The Summer's Best Flavors
Amanda Sylvie, MPH, RD, LD - Aug 16, 2018
While we have access to a majority of fruits and vegetables at all times of the year, it may not be what's ideal for your body. The best way to access and retain the nutrients your body needs is to eat fruits and vegetables soon after they have been harvested. So, while those oranges shipped to your local grocery store from Australia may look ripe and juicy, during their long journey they probably have lost valuable nutrients that help your body to function properly. Below, we've compiled fruits and vegetables that "speak" summer, how to pick the best product, and how including fresh in-season produce positively affects your gut and overall health!
Let The Season Guide Your Eating
The top ways to eat seasonally are to source produce from local farmers markets or by exercising your green thumb in your own garden or community garden. Fruits and veggies that make a sunny appearance in the summer months include an abundance of tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, strawberries, corn, green beans, peppers, and a variety of herbs. No green thumb? No worries. We'll give you some tips and tricks for what to look for when confronted by a pile of tomatoes or baskets of strawberries!
Tomatoes: To check the ripeness of tomatoes, give them a little squeeze to check their firmness. They should be firm but give a little. Regular ripe tomatoes should be red all the way around, but at farmers markets, you may find unripe green tomatoes that can be lightly fried, or Green Zebra tomatoes that add a tart pop to salads. Tomatoes are a versatile vegetable, and are great in all kinds of recipes, like these unique breakfast tomatoes!
Strawberries: Moving on to a sweeter red fruit, ripe strawberries will be red all the way through. If you see any white or green near the top by the leaves, your strawberries are not quite ready. Unfortunately, strawberries can become overripe in a blink-of-an-eye, so it is important to check them for mold before eating.
Corn: Corn is always best when picked fresh from the stalk. Look for crisp green husks that are still tightly wrapped around the corn for maximum freshness. While corn is delicious by itself, it can also compliment other veggies. Check out this recipe for Santa Fe Corn Salad to give your regular stalks a fresh twist!
Doesn't your mouth water at the thought of these colorful delights? As we move into the cooler temperatures of fall and winter, you'll have more access to greens, such as lettuce varieties, spinach, and kale as well as root vegetables like beets and carrots. Each of the seasons provide an abundance of produce to choose from, and enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables can become quite a fun adventure--especially for your taste buds!
Seasons Rotate and So Should You
Have you noticed how many cycles occur naturally in our bodies and within our environment? Your body gravitates towards cyclical or seasonal eating, and it also helps you to avoid eating the same things day after day and month after month. When you consistently eat the same foods, like eggs each day for breakfast or broccoli and chicken each night for dinner, this doesn't provide your body with an adequate variety of nutrients that it needs. On top of that, your gut is exposed to the same foods all the time, and if this happens for too long, your immune system may start to recognize these foods as a risk to your body--and this is when you may develop food sensitivities. By eating seasonally, you'll maximize your nutrient intake from in-season local produce that hasn't traveled more than you have, you'll increase variety in your diet, and you'll have less chance of developing the food sensitivities that can sometimes be associated with habitual intake of the same foods.
The seasons provide us with an ideal opportunity to eat a variety of foods grown locally. Plan your garden today or visit your local farmer's market. Your body will thank you!