Take a Walk and Enjoy the Season’s Healthy Ingredients

Food and physical activity are two of my favorite things, and it’s a lot easier than you’d think to combine the two, thanks to a weekly walk to Haymarket organized by the GIC’s very own Yvette Fernandes.  Every Friday at noon, Yvette leads a group of GIC employees on a walk to the Haymarket, where they load up on a week’s worth of fresh fruits and veggies.  As an added bonus, Yvette sends out a weekly reminder about the walks which spotlights seasonal ingredients that can all be found at the market through a handful of tasty recipes.  I really enjoy Yvette’s weekly recipes for a few reasons:  they get me thinking about different ways to use fresh, in-season ingredients; they are cost-conscious, due to the presence of seasonal ingredients than can be purchased for quite a discount at the market; and they often encourage eating in moderation and enjoying a high-quality dish, rather than sacrificing flavor just for the sake of eating healthy.  As Yvette puts it:

“Not every recipe is healthy – I just really like the idea of people paying attention to ingredients and new food, then the healthier choices should naturally follow. Heck, I’ve even used bourbon in some of those recipes and championed butter over margarine with the idea that moderation and slowing down lets you enjoy “taboo” stuff. Going to Haymarket leads to healthy choices, (it’s all fruits and veggies) and encourages cheap healthy eating.  For example, I bought 3 artichokes for $1; Stop&Shop Hingham had 2 artichokes for $5.”

If you work in Boston and would like to join Yvette’s weekly walks, or work elsewhere and would just like to receive her great recipes, send her an email.  And, for a sample of what you’ve been missing, here is a recipe from one of her weekly emails:

Creamed Asparagus with Mushrooms

Ingredients
4 pounds asparagus spears
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic (6 cloves)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
¼ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
¼ cup reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
12  oz assorted sliced fresh mushrooms, such as white button, shiitake, cremini, or oyster mushrooms
1-½  tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or ¼ t dried thyme, crushed

Instructions
Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus. Cut spears into 2-inch pieces. Cook asparagus in the boiling water for 4 to 6 minutes or just until crisp-tender. Drain asparagus. Plunge asparagus into the ice water; let stand until cooled. Remove asparagus; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook until softened. Stir in broth, sherry, and cream cheese; bring to boiling. Add mushrooms; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until mushrooms are softened and sauce thickens slightly. Stir in Parmesan cheese and thyme. Add the cooked asparagus; heat through, stirring to coat.

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