Summer Produce: How to make the most of it

Written by: Chandler Compton, UAB Dietetic Intern

Summer is upon us and it is bringing sunshine, pool days, traffic, and many gatherings with both great food and great people!

We all know that in the summer, produce is flourishing. Not only do fruits and vegetables look brighter in the summer, they are tastier and at their peak nutrition! These fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, just to name a few.  I cannot begin to stress the importance of including fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been associated with the following:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • cancer prevention
  • lower risk of digestive issues
  • positive effects on blood sugar
  • promoting weight loss

But if you are like me, you may have a hard time remembering what is in season. If you do remember, you may find yourself asking how to incorporate these foods. Especially the ones that you did not grow up eating or see being cooked at home. Not to fret, I am going to give you some helpful tips to include this fresh summer produce.

In Season Produce this Summer

Apples                        Cantaloupe               Green Beans            Peaches

Apricots                      Carrots                       Herbs                         Plums

Avocados                  Celery                        Honeydew Melon     Raspberries

Bananas                    Cherries                     Lemons                      Strawberries

Beets                          Corn                           Lima Beans               Summer Squash

Bell peppers              Cucumber                  Limes                         Tomatoes

Blackberries              Eggplant                    Mangos                      Watermelon

Blueberries                Garlic                          Okra                           Zucchini

So, What Now?

Let me give you a few tips.

Focus on Fruit

Get out of your comfort zone and try a new fruit! Now is the time.

Fruit can stand alone as a side item at a meal or you may consider adding the following:

  • Blueberries to your yogurt or cereal
  • Grapes to your chicken salad
  • Strawberries to your salads.
  • This watermelon and feta salad to your next cookout
  • Pineapple or mango to salsa
  • Grapes, cherries, bananas, and berries to your freezer for a refreshing treat in this summer heat.

Grill your veggies

It is summertime so of course we are grilling out! But when was the last time you grilled some corn on the cob or some veggie kabobs. While grilling your burger, steam some fresh carrots, green beans, onions, and zucchini wrapped in foil on the grill.

If the grill is not on you can always experiment with air frying, roasting, baking, and stir-frying these fresh vegetables.

Don’t forget about fresh herbs

Herbs tend to be underrated and certainly should not be.  Herbs are responsible for taking your dishes to the next level and believe me, a little goes a long way.  If you feel intimidated about using herbs in your cooking, here are some suggestions:

  • Sprinkle freshly chopped dill on top of your avocado toast or make this amazing Tzatziki sauce.
  • Add fresh basil to a finished pasta dish
  • Fresh chopped parsley is nice addition to any salad
  • Infuse fresh mint with water for a refreshing drink!

Cheers to the warmer days & brighter, juicer produce ahead! And don’t forget to check out your local farmer’s market.