A few weeks ago I had the privilege to speak to Terry Walters, cookbook author and teacher, whose latest book Clean Food, is all about cooking with fresh and healthy foods. She is all about eating clean, which doesn’t necessarily mean eating gluten-free or vegan, which I thought before talking to her, it’s all about eating what’s best for you. Here are some tips on eating well, shopping for groceries and an awesome salad recipe that you must try.

“Clean is different for every person.”

For Walters it’s about getting a well-balanced diet. While she personally enjoys eating vegan and gluten-free, her daughter has a legume allergy so must eat animal protein.  So eating clean is really seeing what’s best for you and going to the source for that food. “There is no doubt if eating locally grown whether it’s kale or fresh eggs or cheese, that can be much better than flown across the world, petroleum, packaging, shipping, the more awareness of where our food choices come from,” she said. So talk to your local store or farmer about how they grow their food and raise their animals. The organic label is expensive so also look for produce that is not treated with chemicals, such as pesticides or hormones. If in doubt, just ask your famer or grocer. The more you ask for certain products, and the more often, the better chance you’ll see it in your local store soon.

“Commit yourself to trying something new.”

Terry admits that when she is limited on time she has laser-eye vision in the grocery store. It’s all about getting in and out, but when she decides to try a new ingredient, she takes her time. “It makes me look differently, move slowly through the store (and) make more conscious choices,” she said. This could lead to the discovery of a new ingredient or other healthy cooking options.

Using those ingredients in new ways

I asked Terry her suggestions for some of the in-season ingredients, and some that we are seeing a lot of here in Washington as spring reaches into summer.

Cippolini onions: the small, sweet Italian onions are most often served roasted with balsamic vinegar, at least that’s how I usually serve them. Or throw them in with a roast. But Terry suggests grilling.  “I don’t peel them, I just throw right on the grill and char them, when black on outside, soft throughout, put in bowl, when cool down, squeeze off root in, squeeze and it’ll pop right out.”

Asparagus: I can’t tell you how much asparagus is still at my local farmers market. Let’s just say it’s a lot, although it is less each week as we enter summer. I tend to steam mine and serve with butter but I think I’ll try Terry’s version next: “I like it to have a crunch, steam or water sauté for 30 seconds until just bright green, lemon zest, olive oil, marcona almonds on top, mix in with salads”

And finally, rhubarb. I live next to the Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World. Yes you read that correctly. So needless to say there is a lot of rhubarb. I tend to think of it for pies and tarts but I recently tried Terry’s salad suggestion and it was amazing.

“Start by tossing (rhubarb, cut into pieces) with maple syrup and roasting, it takes about 10 minutes in oven, but in 10 minutes it’s soft enough to be really savory but did not break down and become mushy, throw over arugula salad with mint, so buttery and sweet and made a really simple lemon vinaigrette “

I used a recipe for lemon vinaigrette that I found on Epicurious.

And just look at how awesome this salad is:

I roasted the rhubarb at about 400 degrees I believe and then served it over mixed baby greens and some mushrooms. It was delicious.

So check out Terry’s site and book, I think you’ll love how easy it is to eat so well.