Conscious Cook: Three cheers for the red, white and blue

God Bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above. — Irving Berlin

Summer has arrived and conscious cooks can now celebrate the glory of locally grown goodness! Exploding with vitality, sun-filled summer produce is loaded with rich color and boldly satisfying flavor.

Full of zest, the organic and natural ingredients coming into season for the next few months provide a particular paradise for cooks.

Eating with the seasons is a delicious, nutritious way to feed the body with perfectly natural vitamins and minerals, while enjoying incredibly tasty recipes. Nothing tastes quite like summer, and with the colorful array of ingredients now at hand, it’s easier than ever to become a creative cook.

Fresh berries are just one of the marvelous treasures to be found each summer month at farmers’ markets. Sweet, succulent strawberries, brilliant blueberries, fat, shiny blackberries and juicy, red, golden and black raspberries are a spectacular addition to any summer celebration. Add a plump berry to glasses of chilled prosecco for an elegant toast or pureé berries and strain out the seeds and mix up a batch of cool, thirst quenching fruit lemonade.

Berries are a virtuous, versatile ingredient with unique flavors that add bright color to salads, salsa, sauces, smoothies, baked goods and barbecues. Berry salsas are particularly piquant served with grilled fish, chicken or pork. Or prepare a satisfying summer hors d’oeuvre, by smearing a light layer of cream cheese onto toasted baguette slices and topping with a dollop of berry salsa.

Buttery baby lettuces dressed with a light,lemon vinaigrette and topped with berries, a creamy cheese and toasted almond slivers make a sumptuous summer salad, suitable for any gathering. Cook down a few cups of berries in a medium sized pot with just a bit of brown or white sugar, or your sweetener of choice, until the berries become chunky, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, let cool and sauce up your breakfast yogurt, smoothies, ice cream or waffles.

Powerful providers of antioxidants, Vitamins C, K, and B5, manganese, dietary fiber, iodine, potassium, folate, riboflavin, magnesium and copper, berries are an excellent brain food and agent for preserving eye and skin health.

Whether you purchase your fresh summer berries from a farmers’ market, supermarket or pick your own, store your super sweet little beauties in the refrigerator, unwashed and use within two-three days. Just before preparing your berries, wash them and remove any stems or sticks.

Celebrate all the days of summer and support your local farmers so we can all prepare a delicious life!

Celebration Salsas

Version 1

1 ½ cup fresh raspberries

1 cup stewed tomatoes with their juices

1/3 cup very finely minced sweet onion

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 minced garlic clove

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Using a fork, mash the raspberries in a medium bowl. Stir in tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, brown sugar, garlic, cumin, chili powder and sea salt. Add a couple of dashes of red wine vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add more vinegar or juice until salsa is to your taste. (Perfect with grilled pork tenderloin)

 

Version 2

1 diced mango

1 cup diced fresh strawberries

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh blackberries, cut in half, if large

1 cup diced watermelon

1 teaspoon organic honey

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup fresh chopped mint

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Let rest for 30 minutes. (Nice with grilled chicken or fish, or with a dollop of Greek yogurt.)

For more information on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” go to www.theconsciouscook.net.