I have contemplated for days what my first post should be and what to say in the intro. However after having done my weekly market shop yesterday, I just wanted to start writing and what a better way to begin by showing you what my staples look like. These are the foods that you will probably always find in my house, with maybe the exception of Fridays, the last day before the market returns in town. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the Saturdays, it really has become a routine; in the morning my dad and I will first go to a hard needed Vinyasa yoga class ( yes my dad is now a yogi as well and I will do a post on my yoga story in the future, but for now let’s keep it at food and markets). Fully detoxed and awake we then head our way over to “our” market. Also there we have a favorite stalls and with that, also a list of foods we can not leave without. Of course the list varies a bit according to the season, but i can say that even then some foods never fail to find their way into our crates (my dad has a love for wooden crates and boxes and always seems to have a few in the back of his truck). Besides the fresh foods we buy from the market, there are also a few other items that always have their place in our kitchen. These do not always come from the market, but are bought in different small shops. I really try to avoid conventional supermarkets, but one can not be perfect. These are the fresh foods I buy from the markets almost every week, in all seasons:
We buy fresh fruits every week and often have to restock mid-week, as we go through fruit rather quickly. Also when you buy your food from the markets, it is as good as ripe, so you have to consume it within a few days. These are the staples we get all year round. In addition we get seasonal fruits, but those of course differ per time of the year.
Apples – this may sound cliché but apples are a perfect fruit all year round. In the winter you can make warm apple sauce, for which I will only use Goudreignet apples; you just have to peel and core them and put them in a big saucepan with a little water. Cook them for less than half an hour and it will become this perfect apple mush. Sometimes i add some cinnamon or raisins in, but you really don’t need the extra flavour as the Goudreinet has an amazing taste. And in the summer enjoy them whole, or make apple juice as an alternative to lemonade. I must confess though I am a little of an apple snob; Jazz apples are the only conventional apples I will eat whole, as they are just the perfect balance of crispy but juicy and very sweet.
Melons – confession: this is probably one of the very few foods that I will buy even though it is not in season. Melons are just my favorite fruit and in the morning or after a workout it often is the only food I want, as it is very hydrating. In contrast to apples, I am not so picky with my melons; I love most types. Although my favorites must be cantaloupe or Santa Claus melon. In the summer I can easily have one or two melons a day.
Berries – as with melons I wish I could buy these fresh all year round, but one they taste so much better in season and when their local, two, buying them out of season can be quite expensive. So in the summer I really go all out with berries; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and black berries. And in the winter I buy them frozen, to use in oatmeal or even eat them on their own as a desert.
kiwis – yellow or green, both are delicious. This is one of the very few fruit my younger brother does eat (I wish he would enjoy fruits more); kiwi, apple, oranges and strawberries are his fruits for as long as I can remember. I only recently started eating kiwis and although my brother and I eat them differently, he without skin and I with skin, I understand why he loves them. I think that the reason I haven’t eaten them for a long time may be because of my childhood nanny, she would eat all her fruits with salt!! So if she gave us kiwis she would sprinkle them with salt, which in my opinion ruined their own unique taste.
Citrus – lemons, limes, oranges, navel oranges, blood oranges, grapefruits and clementines. Most of these are available al year around and therefore a staple in our home. Grapefruits, navel oranges and clementines I eat whole, just cut them up and bite in. Lemons, limes and oranges I often use as dressings for salads, lemons and limes I also use over veggies to give them a salty taste. Also in the summer you can use these to make lemonades and juices.
As with fruits some of these have to be restocked during the week, especially leafy greens. Here is a list of the veggies that no matter what time of year, will always end up in our basket.
Zucchini (Courgettes) – my favorite vegetable by far! There is just so many ways of preparing zucchinis; steaming, grilling, sautéing, raw, julienned, roasted, etc. I think we go through at least 10 of them a week! We usually buy the green variety, but sometimes also the yellow, which when you put it through a spiralizer really mimics pasta. The best way to prepare is either steamed in a steam oven with some lemon grass and ginger or sautéed with onions and garlic (also add in some shiitake mushrooms and you have a perfect side dish).
Red capsicum – I do not mean the round apple-shaped variety (red bell pepper), but the long more pepper shaped like. They are just so sweet and crunchy. When I was a kid I never liked capsicum and I always picked them out, but then I tried them raw for the first time and I was hooked. We buy 4 bags of capsicums from the market every week. I still prefer them raw over cooked and eat them as a snack or in salads, my father however loves to cut them up in strips and puts them in the oven with some tomatoes, onion, garlic and olive oil for about 3 hours and then drizzle them with a balsamic glaze.
Cucumber – who does not love cucumbers – except for my brother. Okay but most people do love cucumbers, it is one of the first vegetables I ate. Like with melons, they are very hydrating. The only problem is that they are gone so quick in our home, maybe it has to do something with the fact that my sister and I eat a whole cucumber at a time… If they are not all finished within two days, we like to put them in our water to give it a fresher taste.
Spinach – especially the wild spinach we get from our market. Make sure you wash it thoroughly before you use it, as to not accidentally consume any snails or other unsuspecting bugs. Also you can’t keep spinach very long, but what will help is store them in a container with a wet tissue underneath and on top.
Cauliflower and broccoli – these cruciferous vegetables go with almost anything. I prefer steaming them, but grilling makes them taste amazing as well. I love rice and I do not believe you need to restrict your intake of these grains as some people are doing, however if you want something lighter, you could make rice out of cauliflower by blending it in a food processor. Also if you do not want to use potatoes in your soup but still wish to have that creamy texture you can use cauliflower instead.
Tomatoes – cherry, plum, roma or heirloom. They’re all good! We usually buy a few buckets of sweet cherry tomatoes to eat as a snack, put in salads or in pasta sauce. Also a few cases of roma and plum tomatoes for every kind of dish. And if I am lucky enough to find some heirloom tomatoes, I will get some of those as well.
Beets – besides having the most striking colour, beets are surprisingly delicious. I actually like their earthy and cool taste and often enjoy them on their own with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of orange juice. I must admit that I sometimes go for the lazy option of buying them already cooked and peeled, but by putting them in the oven and roasting them yourself brings out their taste so much better! But be careful, they make quite a mess, so if you don’t want your kitchen to look like a crime scene, work with caution.
Lettuce – all different kinds, except for arugula. I just don’t enjoy eating arugula, it is just to bitter in my opinion. But otherwise, you can’t go wrong with lettuce. The kinds we buy most often are butter lettuce, cos lettuce and mâche.
Aubergine – you either love it or you hate it. A few months ago, my dad and I, had this sort of aubergine-phase, in other words, every single night we would make this aubergine stew. We loved it and could not get enough but after 3 months the rest of the family got so sick of it! My mom is sitting in front of me as I am writing this and she says she still can’t see another aubergine. So we had a little break, but some days I just can’t help myself and sneak some in. However instead of making a stew, I now like to roast them whole in the oven, it gives them this amazing smoky taste. Also I think it is one of the most beautiful vegetables in the world, especially the long, thin variety, we found on the Asian markets. Their colour is just so intense and a great subject for pictures or drawings.
Paksoi – staying in the Asian trend; paksoi is another awesome leafy green that is great in noodle soups, stir fries or just steamed with a little garlic. Every time I go to Asia I go all out on their great variety of greens; Paksoi, Bokchoy, Kai Lan, Chop Suey Green, Poi Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Water Spinach and many more of which I have no idea what the name is. I felt like a kid in the candy store while walking through the markets in South-East, especially all the different kind of vegetables that we could never get here. I probably have eaten triple my weight in greens during my time there and I wish we had all those greens over here. Maybe I should just move to Asia…
Taugé – another food often used in different Asian cuisines. When I go to the markets I just grab a paper bag and try to stuff in us much as possible. Taugé is great in transparent (noodle) soups and in stir fries, just remember to put them in closer to the end, so that they keep their bite.
Shiitake mushrooms – I love almost all kinds of mushrooms, however Shiitake are my favorite by far. As with taugé, I just try to get as much in the bag without ripping it. Unlike white button mushrooms, which can be eaten raw, shiitake mushrooms really have to be cooked one way or another. It adds a great meaty texture to any dish. My favorite uses of shiitake are in miso soups, veggie stir fries, with courgette or with green asparagus. Other types of mushrooms I often buy are Chantarelles, oyster, Cremini and Enoki (especially good in soups).
Ginger – I actually am not sure under what I have to categorize ginger, but I suppose this is as good as any. It is hard for me to imagine a live without ginger, I put it in my tea, juices, stir fries, steamed veggies and pickled ginger is a must with sushi.
STARCHES AND LEGUMES
Besides grains as rice, oats, quinoa, etc. which I haven’t been able to find at my market yet, I also often eat potatoes and beans,which you can often buy in bulk at your market.
Sweet potatoes – although I am not a big regular potato fan, I do really love sweet potatoes and yams. Until now I have only found the orange variety at my markets, but I would really like to try the japanese or the Okinawan sweet potato (after hearing about it by whyoweyou on youtube). One type of yam, called Huai Shan Yao (Chinese yam) I tried for the first time in Shenzhen (China) and it really has an amazing flavour, it is also believed to have a range of health benefits.
Kohlrabi – this root vegetable is like a turnip in taste, but it has a little more bite and feels lighter on the stomach. What I look to do, is cut it up into small french fry shapes and toast them in the pan for a while.
Kidney beans, Cannellini beans, Lima beans, Chickpeas, Lentils – These are the types of beans I use the most, either in chili, soups or soups. Of them all Kidney and Lima beans are my favorite, Kidney because of their bite, and Lima for their buttery taste and texture. I should really prepare them more often from scratch, but I do not see any harm in using canned organic beans if you’re in a hurry.
DRIED FRUITS AND SEEDS
This may not be technically “fresh” foods, but we do always buy them at the market and restock them almost every week.
Dried Figs – nothing beats fresh, ripe, gooey figs bought on the markets of Spain. However organic, whole dried turkish figs come pretty close. I prefer the turkish dried figs over the spanish ones, as they are smaller and often sweeter and softer than the spanish dried figs. But be careful, as with dates make sure to open them before you bite in, because some of them might be housing bugs. Also I have been known to eat an entire bag in one sitting, of course there are far worse things you can do, but still my stomach wasn’t to happy afterwards.
Prunes (dried plums) – really try to buy these organic and from markets as to make sure they are really soft and juicy. Buying them in conventional supermarkets will really disappoint you, they are often to hard or dry and not as sweet.
Dried mulberries (white or black) – this is without a doubt my favorite dried fruit of them all. The white variety has a very sweet, honey-like taste and are great topped on oatmeal, pancakes, smoothie, banana-icecream or just on their own. The darker variety has more of a tangy, raisin-like taste and often is stickier than the white mulberry. Dried mulberries are my go to travel snack and I can assure you, I make sure I never run out of them. Make sure that you don’t buy the totally dried out ones (often found in conventional supermarkets) as they taste so much better when their still a little chewy.
Gojiberries – these are probably the least sweet of them all, but nonetheless a great addition to most breakfast meals. They are also often used in Chinese cuisine, however they soak them before using and often add them to soups or stews. I eat them often as part of dried fruit and seed mix.
Chia seeds – these seeds you can always find in my pantry, I use them in oatmeal, smoothies, on top of fruit and to make chia pudding. It is a great way to get some healthy fats and extra protein into your meal.
These are the foods that I will always buy at the market, there are also some other foods that I never go without, like almond milk, coconut water and nori sheets. However these and most spices, teas and herbs I get from different shops and I usually don’t have to buy every week. However if you want me to make a post about those as well, I will do so with pleasure.