Make the Most of Fresh Summer Produce For A Balanced Diet

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Published August 31, 2015
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The Montclarion
Take advantage of vegetables and fruits in season for good summer eating. Photo credit: lodigs (flickr)
Take advantage of vegetables and fruits in season for good summer eating. Photo credit: lodigs (flickr)

Take advantage of vegetables and fruits in season for good summer eating.
Photo credit: Lodigs (flickr)

The summer is one of the easiest times of year to eat healthy thanks to the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Some veggies more than others like to grow in bulk, such as zucchini or tomatoes. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, know someone with a garden or go a little overboard at your town’s farmer’s market, you may encounter a time where you are at a loss for what to do with the nutritious foods you get. To try to avoid wasting any produce, here are some unique ways to use fruits and vegetables that may not be the obvious choice, but can result in some yummy treats or dishes.

Zucchini “pasta”. Head to Target or Shoprite and you will find a small “spiralizer.” This relatively inexpensive tool is shaped like a large pencil sharpener and can be used to turn any squash into thin strands comparable to pasta. From there, the possibilities are endless. This pasta can be left raw and crunchy and topped with other veggies and dressing for a play on salad. It can also be steamed or sautéed lightly to get a softer feel and topped with any sauce you would use on regular pasta to serve as a side or a main dish.

Zucchini desserts. This may not sound appealing at first, but try it out before dismissing the idea completely. There are several recipes out there for baked goods using zucchini. Just peel and grate the zucchini, either by hand or in a food processor, to get a healthy ingredient that can be used in breads or muffins. If you are making zucchini bread, find a basic recipe and try adding dark chocolate cocoa powder and some dark chocolate chips. This can also be a good way to sneak in veggies to someone who does not like them on their own. If you prefer to make muffins, try grating carrots as well and adding raisins. Just be sure to use the correct amount of produce called for in the recipe; too much can result in too much moisture and the inside staying raw while the outside cooks.

Veggie burgers. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, homemade veggie burgers taste fantastic, and can help get a big variety of veggies into your meal. Start by mashing one can of beans–any kind will work, but kidney beans taste especially good in this type of dish. Add in any finely chopped vegetables you have. This is a great way to use all kinds of produce that may come up in your garden or the market, including jalapeno peppers for spice and even leafy greens. Use eggs or an egg replacement to help bind everything together. Cooked quinoa helps with that as well or some cooked lean meat such as ground turkey if you do not wish to keep this vegetarian. Once everything is mixed, form into patties and sauté in olive oil for a few minutes each side to get a crispy texture.

Flavored water. If you have some extra fruits or veggies you do not have time or energy to cook, just slice them up and stick them in water. This can be done with almost anything, but some popular choices are cucumber and lemon slices or strawberries and mint leaves. Simply put your choices in water and let sit for a while to let the water get a slightly flavored taste. Keep it in the fridge or try freezing the berries first to give you a cool, refreshing drink.

With these summer snacks, you’ll achieve that light, fresh, summer flavor you want in the hot weather while still eating healthy and making most of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator.

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