Your Guide to Summer Food
Summer is a great time to experiment with fresh, healthy foods. Here is a run down of some of our favorite seasonal summer food.
This delightful little fruit (yes, it is a fruit) is brimming with fiber and an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and folate. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats - the good kind of fats, which are credited with lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). Avocados should not be cooked but are a great addition to salads and are the classic base to guacamole.
Cucumbers are a delightfully refreshing source of nutrients like Vitamin A, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. They also contain a lot of water so a very good way to stay hydrated in the summer. Cucumbers are best consumed raw in salad, sandwiches, soups and dips; they also pair very well with dill, mint, red onion, salt and vinegar.
Summer squashes come in many forms: zucchini, yellow squash and pattypan. They are excellent sources of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin B6. The small squashes should have thin, glossy skin and less than 8 inches long for yellow squash and zucchini, and less than 3 inches in diameter for pattypan. They are best baked, grilled or wilted then drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C and grow like weeds in many climates during the summer months. Look for tomatoes that are plump and heavy for their size. Avoid refrigerating if possible because it stops the ripening process. There are several varieties of tomato but most are best eaten raw. Roma tomatoes are ideal for making sauces and all tomatoes pair well with basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cherries are a wonderful source of vitamin C and fiber. The stems should be green and flexible and the fruit itself should have no soft spots, bruises or splits. Red cherries are ripe when the flesh is deep red. White and yellow cherries are ripe when the flesh is flushed with pink.
Honeydew melons and cantaloupes are both excellent sources of vitamin C. Cantaloupe has an added kick of vitamin A. Melons should smell sweet and yield slightly to pressure at the stem end. Avoid melons with a pronounced yellow color or moldy aroma -- this usually means it is overripe. Melons store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Refrigerate after cutting and remove seeds and stems.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber. They are ripe and ready for eating when they are red in color and have an intact green, leafy hull. Avoid berries with brown spots or overly large berries with hollow centers. Store strawberries at room temperature or refrigerate in a single layer. Use within a day or two and always wash before eating.
Peaches are a good source of vitamin C and a very versatile fruit. A ripe peach will yield to slight pressure, but not totally collapse and last a few days at room temperature and even longer in the refrigerator. Peaches bruise easily and the juice will stain clothing so handle them with care.