Locally Sourced: Fuel up on foods with bright colors, fresh ingredients

Rick Martin's spaghetti squash salad

If there is one thing we all need every day, it’s energy. Without it we would accomplish nothing. The mitochondria in our cells work hard each second to incinerate the molecules that maintain our vitality. It’s a biological miracle of pristine efficiency and enviable sustainability.

Though we marvel at this process and its lifelong benefits, it is most unfortunate that daily energy, as we know it, does not come with an owner’s manual.

If we know rest + fuel = energy, then why do we have such a difficult time choosing the right foods that make up the fuel?

Our industrialized food system has altered our regard for physical energy to something we view as “on demand.”

We want it and we want it now. We are no longer satisfied with eating well today to sustain our energy tomorrow. We adjust our levels with no regard for the time it takes our digestive system to dismantle nutrient-rich foods and turn them into a multiday boost. Energy is now an abundant and convenient flick of a switch.

Food energy could be as easy as filling a car with the right gas, but we make it much more complicated. There are too many products offering energy (under the guise of stimulation) to get you over the wall. These power sources provide a false boost while the empty foods we consume take it away — likely the same empty foods that precipitated the energy crash to begin with.

Since we don’t have a standard measure of daily human energy, consider sourcing the right blend of fuel. Think of the nutrient-dense foods you consume as the supporting cast in the calorie combustion process. Not all food is for the purpose of energy. Some food is to unlock it. After all, what good is fuel without a high-performance fuel-injection system?

Our wise ancestors preached the concept of a balanced meal for a reason. They knew it was the blend of good foods that gave us the power to complete our work and not the single promise of the supplement.

Consider recipes and dishes that have many colors and two or more fresh or local ingredients to help find the right blend of fuel for you.

This Spaghetti Squash Salad recipe spans a spectrum of colors and nutrients.

Spaghetti Squash Salad


1 spaghetti squash

2 ounces dried tart cherries, soaked in Saison, wine or water

2 ounces Goddard Farm feta cheese

Quarter-ounce pea shoots or any sprouts

Half-ounce radicchio, julienned

Half-ounce Italian parsley leaves

1 ounce pistachio nuts, toasted and chopped (most any nut will do)

4 fluid ounces shallot vinaigrette (see below)

cracked pepper


Cut squash in half and de-seed. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until squash easily pulls apart with a fork. Cool, then remove flesh from rind and pull strands apart (this can be completed hours ahead of serving time).

Cover dried cherries with Saison or Belgian-style ale and allow to sit for at least an hour. Place 5 to 6 ounces of squash in a mixing bowl with other vegetables, cherries, cheese and half the vinaigrette and gently mix. Present on a plate and garnish with remaining vinaigrette and chopped nuts.

Shallot Vinaigrette

2 medium shallots, roasted

Half a teaspoon salt

A pinch of black pepper

A pinch of celery seed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Third of a cup of olive oil

Peel shallots, then wrap in a small amount of foil and roast at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Coarsely chop the cooled shallots and combine with all other ingredients, except oil, and mix with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add oil and pulse lightly to emulsify. Thin with a few drops of water, if needed.

Yield: 4 servings