Shishito peppers (not hot) and Padron peppers (a few a hot) are one of my favorite summer veggies. I’ve only recently started to see them in grocery stores, before that I could only get them at the farmers market or at restaurants. One of the reasons that I love them is that you can only get them for a couple of months (so don’t wait!) and the other reason I love them is that they a quick to prep and quick to cook.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
You can use either Shishitos or Padrons depending if you can handle the heat! These make a great side dish, but also like making these as an appetizer.
I first experienced a watermelon gazpacho in 2002 in Sedona, Arizona at a restaurant called The Secret Garden. I have no idea if their menu still includes watermelon gazpacho, but with a quick Google Search, it appears to still be in Sedona. Then a few weeks back at our favorite restaurant in SLO County, Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, we had a DEVINE Cantaloupe Gazpacho that I instantly knew needed to be recreated.
Cantaloupe Gazpacho with Prosciutto
The sweetness of the cantaloupe paired with the salty and savoriness of the prosciutto and with the herbs packs this soup with flavor. It's so simple and yet it feels very fancy.
There is a recipe for stuffed bell peppers that I have been using quite often lately, but when I can find Globe squash, basil, carrots, and tomatoes in season, it seems like perfect timing to use globe squash instead of bell peppers. If you have bell peppers on hand, use those instead.
Late-Summer Stuffed Squash
This recipe is a perfect melding of late summer food flavors — all in one dish. It's one of those dishes that looks real fancy, but isn't. Serve this when you want to impress your book club or in-laws ;-).
3lbsfresh tomatoes, stemmed and diced or 24oz canned diced tomatoes
1small bunch of basil
2lbspasture raised ground porkor other ground meat of choice
½tspfresh ground pepper
2tbspextra-virgin olive oil
Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium. Add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently. The goal is to reduce the liquid, so continue cooking over medium heat.
Add the carrots and the salt, pepper, and spice blend. Cook for about 20 minutes, continuing to stir the mixture to prevent burning.
Add the ground meat and break apart with a spatula and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through. Turn down the heat.
Chiffonade 10-12 leaves of basil, set aside. Add the basil to the meat and veggie mixture before spooning into squash.
While the meat is cooking, slice the stems off of the squash. Use a spoon to score a circle about 1 cm from the edge. I suggest using a cookie dough scooper (basically a small ice cream scoop) to scoop out the innards of each squash, being careful to keep the outter flesh intact.
Set the squash in a 9 x 13 in baking dish.
Spoon the meat and veggie mixture into the squash and overfill.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the squash. Top with a sprig of basil and serve.
Jennifer Tyler Lee has found something that I almost never eat; I believe I have had it once or twice. I don’t think okra is very common out here in California but I know I have seen it in some Indian dishes. It’s not that I don;t like it, but since it isn’t very common I haven’t sought it out much. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends sautéing it with garlic or making an Okra Risotto. I love risotto, so I’m supporting this option!
It originated in Africa and migrated to the Mediterranean.
It is a mucilaginous veggie which some folks like and other detest.
Good source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
Good source of fiber.
It contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Studies have shown that the seeds in okra may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
In mice studies, the antioxidants helped to reverse cognitive deficits that were due to nerve damage.
This week’s new food is Corn. While I do love corn on the corn and am totally addicted corn tortilla chips, this is a contentious food for me for a couple of reasons.
Most corn is genetically modified. I personally don’t trust GMO foods and try to avoid them as much as possible.
Corn is in everything. Dextrose, corn syrup, HFCS, maltodextrin, corn starch, and more. Many foods that are highly processed and then added to processed foods are also highly allergenic foods. As a species survival mechanism, plant foods contain tiny amounts of toxins. Overconsumption of one type of food builds up the amount of toxins we are exposed to. So I recommend limiting corn consumption.
Corn is one of the top 8 most allergenic foods.
Ever seen whole corn kernels in your stool? MOST people don’t digest corn well.
It’s not a nutrient dense food and crowds out room for more nutritious foods.
With all that said, I do occasionally eat corn, I usually opt for blue or purple corn because these heirloom varieties are less likely to be genetically modified. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends a corn salsa or popping the corn while it’s still on the cobb. That sounds like fun! I DO love heirloom popcorn made on the stove with ghee and then topped with real butter. It’s my vice.
Corn is native to Central America.
Corn is high in vitamins A, B5, B6, C, folate, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.
Good source of carotenoids, specifically zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, as well as phenols.
Carotenoids can help to lower blood pressure as well as reduce risk of breast cancer for post-menopausal women.
Modern corn has been bred to have more sugar and is lower in phytonutrients.
Blue corn has nearly thirty times the antioxidant values of modern white corn.
Darker yellow corn varieties have more nutrients than white corn.
There are other varieties as well: red, orange, purple, blue, and black. These varieties are rarely found at the store but could be grown at home.
Frozen corn is equally nutritious as fresh corn; canned corn can also be as nutritious as fresh corn.
Corn is not a complete source of protein alone.
Corn contains niacin, but in whole food form, it is not bio-available. Native Americans soaked their maize in lime which allowed the niacin become available for the body.
It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes. I’ve never liked them. In fact, I’m the black sheep of the family in regards to my dislike of tomatoes. With that being said, I believe that one day I will love raw tomatoes [growth mindset]. I do like cooked tomatoes of all kinds (except ketchup, yuck!). I am starting to like heirloom tomatoes in a caprese salad. I think the reason I don’t really like tomatoes is because of their strong flavor – it totally changes the taste of a burger, sandwich, or salad. Jennifer Tyler Lee and I are kindred spirits in this way. 🙂 The other fact that helps me feel justified in not liking raw tomatoes is that unless it’s summer, tomatoes are either grown in greenhouses or internationally, or are grown in Florida (Florida’s “soil” is actually just sand and is void of nutrients). So unless they are garden tomatoes or farmer’s market tomatoes, they are often mealy and are picked when green. The book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit is fascinating. Highly recommended! Anywho… Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato pops! I recently made a cherry tomato chutney at a Sur la Table cooking class – it was delicious!
They are technically a fruit!
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (along with potatoes, eggplant, peppers- all kinds, and some spices). Nightshades are known to be inflammatory. Nightshades are commonly removed during a 5-R Protocol to determine food intolerances.
There are over a THOUSAND different types of tomatoes and can be a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Native to South America.
The leaves of the tomato are toxic. It was long believed that tomatoes were poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family which houses other poisonous plants (poisonous nightshade and black henbane).
Great source of vitamins B6, C, and K, carotenes (especially lycopene), beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, and fiber.
Lycopene content is FIVE times greater in cooked tomatoes because cooking causes the cell walls to burst and “free” the lycopene. Also, the redder and riper the tomato, the more lycopene content.
Lycopene in particular has been shown to protect against cancers of the breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate. Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Highest levels of vitamin C can be obtained from raw tomatoes.
Fully ripe tomatoes cannot be shipped long distances. Therefore they are picked when underripe and then gassed with ethylene. You probably know what I’m going to say here….buy them at a local farmer’s market, CSA, or grown your own!
Cherry tomatoes have more lycopene per ounce and are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts. Smaller is better!
I have always loved cucumbers. I find their crunchy texture and mild and refreshing flavor irresistible. It always baffles me that there are people out there that don’t like them (ahem…you know who you are ;-). I’m a HUGE fan of pickles (I’ll thank my Essenmacher roots for that!) and I love cucumbers on salads (green salads, pasta salads, etc.). I’ve also had refreshing cucumber waters and cucumber cocktails. Je
nnifer Tyler Lee also recommends Asian cucumber salad, minty cucumber salad, and cucumber tea sandwiches. All of which sound great!
Seventy percent of the US pickle crop is made into pickles.
Cucumbers are composed mostly of water, making them a very refreshing option during summer.
The flesh contains vitamins A and C and folic acid, while the skin is rich in fiber and contains the minerals silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum. [My thoughts on peeling vegetables: peeling them is just extra work AND it takes away vital nutrients, so no thanks.]
Good source of vitamin K and B5, phosphorous, copper, and manganese.
Cucumbers belong to the same family as melons, summer squash, and winter squash.
Have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Are a good source of flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes.
While working at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, basil was always a top seller for Tomatero. Tomatoes, strawberries, and basil always brought folks to the booth. In fact, one of my coworkers would often wave some basil through the air to release the scent to help lure them in like Yogi Bear. I love basil. I like making traditional caprese salads, basil pesto, and my awesome sister-in-law Amy, makes a watermelon caprese salad (watermelon subs nicely for tomatoes for those avoiding nightshades). Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests trying a nut free pesto – using sunflower seeds or adding fresh peaches and basil to ice cream! YUMMMY! What’s your favorite use for basil?
Sweet basil is the variety that we typically eat, however Holy basil or tulsi is a variety that is coveted for its medicinal purposes and is native to India.
Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C and maganese.
It is rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids.
Basil’s essential oils are antifungal and antimicrobial and have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to support conditions where inflammation is a factor.
Basil should be stored with stems in a glass of water on the counter. Putting basil in the fridge turns it black.
There are more than 60 varieties of basil.
It belongs to the mint family.
Some of the major medicinal uses include: digestive support, a mild sedative, headache relief, kidney support, poor circulation, and intestinal spasms.
July is here! I love July because it truly symbolizes summer for me. Although, this July I do have to work for a couple of weeks, generally, for teachers, July is the only month of year where there is actually no school. The other reason I love July is because all the wonderful fruit and vegetable options available in July.
Figs are top of my list of exciting fruits this month! And everyone loves when tomato season is here! I’m looking forward to caprese salads this summer – it brings me back to Italy! Yum! What are you looking forward to this July?
I have very fond childhood memories of eating all the fruit growing up. My grandfather grew up on a farm in Lake Huron, MI. When the Essenmacher clan moved to California, he set up a bountiful backyard garden. Among the many things that he grew were plums. The plum tree was nestled next to my childhood swing set. I still love plums to this day and I’ll give my grandparents all the credit for my fruit addiction.
Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that readers roast plums with pistachios or try making an Asian plum sauce. While I can easily eat about a half dozen fresh farmer’s market or backyard plums, I do like the idea of cooking the fruit. I’m particularly fond of grilled stone fruit served over some vanilla ice cream.
Wild varieties pack the most nutrients. Look for red, purple, black, or blue plums because they will have more phytonutrients, especially anthocyanins.
Plums should be ripened on the the tree and can be susceptible to chilling injury.
Plums are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, fiber, potassium, and copper.
Plums and prunes (or dried plums as they are now being referred to in order to boost their popularity) are known for their laxative effects.
Their content of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids [phenols] has been documented to have antioxidant and anticancer properties.