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.
Summer fruits and veggies pack a nutritious punch. Here are some favorite summer produce items, their health benefits, what to look for when you are picking them out, and how to serve.
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.
Choose: Choose apricots with a rich, orange color. The flesh should be soft but not mushy. Store as you would peaches, at room temperature unless cut.
Serve: Apricots can add flavor to savory dishes, like chicken and pork, or add added sweetness to salads, ice cream and pies.
Health Benefits: Tomatoes are low-calorie vegetables that rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that can actually help protect against the sun, a perfect item to add in to your summer mix.
Choose: 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.
Health Benefits: Cucumbers contain many B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zine.
Choose: Choose cucumbers that are firm and have a dark green skin.
Serve: Many of the cucumber’s nutrients are found in the skin, so leave the peel on as much as possible. Add thin slices to water for a refreshing taste or add to salads, a top of burgers, or create a homemade tzatziki sauce by mixing Greek yogurt with cucumbers, lemon juice and dill.
Health Benefits: Mangoes are full of fiber and vitamin C, both of which can play a role in lowering cholesterol.
Choose: 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.
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.
Choose: 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!
Health Benefits: Peppers are loaded with vitamin C and capsaicin. Capsaicin gives peppers their kick and can help with blocked sinuses and jump start your metabolism.
Choose: 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 easily be added to sauces and dips.