FarmersMarket

Fresh, local, nutritional
Tis the Season For ...
Eat Healthy Without Breaking the Bank
10 less expensive foods

Fresh, local, nutritional – find it at your farmers market

With the arrival of warmer days, comes a rainbow of nutritionally rich fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market. This food is often fresher and more affordable than the produce that travels 2000 miles or more to get to its destination.

According to Mary Sadler, registered dietician, at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point, the produce at a farmers market has high nutritional content because often it’s picked the morning that it’s sold.

Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables help keep cells healthy and strong and may reduce the risk of some cancers, heart and eye disease, offer protection against the effects of aging and cell damage, and strengthen the immune system,” said Sadler.

"Since seasonal produce is a main offering at farmers markets," said Sadler, "let’s look at some choices that I’ve purchased and enjoyed at my local farmers market, along with their antioxidant health benefits."

Some of the nutritional powerhouse foods you can buy include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe and green leafy vegetables that are high in beta-carotene, which helps strengthen your cells’ defense against damage.

Tomatoes and watermelon provide lycopene, which may help maintain prostate health.

You may prevent age-related vision loss by eating the Lutein found in fresh spinach and green beans, peas and corn.

Berries, cherries, apples, onions, cabbage, eggplant, beets and Brussels sprouts are high in flavonoids that help strengthen cells, maintain heart and urinary tract health, and detoxify the body.

Eating a variety of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple fruits and vegetables will give you a diet rich in disease-protective micro-nutrients. You can also purchase herbs, honey, home-baked and canned goods, pasture-raised meats and free-range eggs, plus fresh cut flowers and plants. A visit to a local farmers’ market is a wonderful experience. Not only is it a way to support local growers and the community, but also an opportunity to buy fresh, great tasting seasonal foods. Many sellers offer organic produce grown without pesticides. Some programs accept food vouchers such as Food Share or WIC vouchers.

When you arrive at your farmers market, look for your seasonal staple fruits and vegetables, but also look to buy a fruit or vegetable that you have not tried before. You can ask the grower for tips on how to prepare it. A helpful website for nutritious, tasty recipes is www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

Some ideas that may use your fresh selections include:

  • whole grain pasta with homemade tomato marinara sauce and herbs
  • homemade pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and spinach
  • linguine with olive oil, green peas and basil
  • whole wheat tortilla chicken vegetable wrap
  • a simple oil and vinegar dressing over beautiful salad greens
  • dill dip with fresh broccoli, carrots, green and red pepper slices.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with main dishes, salads and even desserts.

Although fruits and vegetables are abundant at farmers markets, you should also check out the other fare available. You can also find:grass-fed meats, which are lower in total and saturated fats than grain-fed, and higher in heart friendly omega-3 fats.

Honey produced by local bees may help boost the immune system for allergy prevention.

To find a farmers market near you, visit www.localharvest.org or www.getlocavore.com. You can check out the free Locavore app at www.locavore.com. It will not only show you the location of the farmers markets, but you will get a list of fruits and vegetables in season along with the recipes. The app is available for both iOS and Android smart phones.

So, put on your walking shoes, grab canvas carrying bags, and meet friends and neighbors at your local farmers market. It’s good for your health and a lot of fun.

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Tis the Season For ...

Sarah Lynch, RD, CD, registered dietitian at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston shares tips for finding your favorite fruits and vegetables in season at your local farmers market. "While many fruits and vegetables are available nearly all year round due to the climate and available transportation, you’ll get a better tasting product at a better price if you purchase it 'in season,'" said Lynch.

She provided the following list to help you know which fresh produce to expect at the farmers market throughout the season.

  • Spring: asparagus, blackberries, green onions, leeks, lettuces, new potatoes, peas, red radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, watercress
  • Summer: apricots, blueberries, cherries, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, hot peppers, melons, okra, peaches, plums, sweet corn, sweet peppers
  • Fall: apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, grapes, kale, pears, pumpkins, winter squash, yams
  • Winter: beets, cabbage, carrots, citrus, onions, rutabagas, turnips, winter squash

"Some of the fruits and vegetables listed above may not be available year round at farmers markets in Wisconsin, but when shopping at the grocery store, the benefits of peak availability will still apply," said Lynch.

"Take advantage of your local farmers markets and purchase your fruits and vegetables when they are at the peak of freshness from your neighborhood farmers," said Lynch. "Watch for postings for the opening of farmers markets in your area. The taste and cost will make your visit worth the trip."

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Eat Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

"I often hear from patients that eating healthy is expensive," said Mary Sadler, registered dietician, at Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point. "While it is true that the cost of some foods has risen, it is possible to include nutritious foods yet stay within a budget."

Sadler went on to offer these helpful tips.

Create a menu in advance. General tips to save money on food involve planning ahead. Look in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer to see what you already have. Create your shopping list to include ingredients to complement what you have in stock. For example, leftover beef roast and potatoes can be combined with carrots and celery for beef vegetable soup.

Look for deals. Check in-store ads and newspapers for sales and coupons. Use coupons only for items you usually buy, as many are for pricier processed items higher in fats, salt and sugar. Avoid last-minute trips for groceries especially when hungry and rushed, as this results in costly impulse purchases.

Shop smart. Once at the store consider these budget friendly tips. Start on the outside of the store where produce, meats, dairy and breads are located; these areas contain minimally processed foods. The inner aisles contain more processed and pricier foods.

Try generic and store brands, which may be 15-20 percent less expensive than similar national brand items. Compare the "unit price" (price per pound, ounce or pint) shelf tags to compare prices between bulk, regular-size and single-serve packages.

Make sure you read the food labels so you're spending money on nutrient-rich foods, not cheaper empty calorie choices.

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Here are 10 less expensive, nutrient-rich foods to include in your cart when you shop the grocery store.

Legumes Beans, peas and lentils are high fiber protein sources, which are cholesterol and fat free, and filling. Varieties provide iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Dried beans are cheapest. If canned are used, rinse to decrease the sodium content. Beans and rice, or lentil soup are inexpensive, delicious meals.

Fruits and Vegetables in season are less expensive and taste better. Check out frozen and canned versions of your favorite fruits and vegetables; they will have a longer shelf life. Many frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at their peak and contain as many or more vitamins and minerals as fresh. For optimum nutrition, look for "no sugar added" and "reduced sodium" on labels. Buy whole versus pre-cut produce and do your own prepping.

Oatmeal in bulk does not contain the added sugar or salt found in single-serve varieties. The soluble fiber in oats may lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugars.

Canned Tomatoes contain lycopene that help decrease heart disease and cancer. Low sodium tomatoes can be added to pasta, casseroles and soup.

Nonfat or Low-fat Yogurt in bulk-size containers costs less per ounce than individual serving sizes. Yogurt contains protein and calcium and can be used alone, in smoothies, fruit parfaits or as a substitute for sour cream.

Eggs are a quality protein source with iron and choline at less than 20 cents per serving. Consider a vegetable quiche or frittata as an entrée.

Meat is the most expensive part of the meal, but cut costs by thinking portion control. Three ounces (the size of a deck of cards) per person is recommended. Bone-in chicken parts are cheaper than boneless.

Planning ahead can help stretch your food budget while still providing healthy meals.

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