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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Foraging for wild foods has gained popularity in recent years to promote sustainable living and reconnect with nature. An added bonus: This age-old practice comes with a whole host of health benefits. 

Finding your meals means filling your plate with fresh, organic, nutrient-dense — and free — produce. Research shows wild plants contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than their commercially grown counterparts because they don’t undergo heavy processing and chemical treatments.

A person in a grassy field collects dandelions in a jar.

“Foraging also gets you out in nature and moving your body, which are proven to boost your mood and reduce stress,” says Coryn Kalwanaski, RDN, a clinical dietitian at Geisinger. “Not to mention, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure and inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity, and even protect against certain cancers. It’s a win-win.”

So why not reap the bounty of nature’s pantry? Believe it or not, Pennsylvania’s state parks, forests and meadows — maybe even your own backyard — are great spots to forage for wild food. Spring and summer are best for ramps, fiddleheads, mayapples, dandelions, blueberries and raspberries. Fall and wintertime also boast great finds, such as crabapples, grapes, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, black walnuts and chestnuts. Browse foraging tips and events by visiting dcnr.pa.gov and searching “foraging.”

“Obviously, foraging for food isn’t essential in today’s world, but it’s an opportunity to revisit your roots and enjoy the fruits of your labor — literally,” says Ms. Kalwanaski. “Just be sure to do your homework and follow the golden rule of foraging: Never eat anything you can’t identify.”

Braised cod with wild ramps

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups wild ramps, sliced lengthwise and rinsed well
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 4 red potatoes, sliced into thin circles
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cod fillets, about 3 oz. each
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat butter in a large sauté pan. Add ramps and carrots, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add potatoes, chicken broth, parsley, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add cod fillets and cover. Continue cooking over low heat for an additional 5 minutes or until the fish is white and flakes easily with a fork (or has a minimum internal temperature of 145° F).
  4. Serve each cod fillet with 1½ cups broth and vegetables.

Adapted from Delicious Heart Healthy Eating from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov.

A prepared meal of braised cod with wild ramps.
Get this braised cod with wild ramps recipe below.
A plate ofdelicious no-bake berry bread pudding.

No baking needed!

How about a fresh-picked-berry dessert?


This story originally appeared in PA Health, our quarterly full-color magazine filled with wellness tips, inspiring stories and more.

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