24 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Eating This Summer
You’ve heard that eating locally and seasonally is healthier and more sustainable, but you certainly can’t eat that way unless you know what’s available locally this season. To that end, we’re here to help! Let this be your encyclopedia to the fruits and vegetables you can find at your local farmers’ markets over the next few months, why they’re nutritious, and how to prepare them in a delicious and unusual way, organized in order of when they’re at their peak quality.
Get Em’ Now
One of my favorite greens to eat on its own or combined with other greens in salads, pestos, as a pizza topping, or garnish, this peppery green can be harvested from now until September. Like other greens, arugula is low in calories and high in fiber and other essential nutrients like Vitamin A, K, C, folate, and calcium. When you find a good bunch at the farmers’ market, try whipping up these flavorful Sausage, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Stuffed Peppers.
Snatch up that local asparagus now, because after June it’ll pass its peak. Steaming is the traditional cooking method for asparagus, but try roasting or grilling the spears for a more decadent side dish, or toss a few in with pasta, risottos, stir-fries, and salads. Another nutrient powerhouse, asparagus is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins K, A, C, and B1, folate, and iron. For a unique twist on this veggie, try these crispy Baked Asparagus Fries.
Great pickled or raw to add crunch to salads, sandwiches, and wraps, you can find local cabbage all the way until October. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable in the same nutrient-dense family as kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Cabbage is low in calories and high in fiber, Vitamins C and K, manganese, and folate. Red cabbage tends to be a little higher in antioxidants than green, but you can use them interchangeably in this recipe for Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Onion Dijon Sauce.
You know it’s summer when you chomp down on that first corn on the cob, which is at its peak harvesting season until August around here. Corn provides energy in the form of complex carbohydrates along with fiber, folate, vitamins C and B1, phosphorus, and magnesium. Marry two fresh summer vegetables in this Sweet Corn and Zucchini Pie.
Like other legumes, fava beans are a cholesterol and saturated fat-free source of lean protein, and also a good source of vitamins B1, B6, and K, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Unlike other legumes, you can buy them fresh instead of dried or canned when they’re in season, which will be until the end of June. If you can snag some before then, try making your own Fava Bean Hummus.
Usually used raw or pickled to add crunch and color to salads and sandwiches, the radish will be in season through September. I feel like radishes are generally underrated , but they are a great source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber, potassium, and folate. And I bet you won’t forget this nutritious pink pod after trying this Roasted Radish recipe.
I’ve only heard of this highly nutritious vegetable used in desserts like strawberry rhubarb pie, but we should probably be eating it more often. In season until September, rhubarb is chock full of vitamins K and C, along with fiber, manganese, calcium, and potassium. If you want an alternative to the classic rhubarb-centered sweets, try this tangy Rhubarb Salsa.
Also known as green onions, scallions can be used as a milder replacement for their harsher red, white, and yellow relatives to add flavor to salads, stir-fries, and soups. These little green stalks are a good source of vitamins K, A, C, and antioxidant-acting flavonoids. Usually in the background, scallions are the star of these paleo-friendly savory pancakes.
Even though Popeye was before my time, his spinach-guzzling habit has permeated public consciousness — everyone knows this dark leafy green is good for you. Low in calories and a great source of vitamin A, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and folate, spinach is ideal raw as a salad green or cooked and blended into egg dishes, casseroles, and savory pastries. For a little taste of Greece, try these Zucchini, Feta, and Spinach Fritters with Garlic Tzatziki Sauce.
Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit, but when they’re not in season, forget about it — they’re totally bleckkk. Local strawberries will be at their sweetest until the end of June, so snatch ‘em up quick! Like other berries, they’re a low-calorie treat, and are full of vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, folate, and fiber as well. I could eat pounds of strawberries straight from the stem, but this Strawberry Balsamic Chicken is a savory alternative.
Get ‘Em in July
There is nothing like the aroma of fresh basil in the summer, am I right? When you use basil to season (I crack myself up) your pestos, sauces, pizzas, and salads, you’re adding an extra pop of nutrients like Vitamins A, K, and C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium. Lucky for you, basil will be in season locally from July until September. For all you smoothie-fiends out there, combine two summer produce superstars in this unexpected Blueberry Basil Smoothie.
To me, nothing beats fresh blueberries when they’re in season. I could just gobble them up, or put them in pies, my cereal, pancakes, baked goods, salads … everything. Blueberries are low in calories and serve as a good source of fiber, vitamins C, B6, and K, as well as anthocyanins, the nutritious antioxidant compound that gives blueberries their gorgeous color. At their peak during July and August, try throwing them into this inventive Blueberry Breakfast Quesadilla.
At their best locally during the month of July, cherries are low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber, and, like blueberries, anthocyanins. Cherry juice is also lauded for reducing inflammation, preventing muscle damage, and promoting better sleep. While usually the star of baked goods, the tangy fruit plays a new role in this Roasted Cherry Barbecue Sauce — perfect for summer grilling!
Made up of about 95 percent water, cucumbers are among the most hydrating and low calorie produce around, in season from July through October. Because of their high water and fiber content, raw and pickled cucumbers are a filling and refreshing addition to crudités, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and sushi. Cucumbers are also a good source of vitamin K and provide small amounts of other nutrients. At your next gathering, try serving these adorable Cucumber Avocado Rolls.
For vegetarians especially, this fruit (technically it is!) is sturdy and satisfying enough to be the star of main dishes like eggplant parmigiana and stuffed eggplant. In season locally from July until October, eggplant is low in calories and high in fiber, potassium, vitamins C and B6, iron, magnesium, and the antioxidant anthocyanins that give the skin its purple color. Speaking of the skin, leave it on to make sure you reap the nutritious benefits! Later this summer, try making this skinny-fied version of Moussaka, a mediterranean eggplant and beef casserole.
Green beans, best around here from July through September, are low in calories, and high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Personally, I find plain steamed green beans to be the most boring and overdone side dish ever, but I’d give these Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans a try in a heartbeat.
Typically used in traditional southern cooking, you may not have known okra was even grown around here — I didn’t until I saw it at a Philly farmers’ market last summer. Turns out okra can be harvested from July until September. If you’ve never tried okra before, its high fiber, antioxidant, B vitamin, and folate content would be a great addition to your plate. Have a southern-themed dinner this summer with this okra-filled Vegan Jambalaya.
Peaches and Nectarines
Like strawberries, peaches and nectarines are only worth eating when they’re in season, which around here is July and August. Fuzzy or not, one of these stone fruits is a perfectly individually portioned treat full of fiber, vitamin C and a host of other vitamins and minerals. While they are usually eaten raw or in other pies or other baked goods, grilled peaches and nectarines are decadent as anything. You have to try this Grilled Peach, Honey Goat Cheese and Spiced Pecan Salad.
Tomatoes are a low-calorie superfood prepared pretty much every which way: in salads, sandwiches, roasted, grilled, made into sauces soups, and stews, or just eaten plain with a little salt and pepper. Tomatoes are a low calorie source of vitamins A and C, folate and a wide array of antioxidants, including choline and lycopene, the compound that famously gives tomatoes their red color and is more absorbable when the fruit is cooked. While canned tomatoes make a great sauce year round, the only time to get good quality fresh tomatoes is from July until September. While they’re around, you definitely have to whip up that fresh basil pesto and make this Open-Face Roasted Tomato Sandwich.
While it’s actually my favorite raw scooper for any dip, this summer squash is also delectable grilled, on pizza, and is now popular as a low-carb substitute for pasta. Best from July until September, zucchini is one of the lowest calorie vegetables out there, in addition to being high in fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Here’s a new one for you: how about a low carb pizza crust made of zucchini?
Get ‘Em in August
I don’t think I’ve ever had a fruit salad that did not include cantaloupe, but I’ve had many where the melon was definitely not in season. During August and September, the sweetest cantaloupe of the year is hydrating and incredibly high in vitamins A and C and other antioxidants. Doesn’t Cantaloupe Sorbet sound like the most refreshing treat ever for a hot August day?
Like its related stone fruits peaches, cherries, and nectarines, don’t bother with fresh plums unless it’s late summer, specifically August and September, when they’re the perfect sweet snack to bring in a cooler to the beach. Nicely individually portioned, a plum provides a solid amount of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K. Looking for a lean protein main dish? When the plums come to market, try this Balsamic Plum Glazed Pork Tenderloin.
Possibly the ultimate summer fruit, it wouldn’t be a barbecue without fresh slices of watermelon for dessert. Very high in water content, this melon is a hydrating source of vitamins A and C, and is higher in the red-colored antioxidant lycopene than tomatoes. Keep eating it plain from August through October, or try bringing this vegan, gluten-free Watermelon “Cake” to your labor day potluck.
Now that you know what fruits and vegetables to buy and when to buy them, become an expert at picking the best of the bunch: check out the guided tours on Thursdays at Clark Park Farmers’ Market throughout the summer.
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