Enjoying summer's bounty of fresh food
By Beth Cecil, RDN, LD, Messenger Inquirer
As a dietitian and someone who loves to cook, this is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love eating a tomato picked fresh from the garden, tossing homegrown basil into my favorite dishes and taking regular trips to the farmer’s market. I also love that my in-laws still grow a very large garden and regularly deliver fresh veggies to us.
This is the time of year that makes me often think of that saying “you are what you eat.” Have you ever stopped to think about what your eating habits really say about you? Are you processed, quick and easy, or do you seem to be more wholesome, fresh and natural?
There is more evidence today than ever that what we put into our bodies can indeed have an effect on our health and likely our longevity. Healthy, wholesome eating is also a good way to help strengthen your immune system and provide a little protection for your body, something we are all probably interested in during this pandemic.
During the summer months, I always look forward to finding creative ways to use the abundance of produce we often get. Squash casseroles, cucumber and onion salad, tomato caprese and zucchini bread are frequently on our menu.
Something else I can be sure will be on our menu is the V-8 juice that my husband, Philip, makes each summer from our bounty of vegetables.
The V-8 juice recipe is one that his parents have created. Many who know them say it is this juice that is the secret to their vibrant lifestyle and longevity.
I actually put this recipe in the paper about 7 years ago, and I still run into people who ask for it.
Once again, I want to share this recipe that my in-laws, Hugh and Betty Cecil, have created. If you like to can, have an abundance of veggies, or just want to try your hand at homemade vegetable juice, give this a try. Vegetable juice is a delicious way to incorporate a wide range of nutrients into your diet. Add it to soup, pasta dishes and casseroles, or just drink it alone. You will thoroughly enjoy this juice while reaping the benefits of the many nutrients found in it.
Vitamin A, found in bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, carrots, spinach and jalapeno peppers, helps keep eyes and skin healthy and protects against infections.
Tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, spinach and onions are high in Vitamin C, which aids in iron absorption, helps heal cuts and wounds, and works to keep teeth and gums healthy.
Beets are an excellent source of folate, a vitamin that plays a role in the formation of healthy red blood cells. Folate is also found in jalapeno peppers and spinach.
Spinach is also rich in magnesium. This mineral is necessary for healthy blood pressure, muscles and bones.
Beets, carrots, tomatoes, and spinach are all significant dietary sources of potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure and may even reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and bone loss. And of course, these veggies are free of saturated fat and cholesterol, low in sodium and contain fiber.
Makes about 15 — 18 Quarts of finished juice.
- 25 lbs. tomatoes
- 1 lb. carrots
- 2 lbs. celery
- 2 lbs. green or red peppers
- 2 lbs. onions
- 1 lb. beets
- 1 lb. spinach
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1/4 cup parsley flakes
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- ½ lb. jalapeno peppers (or less for a milder flavor)
Place tomatoes in one roasting pan and the remaining vegetables in another roasting pan. You may want to add 1
gallon of water to vegetables. Cook until tender and run all through a juicer or mill together. Combine strained juice, salt, parsley, and lemon juice. Pour into sterilized jars and process in pressure canner 15 lb. pressure for 10 minutes.