Incorporate Unusual Farmers Market Finds Into Recipes
What foods do you think of when you hear “farmers market”? If you live in Michigan you probably think of tomatoes, cherries, corn, peaches, asparagus, apples and berries. You probably don’t think of jicama or purple potatoes! Michigan farmers grow a variety of produce and sell many unusual products at farmers markets, offering the perfect excuse to let your taste buds explore. Vendors are there to help you – so ask them questions about what they are selling – they will probably let you have a taste of it too!
Try Unique Produce
There is more to farmers market produce than just berries and corn. Here are just a few of the unusual products you can buy locally in Michigan. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
- Jicama – this root vegetable native to central and South America is grown in Michigan and is a great ingredient to add to different salads and dishes. Good news – eating jicama boosts your immune system and increases energy levels. Get some locally-grown jicama and try this delicious, easy to make Watermelon, Jicama and Cucumber Salad.
- Eggplant – these purple or black fruits – known for their unique coloring and shape – contain high amounts of iron and calcium, which is vital to bone health. They have many other health benefits such as aiding digestion, reducing the risk of anemia and improving brain function due to the high amount of phytonutrients. There are various ways to use eggplant – try these Eggplant Pizza Bites for something the whole family will enjoy.
- Green garlic – I’m sure you’ve added garlic to many dishes before, but have you ever used green garlic? Green garlic is an immature garlic plant, also known as garlic scapes, meaning it is harvested before it blooms into the garlic bulbs that we are used to seeing. Use green garlic to spice up your next meal or throw it on the grill and add as an herb for flavor to your favorite salad. Containing vitamin C, calcium, iron and zinc – this vegetable improves the immune system and can even reduce the risk of various types of cancer as part of a produce-rich diet.
More Than Just Produce
Most people only think of produce when thinking of farmers markets, but vendors sell many other products such as meat and eggs. Next time you’re at the farmers market, look for these items.
- Whitefish – most Michiganders have tried this iconic Great Lakes fish, whether it is smoked, grilled or baked. Have you ever tried cooking your own whitefish? This lean protein has great cardiovascular benefits and makes for a great summer dinner. This Simple Whitefish with Lemon and Herbs is a healthy, delicious choice for your next meatless meal.
- Lamb meat – this lean meat has a surprising number of vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, copper and various B vitamins. Try these Mediterranean Meatballs made with protein-rich lamb meat for your next family dinner.
- Honey – this natural sweetener can be found fresher – and less processed – at the farmers market than at the grocery store. Try these Carrot Cake Energy Bites with your honey from the market.
- Eggs – most eggs sold at farmers markets come from hens with a healthy diet full of greens and time spent in fresh air. These eggs might taste better than those sold at the grocery store, but try for yourself and see if you can taste a difference!
Add Some Color
Naturally purple and blue foods contain antioxidants and vitamin C, which can reduce inflammation. You can purchase purple cauliflower, asparagus and potatoes at the farmers market and can basically substitute any typical produce with its colorful purple counterpart. Try making this Cauliflower Pizza crust with purple cauliflower for a nutrient-rich, fun and colorful pizza!
The seedlings and baby leaves of vegetables and herbs are called microgreens and are a great addition to almost any savory dish. You can add microgreens as a garnish on a soup or salad or sauté them and throw them in an omelet. The unique flavor of these baby greens turns a bland dish delicious! It is shown they have vitamins C, E and K and antioxidants that support normal vision and healthy skin.
Next time you head to your local farmers market, talk with the vendors to learn about what they are selling. Branch out, try something new and find a way to incorporate it into your next meal. What are your favorite unique foods to get at farmers markets?
If you liked this post, check out these other farmers market blogs:
- 10 Questions You Should be Asking at the Farmers Market
- College Town Farmers Markets in Michigan
- Why You Should Give Farmers Markets a Try
Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan