Long days of sunshine, warm evenings filled with fireflies, and farmers’ markets bursting with fresh-picked foods. I can’t wait for summer! And there’s absolutely no reason we can’t get at least five servings of wonderfully fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables during the summer growing season. Scientific evidence shows that we really can’t overdo it on fresh produce, so why not set a goal of enjoying seven to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day during the summer season? Your body (and taste buds!) will thank you. Here are my favorite summertime fruits and veggies. Enjoy!
Strawberries come first, followed by cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. There’s some type of fresh berry available all summer long in most areas of the country. Berries are good sources of fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate and vitamin C. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange, and one cup of raspberries has 30 percent of your daily fiber needs. They contain more antioxidants than other types of food, helping protect against cancer and heart disease.
Early New England colonists believed tomatoes were poisonous, but today they’re one of our most popular foods. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, a phytochemical that helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer. They’re another good source of vitamin C and are also high in potassium. Don’t limit yourself to sliced tomatoes in salads or on sandwiches. Try adding cherry tomatoes to your shish kabob skewers, hollow out a tomato and stuff the shell with tuna salad, or use your blender for a quick and refreshing gazpacho loaded with tomatoes and other summertime veggies.
Corn’s reputation has fallen since low-carb diets came into fashion, but it’s one summertime vegetable I just can’t ignore. One ear of sweet corn provides three grams of fiber and another three grams of protein, plus it contains folate, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Cooking sweet corn makes more of its healthful antioxidants available, helping reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
There’s no reason to keep using the convenient, but sometimes boring, bagged salads when there’s such a wide, delicious variety of fresh salad greens available at local farmers’ markets. Toss handfuls of arugula, spinach, romaine and other types of greens together with chopped, fresh veggies. Add some fresh berries, melon cubes or diced pears for added flavor and color. Make a salad a meal by topping with grilled chicken or fish, and dress with your favorite light dressing.
I adore juicy, ripe, sweet plums quite possibly because two plums are considered one serving, and it’s always more satisfying to eat two of something! Plums are a good source of vitamin C and provide essential antioxidants and phytochemicals. In fact, plums contain more antioxidants than any other fresh fruit except berries.