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Stone fruits refer to those that contain a stone (or sometime referred to as a “pit”), which can be removed with ease (Freestone) or without (Clingstone) from the flesh of the fruit.  The most popular stone fruits are usually enjoyed during the summer season and include peaches, plums and nectarines.  In many parts of the country these juicy fruits are coming into harvest right now and plenty of orchards host “pick-your-own” outings.  Even if you don’t want to go out and pick your own peaches or plums, local farmer’s markets and even your neighborhood grocery store has these in-season fruits on hand right now at some terrific prices.

 

Peaches, plums and nectarines are a healthy addition to your daily diet.  They are a good source of Vitamins A and C and are naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium free.  In-season fruit is delicious to snack on all by itself, but I found a few recipes that also take advantage of their delicious flavor.

 

Here is a true summer recipe, but using peaches differently than you normally would.  Grilled Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa combines the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors that work well with this mild tasting fish.  Habanero pepper gives the dish an extra “kick.”

 

salsa

 

Grilled Cinnamon Plums with Sweetened Mascarpone, Vanilla Honey & Toasted Pine Nuts is a new and elegant twist on dessert.  Plus, I like the idea of getting that sweet “fix” without adding too many added calories and fat.  This recipe keeps it really simple and relies on its flavor from the fruit and spices.  The presentation is also perfect if you’re having guests.

 

plums

 

Obviously, there are plenty of other recipes you can explore with fresh stone fruits like cobblers, pies, jams, not to mention fresh peach ice cream or peach tea!  I have a bowl of nectarines and peaches sitting on my counter for snacking right now–I hope you’ll do the same while these fruits are at their peak of flavor through the next month or so.

 

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July is National Baked Bean Month!  It’s no surprise since picnics, barbeques and summertime gatherings almost always offer up this popular side dish.  Hot dogs, hamburgers or grilled chicken are hard to imagine without a steaming plate of sweet and savory beans to go with them.

 

 

Traditionally, baked beans are made with salt pork, which is great for adding flavor, but also adds fat and calories to the dish.  Since beans are a super healthy food–they are high in fiber, a great source of protein and folate, finding a way to keep the traditional flavor without adding the fat is my goal.  This recipe for Vegetarian Baked Beans does just that!  It uses navy beans, the typical bean used for baked beans and keeps the ingredients simple.  Some vegetarian recipes want to add a bunch of odd items that you typically won’t find in traditional baked beans, which, in my opinion, makes it a completely different dish.  While this recipe is homemade, the flavor pays off for the time and effort.  You can use either canned navy beans or start with dried beans and cook them until soft (either by cooking in a slow cooker or in a large pot covered with water).  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try for a different and healthier spin the next time your menu calls for baked beans.

 

baked beans

 

Vegetarian Baked Beans

 

6 cups cooked navy beans
4 carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced
28 ounces tomato sauce
2/3 cups white wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees,  In a deep baking dish, mix all ingredients together.  Let bake for 3 hours.  This makes 8 servings.

 

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