Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gonna Eat Me Lots of Peaches

by Maria Noël Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Peach season has officially arrived in New Hampshire! My household simply can't get enough of them. These sweet treats are amazing fresh, of course, which is how we mostly eat them. However, peaches are also phenomenal grilled as a dessert (plain or served with ice cream), side dish, or salad topper. Also try dehydrating them for a post-season snack, freezing them (sliced or whole) for future use, and making jam. My mother's homemade peach jam is a seasonal favorite atop vanilla ice cream, in plain yogurt, over cake, and on toast.

Peaches are a redeeming treat. Besides being sweet and tasty, recent research shows that peaches and other stone fruits (plums, nectarines) may fight obesity-related diabetes, inflammation, and heart disease. What makes them so special?  A synergistic blend of four types of phenolic groups - anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives, and catechins - work simultaneously in different types of cells for maximum impact. This is even better if you serve up peaches in a form that doesn't contain added sugar (sorry, Mom). Yet more proof that the diversity of antioxidants, nutrients, and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables provides maximum impact for your health... and that good health can be delicious.

Here's a yummy recipe I learned from a fellow health educator that's great for potlucks and meals this time of year. Almost all the ingredients are available from local sources, too!

Peach & Blue Cheese Salad with Maple-Lemon Dressing
Layer on salad plates or one large salad bowl:
  • Bed of tender salad greens
  • Sprinkle of blue cheese (or slices of goat chevre if blue isn't your thing)
  • Sliced peaches, 1/2 to 1 peach per person (nectarines also work well)
To make dressing, mix together:
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Enough maple syrup to make it taste good
Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy!

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