Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: Nerdy Produce. Alicia Brown, United Supermarkets / Market Street. Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

Think back to high school. Do you remember the "nerdy" kids? (Hey, some of us were the "nerdy" kids!) I was standing in the produce department the other day and this thought occurred to me: "there are some ‘nerdy’ produce!" You know … those vegetables that aren’t at the "cool" kids’ table.

Apples, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes: these guys are the prom king and queen, the quarterback, and head cheerleader. But the beets, figs, lima beans and okra are probably stereotyped as members of the band and chess, science and math clubs. But we know, the ‘nerdy’ kids grow up and become the computer, engineer and musical geniuses of the world. So, just like that skinny, geeky freshman who returns to school from summer break six inches taller with a voice six octaves lower, we are giving the "nerdy" produce a summer makeover!

Here’s a new look for summer produce …

Beets. For some reason this root vegetable reminds me of my dad. He always had beets on his plate. He always offered me one and it wasn’t until I was 26 years old did I give these guys a real chance! I really enjoy this sweet vegetable. One of my favorite new ways to use beets is mixing it with goat cheese and candied walnuts and serving over fresh spinach. You’ll love the sweet, creamy, crunchy texture of the salad.

Figs. This funny-shaped fruit makes me think of my late great Aunt Vera who had fig trees in her back yard. I remember my family sitting around eating fresh figs. For the longest time I thought it was a fruit for adults. Although my favorite way to eat figs is au natural, I do love this mixture.

    Mascarpone and Pistachio Topped Honey Glazed Figs*
    4 tablespoons honey, divided

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 12 fresh figs, halved
    • 12-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water
    • 1 pint mascarpone cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios

    Directions
    Heat grill to medium. Whisk togethern3 tablespoons honey and the orange juice in a small bowl. Brush the honey-orange mixture generously over the figs and then skewer figs. Grill, with the cut side down until just starting to caramelize (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle remaining honey on top. Dollop with mascarpone and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Serve.

Lima Beans. Poor lima bean! They’ve gotten such a bad wrap for so long. Granted, it does take an acquired taste and usually people either love it or hate it. I must admit I don’t like eating lima beans plain but consider using lima beans in place of garbanzo beans in your favorite hummus recipe. I like to make both for a great color burst at my table.

Okra. Although probably most famous for it’s fried format, southerners enjoy this unique vegetable pickled and in gumbo. I’ve tried my hand at oven-fried okra and it is a flavorful pop in my mouth. There’s one problem: I’ve eaten New Orleans’ fried okra (and it’s hard to go back).

So as the school year ends and we welcome summer, consider which produce you’ll make over.

Have a great summer! See ya in the fall.

*Adapted from Food Network

Alicia Brown MS, RD, LD
Health and Wellness Marketing Manager
United Supermarkets / Market Street

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