On Our Plates: March

March is sometimes called “hungry month” by locavores- those who do their best to eat the majority of their food grown close to home. When the snow is still thick (or falling or long gone) depending on where you live, it can seem tricky to figure out what is “seasonal” in the month of March. Most summer season CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) haven’t started yet and most winter season CSAs are done for the season.

Much like February, March is still the season for stored or over-wintered roots but hearty greens are often available too and tender spring greens are on their way. Whole grains or pseudo-grains like quinoa and beans are also a big part of the whole food seasonal diet in March.

This On Our Plates blog post series is my way of sharing some best-of-the-season recipes with you. Here are some recipes we’ve been enjoying this month. We hope you enjoy them too!

Real Food Breakfast Recipes

  • Cranberry Orange Granola– This super easy homemade granola makes about 12 cups of nutty granola goodness. If you are looking for a good breakfast recipe or idea for healthy snacks to pack, this granola is a winner. This granola is great with the milk of your choice for breakfast or as a topping for yogurt (plain, Greek, or alternative like plain coconut or almond yogurt). If you follow the gluten free diet, be sure to use gluten free rolled oats. (recipe: https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/cranberry-orange-granola/)
  • Steel Cut Oats with Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Walnuts– As I sit eating this delicious breakfast while gazing out at the snow on the ground, I’m thankful for the apples in the fall and the time I spent picking apples and making apple butter to enjoy on chilly March mornings. The apple blossoms will be here soon but it’s only March and apple season won’t be here for many months. If you don’t have apple butter, try apple sauce with some cinnamon on top of some steel cut oats to start your morning. If you’re gluten free, just remember to use gluten free steel cut oats. If you don’t have 30 minutes to cook the steel cut oats on weekday mornings, try cooking them on the weekend and reheating during the week. You could also make them in a slow cooker so they are ready for the morning or “overnight” steel cut oats by soaking them and cooking them in the morning to speed cooking time. (recipes: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-steel-cut-oats-in-30-minutes-105077 and https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/slow-cooker-apple-butter/)
  • Coconut Ginger Quinoa– This simple healthy breakfast recipe is quick and easy to make and is packed with essential amino acids and protein, as well as healthy fats. It’s delicious, nutritious, filling, and gives you a nice warm breakfast on cold late winter/early spring mornings. This is also a great recipe to make with leftover cooked quinoa. (recipe: https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/coconut-ginger-quinoa/)

Real Food Main and Side Dishes

  • Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian Black Bean Chili- Baked sweet potatoes are back this month topped with a delicious vegetarian black bean chili. Garnish with diced avocado, scallions, and parsley or cilantro to make them truly decadent. If you want to cook your own black beans, swap out the canned beans in the recipe with 2 cups dried black beans. If you’ve never used a pressure cooker to cook beans, soaked black beans cook at 15 psi for 4 minutes with natural release. That was not a typo, with a pressure cooker, soaked black beans cook in 4 minutes! Dried beans are so good for you and a lot less expensive than pre-cooked canned beans (although those are great too, especially the ones in BPA free cans). (recipes: https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/how-to-bake-sweet-potatoes/, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/vegetarian-black-bean-chili-230632)
  • Butternut Squash, Kale, and Quinoa Soup– If you’re looking for a filling one-pot meal perfect for the cold days of winter and early spring, this is your dish. The combo of kale, quinoa, white beans, and tomatoes makes for a colorful, nutritious, and tasty dinner. The quinoa and white beans provide plenty of protein and fiber while the kale, butternut squash, onions, and garlic provide loads of vitamins, minerals, and immune system-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. This hearty soup is quick and easy to make and cooks start to finish in about 30 minutes. (recipe: https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/butternut-squash-kale-quinoa-soup/)
  • Socca– this incredible 4 ingredient flatbread is an incredibly easy to make, nutrient dense, protein and fiber rich, whole food recipe that happens to be naturally gluten free and vegan too. Socca originates from Nice, France. It makes a great pizza crust, flatbread, bread for dipping, naan, tortilla, pita, etc. Add some herbs, spices, or crushed garlic to the batter if you feel inclined (recipe: https://www.erinharner.com/whole-food-recipes/socca-the-incredible-4-ingredient-flatbread/)

Ready to try some of these recipes? Leave a comment below! Can’t wait to hear from you, Erin

Erin Harner

Erin Harner is an Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), author, and speaker based in Ithaca, NY. Erin melds functional medicine and culinary nutrition to help her clients uncover their unique diet and confidently cook healthy nourishing meals that meet the needs of their whole family. Learn about Erin's services and connect on Instagram.

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