Locally grown and raised
Several vendors offer fresh eggs from pasture-raised chickens who spend their days pecking and clucking unfettered, not caged up like mass-market hens are. Eggs have gotten a raw deal in the past for their high-cholesterol content — just one large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol, about two-thirds of the recommended daily limit — but nutritionists now recommend eggs as a great source of low-fat protein, especially when eaten in moderation. One egg has about 75 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat.
Cabbage comes in a variety of colors — green, purple and white. It has zero cholesterol and is a good source of folic acid, vitamins A, C and K, potassium and other minerals. Add shredded raw cabbage for a healthy crunch to salads, fish tacos and stir-fry. The downside? Large quantities of cabbage can mess with your digestive system, meaning you probably should stick close to a bathroom if you've had too much cabbage soup.
Beets are high in fiber, immune-boosting vitamin C, and minerals such as potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (good for liver, kidneys, pancreas and bones). And thanks to their naturally occurring nitrates, they're also good for your blood pressure: One glass of beet juice has been shown to lower blood pressure by about four to five points in healthy men within a few hours. Beets are good in smoothies, made into borscht (Russian beet soup), and shredded or pickled on salads. Beet roots have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, though, so eat them in moderation if you're watching your weight.
Also called silverbeet, Roman kale and strawberry spinach, Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse, offering dietary fiber, vitamins K, A and C, potassium, magnesium and iron. Chard is bitter and is best boiled, steamed or roasted. Add a little salt or sugar to lessen the bitterness. One cup of chopped Swiss chard provides more than 300 percent of daily recommended vitamin K. But if you're prone to kidney stones, skip this veggie. It contains oxalates, which decrease the body’s absorption of calcium.
Also called rutabagas, turnips are a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and kale. This root veggie is mostly creamy white but with purplish red at the top where it's been exposed to the sun. One cup of turnip contains 27 milligrams of vitamin C, about a third of your recommended daily intake. It also contains vitamins B-2, B-3, B-9, E and K. But its high sugar and starch content means that same cup weighs in at 8.5 grams of carbohydrates. Baby turnips have more of a delicate, sweet taste, but winter turnips are more bitter and should be cooked before eaten. Steam in a microwave and then serve mashed or cubed as a side dish. Turnip leaves can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried.
These small, red, peppery orbs are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate and also offer riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, copper, manganese and magnesium. Colorful and flavorful, radishes are easy to incorporate in stir-fries and raw in salads. For a quick side dish, boil radishes until crisp-tender, then saute them with browned butter, lemon juice and salt. Stir in radish leaves and pepper and serve.
Bread is one of those comfort foods that beckon any time of year, whether you serve it toasted with bruschetta, as the foundation for a hearty sandwich or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar as an appetizer. Village Baker, Coquette, New Sammy's and Sunstone are just a few of the market's vendors offering fragrant, homemade breads that alone are worth the trip. If you get the whole-grain breads, you don't even have to feel guilty, as they're a good source of dietary fiber.
Cookies— Cathy Noah, Mail Tribune city editor; photos by Laura Coffman
Treat yourself to yummy molasses and peanut butter cookies from Pennington Farms or one of the other myriad sweets and baked goods at the market. You'll find chocolates, gelatto, pies, gourmet jams, doughnuts, kettle korn — just about any way you can think of to satisfy a sweet tooth. The market also offers food trucks with a wide array of lunch items, from barbecue and tamales to Peruvian and Thai food.
The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market opens this week, good news for foodies and others looking for fresh, locally grown and raised food. Markets run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays at the National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St., Ashland; Thursdays at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, Medford; and, starting May 2, Saturdays on Oak Street in Ashland and The Commons in Medford. For more information, visit rvgrowersmarket.com.