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Summertime Meal Relief

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June 9, 2023
Greg Georgaklis

Dear Farmers To You Families,

With all the activity and play that seems to explode during the summer months, eating regular and nutritious food is more important than ever.  And the arrival of hot temps and often amped up schedules can make cooking a real challenge.

If you have active children at home, the transition to summer can be especially challenging around meal times. The temptation is to eat out more often to avoid getting stuck in a hot kitchen or simply because you are caught unprepared. I remember this well.  But there is a fun, healthy and flavorful alternative!

Last week I wrote about Flavor and how it is a marker for nutrition.  When food is incredibly flavorful, it needs only simple preparation to be wildly appealing.  This week I want you to consider making summer meals faster and easier by relying on flavorful ingredients — local foods, fresh produce and herbs, and pasture-raised meat and poultry. 

My first suggestion is to stock your kitchen and fridge with foods that are healthy, nutritious and fresh.  Avoid supermarket prepared and processed foods.  They mostly lack nutrition because the ingredients are not grown in a way that develops dense nutrition (and flavor), or are loaded with ultra processed fats and chemicals to enhance the missing flavor from the actual food.  They are also far more expensive per serving than buying ingredients.  Shop for extremely fresh fruits and vegetables, clean local pasture raised meats, fresh eggs, breads, pastas, grains, and don’t forget the fermented foods too – yogurt, kraut, and all its variations, as well as real cheese. For help shopping look at our new Summer Flavors selections on the shopping pages. With a focus on these simple ingredients and a little bit of cooking time each week, you can fill your fridge with instant meals usually served cold, that are delicious and always crowd pleasers.  Pasta salads, potato salad, chef salads with your choice of eggs or meat sliced on top and plenty of freshly grated cheese.  Make your own dressings, too. This is really easy and assures you will avoid the artificial flavors, sweeteners and unhealthy oil in most store bought dressings. 

I like to browse Alice Waters's cookbook for ideas and recipes:

The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters

And for help preparing grains for cold salads:

Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

A little planning goes a long way to give you meal prep freedom the rest of the week!  Put an evening aside and cook a number of things so you are ready to assemble on a moment’s notice.  Grains, beans, potatoes and pasta can all be cooked ahead so you have the base for filling salads, all ready to be spiced, dressed and embellished.

I often cook up my Greek Meatball recipe, because they are just fabulous cold or sliced into a salad or a sandwich.  You can do the same with falafel or a meatloaf made with turkey or tofu.  Roast some chicken legs and thighs marinated in soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil, and then serve cold with potato salad and a fresh green salad.  Or just serve bread, cut up veggies and hummus if you are in a real rush.

All these are easy to transport to the top of a mountain hike, canoe trip, or backyard picnic table – and with a bit of planning,  you’re just assembling quickly at mealtime.

Just know, the real key to all of this is the flavor in the food you buy.  And of course, I am going to shamelessly tell you to stock your fridge with Farmers To You food each week in the summer!  If you are away at the beach, take your food along with you or change your delivery address — our South Shore and Cape delivery has begun!

Because our farmers grow their food in living and healthy soil, the flavor stands on its own and you can keep your cooking very simple.  Give this a try this summer and check out our recipe suggestions each week for new ideas too.