Summer Fruits and Veggies are HERE!
My love of summer goes back to childhood, watching the clock in the classroom, seconds before the bell that ultimately sends us out to our freedom for months in the sun! I remember sitting in the backyard planting strawberries, picking blueberries, watching the garden grow tomatoes, corn, sugar snap peas, carrots, lettuce, and more. Now I bring that love for the taste of fresh, unadulterated produce to my own table!
Farmer’s markets are ideal, but not everyone has time or access to get to one as often as they would like.
So, every visit to the grocery store, I start in the produce section, naturally. Organic is ideal, of course, but do your best. There are my fruit basics I get every week no matter the time of year, such as lots of bananas, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries. For my veggies, I tend to get potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.
Now the fun starts! Depending on the time of year, I cruise around the store checking out the seasonal fruits and veggies. This month I am in love with cherries! Freshly washed, cut up on oatmeal, or mixed in with a salad for a surprise!
Cherries are high in Vitamins A and C, help with arthritis and other inflammatory issues, can aid in lowering blood sugar for diabetes, help you sleep, and lower the risk of heart and colon issues.
They are low in sugar and calories naturally, and higher in fiber, so they will give you a satisfying fullness. All of this and they give you pretty, red lips that may need a kiss!
In June, cucumbers and tomatoes are in season as well. Again, that smell of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers bring me back to summer, running on the open grassy lawn with my Golden Retriever, Sandy, and rolling around eating veggies straight from the garden. Now, I go to farmer’s markets and smell a lot of produce!
This month (and all year, frankly), following my preferred Mediterranean Diet, I love robust Greek salads with beautiful varieties of tomatoes, different kinds of cucumbers, red onion, French or Bulgarian feta, and my special, fresh Greek vinaigrette dressing I make by hand. Tomatoes have more Vitamin C when they are raw, but cooking brings out the beneficial trans-lycopene - this must be what protects the Greek’s beautiful skin in the sun, reduces certain types of cancer, and helps benefit their loving hearts! Trans-lycopene is found in red or pink fruits but not in cherries!
Corn, peaches, grapes and more! So many great ways to turn up your pallet! Try grilling your corn and peach halves with some chicken and salad for an outdoor celebration any day of the week, slice some grapes into a yummy salad with some fresh goat cheese, cut up bell peppers to scoop some hummus...the possibilities are endless!
Check out the fun chart below from https://cookingmatters.org/ that shows many different fruits and vegetables you can have all year to keep things fresh and interesting.
Food is fun and a great way to celebrate with friends and family. Healthy food and habits can help you stick around for more good times to come! The USDA says on www.myplate.gov to have half your plate be fruits or veggies for a balanced diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best, but if you need to make them last longer, frozen is a good alternative. Some frozen foods are packaged at their peak nutritional value giving you more benefit than some fresh produce that have been picked especially early to fulfill shipment and stocking needs and last on display for a while. The fact is, just being aware of what you are eating and where it is coming from is a great start. Throw some in your bag for the day and you have healthy munchies where ever you go!