While many across the county have been ordering more produce delivery due to recent events, it could well become a permanent habit, given how much easier it is to eat healthy with a steady supply of seasonal fruits and veggies coming right to your door.
That said, making the most of all these fresh items may feel challenging for some of us initially. These tips can help you efficiently manage your fresh produce and have fun in the process.
Many farms and CSAs that deliver will allow you to modify your box in advance. This is helpful for those who rely on certain staple items, have little time to experiment, and/or wish to avoid food waste. You can typically select all fruit, all veggies, or a blend, and further customize within your category. And of course, you can vary it each time, perhaps incorporating new items now and then to expand your palate and ensure a diversity of nutrients.
Once you get your box, organize it as soon as you can to keep items fresh. First, separate the perishable foods for the fridge, like leafy greens, berries, apples, cucumbers, and bell peppers, from those that can remain on the counter, such as potatoes, onions, bananas, oranges, unripe fruit, etc.
Then, you might want to set up a system in the fridge, such as keeping one container of washed/dried salad greens, and others for ready-to-eat veggies and fruit. This makes it easy to assemble platters of colorful fresh produce with several dips, which is a fun, healthy way to start a meal and occupy hungry folks while others cook.
3. Love the prep
Learning to enjoy the preparation process will make it easier for you to create healthy, varied meals from your box. For example, taking time to slice veggies like carrots, bell pepper, green onions and broccoli in advance enables you to create stir-fry dishes in a snap, while asparagus, spinach and sliced grape tomatoes organized ahead are great for pasta dishes. You might also prep a mix of corn, carrots, celery and onions for healthy soups and stews.
And of course, with washed/dried greens on hand, you can quickly build hearty, rainbow salads. Add avocado, cucumbers, sprouts, tomatoes, raisins, olives, beans, corn, etc. Top with sunflower, pumpkin or hemp seeds for extra flavor and protein, and a great dressing, like this creamy, Dijon Veganaise number. Voilà!
4. Ferment & culture
We can learn a lot about processing fruits and veggies naturally from traditional cultures. Among the healthiest of these ancient techniques, which yields brilliant, piquant flavors, is fermentation. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, along with safely preserving foods and beverages, fermentation also boosts their nutritional value due to probiotics, which are highly beneficial, live microorganisms that facilitate proper digestion and support a normal, healthy immune response.
And it’s surprisingly easy to make your own fermented delicacies. Learn more about the benefits of fermentation, and try some recipes for “Kool Kraut,” “Ginger Bug,” “Rainbow Pickles” and “Cultured Lemonade.”
5. Do dehydrate
A food dehydrator is a simple appliance that uses low heat air conduction to remove moisture from foods while retaining vital nutrients and enzymes. This unique kitchen tool can be a major asset when it comes to a preparing healthy munchies from a box overflowing with seasonal produce.
Think “chips” from that bounty of beets, kale, yams, and zucchini, plus dried tomatoes, fruit leather, and more. You can also make your own crackers, like these highly nutritious, beautifully seasoned, gluten-free, flaxseed crackers, for a beautiful addition to fruit/veggie plates with hummus, salsa, dips and spreads.
6. Spiralize, blend & freeze
Another great way to manage a wealth of seasonal produce is to spiralize veggies for yummy, versatile “zoodles” which are awesome in salads, wraps and raw entrées. Also, almost any fruit or veggie can be blended for soups, protein shakes and smoothies. F
or longer term storage, bananas, berries, cherries, peaches and nectarines freeze well and make luscious frozen desserts. Try, for example, this gorgeous vegan “ice cream” with all those lovely summer strawberries, or this incredible superfood sorbet.
You can also freeze corn, beans, mushrooms and other pre-cut veggies for soups, stews, or other entrées in the coming weeks.
With all these ideas, you can happily look forward to your weekly produce delivery. Here’s to fresh, nourishing meals and snacks for you and those you love!