Thursday, March 8, 2012

Craving Summer

I admit it. I'm a sun worshipper. And sometimes I forget to wear sunscreen. It's awful, I know. In fact, the sun is one of the many things I love about living in California.

When the groundhog saw his shadow on February 2nd, declaring another six long weeks of winter it did little to affect our sunny lives here in Southern California. Luckily for us, winter in California still means we have access to a wide variety of some of the freshest and most vibrant fruits and vegetables on the planet. Buying fresh foods, picked at the peak of their season equates to buying foods with their maximum nutrient content. Americans are encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables because they contain a variety of essential nutrients, are associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases and, when prepared without added fats or sugars, are relatively low in calories.  

My CSA box makes me very, very happy

So, if you're in need of some sunshine - or at least craving summertime -  we encourage you to take advantage of your local farmer's market and stock up on these in-season foods:

Avocados, broccoli, grapefruit, kumquats, lemon, oranges, tangerines, and mushrooms.

When cooler weather is getting you down, citrus fruits have this wonderful way of lifting your spirits. Even though they’re peak season is winter, they just taste like summer. Not only are they refreshing and crisp, but they’re packed with nutrition. Grapefruits, lemons, oranges, tangerines, and kumquats all boast high levels of Vitamin C – perhaps the most well-known antioxidant for promoting a healthy immune system. By enjoying citrus fruits as part of your meals and snacks, you also improve the absorption of iron in your body’s cells –a nutrient in which many people are deficient.

Love the lemon tree in my backyard
Speaking of craving summertime, while avocados also taste like summer, they are luckily still in season during the winter months. For this reason, Hass avocados are a staple in most Californian diets. It wouldn’t be a meal without a side of avocado, right? Being touted as "nature's mayonnaise" for their naturally creamy texture and rich flavor, Hass avocados are our favorite. They are a delicious source of healthy mononunsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and are one of the most nutrient dense foods out there. One-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz.) has 50 calories, contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and contains less than 1g of sugar. Fresh avocados used as spreads or dips in place of other processed products can reduce your intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories.

Image reprinted with permission from &

And now for a few recipes.

We thought we would share the recipe for our second favorite food, fish tacos. (Pizza is, and always will be, #1). While we've had some wonderful moments sharing pizza together, we've had some equally wonderful moments sharing fish tacos.

Our Favorite Fish Tacos with avocado crema & citrus slaw

Serves 6

 Start by making the citrus slaw and avocado crema.  Serve the tacos topped with slaw and crema, or serve them on the side.  Enjoy, preferably with those you love!

 1 jalapeno, seeded
1/2 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
juice of one large lime, about 1 tablespoon
juice of ½ grapefruit, about 3 tablespoons
zest of 1 lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup grapeseed oil
1 small head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 small head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Make the dressing.  Blend the first nine ingredients, jalapeno through salt and black pepper, in a blender.  With the blender on a low speed, blend in the grapeseed oil until emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

The heat of the dressing will vary, depending upon the spiciness of the jalapeno pepper.  Adjust the amount of honey to temper the heat to taste.  The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  Just whisk to reincorporate all of the ingredients.

Toss the cabbage, carrot and green onion with about ¼ - ½ cup of the dressing.  Do not overdress the slaw.  It should only be lightly coated with the dressing.  Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Avocado Crema
 1 large ripe Hass avocado
4 ounces Greek yogurt
Dash hot sauce
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
Sea salt, to taste

In a small bowl, mash together the Hass avocado, yogurt, hot sauce, lime juice and salt.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve as a topping for tacos or a dip for homemade tortilla chips. 

Halibut Tacos
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pound fresh halibut
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , or grapeseed oil
12 6" corn tortillas

Blend all spices together in a small bowl. 

Cut halibut into large 1" dice.  Sprinkle spice mixture over halibut and toss to coat. 

Add two tablespoons of oil to large skillet over medium heat.   Add halibut and cook about 4 minutes, or until halibut pieces are just cooked through.  Remove from heat and place halibut pieces on a plate.

Grill corn tortillas on flat top grill, about 1 minute per side, or until blistered.  To each corn tortilla, add a few pieces of the cooked halibut, a little of the citrus slaw, and a drizzle of the avocado crema.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and serve with a wedge of lime.

These seasonal tips & recipes were featured in last month’s Health & Wellness Guide for
The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. For more “In Season” tips & recipes us, pick up the next issue of The Health & Wellness Guide on April 13th.  

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