Delightfully Healthy! Bright, Crisp & Refreshing

Spring is here, and that means, if you’re anything like us, you will be spending a lot more time outside in the sun. April is the month of the growing season when trees and flowers being to bloom. This month, we are growing your culinary creativity in the kitchen and opening up to new innovative ways to enjoy our fruits and vegetables. With the warmer weather approaching, we will be introducing you to alternative ways to indulge in decadent foods without having to make your house feel like an oven. These recipes require minimal hot cooking but instead allow for a cool, refreshing way to enjoy individual flavors.

Our first recipe is bright, crisp, and full of garden goodness. You may think that a cucumber is just a cucumber, but in reality, there are actually close to 100 varieties of cucumber. Euro Cucumbers, also known as English Cucumbers, are often longer and more narrow and can typically be labeled as “seedless” since their seeds are much smaller and easier to eat. Cucumbers have a mild, refreshing taste and are 90% water, so they are great for hydration. Cucumbers provide various nutrients and help reduce the stress of oxidation and lower your risk for chronic health problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A great way to enjoy Euro Cucumbers is by mixing them with lemon and mint. Our recipe for Cucumber Juice is quick and easy, and perfect for a warm Spring day. One serving of cucumbers provides 17 calories, 137 grams of water, 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 20 grams of calcium.

Our Kale Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing recipe uses D’Anjou Pears, perfect for slicing thinly and adding for a bright, ripe bite. The D’Anjou Pear is a green, bell-shaped pear perfect for snacking, baking, or sliced into salads. When fully ripe, the D’Anjou is so sweet and juicy; you’ll want to keep a napkin handy. Unlike the green Bartlett Pears, the D’Anjou does not change color as it ripens. It remains green even when fully ripe. The trick is to check the neck by gently pressing it with your thumb. When the pear gives slightly, it’s ready. Pears are a nutrition powerhouse. Pears are a rich source of important minerals, such as copper and potassium. Copper plays a role in immunity, cholesterol metabolism, and nerve function, whereas potassium aids muscle contractions and heart function. What’s more, these fruits are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants, which protect against oxidative damage. Oxidative stress can damage cells, proteins, DNA, which can contribute to aging. They also provide small amounts of folate, vitamin A, and niacin. Folate and Niacin are important for cellular function and energy production, while vitamin A supports skin health and wound healing. One medium-sized pear packs 6 grams of fiber which is 22% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber promotes bowel regularity, constipation relief, and overall increases digestive health. To get the most fiber from your pear, eat it with the skin on. A medium-sized pear provides 101 calories, 27 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of protein.

Green Beans, our third produce item this month, belong to the same genus/species of plant—Phaseolus vulgaris— as highly popular legumes like black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans. Green beans often get linked to risk reduction for chronic disease because they are in the legume family. They can assist in decreasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. It is not surprising that green beans might help lower the risk of these particular health problems because they are rich in nutrients that have been shown to provide health protection in these disease areas. Whether you blanch or saute them, green beans can add a nutritional punch to your diet. Not only are green beans a nice, crunchy, low-calorie food, but they provide many key nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamine, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. One serving of green beans contains 28 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of protein. Adding green beans into your Kale Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing for a delicious, nutritious bite.

Cucumber Juice

Photo and recipe adapted from

3 servings


6 cups of water
2 Euro/English Cucumbers, peeled
1 lemon, juice, and zest
2 tbsp fresh mint


1. Slice the ends off the cucumbers and peel. Chop into a few larger pieces.

2. Place cucumbers, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mint in a blender. Blend the ingredients for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

3. Set a strainer over a large bowl and pour the cucumber juice into the strainer. Use a spatula to move the juice through the strainer until no more juice strains through. Discard the solids or mix with plant soil to provide extra nutrients to your growing plants.

4. Enjoy the cucumber juice immediately or store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Kale Bowl w/Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Photo and recipe adapted from Optimum Wellness Fall 2018 Issue

4 servings

Ingredients for Salad

1 cup water
¾ cup white quinoa
½ tsp salt
1 medium bunch of kale, de-stemmed and torn into bite sizes pieces
2 T olive oil
6 mini sweet pepper
½ cup green beans, trimmed
1 large pear, thinly sliced
¾ cup crumbled feta

Ingredients for Dressing

6 T olive oil
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 T water
¾ tsp salt


1. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Drain and rinse quinoa. Add to boiling water with salt, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and steam with the lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork.

2. Meanwhile, place kale in a large bowl with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Massage kale, squeezing with your hands for about 3 minutes until kale is bright green, slightly wilted, and reduced in volume.

3. Using a paring knife, remove seeds and stems from peppers and slice into thin rounds.

4. Using the paring knife, trim the ends of the green beans and cut them in half.

5. In a blender, combine dressing ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds until fully combined. Consistency should be thick but pourable.

6. Divide kale among bowls and divide quinoa, pears, green beans, peppers, and feta. Drizzle with dressing.