Summer's Harvest

The seasons have come full circle. Once again we're in the most glorious time of year. The moment winter dreams are made of, summer foods. Watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, peaches, nectarines, corn on the cob, it's heaven.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, farms are abundant and there is always something "in season." This week I picked blackberries at my sister's and minutes away we picked 6 pounds of berries (in less than an hour!) at a local "you pick" blueberry farm. Apples are free for the taking, and I don't need to drive far to find at least one tree heavy with fruit.

When I was growing up, food was generally the topic of conversation. My grandmother had 12 children (two sets of twins!), so gardening, harvesting, and stocking up for winter was crucial. I guess you could say, it's in my blood.

I have wonderful childhood memories of piling up in my grandma's big car and heading out to the orchards in search of spring asparagus. I disliked the tender crop back then, but I so enjoyed the excitement I felt from my aunties as they would shout, "There's some!" Harvest memories; canning with my grandma, picking cherries in her orchard, I'll cherish them forever.

I don't do much canning anymore, I prefer to freeze and dehydrate foods. I was thrilled when I discovered I could freeze peaches whole! To "put up" pears for the freezer, you just peel and slice and sprinkle with ascorbic acid. All ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is not created equal. I was shocked to find that local store brands had all kinds of stuff added. Look for pure ascorbic acid with no added ingredients. Next, take your pears and flash freeze them in one layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze for an hour or so. After freezing, bag up in portions you'll need for your recipes or snacks and place in your freezer.

Dehydrated fruit is a great way to stock up summer's fare and makes a great snack when combined with nuts. Drying plums are an excellent substitute for store bought raisins and can be used in all kinds of recipes.

Frozen fruits are awesome in breakfast smoothies and sorbets. And a morning smoothie is a great way to get fresh fruit, flax seed and chia seeds in one's diet. We also add raw, organic super green food powder for added nutrition. Since I gave up traditional breakfast fare of eggs and such, I found I feel better and have a lot more energy.

If you're looking for an incredible dessert you've got to try a fruit sorbet. Ice cream pales in flavor and a homemade sorbet is very nutritious. I've been lactose intolerant since the early 90's and even though I love ice cream, I rarely eat it. We've found a nightly sorbet to be much more satisfying (without the sugar headaches and hangover). And fresh, frozen fruit is much more filling and easier to digest (which means better nutrition) than dairy products and sugar.

My current snack goal is creating the "perfect energy bar." I'm always looking for a wholesome, no-cook bar recipe (free of sugar, gmo's, & any bad stuff). If you have a favorite energy bar or other healthy recipe you'd like to share, please copy it to the comment section below. Leave your first name and state and we may include it among our recipes of nutritious snacks.

Happy summer everyone and happy eating!!

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