What's In Season? A Guide To Summer Fruits and Vegetables
Just as each season brings us new adventures, it also brings our taste buds new flavorful sensations! With summer right around the corner, that means it’s going to get hot and humid, which makes our bodies crave cooling foods. I got good news for you, as you should enjoy all the berries, melons and crispy veggies all summer long! Eating seasonally is an important part of overall health, both physically and mentally as we treat our taste buds to wholesome, nutrient dense foods. On average, fruits and veggies travel 1,600 miles to get from the farm to our table (1,2).
Now it’s obvious most of us can’t go directly to farms to hand pick produce; however, the next best thing is to grab some local produce at your farmers market, grocery store or order a CSA box that comes directly from farms! This way you are getting the most nutritious and seasonal goodies that are packed full of flavor. You’ll start seeing cherries, tomatoes, nectarines, peaches and apricots popping up throughout the month. In this blog, you’ll find a guide for seasonal fruits and veggies to make your grocery shopping and meal prep more delicious!
What is Eating Seasonally?
Seasonal food is produce that is consumed around the time it’s being harvested, which means the food is fresher and more flavorful than food consumed out of season. Seasonal fruits and veggies are often shipped right after harvest and don’t require long distances for transport or storage. However, out of season produce can be harvested early for shipment, storage and distribution needs. The longer produce sits on the shelves, the more nutrients and antioxidants are lost. According to research from UC Davis, spinach and green beans lose two thirds of their vitamin C within a week of harvest (1,2). Now think about transport times, sitting on the shelf and by the time it’s bought who knows how many nutrients are left!
**It is important to note that it’s not always possible to eat locally and seasonally for everyone. Just being aware of where foods come from is the first step to a healthier you and a fuller wallet. Depending on the area you live, your seasonal produce will vary!
Are you having trouble finding what’s in season this summer or even throughout the year? Check out this seasonal food guide for all your yearly needs! https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org
Seasonal Summer Fruit Guide
Apricots are soft, sweet and packed with fiber, potassium, copper, vitamins A and C. Add them as toppers to cereals, pancakes or salads. If you haven’t tried baked apricots with a drizzle of balsamic, you are missing out on a fantastic dessert! Apricots do get soft quickly so make sure to keep them at room temperature and away from the sun until they are ripe.
Berries (Blackberries, Blueberries & Raspberries)
Berries have tons of free-radical fighting antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer. They also contain heart-healthy fiber, along with vitamins A, C and K. Blueberries alone contain 14% of our daily fiber! These juicy berries can be eaten straight from the basket, tossed into a salad or baked into sweet treats. Don’t forget to rinse with water first!
Cantaloupes are 89% water, which is perfect for those long summer days to keep you hydrated. This orange fruit packs your entire daily dose of vitamins A and C, along with as much potassium as a medium sized banana. Throw sliced cantaloupe in a fruit salad, add to a smoothie or just eat it raw. When this fruit ripens make sure to store in the fridge immediately up to 4 days.
Cherries are tart, sweet and make the perfect raw snack. They are packed full of fiber, vitamins A and C. Cherries may help with muscle recovery and prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Best way to store cherries is unwashed in the fridge for up to 5 days.
These little guys are the perfect wine and cheese pairing. They are a good source of fiber, potassium and calcium, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure and keeps bones strong. Make sure to store figs in the fridge to make them last longer.
This pink fruit not only helps curb hunger and helps boost metabolism but also is loaded with vitamins C and A, along with fiber. Eat grapefruit on it’s own, add it to a salad or my favorite baked in the oven for 5 minutes with some cinnamon and drizzled raw honey!
Grapes contain a phytonutrient resveratrol, which is found in the skin of grapes, which has been linked in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. They are also packed with beta-carotene, vitamins A and K, which all help fight free radicals in the body. Grapes are great eaten raw or add them into a chicken salad.
Stone Fruit (Nectarines, Peach & Plums)
Now these fruits are my summertime staples full of flavor! They have plenty of nutrients including vitamins A and C, along with potassium and beta-carotene. Eat them raw, in a smoothie, as an ice cream topper or baked into desserts. They are also delicious grilled with a drizzle of balsamic. Don’t forget to store stone fruits at room temperature until they are ripe.
Strawberries are perfect for boosting immunity, anti-aging, memory, bone and cardiovascular health. They are packed full of vitamin C, manganese and fiber. There are so many ways you can incorporate this lovely heart berry into your daily diet; from a simple strawberry smoothie to chocolate covered strawberries.
With tons of varieties to choose from tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, potassium and lycopene. They may help improve skin, bone and cardiovascular health. Tomatoes are so versatile they can be eaten with every meal! My favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes are in omelets, salads, sandwiches, pastas or DIY salsa. Store your tomatoes at room temperature but out of direct sunlight!
Did you know watermelon is more than 90% water? However, it packs some major health benefits from soothing sore muscles to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease to protecting our skin from sun damage. Watermelon is an excellent source of nutrients, such as, potassium, lycopene, vitamins A and C. This is my favorite summer fruit I crave all year long! From incorporating watermelon into morning smoothies to afternoon salads or just for a refreshing snack, you can’t go wrong. Store the whole watermelon at room temperature and then refrigerate after cutting.
Don’t forget to wash your fruits and veggies no matter where you get them. Washing loose produce is important as it tends to have leftover soil. Do not wash produce with soap! Use clean cold water or apple cider vinegar. For produce with a thick skin or odd shapes, use a vegetable brush to help wash away those hard spots.
Summer Seasonal Veggies
This dark, leafy green is nutrient dense with vitamins A, C and K, along with folate and iron. Arugula can be a bit bitter but makes a wonderful base for salads, pizza toppers or tossed into pastas. Best to store immediately in the fridge for up to 1 week.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh basil! This tiny herb not only contains vitamins A, K and C but also manganese, calcium, iron and magnesium. It may also contain anti-inflammatory properties due to its oil, eugenol. Basil is a staple in Italian cuisine, so it’s great for pizzas, pastas, sauces and salads. My favorite is making mini caprese salads with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
These colorful and crunchy guys are loaded with vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate, lycopene (in red peppers) and potassium. With multiple colors available (red, yellow, green & orange), you’ll always be able to eat the rainbow! Enjoy them sliced with hummus, grilled, sautéed or in your morning eggs. Peppers can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge but make sure it’s firm all around before purchasing.
This colorful leafy green contains 3 carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin), which helps boost eye health! But chard also contains tons of vitamins C and E, which may improve immunity and decrease inflammation throughout the body. Chard is great sautéed paired with chicken, beef or even tofu! Keeps fresh for up to one week in the fridge.
This sweet and crunchy veggie is perfect for those summer grilling nights. Corn is a starchy veggie, which means it’s not low carb friendly so just watch those portion sizes, especially if you are diabetic! However, this veggie packs plenty of fiber and carotenoids, which helps protect our vision. Store corn with the husks on for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Now this veggie is a seriously low calorie favorite with a high water content. Cucumbers have been linked to many anti-cancer benefits, all thanks to its high phytonutrients and vitamin C content. Enjoy cucumbers in all types of salads, juices or as a refreshing snack with hummus. Make sure to store them in the veggie drawer for up to one week.
This is also another low calorie veggie option that is high in fiber but rich in phytonutrients that may help improve heart health and protect against cancer. Eggplant is great grilled, tossed into pastas or baked into lasagnas. Keeps well in the crisper drawer for up to one week.
These little guys are nutritional superstars packed full of 20 boosting nutrients, such as, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and fiber! Green beans can be found year round; however, during the summer they have a sweet flavor. Enjoy green beans raw in salads, stir-fries or steam them as a tasty side dish. Store green beans in the crisper drawer for up to one week.
Summer squash has soft, delicate skin that is perfectly edible and comes in 8 varieties. Some of my favorites include yellow or green zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan squash and eight ball zucchini. This veggie provides a nutritional powerhouse full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins B and C. There is no wrong way to eat squash from raw to cooked! Grill, steam, bake or sauté, the options are endless. I love sneaking more veggies into meat dishes, so dice up that squash, toss it into a pasta dish for some added color and crunch! Store squash for up to one week in the veggie drawer.
Produce Tip: How to choose Summer Squash? Select yellow squash or zucchini that is less than 8 inches long. As the plant grows larger the squash becomes bitter. Make sure the squash is firm, especially at the stem and has a bright tone to the skin.
Most seasonal produce can be either found at your grocery store or a local farmers market. Can’t find a local market near you. Check out United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for the farmers market directory to find one in your area. This site is a great resource for any food, nutrition, natural resources and food program questions https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
With summer right around the corner, we can’t wait to see your fruit and veggie creations. What are your favorite summer picks!? I could eat handfuls of cherries and yellow nectarines all day long!