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8 Fresh Recipes Featuring In-Season Ingredients

Whether we’ve been spoiled by home cooking all summer or living off fast food during our internships, it’s time to get back to eating healthier. This semester is a great time to start making our own fast meals with in-season ingredients! To find the freshest produce, skip the grocery store and check out a local farmer’s market. If you’re a pro at finding the best veggies or even if you’ve never been to a farmer’s market before, you’ll love the smartphone app MarketFinder — it displays hundreds of farmers markets all over California. One’s even on our doorstep at the corner of Adams and Vermont, every Wednesday from 2pm-6pm! To inspire you to get cooking this semester (we promise, the delicious meals are worth the time investment), here are eight recipes featuring fresh ingredients.

Cheap Beef Chili

  • 1 lb. ground beef (extra-lean)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Dice the onion and peppers. Slice the zucchini and cut it into four equal parts. Seed and finely dice the jalapeno.
  2. Brown the beef and cook the onion in the skillet. Drain the grease.
  3. Add olive oil to the medium skillet. Saute the peppers, zucchini and jalapeno until all vegetables until soft.
  4. Add vegetables to beef. Add the tomato sauce and the can of diced tomatoes.
  5. Drain the chili beans. Add the beans to the skillet with the cayenne pepper and chili powder.
  6. Simmer for ten to fifteen minutes over low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Dressed-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices ciabatta bread
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 2 Slices low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Arugula
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Take the two slices of bread and brush one side with the olive oil. Place one slice in a heated skilled, oiled side down.
  2. Add one slice of mozzarella to the ciabatta slice in the skillet. Add a slice of cheddar followed by a tomato slice and some arugula. Add the other tomato slice and more arugula. Top off the sandwich with the leftover cheeses and the second slice of bread. Season to taste.
  3. Brown both sides of the sandwich before removing it from the heat. Cut the sandwich in half


Chocolate Avocado Mousse

  • 1 avocado, halved, skinned and pitted
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • ½ cup of your sweetener of choice (Splenda, Stevia, Truvia….)
  • ¼ cup chocolate milk or milk substitute (optional)


  1. Cut your avocado in half horizontally and twist the halves in opposite directions to break it open. Remove the pit and skin the avocado. Chop it into a few medium-sized pieces and put it in the food processor.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, sweetener, and milk (if you’re using any) to the food processor. Secure the lid and blend on high for about thirty seconds, or until your mousse reaches desired consistency.
  3. Serve it as is or chill in the refrigerator.


Tofu Veggie Scramble

  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 large chopped yellow onion (about a cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, crushed with your fingers
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large skillet, sauté onion over medium heat in oil until soft.
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté for another five minutes or so.
  3. Then add the garlic and celery. Sauté for another 2 minutes
  4. Toss in the spices and stir for a few seconds.
  5. Add 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan. Scrap all the good stuff off the bottom.
  6. Break tofu into large chunks and stir in. It will continue to crumble as you stir.
  7. Mix in broccoli.
  8. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add a couple tablespoons of water here and there if it starts to stick. Lower the heat if you find it’s sticking too much.
  9. Add lime juice and nutritional yeast. Give it a good stir. Serve with grits or toast!


Pork Tacos

  • 1 tablespoon chile powder (regular, ancho, or otherwise)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed OR 1 pound center cut pork loin, trimmed and cut into two tenderloin-sized pieces
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 8 hard taco shells
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 8 teaspoons chopped green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix chile powder, brown sugar and salt. Using your hands, rub mixture evenly all over your pork.
  3. Arrange pork on broiler pan. Roast until your meat thermometer reads 160°. It should be around 20 minutes. Remove pan and turn off oven. Place pork on a cutting board. Let cool a few minutes. Slice. 
  4. As pork is cooking, “heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.” Add onion. Cover. Cook until onion is golden brown, around 10 minutes, lifting cover to stir a couple of times. When 10 minutes are up, remove cover and saute another minute, stirring all the while. 
  5. Spread pork and toppings evenly among taco shells. Serve.


Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Vegetables

  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/3 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/6 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup steamed vegetables
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 12 medium pre-cooked frozen shrimp
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger


  1. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, orange juice, sugar, ketchup, cornstarch, and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
  2. Defrost shrimp under cold water, sopping up any extra moisture with a paper towel. In a small bowl, mix with soy sauce. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add veggies and cook 1 or 2 minutes, until heated through.
  4. Move veggies to outside perimeter of skillet. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  5. Add shrimp to pan and cook another 30 seconds, until heated through
  6. Pour sweet and sour sauce to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Serve over brown rice.


Peach, Nectarine, and Blue Cheese Bruschetta

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ whole wheat or sourdough baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 large peach, peeled and chopped small
  • 1 large nectarine, peeled and chopped small
  • ¼ pound blue cheese, crumbled

1) Preheat your broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2) In a small pot, heat balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Cook about 10 minutes, or until vinegar is 1/2 of what it was. It should be syrupy and thickened when done. Pour into a glass bowl or glass measuring cup and let cool to room temp.

3) Spread bread out on baking sheet and brush each piece with a little olive oil. Broil 2 or 3 minutes, until ever-so-slightly browned. Take sheet out of broiler.

4) To each slice: brush a little balsamic sauce, add fruit, top with blue cheese. Broil another 1 or 2 minutes, until fruit is a little soft and cheese is totally melted. Serve hot.


Mary Higgins is a junior at USC majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Psychology and Law. She's originally from North Carolina (and will always be a southern girl), but she can't get enough of the Southern California sunshine. She enjoys sweet tea with lemon, working on her first original research project in social neuroscience, Trojan Football, and watching videos of baby elephants.
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