The Health Nut has been out of contact for a while traveling and recovering from the flu. Even the Health Nut gets sick once in a while! I have also been crazily getting my garden ready for Spring. Thoughts of veggies (this year I have a fence and the critters won't be able to get in and nibble away) always get me hopping. Yes I think I am part rabbit as I have noticed my nose starts twitching when I walk through the produce department of any market or grocery store.
Speaking of produce, have you signed up for weekly deliveries from your local farmers? Check now because they book up really fast. Usually each farm has a convenient drop off point where you can pick up your order. Some farms also carry fresh eggs and hormone-free, grass-fed chicken and beef, and sometimes fresh flowers.
I am always asked if I think organic produce is worth the price. Yes I do. Research is just beginning to find out what role chemicals are playing in disease. So if you can, seek out organic. I have a different opinion of organic products in general, but that is for another blog.
There are so many options now. If you are too late to get on board with a local farm, you can always stop by the weekly farmer's markets that are cropping up everywhere. It is amazing how local produce is taking off. This trend it is helping to bring back small farmers and is obviously great for the environment; less fuel used for transportation and less chemicals in the ground, air, and water.
I happen to really like two farms outside Washington, DC. One is Water Penny Farm (www.waterpennyfarm.com) and the other is Mount Vernon Farm (http://www.mountvernonfarm.net/). Both of these farms already have produce to sell. Dark green leafy vegetables are now in season. Dark pigmented veggies are some of the best cancer fighters around.
These farms are a 90 minute scenic drive from Northern Virginia. If you take Route 647 you can stop and have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, 24 Crows. The food is AMAZING. This may sound weird but I still frequently think about things I have eaten there. I always try to stop by and see what is new from the kitchen. They also have an unusual gift shop in the restaurant.
So as you put away your winter clothes, get out your cookbooks and turn to the veggie sections. Just as the shoots are popping through the ground outside, new growth can also occur in the kitchen. Make a promise to try vegetables you hated as a kid. Brussels sprouts cooked in butter and olive oil with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar may change your tune. Or what about crispy kale or mashed up cauliflower? Arugala salad with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese is a great way to incorporate the fresh produce that is coming your way.
Last but not least, put on some good soul stirring music and take a look around your kitchen. If you want, put on an apron and channel Betty Crocker or Julia Child. Spring clean ups are not only for the garden outside but for your inside garden as well, also known as your kitchen. Clean out your pantry, wash out the refrigerator, toss out old, expired food, and scrub those pots and pans. It is amazing how renewing it is to sit down to a meal of fresh farm produce in a sparkling kitchen.