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Adventures With Ami: Summer Ingredients

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Part of what I love so much about summer is the availability of fresh produce.  It is one of my simple pleasures to slice up an heirloom tomato on a plate with some fresh cracked black pepper for a snack.  Or a cucumber, some kohlrabi, jicama, melon…well the list goes on and on.  The flavors of summer never get old for me.  I have had a busy year in St. Louis.  I had every intention of starting a huge urban garden in our backyard this spring.  I had started looking at seeds in January and researching design strategies on Pinterest and then… well life happened.  We started the boxing gym and my garden got put on hold.  We are having a blast working with the kids at All City Boxing! I do miss having the ability to pick dinner from the backyard garden though.

Last weekend, I was up bright and early on Saturday.  I decided to check out a new-to-me farmers market in the city.  I decided to ride my bike since the weather was so nice.  It’s only a 3 mile ride to the Tower Grove Farmers Market in Tower Grove Park.  I strapped on my messenger bag and my helmet and set off to see what the market had available.

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Fifteen minutes later I arrived at the park.  As I walked down the path, the free yoga session was wrapping up.  Yoga in the park and then fresh produce? Nice!  Maybe this weekend I will try to arrive earlier.  About 30 vendors were on hand.  From fresh produce, baked goods, beverages, natural soaps, dog treats to preserves and even a couple of vegan food trucks, the market looked really promising!  St. Louis is famous for the Soulard Market which has been in existence since 1779.  So far though, it has not impressed me.  Most of the produce available there is from resellers and not farmers.  I could tell right away that the Tower Grove Farmers Market was different.  Farmers were on hand to answer questions about the varieties and uses of their harvest.

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I set out to find some tomatoes and zucchini.  I had finally bought a spiral slicer to make zucchini noodles.  I wanted to make some dishes using them this week.  The zucchini was the easy part! Choosing tomatoes took me forever.  I love the colors, flavors and sizes of the heirloom tomatoes available now.  Who needs your typical red beefsteak when you can get German Striped, Mortgage Lifters or Cherokee Purple? That’s not even scratching the surface of what the farmers had brought to market on Saturday.  Giant tomatoes as big as a grapefruit.  Zebra striped round tomatoes and the many colorful varieties of cherry tomatoes kept me making laps trying to decide which to purchase.

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Next time, I will bring some plastic containers to store my fragile produce in my messenger bag for the ride home.  I managed to get everything home intact this time.  I couldn’t wait to try everything I bought.  The cherry tomatoes are so sweet! I have been snacking on them every time I pass through the kitchen.  They have been great on salads and even on my breakfast polenta paired with tart strawberries yesterday.  My zucchini noodles have been turning out really well too.  I will save that adventure for another blog!  Until then… enjoy the varieties that are available each week at your farmers market or in your garden.  The flavors of summer are fleeting, live in the moment and get creative with them!

About the author

Ami Mackey
Ami Mackey is a food coach at Engine 2 Extra and has been plant-strong since 2011. She is also the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

2 Responses to “Adventures With Ami: Summer Ingredients”

  1. Kirsten says:

    I LOVE visiting farmer’s markets in the summer. I need to start looking for these interesting tomatoes. Thanks for sharing your adventure :)

  2. Matt Jager says:

    Many reasons to love Farmer’s Markets, but I especially love how they create culture and community around healthy food. Yoga and picking out fresh veggies for a meal that promotes health not only for the individual, but the community, and the earth. This is how the future needs to look. Thanks for sharing Ami!

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