Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cooling Summer Sipper

It's a hot one out there! The Landsdowne farmer's market today is astoundingly abundant with gorgeous local produce (thank you, farmers and earth!!), and among my pickings I've brought home some sweet peas in the pod, more irresistibly red rhubarb stalks of the "German wine" variety for making compote, organic beets, carrots, baby onions, pretty rainbow chard, and lean beef produced from happy healthy cows. One of the growers from Roots & Shoots educated me that radish and turnip belong to the same family, AND that family so happens to be Brassicaceae, one of the most important plant families for human food crops. Familia Brassicaceae provides us with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kholrabi, mustard, canola...and the list goes on. Overall a very healthy, anti-cancer plant family for we humans to munch veggies from, on a daily basis is possible! Here's an agri-science article on the Brassicaceae of Canada.

I was also fascinated to learn that Swiss chard and beets are actually the SAME species, Beta vulgaris, and the plants will interbreed. Yes, beet greens are definitely edible, delicious and healthy...they can be prepared like chard. I also learned that Romaine lettuce comes in RED!

After all that shopping about I needed a cooling break from the noon hour heat. Here's a simple, refreshing electrolyte replacer to sip on while taking a breather.

In a large drinking glass or pitcher combine:

a few slices of fresh cucumber
a few wedges of lemon
a tiny pinch of sea salt
1-2 tsp maple syrup, honey or molasses per serving
ice cubes (optional)
fill to the brim with cool water, and enjoy!

Cucumber, whether of the English or field variety, is one of the most cooling foods available. Lemon gives us some vitamin C and stimulates digestion, while sea salt and maple syrup/honey/molasses provides trace minerals and glucose (i.e. elecrolytes, which we lose when we sweat and get dehydrated). This drink would also be delicious with a few sprigs of fresh mint, which would enhance the cooling effect.

Sip, sip, sip!

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