When it comes to summer in New England, we Sinatras like to follow the lyrics to an old song: “Summertime, and the living is easy.” That’s true when it comes to healthy heart nutrition as well…
During the summer, we abandon our kitchen to enjoy cooking and dining outdoors on our patio. We love to announce “Farm Stand Dinner tonight!”—which means we’re going to enjoy some quick, easy, farm fresh fare. Food that’s both fun and tasty, and long on healthy heart nutrition.
There’s another benefit to outdoor cooking as well. My wife Jan and I share a love of cooking, and good food. She sometimes says I enjoy cooking so much, that sometimes I'm too involved…doing a bit of “backseat driving” in the kitchen. So, she loves it when she can leave me to the grilling, while she can tackle her favorite sport: shopping. And when it comes to food shopping, I consider my wife to be a “farm stand queen.”
When she heads to the local farm stand, she can’t help but come back with good produce filled with healthy heart nutrition. She scopes out whatever looks freshest, and plans our meals accordingly.
Here are some of my “farm stand shopping tips”:
- Ask if the produce is non-GMO. At this point in the season, some farm stands mix in GMO produce from other suppliers—so you need to ask.
- When it comes to produce, less than perfect is better. For example, with corn you want to make sure the rows aren’t perfectly straight, uniform, and evenly sized. If it looks too perfect, chances are it’s not truly natural! Even a stray worm is a good sign, meaning chances are pesticides weren’t used on the crops.
- If you can find an organic farmer’s stand to shop at, that’s your best choice. It means the entire crop was grown without pesticides and other chemicals.
- For the best healthy heart nutrition, you want to fill your basket with a bounty of colorful produce—the more varied, the better. Some of the best heart-healthy choices are tomatoes, blueberries, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, kale, and cauliflower.