It’s summertime… and the eating is, as they say, easy. Today we’re going to talk about all the amazing things you can do with the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer. This is the easiest time of year to eat healthily, because nature’s bounty is in full bloom.
Keep your cooking simple this summer and capitalize on the fresh produce at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Not only is seasonal produce less expensive, but it’s usually tastier because it has traveled less to get to your plate, and it’s healthier because it contains more nutrients; they haven’t had time to degrade on a long flight or truck ride.
Finding out what is ripe right now can be tricky, however. Fortunately, this chart can help. Greens, cherries, rhubarb, and peas should be at their peak right now. Neither the greens nor the peas need much preparation other than a quick rinse and maybe a splash of dressing. If you want to make your own, Serious Eats has a run-down of dressings that covers everything from the glorious-sounding “Green Goddess” to a simple vinaigrette.
Sweet cherries, like Bing and Ranier, are one of our favourite aspects of summer. We’ve always got a bowl of cherries in the fridge for quick and easy snacking. If you feel like getting fancy with some sour cherries, though, you can’t go wrong with a cherry-rhubarb pie. We know, it’s pie… but it can still fit into a healthy eating plan, as long as you eat it in moderation and enjoy plenty of other seasonal fruits and veggies too!
You can also add cherries to more savory applications. Whizz up a Cherry Chutney and spoon over your favorite grilled protein like pork tenderloin, chicken thighs or firm tofu. Because chutneys are so flavourful, a little goes a long way, and they’re a great way to liven up lean protein in a healthy diet.
Speaking of the grill, cooking outside keeps your house cool and your prep quick. Pick a protein, a veggie or two, and toss each onto the rack. All you’ll need is a little salt and pepper. If you want to take your BBQ one step further, though, packets require just a smidge more time and cut down on clean up. Try the low fat Beef Negimaki with Broccolini and Rice or the fiber- and vitamin C-rich Polenta Stacks with Navy
Bean Salad. Slice up a perfectly ripe melon for dessert.
More produce will roll in as the summer progresses, which presents more options for an already crowded plate. While fresh tomatoes cry out for a BLT, you can also present them sliced with alternating rounds of fresh mozzarella cheese and whole basil leaves. On a hot day, nothing cools you off faster than a melon and apple granita or a tropical cucumber salad. Now is the time to keep it simple because fresh, ripe eats require little preparation in order to satisfy. Toss whatever tickles your fancy into a bowl, cook it if you must, and grab a fork!