Summer is here! We all welcome warmth and sunshine. There are a lot of kickouts in the summer, but that doesn’t mean we need to put a burden on unhealthy foods. Ohio has a lot of summer fruits and vegetables.
According to the Ohio Farm Bureau, the following fruits and vegetables will be in season and will be the best tasters during this time: apples, asparagus, lima beans, snap beans, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, red peppers, Collards, sweet corn, cucumbers, currants, dill, eggplant, endive and escarole, gooseberries, grapes, kale, leaf latetuce, leeks, sars greens, okra, pion, green onions, parsley, peaches, sweet peppers, potatoes, radishes, black Raspberries, red raspberry spinach, summer squash, winter squash, strawberries, tomatoes, and turnip greens.
Fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy, balanced diet. They contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for all systems of the body. For example, did you know that cucumbers contain vitamins K, B, and C. They also contain minerals such as copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Cucumbers also contain about 95% water, which is calculated as daily water intake. That’s a great summer snack! Try this delicious cucumber salad recipe at home:
4 large cucumbers, peels
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups low fat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped.
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– Cut the cucumber in half and the seeds. Cut each boat of cucumbers in half lengthwise and then cut each quarter in half. Cut the crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
– Mix yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and parsley (or mint) in a medium bowl. Stir quickly in the oil.
– Take out the cucumbers, return them to the bowl, pour the yogurt mixture on top and toss well.
Home grown tomatoes are also very popular here in summer. Fun fact: According to the USDA, tomatoes are a botanical fruit, but in 1893 the US Supreme Court declared tomatoes a vegetable! Tomatoes contain lycopene which gives them a bright red color. Lycopene can also help protect our cells from damage. You can easily make this capris salad for a healthy summer treat:
3 bell ripe tomatoes, 1/4 inch thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4 inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzle
Coarse salt and pepper
– Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella slices alternately, placing the basil leaves on a large, shallow platter between each.
– Drizzle salad with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sweet corn is also a favorite at this time of year. Corn comes in different colors. It contains fiber, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals. Just be careful not to fill your corn ears with too much butter! Try a dash of some lime juice, olive oil, or chili powder instead. You can try this recipe for Mexican street corn salad:
6 ears of fresh corn
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cottage cheese (or parmesan cheese)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (one lime juice)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
– Prepare by sucking the corn and then grill the ears on a gas or charcoal grill or over an open fire, until slightly burnt and tasty. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the corn from the cob using a sharp knife.
– Grill the jalapeno until the skin burns and some areas are black. To reduce the heat, cut off the seeds and ribs.
In a large bowl, combine corn, chopped jalapeno, red onion, red pepper, cottage cheese, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Toss gently. Serve with a few extra lime wedges and an extra sprinkle of cheese and red pepper.
Remember to look for fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. Although fruits and vegetables are generally considered healthy, they can potentially interact with certain medications or, if eaten in excess, can cause problems in certain medical conditions, so any new Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting a diet.
Janice Williamson, RN, is a health educator at Fayette County Public Health. June is the month of fresh fruits and vegetables. Visit eatright.org for more recipes.