Ilana Muhlstein, R.D.N.
There is nothing better than waking up on a cool, crisp Sunday morning with the family, sharing a healthy and hearty breakfast of organic whole wheat buttermilk pancakes topped with ricotta and fresh berries, grabbing your knit sweater, and heading to the Beverly Hills Farmers Market. I love to be there close to the 9am opening to beat the crowds and get the best picks of the colorful produce. Better still, December, January and February offers amazing seasonal discoveries.
Seasonal Find: Mini Fuyu (Fuyugaki) Persimmons
Season: October to February
Health Benefits: These non-astringent persimmons are excellent sources of vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, and high in fiber. They contain a variety of phytochemical antioxidants such as proanthocyanidin, epictechin, gallic, and p-coumaric acids. One study found persimmons to be higher in soluble and insoluble fiber, total phenols, and many minerals than apples. Moreover, another study showed that rats fed persimmon extract, significantly lowered their total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
What to do with it: Bite into them whole, like you would an apple, avoiding the core and leaves. You can also slice them thin and add to salads, serve with a cheese platter, or chop up into your oatmeal or even your salsa.
Seasonal Find: Turmeric Ginger Lemon Cayenne Shot
Farmer Stand: Pulp Story
Nutritional Benefits: This antioxidant-rich booster shot is perfect for enhancing your immune system as we enter flu season! Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin A, folate, calcium, potassium, and limonene, a compound shown to have anti-cancer properties. Ginger is a rich source of powerful antioxidants such as gingerols, zingerones, and shogaols. Ginger has been proven in studies to significantly reduce nasuea, motion sickness, and reduced inflammation and knee pain for those with osteoarthritis. Curcumin is a phytochemical found in turmeric that has strong antioxidant properties and been well researched for its cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. And finally, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which acts as a powerful decongestant by releasing mucus from respiratory passages.
What to do with it: Drink it straight or mix it into a smoothie with fruit to help mask the powerful taste.
Produce name: Broccolini also referred to as Japanese Broccoli
Farmer stand: Vang farms
Season: October to April
Health benefits: Broccolini is a trademarked name for a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, so you can assume it is pretty healthy for you. Just one cup of broccolini contains 130% of your daily needs of Vitamin C and it’s also rich in potassium and heart healthy fiber.
What to do with it: Although broccolini is associated with broccoli, the taste is milder and more similar to asparagus. I like to prepare it similar to asparagus and blanch it by boiling it for a minute until tender and then plunging it in ice water to retain the color and nutrients. Serve with just a sprinkle of salt, extra virgin olive oil or shaved parmesan for elevated flavor.
Ilana Muhlstein is a Beverly Hills-based registered dietitian nutritionist. She can be reached at her website: www.IlanaMuhlstein.com