From juicy peaches and colorful berries, to tangy arugula and sweet corn, summer is a great time to add freshness to your diet with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
To maximum nutrients and flavor, shop locally by heading to your farmer’s market or local food cooperatives, such as the Community Agriculture Alliance in Steamboat Springs.
“Local foods come so quickly from the farm to the table, and they are filled with more phytonutrients and enzymes, which make them good for your health and easier to digest,” said Laura Stout, a registered dietitian nutritionist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
In June in Steamboat Springs, local gardeners may just be putting seeds into the ground. But around Colorado, many vegetables are ready to go, including arugula, lettuce, spinach, pea greens, asparagus, green onions, fennel, radishes, new potatoes, mint, basil, cilantro and rhubarb. For fruits, expect to see blueberries, strawberries and cherries.
And don’t forget the microgreens.
Build a “Bowl Meal”
The versatile “bowl meal” can be made with any veggies and grains you have on hand, and makes for a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Add a heaping portion of massaged kale or fresh spinach to your bowl.
- Layer in roasted new potatoes and fresh corn (or whatever was for last night’s dinner).
- Toss in chopped green onions, grilled fennel and avocado.
- Top with a fried or poached egg.
- Garnish with a pile of red radish microgreens (any microgreens will do).
- Sprinkle with a good quality olive oil and a touch of vinegar.
Seasonal Fruit Salads
For a bright and colorful side dish, look no further than a simple fruit salad.
- August melon fruit salad: Mix cubes of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Add blueberries or blackberries for extra color.
- Peach berry fruit salad: Slice fresh peaches and add your favorite berries. This fruit salad also makes a great filling for a pie or cobbler.
“I love microgreens,” Stout said. “They’re great for garnishing any plate – you can put them on your eggs or add them to your salads.”
By July, look for Colorado kale, beets, broccoli, celery, chard, corn, cucumbers, potatoes and cherry tomatoes.
And in August, get ready for the fruits. “August is a big fruit month,” Stout said. “The vegetables come in first, but by August, you really start to get fruits.”
Seasonal fruits include apples, apricots, blackberries, cantaloupe, melons, peaches, nectarines and raspberries. Also keep an eye out for tomatoes, zucchini, Vidalia onions and squash blossoms.
“Squash blossoms are becoming more popular,” Stout said. “There’s a lot you can do with them, from stuffing and quickly frying them, to baking them alongside chicken.”
And if you find yourself with an extra helping of zucchini, use a vegetable peeler or spiralizer to turn the zucchini into long, pasta-like strips. Steam the veggie noodles, then use them in place of pasta or add them to a salad for a powerful vegetable punch.
Once the weather cools in September and October, expect pears, pumpkins, winter squash, watermelons, rutabaga and turnips.
But when the summer heat is still here in full force, give outdoor cooking a try.
“Don’t be afraid of doing your whole meal on the grill,” Stout said. “From pizza to veggies, you can put anything on a grill.”
Use a cast-iron pan for items that are diced into smaller pieces. And don’t shy away from grilling fruit.
“Grill cantaloupe and melon with a nice balsamic vinegar glaze, or cut peaches and nectarines into rounds or quarters and grill them,” Stout said. “Grilled fruit on top of ice cream is lovely.”
When adding produce to your diet, remember that variety is good.
“All of these fruits and vegetables have different phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals,” Stout said. “They all bring us something different in terms of good nutrition.”
This article first appeared in the Steamboat Pilot & Today on June 24, 2019.