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Summer fruits and veggies pack a nutritious punch. Our dietitian, Caitlyn has chosen some of her favorite summer produce items and gives you a quick lesson on their health benefits, how to purchase, and how to serve. 

Delicious fruit on a picnic table

Apricots

Health Benefits: Apricots contain vitamin A and C both of which are antioxidants. Apricots are a good source of the mineral, potassium, a heart healthy mineral that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. 

Buy: Chose apricots with a rich, orange color. The flesh should be soft but not mushy

Serve:  Apricots  can add flavor to savory dishes, like chicken, or add added sweetness to salads, ice cream and pies. 

Tomatoes

Health Benefits: Tomatoes are a low calorie vegetable that are low in fat and have no cholesterol. They are rich in lycopene. 

Buy: Pick tomatoes that have a bright red color, are firm, and wrinkle free. Store tomatoes at room temperature unless cut. 

Serve: Add fresh slices to burgers, sandwiches and pizza. Toss cherry tomatoes into salads or add to kabobs.  If your tomatoes start to turn, transform them into a homemade salsa or sauce. 

Cucumbers

Health Benefits: Cucumbers contain many B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zine. 

Buy: Chose cucumbers that are firm and have a dark green skin. 

Serve: Many of the cucumber’s nutrients are found in the skin, so leve on the peel as much as possible. Add thin slices to water for a refreshing taste or add to salads, a top of burgers, or even a homemade tzatziki sauce. 

Mangoes

Health Benefits: Mangoes are full of fiber and vitamin C, both of which can play a role in lowering cholesterol. 

Buy: The color of mangoes does not indicate its ripeness. Give it a squeeze, you want the flesh to be firm but give just slightly. 

Serve: Eat raw, add to salads, smoothies, or even salsas. Mangoes have a natural tenderizing property so they are the perfect addition to a meat marinade. 

Watermelon

Health Benefits: Watermelon has a very high water content, hence the name, and is also rich in potassium. Watermelon is great for helping you stay hydrated in the summer sun. 

Buy: Look for a smooth, unblemished rind. When you pick up a watermelon, it should feel heavy for its size, indicating lots of watery goodness inside. 

Serve: Fresh watermelon is perfect on its own but can also be added to salads, fruit cocktails or frozen drinks.  Like many summer fruits and vegetables, it can also be grilled!

Chile Peppers

Health Benefits: Peppers are loaded with vitamin C and capsaicin. Capsaicin gives peppers there kick but can also help with blocked sinuses and jump start your metabolism. 

Buy: No matter the color, red, yellow or green, peppers should be vibrant and shiny. 

Serve: Add Chile peppers to any dish for an added kick. Grill whole to mellow the spice. Peppers can also easily be added to sauces and dips. 

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Registered Dietitian

Caitlyn graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Dietetics. She has worked in nutrition at Mid Iowa Community Action and as a clinical dietitian for the Iowa Veterans Home and Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center. Her goal is to help you and your family develop and maintain healthy lifestyles by sharing creative and practical nutrition tips.

Click here for more information on our dietitians.

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