What’s In Season for April? Save Money and Maximize Flavor and Nutrition When You Buy Local, In-Season Produce

On April 4, 2014, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

One of the simplest ways to maximize our food dollars, and get the best flavor and nutrition punch for the money we spend, is to purchase foods that are “in season”.  In season means that those foods are most commonly harvested at that time and are at the peak of their flavor and nutritional values. [...]

One of the simplest ways to maximize our food dollars, and get the best flavor and nutrition punch for the money we spend, is to purchase foods that are “in season”.  In season means that those foods are most commonly harvested at that time and are at the peak of their flavor and nutritional values.  Supply and demand saves our budget when we purchase these produce items at their peak, because that is also the time when they are most plentiful and readily available.

My lists are for items you will find in the United States, and even then, some will be more plentiful in one area of the country, than in others with later growing seasons.  Use the list and walk through your local grocery store.  Note the items that are on the shelves in your produce department, and their prices.  Pick the ones that fit your family’s tastes, budget and geographical region.  Select from a wide variety of types and colors to maximize a healthy, well-balanced diet and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’d be amazed at the new “favorites” you’ll discover.

Asparagus in season is a powerhouse of nutrition! It's a rich source of glutathione which helps our bodies detox by breaking down carcinogens and free radicals. It's a natural diuretic, helps fight cognitive decline associated with aging and is loaded with antioxidants that help slow aging of our cells. It's great raw, in salads, grilled, roasted or steamed. If you don't have a patch in your garden, watch for great prices and the most tender stalks in early spring.

Asparagus is a powerhouse of nutrition! It’s a rich source of glutathione which helps our bodies detox by breaking down carcinogens and free radicals. It’s a natural diuretic, helps fight cognitive decline associated with aging and is loaded with antioxidants that help slow aging of our cells. It’s great raw, in salads, grilled, roasted or steamed. If you don’t have a patch in your garden, watch for great prices and the most tender stalks in early spring.

Look for These Fruits and Vegetables in April

Artichokes
Arugula (Rocket)
Asparagus
Avocado
Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Chives
Cucumbers
Dandelion greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Fern
Horseradish
Leeks (end of season)
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Limes
Mangoes
Morel Mushrooms

fresh strawberries in season can be found almost year-round in most places, now. But there is a HUGE difference in taste and quality. Some warmer parts of the country are beginning to enjoy them, now, but even if that's not you, be patient and hold out for the local ones that will be coming in the next month or two. They will be of premium quality and flavor and so much less expensive.

You can usually find strawberries almost year-round in most places, now. But there is a HUGE difference in taste and quality. Some warmer parts of the country are beginning to enjoy them, now, but even if that’s not you, be patient and hold out for the local ones that will be coming in the next month or two. They will be of premium quality and flavor and so much less expensive.

Oranges
Parsnips
Papayas
Peas
Pineapples
Ramps

Rhubarb
Scallions
Shallots
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet Onions
Turnips
Watercress
Zucchini

..

….

What are your family’s favorite April fruits and vegetables?  Do they like them best raw or cooked?  What’s your favorite way to prepare them?  Is there a vegetable you’ve always been afraid to try, but might consider if you had an easy recipe?

Tagged with:
 

It’s 4-H Day! and a Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

On May 21, 2011, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

It’s 4-H Day!  That was the happy exclamation I was greeted with, this morning.  Our nine-year-old is just beside herself about being able to participate in 4-H this summer.  I was in 4-H throughout elementary and high school and our two older daughters participated in a local homeschooler’s 4-H club when they were young.  I [...]

It’s 4-H Day!  That was the happy exclamation I was greeted with, this morning.  Our nine-year-old is just beside herself about being able to participate in 4-H this summer.  I was in 4-H throughout elementary and high school and our two older daughters participated in a local homeschooler’s 4-H club when they were young.  I love the skills and confidence that 4-H fosters and I wanted our nine-year-old to have that experience, but as a one-car family with a craa–aa—aaaaa-zy schedule, I wasn’t too excited about trying to juggle transportation and other people’s schedules to make it happen.  Solution?  We started our own, small 4-H club with three of our daughter’s friends from church.  It has been the absolute perfect solution to my dilemma.

 

granola

Print the recipe for this healthy, tasty snack at the bottom of this post.

We meet every Friday afternoon, at our house, and spend two hours learning things like how to run a business meeting (parliamentary procedure), how to cook and how to sew.  Since the focus of our group is cooking and sewing, we picked the name Pots and Pins for our club.  Being a 4-H leader is crazy fun!  I’d forgotten that.  My older girls were involved with an established group that already had leaders, so I didn’t do much with the meetings back then.  But, back in high school, I was a Jr. Leader.  I think I taught knitting.  (lol  I don’t think I can knit any more.  Maybe it’s like riding a bicycle.  :) )  Anyway, I love watching the enthusiasm as the girls discover that they are capable of doing things they didn’t think they could do.  I get to see dozens of those “light bulb” moments AND they are having fun.  No one is making them do it and they WANT to come back.  Cool!

 

girls at first 4-h meeting

We were missing one of our members for our first meeting, but these three were enjoying the fruits of their labor - pizza pockets.

 

At our first meeting, we talked about the food pyramid and then the assignment was to make something that would include items from several of the food groups at once.  No one had a problem with the dairy, grains or meat, but I wish you could have seen their faces when I mentioned vegetables.  Do you believe that NONE of them liked vegetables?  lol  We decided to make pizza pockets and I promised them that when they were done, if they didn’t like them, they didn’t have to eat them.  Refrigerated biscuit dough made quick work of the necessary 5″ dough circle needed.  We spread out a wide variety of toppings that included the pizza sauce, mini pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage, grated mozzarella and parmesan, broccoli slaw, diced butternut squash, diced onion and diced red bell pepper.  Everyone had to include at least one vegetable.  Amazingly, they each selected at least two and one brave experimenter used all four — yup, butternut squash!  No one was more pleased than me to see the smiling faces at the end of the project.  Not only had they made them all by themselves, but they liked them — veggies and all.

 

homemade pizza pocket

Proud display of a homemade pizza pocket. Please note the little green pieces of broccoli slaw!

At our meeting, today, we finished up our unit on the importance of nutrition in cooking and making good choices about the things we cook and eat.  We learned about energy-boosting carbohydrates and the best sources for them.  Then we mixed up some absolutely yummy granola bars, to reinforce the lesson.  We started with the recipe from the 4-H manual and then learned about “doubling” (yay, fractions!!!) and how to make substitutions and variations in a recipe (we added coconut).

learning to measure dry ingredients
We used 7 cups of rolled oats in our granola, so everyone had a turn at measuring. We learned the difference in the tools we use to measure wet and dry ingredients and how to measure accurately.

 

learning to measure for baking
More oatmeal measuring.  Note our nut chopper diligently performing her duty in the background.

While the granola bars were baking, we also studied Vitamins A & C, what they do for our bodies and the foods where we can get them, naturally.  We had a wide selection of yummy fruits to select from and made delicious fruit kabobs.  Of course I forgot to even pick up my camera during the process, but they were beautifully colorful, full of nutrition and absolutely delicious!  We used chunks of fresh pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, green grapes and chunks of banana.  Delish!

 

learning to measure teaspoons
Leveling off a teaspoon of salt with great concentration and lots of moral support.

 

chopping nuts
Chopping peanuts to perfection. We used three kinds of nuts in our granola bars — peanuts, almonds and pecans.

Our final lesson in the nutrition unit was a science experiment, the results of which will be discovered when we meet next Friday.  To understand the importance of calcium in our diet and the important job it does for our bodies, we placed two chicken leg bones into quart jars — one in each jar.  The control jar had 2 cups of water added to it and the jar with the variable, 2 cups of vinegar.  It will be a dramatic illustration of the importance of a calcium-rich diet.  The girls were also surprised to learn of all the non-dairy places they could get calcium in the food they eat, like kale, celery, almonds, spinach, sesame seeds, broccoli and others.

 

calcium experiment
Our chicken bone – calcium experiment. The lavender ribbon identifies our control jar.

 

And last but not least, the finished granola bars.  These were REALLY good and we’ll be making them again, for our family.  I’m also very confident that just spreading the mixture loosely across the cookie sheet to bake it, and stirring it once during baking, would result in delicious granola cereal.  The girls were delighted that they had created these yummy, soft and chewy granola bars all while learning the finer points of the chemistry of baking.

 

homemade granola bars
This won’t be the last time our family makes these yummy granola bars.

 

Chewy, Homemade Granola Bars
Recipe Type: snack, cereal, grain
Author: a variant of a 4-H manual classic
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 48
Yummy, soft and chewy granola bars that are simple to make. The nine-year-olds in our 4-H club breezed through this recipe. (This is our variation by the way, doubled and with coconut, so it makes a ton — really, two jelly roll pans full.)
Ingredients
  • 7 cups of rolled oats, toasted
  • 2 cups of chopped nuts
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 2/3 cups butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. To toast the oats, spread them across two cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Toasted oats have a nutty flavor.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between two lightly greased, 15x10x1 jelly roll pans.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly across the pans, pressing firmly to help it start holding together. (If you’re going to use it for cereal, just spread it lightly across the pans and stir it once, during the baking process.)
  5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Though they will smell absolutely wonderful, resist the urge to cut these while they’re warm. It will cause them to crumble. When they have completely cooled, you will be able to cut them into bars.
Notes

Prep time includes the time for toasting the oats.

These are soft and chewy granola bars. You won’t be able to stack them on top of each other for storing, without first individually wrapping them in plastic wrap.

The yield will depend on the size of bars you cut, but you should easily get 24 bars per pan and more if you cut them smaller.

 

This post is linked to It’s a Keeper Thursday and Grocery Cart Challenge.

wordpress themes