Meeting the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables may seem a little easier with an abundance of produce in peak season. Choose a variety of items and cooking methods so you and your family can enjoy an array of vitamins, minerals and health benefits. Here are my top five summer produce picks (in no particular order) that make a healthy summer simple.
To prep asparagus you just have to remove the “woody” end. Hold asparagus spear by each end and bend it until it breaks. Discard the woody end (the end without the tender tip). Line the broken spear up with the remaining stalks and slice. Try sautéing asparagus with sesame oil, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds for new flavors. Or, toss it on your grill for a no-dish side dish.
When choosing a peach, squeeze it in the palm of your hand, don’t press it with your thumb. Peaches have a sensitive skin and bruise easily. Can’t find on that’s perfectly soft and sweet? Place unripe peaches in a paper bag then store them in the refrigerator once they’re ripened. Grilling peaches brings out their natural sweetness –cut them in half (leaving the skin on), brush with oil and grill over medium-high heat for two to three minutes, or until they’re charred and warm.
Mangoes are delicious in all forms, but a favorite way to use mangoes in the summer is mango salsa. Dice 3 mangoes (skin removed), 1 bell pepper, 1 red onion, 1 jalapeno and 2 garlic cloves, and ¼ cup cilantro. Toss it with a pinch of salt and lime juice and voila! An easy side dish, snack, or taco topper.
Cucumbers are best known for their low-calorie content – less than 10 calories per half cup. They also have a high water content, so they’re perfect for summer. After washing, toss sliced cucumbers with rice vinegar and dill for a low-calorie snack.
Watermelon is more than just a barbecue staple. It also helps restore fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, which is likely to happen if you’re outside in the summer. If juice accumulates at the bottom of the bowl once you’ve cut your watermelon, drain it off once a day. This keeps it from getting soggy so you can enjoy it longer.