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Taste Your Way to Wellness

Taste your way to wellness this summer at local farmers markets!

Ahhh, it’s summer! We can run to the store in our flip-flops, hit the back deck with our early-morning coffee and actually sit on a beach (or poolside) while listening to Jimmy Buffett. It’s time to clean off the grill, open up the house, kick back and slow down. It’s also the perfect time of year to taste your way to wellness! So if climbing into all those shorts and tank tops leaves you a little uninspired – or if simply plugging into greater health and vitality has found its way to your summer wish list – a visit to your local farmers market is a great step in a positive direction.

The uniquely wonderful thing about summer is how deliciously fresh food tastes, especially when locally grown. Imagine fresh greens and beans harvested in the early morning landing on your supper plate that very same evening.

And eating locally just makes sense. If food tastes great, we’ll eat more of it – and filling our plates with plenty of fruits and vegetables is exactly what health professionals suggest for getting healthy and slimming down.

Maybe, though, there’s something even more powerful about a farm-stand visit, in that it gently nudges us to a more mindful connection to our food. It’s easy to get disconnected with the process of fueling our bodies, but perhaps shaking the hand of a farmer and planting a pot of parsley or shredding zucchini he or she grew onto a salad is one pathway of plugging back in. Plus, eating local is healthy for kids and encourages plenty of fun with food. It’s time to overindulge, so grab a plate and fill up on all that McHenry County farmers have to offer!

The following are tips for engaging with the many farmers market treats of summer:

Pick an herb to plant and enjoy fresh flavor all summer long. Snip parsley onto a salad or try basil leaves with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Herbs are loaded with healthy antioxidants. Children especially like getting their hands dirty, so involve them in the process.

Look for new ways to use lettuce greens. Try tossing spinach or arugula into a bean salad, snipping baby kale leaves onto your side salad or rolling lean chicken strips with greens, tomatoes and a drizzle of honey-dijon dressing into a whole grain tortilla.

Get creative – let your kids choose something from the market, and together, find new ways to weave the food into your meals.  For example, try sugar snap peas with hummus as a snack or sliced tomatoes on top-your-own pizza!
Keep salads top of mind. Build your base with plenty of lettuce greens and vegetables (try raw green beans or yellow squash); add lean chicken or beef strips, low-fat cheese or beans for protein, and toss with a vinaigrette made with healthy olive or canola oils. Visit for a tasty green bean and tomato salad that’s great with fresh mozzarella or grilled shrimp!

Keep supper light with a farm-fresh egg and vegetable frittata! Green onions, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash will pack in plenty of healthy fibers. Serve with a slice of whole grain bread and a dish of peaches.
Taste the sunshine and indulge in a bowl of sun-ripened raspberries over a scoop of frozen yogurt.

Get to know your farmers and ask for their fresh food ideas (they’ve got lots of them!). Oh, and don’t forget the flowers – after all, it’s a season of celebration!

Find McHenry County farmers markets here.

kramerHeidi Kramer is a nutrition specialist and inspirational speaker who has inspired thousands to lose weight, change bad eating habits and become champions of their own health for more than 20 years. Kramer is available at Cary Physical Therapy for individual counseling and group programs. Reach her at  847.516.9038. 

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