September: Crops in Season
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) provides a monthly Calendar of Food Days, Weeks, and Months plus provides resources for selected national food-themes. http://food.unl.edu/september-food-calendar
The month of September boasts a variety of activities using produce that can be grown somewhere in Florida. In fact, many crops are grown locally and are in season now. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), avocados, carambolas, grapefruits, guavas, mushrooms, oranges, peanuts, and tangerines are Fresh From Florida® this month. http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/16800/269959/09September.pdf In addition, local Red Hills Small Farm Alliance’s seasonal produce includes arugula, Asian greens, eggplant, garlic, okra, southern peas, peppers, radishes, summer and winter squash, figs, Muscadine grapes, pears, and persimmons.
It is easy to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diets. Try celebrating September with Vegetarian Awareness Week and consume any of the aforementioned produce, as well as peanuts on National Peanut Day, which is on September 13th.
Peanuts are actually legumes, and can easily fit into many meal plans. Additionally, they are considered a quality protein source for vegetarians. And, according to the Peanut Institute “While ‘nut’ is in their name, peanuts actually grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. that grow on trees and are sometimes referred to as tree nuts”.
Peanuts, along with beans and peas, belong to the single plant family, Leguminosae. Leguminosae, commonly referred to as legumes are edible seeds that are enclosed in pods. These plants provide an excellent source of concentrated protein plus, peanuts are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and contain mostly good fats and fiber.
It is fun (and healthy) to experiment with local, fresh Florida produce anytime of the year, and why not have a delicious time this September celebrating a food recognition day, a food awareness week or even an entire month by incorporating Florida fresh foods into your daily, weekly, and monthly meals?
Below is a recipe for a savory peanut sauce, which is very versatile for vegetarian meals and meals with meat or fish. Some ideas for using peanut sauce include:
- Over noodles
- As a dipping sauce for vegetables or spring rolls
- As a baste or condiment for chicken, pork, beef , fish or tofu
- In a stir fry
- In a wrap
- In a slaw
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ⅓ cup reduced sodium tamari or reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for sprinkling
- Optional garnishes: sprinkling of chopped roasted peanuts and additional red pepper flakes
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients until well blended. If your peanut butter is particularly thick, you may need to add a bit more water to thin out the mixture (adding water will mellow out the flavor as well).
- Feel free to adjust to taste here—for example, sometimes I want my sauce more savory and add another clove of garlic, or a little sweeter, so I add extra honey.
- If you’re serving the sauce as a party dip, transfer it to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped peanuts and red pepper flakes for some visual interest!