Ah, summer! The greatest time of the year and particularly for the delicious fruit and vegetables that are in season. And summer adds grilling to the variety of cooking methods available to us which makes it all the more fun. If you’re not one to load up on produce and it’s rarely seen on your plate, now is the best time to change those habits and start incorporating more healthy foods into your diet. Besides being delicious, most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories, making them a great way to lose weight and they can help decrease the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.

May I suggest shopping at a local farmers market at which you can see a wide variety of fresh, in-season produce. Find one here: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/

Community Supported Agriculture

What is it? Essentially, a great way to get local, fresh, in-season food in a way that benefits both you and a farmer. If you’re thinking about purchasing a share or want to learn more about them, click here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

So, what’s in season? Plenty! Here’s a sample:

 Veggies:

Black-eyed peas Peppers
Corn Potatoes
Cucumbers Radishes
Eggplant Rhubarb
Garlic Spinach
Green beans Squash
Lettuce Sweet potatoes
Okra Tomatoes
Onions Zucchini

 

Fruits:

Apples Peaches
Blueberries Pears
Cherries Pineapple
Figs Plums
Kiwi Raspberries
Mango Red grapes
Melons Strawberries
Nectarines Valencia oranges
Papaya Watermelon

 

Raspberries

If you’ve ever bought raspberries you know how delicate they can be. They will go badvery quickly. When you buy them fresh you’ll need to use them within a couple days, stored in the refrigerator. Rinse them gently with a light spray as they will break up under heavy flowing water.

Recipe

Try this refreshing raspberry cocktail, courtesy of Gourmet

Strawberries

Love, love, love strawberries. They are still my all-time favorite fruit (and I’ve already explained my pesticide issue). Did you know that strawberries are good for your skin as well as teeth-whitening?

When picking out strawberries, go for bright red. You don’t want to see green or white tips because they may be bitter or bland. Store in the refrigerator and wash before you eat them. I usually fill a bowl with a mixture of water and veggie wash and swish those babies around to give them a good cleaning.

Note: If you start to see some of your strawberries turning moldy, remove them immediately from the bunch as the mold will spread to the others.

Recipe

Who are you calling a fool? Courtesy of bon appétit

Peaches

Peaches are proof to me that there is a God. What could be better than a sweet, juicy peach. Really? Peaches are also a great source of antioxidants and beta carotene, as well as vitamins A, C and potassium. So, how do you pick ’em? Smell ’em! Peaches should not be green or hard. When ripe, they should be just slightly soft when you press on the flesh. Store ripe peaches in the fridge. Not-yet-ripe peaches can be set out until ripe.

Recipe

Plum and Peach Crisp, courtesy of Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks (one of my favorite sites)

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another good source of vitamins A and C. When purchasing, look for potatoes that are firm, dark in color and smooth. They should not have “eyes” bruises or wrinkles. Sweet potatoes go bad quickly. Store them in a pantry, not in the fridge. If you store them at room temperature, use them within a week. Before using, wash well and peel the skin off after you’ve cooked them (unless your recipe doesn’t allow for it).

Note: Sweet potatoes are sometimes confused with yams. They are not the same.

Recipe

What else? Courtesy of Alton Brown

~Christina

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