Round about this time each year I come down with a case of the winter produce blues. Staring down yet another perky bunch of kale in my produce drawer last night, all I could think about was how much I was looking forward to the asparagus, peas, and strawberries that will be arriving before too long.
In the meantime, some of you might be as bone tired of winter fruits and vegetables as I am, so thought I’d share a few fresh ideas. Take that bunch of leafy greens, for instance. I turned it into a Kale and Apple Caesar Salad that the kids ate without fanfare. Considering that it packs a full day’s supply of vitamin C and double the vitamin A in a single 33 calorie cup, I was delighted. You’ll find the recipe along with one for a refreshing celery root salad in THIS FEATURE I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle two winter’s ago.
Roasting is another easy fix for winter vegetables. Everything from cauliflower to brussels to broccoli does well when cut uniformly, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in a 400 degree oven. Once the veggies are done, I brighten the flavors with either a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of balsamic, and sometimes throw in a small handful of dried currants, toasted nuts, or shaved Parmesan just before serving.
I also like this recipe for PASTA WTIH BROCCOLI PESTO: easy, nourishing, and a good tide-me-over until making pasta with the tender vegetables of spring is within reach.
As for those winter fruits? Try cutting tangerines, oranges, apples, and pears into a 1/4-inch dice. Mix them all together and enjoy over yogurt or hot cereal. Here are a couple of other good ones we’ve been enjoying around here:
Orange Shake — I’ve been using up the oranges in my fruit bowl in quick shakes for breakfast and snacks. Pour about 1 cup of milk, 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt (one 6 ounce container), 2 to 3 whole, peeled oranges, and a big handful of ice into a blender. Let the blender run until everything is pureed, and pour over ice. It’s light and frothy, not thick like a smoothie. If your crew is pulp-phobic, you may want to take the extra step of shearing the pith off of the exterior of the orange using a serrated edge knife before adding it to the blender.
Grapefruit Brulee –This one is good for an after school snack or dessert. Turn on your broiler with the rack set in the top third of the oven. Cut one grapefruit in half and section each half. Smash together a couple of teaspoons of butter with a tablespoon of brown sugar and a dash or two of cinnamon. Divide the sugar mixture over the top of the grapefruit and set on a baking sheet. Put grapefruit under the broiler and cook until the sugar bubbles and caramelizes, about five minutes (time will vary depending on how close the grapefruit is to the broiler. Eat!
SHELVING THE SUGAR
On a side note, thought I’d check in about my “NO-ADDED SUGAR CHALLENGE” since I’m approaching my two week deadline. Overall, I highly recommend giving this a go if you fall into the “mildly sugar addicted” category, or simply want to raise your own awareness about sugar intake. It’s been eye opening for me in terms of how many foods have sugar that we don’t ever think about: bread, cereal, pasta sauce, salad dressing, granola, barbecue sauce). I have been feeling GREAT and haven’t felt particularly deprived (although I did miss the hot cocoa on our recent trip to the ski slopes). Interestingly, the foods I’ve craved most fall more into the category of everyday foods (honey in my tea, jam on my toast), as opposed to the decadent ones (cookies, dark chocolate). I know a bunch of you joined me on this “No Sugar” journey so I’d love to hear about your experience.