January is a fantastic month of the year to detox yourself from all that decadent holiday partying and get back to a healthy lifestyle. This is the month I always give up sugar. Not fruit or wine mind you but the white powdered stuff that likes to sneak up in the last couple of months of the year and make my clothes all tight and uncomfortable. Nasty little prank if you ask me.
This is where the farmers’ market comes into the picture. Those farmers are out there every Sunday rain or shine selling fresh picked, seasonal produce, for example, Stan Devoto’s apples, which are almost the only way that I can wean myself from white sugar and all that it implies.
Eaten out of hand or sliced and heated with some freshly toasted and ground cinnamon they are crazy sweet. There are even sugar stripes running through them. But, they are not processed and have no fat and even some fiber to boot.
At this time I always make huge pots of soup so that we have something to grab when wicked little urges to binge with the leftover frozen holiday yuck in my freezer beckons. It always takes me a few weeks to throw it all out.
I get amazing neon orange carrots, leeks, and celery, my holy trinity, and sauté them until caramelized and then hit them with some chicken or vegetable stock and from there I can add chopped kale, diced winter squash and raw quinoa or lentils. Let it simmer awhile and season with salt and pepper. When you serve this dish grate a little parmesan reggiano over it to add a nutty, buttery divine aspect to the dish. This kind of food can be eaten all day while cleaning your body out at the same time.
I tried a new type of dandelion green at the market the other day that is called Puntarella de Galatina. When first viewed, it seems like a head of dandelion greens but on closer inspection there are these spears hidden in the center. My method of preparation was to take off the outer greens, wash and sliced them, and to cut out these little tender insides and slice them also. I sautéed it all in hot olive oil briefly and then took it off the heat and deglazed the pan with seasoned rice vinegar and a squeeze of Meyer lemon. It was ethereal in its simplicity and as fresh tasting as the winter day is short.
There is always the fresh broccoli and cauliflower now too that are in high season. Their flavors are sweet and clean and the cauliflower can be mashed just like potatoes. The amounts of calcium, iron and fiber in these vegetables would surprise you. They are incredibly packed with all this great life giving energy. Try making a chicken stew or soup using cut up and browned chicken and adding diced onions, chopped garlic, sliced carrots and cubed turnips. Sauté them for a few minutes and add some chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add a cup of raw cous-cous to the mix. Turn off the heat and the cous-cous will cook and thicken up your stew at the same time. Add a few tablespoons of chopped fresh tarragon or parsley. You will find out the little known secret of sexy turnips.
So make a resolution to enjoy a bowl of sparkling winter fruit salad every morning and toast in the New Year with the discovery of how amazing fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables can be in our lives.
Cheers to the time tested philosophy of anything in moderation to nourish mind, body and soul.