Summertime Brings Farmers Market and Good Food

Sfarmersmarketummer is here (OK, a few more days to go at the writing of this blog post), which means the farmers market on the Lindeman Pavilion patio at Virginia Mason’s Seattle location is back — operating on Mondays so you can get your week’s worth of good food. The new First Hill Pike Place Express at Virginia Mason offers the highest quality food from world-famous Pike Place Market vendors, including Magna Farms, Ellenos Greek Yogurt and Honey Biscuits. Think of it as a small, pop-up version of Pike Place Market.

The improved market is an innovative new partnership between Virginia Mason and Pike Place Market. Both organizations are committed to community health, so the market will accept SNAP (food stamp EBT) cards. When neighbors use their SNAP card, they get twice the value in produce thanks to Seattle’s Fresh Bucks program. The Pike Place information booth will also offers Market Bucks (debit cards accepted for those light on cash), which you can use with any vendor at the Express Market.

The market will be here every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until late September. See you on the patio!

And if the sight of fresh fruits and vegetables doesn’t make you hungry for healthy foods, then perhaps we can temp you with recipes from Virginia Mason’s Executive Chef Brian Brooks. Celebrate the beginning of summer with his Pollo Con Crema.

“I really like the flavor of Cholula hot sauce in this dish; it lends a robust acidity without being overly spicy,” says Chef Brian. “I also garnished it with a little chopped fresh cilantro for added flavor and color.”


polloconcremaPollo Con Crema

Makes 8 servings

1.5 pounds chicken tenders
1.5 cups Low Sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups heavy cream (can sub. Milk)
3 ounces of fat free sour cream
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
8 ounces diced red bell pepper
8 ounces sliced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 ounces roux (equal parts butter and flour)
8 each 6 inch corn tortilla


  1. Coat the chicken in oil and season with salt and sear
  2. On all sides then add mushrooms, onions and peppers, as well as the garlic and cumin
  3. Once slightly caramelized, move to the cold side of the skillet and heat up roux on the hot side, add stock and cook until thickened
  4. Then add cream & sour cream – mix the entire dish thoroughly
  5. Let simmer until thickened and adjust seasoning as needed
  6. Serve with warm tortillas

To trim down the calories, Chef Brian recommends using whole milk instead of cream. “Just make sure you leave ample time – 20 to 30 minutes – to let it further reduce the stock to provide the same rich consistency,” he says.

Get Outdoors with Gardening

photoGetting out in the garden is a great way to celebrate spring and this week’s amazing weather. Gardening is an easy and fun way to increase physical activity and reduce stress.

Follow these tips for a healthy gardening experience:

  • Always wear a hat, gloves and sunscreen when working outside.
  • Drink plenty of water — plants aren’t the only ones who can suffer from dehydration.
  • Schedule gardening time for early morning or late afternoon.
  • Bend from the knees.
  • Wash hands carefully after gardening to clean soil-borne bacteria or other potentially harmful substances from the skin.

No matter how modest the effort, appreciate the beauty of your garden at every stage and consider it a positive reflection of your efforts to get outside and enjoy the earth.

If you’re ready to get gardening, below are some links to local sources of information:

King County Master Gardener Foundation
Snohomish County Fruit Society
Gardening Fact Sheets from WSU Extension
P-Patch Community Gardens
Seattle Tilth

Don’t have a green thumb, but still want to enjoy the benefits of locally grown fruits and vegetables this summer? Pike Place Market is now managing the Virginia Mason Farmers Market Mondays at Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center starting June 16. The Pike Place Market Express brings fresh, local produce via “pop-up” markets one day a week from June to the first week of October. The farmers and artisan producers at the Express markets are also those who sell at Pike Place Market.

What’s Cooking at the Farmers Market: Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta

Special thanks goes out Jennifer Buchanan, MS, RD, healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market – Roosevelt Square for joining us at the farmers market last Friday and sharing her Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta. This recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes, and you may be asking yourself: what are those?

heirloom tomatoesAn heirloom is something that has been passed down for generations and this is the same case for heirloom fruits and vegetables. To be certified as an heirloom, these tomato varieties are grown from seeds that have produced the same crop for at least 50 years and must be certified organic. These plants have to be grown outside and naturally pollinated and cannot be hybridized (the process of cross pollinating plants to create a variety that is more resistant to pests and has a longer shelf life). Because heirloom tomatoes are not hybridized, they tend to spoil quicker. But, the distinctive flavor and juiciness of the heirloom varieties mean they don’t sit around the kitchen for too long, anyways.

There are more than 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and the creative names provide some insight into the plants origin. Next time you are at a farmers market (or grocery store), see if you can spot a Cherokee Purple, Missouri Pink Love Apple or Nebraska Wedding.

Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta

Recipe by Jennifer Buchanan, MS, RD


2 medium 10” zucchini, shredded
2 to 3 small heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
½ cup watercress
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
½ cup walnuts, blanched
1 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh basil
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ t teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt (optional)
Lemon zest (optional)


  1. Using a mandolin, or the large holes on a standup boxed cheese grater, lay zucchini on its side and grate lengthwise so you have long strands of noodles.
  2. Place zucchini noodles in a strainer and let drain for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes, pepper and watercress.
  4. Place walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times.
  5. Add fresh basil, avocado, lemon, dried basil, oregano and salt (optional) to food processor and pulse until all ingredients are blended.
  6. Add pesto to medium bowl with vegetables until well mixed. Top with lemon zest.

Nutrition information:
Calories: 184 Total Fat: 12 grams Protein: 6 grams Carbohydrate: 19 grams Fiber: 7.5 grams Sodium: 136 mg Cholesterol: 0 mg Saturated Fat: 1.4 grams Monounsaturated Fat: 6 grams Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.6 grams

Happy Washington Farmers Market Week!
In addition to the usual fun atmosphere, tasty lunch options and lots of healthy, locally grown foods available, there are a few extras happening at this Friday’s Virginia Mason Farmers Market:

  • Seattle residents can sign up to receive a free conservation kit from Seattle City Light, including energy-efficient light bulbs and an efficient shower head to help conserve water.
  • The Moonshine Hill band will provide some fun bluegrass music starting at 11 a.m.
  • Sheryl Wiser from Cascade Harvest Coalition will provide information on “preserving the harvest” – tips to do more home canning and make the most of your next visit to a U-pick farm.

What’s Cooking at the Farmers Market: Kale!


Kale and radishes at the farmers market.

Chef Jeff is on vacation from the Farmers Market for the next few weeks, but Cynthia Lair, author of “Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods” was gracious enough to share her Kale and Currant Salad recipe with us. You can find more of her delicious, whole food recipes and cooking demos at

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) is a score assigned to whole foods that contain the highest nutrients per calorie. This system was developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of “Eat For Health and Eat Right America Nutritarian Handbook.” Each whole food is given a score between zero to 1,000, with 1,000 being the most nutrient dense. Kale, along with collard greens and watercress, received an ANDI score of 1,000, labeling it as one of the most nutrient dense foods you could choose.

Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C, as well as the mineral manganese, and a good source of fiber, copper, tryptophan, calcium, vitamin B-6 and potassium.

If you can’t view the video above, you may view it here

Massaged Kale and Currant Salad

Makes 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes


1 bunch of kale

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup dried currants

3/4 cup diced apple

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese


  1. De-stem kale by pulling leaves away from the stems. Wash leaves, spin or pat dry. Stack leaves, roll up and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade).
  2. Put kale in a large mixing bowl and add salt. Massage salt into kale with your hands for 2 minutes.
  3. To toast sunflower seeds, put in a dry skillet over low to medium heat and stir constantly for a few minutes until they change color and give off a nutty aroma.
  4. Stir onion, currants, apple and toasted seeds into kale.
  5. Dress with oil and vinegar. Taste for salt and vinegar, adding more if necessary.
  6. When at desired flavor, toss in cheese. This salad will keep for several days and still be great!

Nutrition information:
Calories: 188 Fat: 15 grams Protein:  5 grams Carbohydrate: 12 grams Fiber: 3 grams Sodium: 448 mg Cholesterol: 3.6 mg Saturated Fat: 4 grams Monounsaturated Fat: 7 grams Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 grams

Come visit the Farmers Market, sponsored by EnviroMason, this Friday, August 2. Jennifer Buchanan, MS, RD, healthy eating specialist from Whole Foods Market in Roosevelt Square, will be at the Virginia Mason Farmers Market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. demonstrating how to prepare Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta. Come by and try this delicious dish!

A Farmers Market With a Lasting Impact

by Ingrid Ougland Sellie, Community Benefit Manager, Virginia Mason **

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nationwide nearly 26 million people have diabetes and 79 million people are pre-diabetic. Obesity is a national epidemic, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life. No state meets the national Healthy People 2020 Goal of 15 percent or less obesity. In case you’re wondering how Washington state fares, more than 22 percent of adults in Washington state are obese and childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

Beautiful radishes and other veggies await you at the farmers market.

Beautiful radishes and other veggies await you at the farmers market.

The simple solution is to eat healthier, right? Just make a salad or fresh meal instead of hitting the dollar menu at the local fast food joint. Unfortunately, depending on where you live and what your budget is, it’s just not that easy.

Lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a big concern in neighborhoods where there are no low cost stores or markets within walking distance or easily accessible via public transportation. These neighborhoods are called “food deserts.”

One solution to food deserts is starting a farmers market, which is exactly what Virginia Mason is doing. But instead of simply providing access to fresh food, Virginia Mason is hoping to make an impact on our community’s health by transforming the traditional market model into an educational event – sharing wellness information and presenting talks by medical professionals on health-related topics. And to help people figure out what to do with that odd-looking vegetable, Virginia Mason’s own Chef Jeff Anderson will create a new recipe every week and give cooking demonstrations. His recipes will be posted online and provided as handouts at the market.

Why all the extra effort for a farmers market?

“People don’t always see the connection between fresh food and what ends up on their fork,” says Brenna Davis, director of sustainability, Virginia Mason. “Our market provides an amazing opportunity to reach out to our community with not only fresh sustainably grown food, but information that empowers the community to improve their health. As an organization, we’re committed to lowering our environmental impact while improving the quality of life of everyone in the region.”

A schedule of events will be posted on the Health and Wellness blog, which will include talks by experts from the Digestive Disease Institute, nutritionists and a special children’s day with games and kid friendly recipes.

To kick off the first farmers market of the season, Cedar Grove will be on hand to demonstrate how 5 tons of food waste per year from the Virginia Mason cafeteria becomes compost. They’ll also be giving away free samples.

FlowersHere’s the skinny (no pun intended):
Virginia Mason Farmers Market
Lindeman Pavilion, Ninth and Seneca Street, Seattle
Fridays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., through August 30
Vendors include: local fruit, vegetables, goat meat, pickles, tamales, hummus, baked goods (including a gluten-free bakery) and flowers.