My family has been picking fiddleheads each spring for as long as I can remember. My Dad would take us every year to our *Top Secret* family spot. With his passing in 2005 (from colon cancer), I hold this tradition close to my heart and share it with my children each year.
Fiddleheads actually hold a very significant meaning for mean. So much so, that I use them in my logo on Fresh4five. They are green (my favorite color). They bring me and my family to the outdoors (where I am meant to be) and they honor my amazing father.
Fiddleheads are actually the Ostrich Fern, still coiled up emerging from the ground. They are found along the sides of creeks and rivers in the spring time.
My kids love the family adventure through the forest. They pack little backpacks with magnifying glasses and binoculars so they can explore and investigate nature. They also usually end up a little wet! Those rubber boots are never high enough
Chocolate. Sheet. Cake. Now those, my friends, are three words that invoke comfort. And this cake definitely fits the bill – a fudgy, moist cake, topped with a decadent, rich, sweet chocolate frosting. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a crowd-pleaser. That’s my favorite kind of cake.
But what if I told you that this cake is actually a tad healthier than your typical chocolate sheet cake? That aside from the fact that there is no gluten, dairy, or refined sugar, that there is also a secret ingredient thrown into the cake batter – something that provides a boost of vitamins K and C, fiber, and folate, and even helps keep the cake nice and moist?
What if I told you that secret ingredient is…
I don’t suffer fools lightly, but when it comes to desserts, I’ve always been one to dash in head long without considering anything beyond how delicious it is going to taste the moment it touches my tongue. I pity the fool that can’t cast caution into the wind every once in a while and enjoy themselves by indulging in a little dessert. This doesn’t mean that you loose total control and eat an entire cake, or a whole carton of ice cream. To me, having dessert means having just a touch of something to satiate that sweet tooth when it gets all excited.
After all, the older I get, the more I find myself adhering to the ancient quote found above the temple in Delphi, “Everything in moderation,” for many reasons. It could be that I’m actually growing up emotionally, or it could be that I’ve become so in tune with my body, that I know what will make me over dose on sugar, fats or salts, so I’ve learned how to pump the breaks, even when the urge is to go past the point of no return is at a fever pitch.
Enter the raspberry fool. With just a hint of cane sugar to bring out the natural, tender sweetness of the raspberries, and a pinch of kosher salt to harmonize this marriage, and you have the perfectly balanced dessert on your hands. If you are avoiding dairy, then by all means, enjoy with just the toasted almonds (I know I do!)
One of my favorite features of spring and summer is getting fresh organic produce delivered to my home in my CSA each week. I love the organic box we receive and the amazing variety available of produce when the weather warms up. I’ve learned about lots of unusual fruits and veggies that way, too, and some (like fennel) are now counted among my favorites.
The one thing you don’t see much in fresh organic boxes, though, is corn on the cob. In fact, organic corn in general is difficult to find, though other corn-based products like frozen or canned kernels, or corn flour and corn meal can all be purchased fairly easily from your local Whole Foods or health food store.
An important reason you might wish to stick with organic corn is that conventional varieties are among the foods most likely to be GMO (genetically modified). In fact, there is lots of recent news about GMO corn and how it contains many fewer nutrients than organic corn—as well as some additional ingredients most of us would rather not consume! For me, it’s best to steer clear.
Just because the fresh grain isn’t available (yes, corn is a grain!) doesn’t mean I forgo corn altogether, though. One of my favorite recipes this time of year uses cornmeal for that perennial favorite—polenta. I combine it with creamy cheese and fresh dill and peppers (also from my CSA) and the final product does look very spring-like! It makes great party food, but if you’re cooking on a weekday, just spread it in the pan and serve in big slabs instead. I make mine with dairy-free feta, but you can use any kind of cheese you prefer.
These polenta appetizers are an easy way to enjoy one of my favorite foods in the form of cornmeal. In the meantime, I’ll wait for that “special delivery” CSA that brings me my annual treat of corn on the cob.