summer produce

 Summer is almost here and so are all of the “what’s in season?” questions. Only about 10% of US adults consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. One of the best parts of the changing seasons is the variety in produce that is offered. The summer months do not disappoint in terms of nutrients and deliciousness. BONUS: In-season produce benefits environmental sustainability and supports your local farmers and businesses.

Here are some of my favorite fruits and veggies that will be available during the summer season. These fruits and vegetables have tons of benefits and pack an extra nutritional punch when they’re in season, as they have high nutritional quality providing healthy vitamins and minerals. Read along to learn why and for delicious ways to eat them!

What’s In Season & What Are The Health Benefits?

  1. Apricots & Peaches: These are both a great source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that is essential for a healthy vision.
    • Spruce up your avocado toast and add some sliced apricots and/or peaches. The combo is absolutely delicious.
  2. Plums:  Especially their skins, pack a ton of fiber – a nutrient that promotes satiety, aids in regular bowel movements, helps blood sugar stabilization, and lowers high cholesterol.
    • Bake or air fry plums with some cinnamon for a sweet yogurt topping!
  3. Cherries: Make for the perfect after dinner dessert in the summertime. They contain some melatonin, a hormone that our body produces in response to the sun setting. It is common to experience sleep issues if melatonin production is low, so getting it from certain foods could be beneficial to get a good night’s rest!
    • Remove the pits from some cherries and bake them with a mix of dried oats, chopped nuts, ghee and a drizzle of maple syrup for a delicious cherry cobbler.
  4. Mangos: You’ve probably noticed that stonefruit is the star of the show during summer! Mangoes contain vitamin B6 which plays a key role in mood, appetite and sleep.
    • Blend a mango with some greek yogurt, your choice of milk and cardamom powder for a delicious lassi inspired drink.
  5. Cantaloupe: Is an awesome source of potassium which is essential for a healthy heart.
    • Want to take your palette to Italy? Pair cantaloupe wedges with some prosciutto for a classic Italian appetizer.
  6. Watermelon: Like I mentioned before, temps are rising which means water intake has to rise too. Munching on some watermelon is a great way to hydrate aside from drinking your H2O!
    • Make a watermelon feta salad with some mint leaves for a super refreshing side dish.
  7. Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries… they’re all in season, antioxidant galore! They contain polyphenols which may help prevent certain cancers, lower blood sugar, protect against heart disease and boost brain health.
    • Berries are red, white and blue… perfect for the 4th of July! Make some homemade jam by boiling the berries with some chia seeds and lemon juice for your summer PB&J sandwiches!
  8. Tomatoes: Lycopene is the compound that gives tomatoes their bright red color. This powerful antioxidant improves memory, heart and urinary tract health, and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
    • Pair with some cottage cheese, EVOO, balsamic vinegar and basil for a high protein Caprese salad.
  9. Cucumber: Contain compounds called cucurbitacins which reduce inflammation in the body.
    • Make a cucumber tzatziki inspired dip by combining them with greek yogurt, onion powder and dill. Enjoy with some crackers!
  10. Summer Squash: This type of squash is rich in folate, known as vitamin B-9, which is a crucial vitamin during early pregnancy. It’s also important for converting carbs into energy.
    • Sautée your summer squash in some avocado oil and add to an omelet with some cheese for a summery breakfast.
  11. Okra: Is abundant in vitamin K which promotes blood clotting and is essential for strong, healthy bones, important for preventing osteoporosis.
    • Air fry okra until crispy for a classic (but lightened up) southern side dish.
  12. Eggplant: This veggie provides a good amount of manganese, which helps to keep your bones and nervous system healthy!
    • Make an eggplant parmesan bake by layering eggplant with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  13. Bell Peppers: One of the best sources of vitamin C out there. (Yes, these have way more vitamin C than oranges.) Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your body against diseases caused by oxidative damage. It is also needed for a healthy immune system and helps our bodies heal quickly. Plus, combining vitamin C with iron rich foods increases our bodies ability to absorb iron.
    • Chop some fresh bell peppers and add them to a bowl with spinach and cooked chickpea pasta. Drizzle a drop of your favorite dressing for a yummy pasta salad.
  14. Corn: Contrary to what many think, this starchy vegetable is a whole grain chock-full of benefits. One that is especially impressive is the content of quercetin, an antioxidant that can combat inflammation and protect against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
    • Make a crunchy salad with chopped kale, cabbage, black beans, corn, avocado, nutritional yeast and hot sauce.

Aside from the benefits listed above, this list of produce packs A TON of other benefits! Make sure to take advantage of these items being in season. If you have a go-to farmers market, you will surely find everything there. Don’t be afraid to utilize the freezer section if you don’t have access to fresh produce in your area. Many of these items are likely in the freezer in your local supermarket, which is a huge life saver in terms of shelf life and cost!

6/07/22

What’s in Season? A Guide to Summer Produce

written by:

Paula Rubello

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