Summer is squash season. Both types – the sport that helps you play more and the food that helps you eat well, like zucchini – can be part of your summer commitment to health.
Summer squashes – zucchini, pattypan, yellow summer squash – are abundant in mid-summer gardens and lend themselves to a variety of dishes.
Other vegetables abound this time of year, too. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant all ripen in the heat of the summer.
Whether you grow your own, find them at the farmers market, or grab them at the grocery store, these bountiful summer crops can help you eat well this summer.
Summer vegetables are full of vitamins:
Summer vegetables lend themselves to a variety of recipes and cooking methods.
Sautés and stir-fries are always good, and summer is the perfect time to try grilling vegetables or eating them raw in a colorful salad.
Below are the top summer tips from EvergreenHealth nutrition expert Marcy Dorsey:
Eat whole foods. Fresh, unprocessed foods are better for you. To quote Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: “Eat food that is grown from a plant, not made in a plant.”
Seek seasonal and local food. Summer crops include berries, melons, corn, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, and more. Visit a farmers market to get crops fresh from the growers.
Pick fresh berries. Dark berries are loaded with antioxidants to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and lower cancer risk. They are high in fiber, full of vitamins and minerals, and delicious.
Load up on veggies. So much produce is in season that it is easy to get extra servings in your diet. Raw, grilled, marinated – add colorful vegetable servings any way you like them.
Make festive salads. Skip the iceberg and boost the color and nutrient content of your salads by using seasonal produce. Make salads complete meals by adding whole grains or beans or sprinkling them with nuts or seeds.
Marcy also recommends making your own salad dressing to incorporate high quality fats, save money and eliminate preservatives and other contaminants: mix two parts extra virgin olive oil to one part vinegar or fresh lemon juice; then add salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices.
Stay hydrated. Get 8-10 glasses of water per day to ensure proper absorption of nutrients, remove toxins, regulate your body temperature and blood pressure, and keep joints cushioned and lubricated.
Get more potassium. It’s necessary to maintain your body’s fluid balance, which is critical in the summer heat.
Good sources include legumes, meats, avocado, bananas, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, dark leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
Cool down with a small homemade smoothie, which provides more nutrients than ice cream or frozen coffee drinks. You can blend fruits, vegetables, green tea or juice for a healthy cool-down.
Even with extra servings of summer vegetables in your diet, your backyard garden may still leave you with more produce than you know what to do with.
Or maybe you just want to get the garden-fresh taste of a farmers market tomato in the dead of winter.
With the right tools, it’s easy to can your own produce. Follow these steps from the Simple Bites whole foods website:
For more detailed information on what and how to can, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Visit our Healthiest Best Foods homepage for more great ideas to get you and your family eating healthier.