reasons to buy local and seasonal:

1. Cheap! When the crops are booming their prices go down.
2. Tastes better! Foods lose flavour the longer they sit around and especially if they are chilled.
3. Variety! Try something new when it’s in season, like say fiddleheads or figs, why don’t cha?!
4. Easier on the planet! Save the gas and subsequent pollution from the world-wide delivery.
5. Healthier! The main benefits of eating local food in season is that it will be packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Those green bananas and rock hard avocados that have been sitting on a truck for 2 weeks are not nearly as appealing or nutrient-dense as the gorgeous Ontario grown strawberries of late spring/early summer. Sliced up and added to yogurt and muesli or thrown in with some kale for a green smoothie for breakfast or tossed with a big bowl of arugula and endive with a sprinkle of goat cheese, raw pepitas and a dash of EVOO and apple-cider vinegar, delish!

Want to go really hardcore?

Check out a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture, which is like buying stocks in the farm and receiving your dividends in produce! You pay at the beginning of the season and every one or two weeks you go pick up your Absolutely-Fresh-From-The-Farm-Food!!! This is actually the cheapest plan and its like having a farm in your own backyard, without all that, you know, farming.

And to go with your handy dandy fresh & seasonal shopping list, here are some quick, easy and delicious recipes to get you started:

Baked Sesame Sweet Potato Fries
2 large or 3 smaller sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp of EVOO (aka extra-virgin olive oil, or whatever you got)
1 tsp of toasted sesame oil (this stuff is strong, so use less or omit if you don’t like it)
2 pinches of sea salt or mountain salt like Bolivian Rose from the Andes

To prep, fill a large bowl with cold water and line a large baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes into 1cm thick and 3-4in long pieces, and pop them in the bowl of water as you go. Once you are done, pour 1 Tbsp of EVOO into the bowl of water. Take the sweet potato pieces out of the water with tongs and place on the baking trays.

*this will allow each piece of sweet potato to be completely and evenly coated in the oil, which provides them with flavour and keeps them from burning without having to drench them in oil.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and place in the oven, cooking for 20 mins. Check the doneness of the fries, once they soften up and start to brown, flip them over. Cook for 10-15 more mins, depending on how well done you like them.

*Note:  with oven-baked fries, they will never be as crisp as deep-fried (or as greasy!), if you cook them too long they will just dry out.
Take fries out of the oven place in an empty bowl and toss with 1tsp of toasted sesame oil and sea salt.

This is an excellent side-dish that is easy to prep ahead of time and have baking, while you are doing other things. The best part is that everyone, especially kids will be impressed and want seconds of this healthy, nutrient-packed dish! Switch it up by substituting EVOO for sesame and adding fresh chopped up rosemary or thyme.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 if no one is looking;)

Canadiana Rhubarb Compote
4 cups rhubarb cut into bite sized pieces
½ cup of water
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp of stevia (or omit and use a total of ⅓ cup of maple syrup)

Thoroughly wash the rhubarb and trim the ends, chop into 1in pieces. Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat immediately and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and let cool. That’s it! You’re done, relax, put your feet up.

Pour over Mapleton’s Organic Vanilla or Lemon Frozen Yogurt for dessert or over 0% greek yogurt or with whole grain toast for breakfast. Play with the recipe to make it your own by adding strawberries half way through, a stick of cinnamon, a few star anise pods or cardamom for a more exotic and intense flavour. Make it a savoury sauce for a lean pork loin roast by adding a pinch of cumin. Have fun, look impressive.

-Ariane Clark


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