Happy Earth Day! What are you doing for this holiday? While that might not mean ‘day off work…’ it IS a reason to celebrate, for all that we do, eat, and live by is a result of how we nurture it. Since my mission is all about ‘promoting a healthy appetite for a thriving planet,’ I thought it was only fitting that I devote this post to food as it relates to the earth (and, as you know, they are intricately connected.)
We had a most fascinating discussion in class the other day. It was about seasonal eating by following the vegetable plant. Take the individual components of the plant and note how they grow at the same time. For example, starting with the roots (carrots, parsnips, beets, onions, turnips) – these all grow in winter. Followed by stems (celery, fennel, rhubarb) and flowers (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower) which peak in spring, to fruits (tomatoes, avocado, eggplant, peppers) and seeds (peas, corn, green beans) which begin the cycle all over again.
When we eat our foods in peak season, we are not only benefiting from their freshness and flavor, but also the maximum nutrients they offer us. And with regards to planet Earth, if we grow or buy our produce locally, we are keeping fossil fuels to a minimum and ensuring that diversity thrives in agriculture (like all those veggies listed above.)
Bringing it back to the kitchen, I am sharing one of my favorite spring recipes to celebrate the bounty which Earth so beautifully provides us.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp ~ Serves 8
Notes: In the photo, I used 1/2 cup crumbled gluten free ginger snaps instead of the oats. The entire recipe is gluten free but as noted, you can use any whole grain flour instead.
1/2 C brown rice flour (any whole grain flour is fine)
1/4 C Sucanat*
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 TB freshly orange zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ C fresh squeezed orange juice
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1 C fresh organic strawberries, sliced
3 TB agave nectar or honey
2 tsp. brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Mix all topping ingredients – except orange juice – in a medium bowl or food processor until mixture begins to clump together. Add juice as needed.
2. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Transfer to an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
3. Crumble topping evenly over fruit. Bake until fruit is tender when pierced with a fork and topping is crisp, 30–35 minutes. At 20 minutes, cover with foil if necessary to keep topping from overbrowning. Cool 20 minutes before serving.
*Sucanat, or dehydrated cane juice, contains the vitamins and minerals needed for the body to digest sugar. It is darker in color because it has not been denatured. You can find it under the brand names of Sucanat and Rapunzel’s Rapadura. It can be substituted one for one with white sugar. Refined (granulated, white) sugar has been stripped of alkaline minerals and can have a jolting impact on the stomach and pancreas.