Summer is in full swing and despite the heat and dry weather, local farmers and merchants have loads of fresh, healthy produce and goods available now. Â Take advantage of the nutritional benefits that can be found in the seasonal produce often harvested right in your own community.Â These are some of the items you can expect to find available at the stands:
Beets– so delicious and easy to prepare.Â Â Just boil until tender, peel the skins off and enjoy. Â This heart healthy vegetable is rich in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Most growers will sell them with the greens still attached. Cut them off and use like you wouldÂ any other leafy green.
Tomatoes– a beautiful bounty of color awaits. They come in red, green, orange and yellow and in a variety of sizes and can be eaten raw, cooked and used in many dishes. Tomatoes are rich in many vitamins and minerals and high in fiber. Tomatoes have also been found to have mild anti-inflammatory properties.
Green beans– delicious right off the plant or steamed. Rich in fiber and vitamins A, C & K.
Corn– get it while you can. Much of the nation’s corn crops have been devastated by the lack of rain. You may still be able to find some at local markets in some parts of the country.Â Cook and eat right off the cob- a great summer treat!
Carrots– this root vegetable is full of vitamins including: A, B, C & K.Â They also contain iron, potassium and are a good source of fiber.
Eggplant– This beautiful, rich purple vegetable provides vitamins B & K and fiber.
Basil-a wonderful herb to use fresh in many recipes. It adds great flavor and vitamins. (See recipe below)
Cilantro– great in many Mexican recipes, soups and salsa. Use fresh for the most health benefits. Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Berries– Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries are all summer time fruits.Â Take advantage of the sweet flavors rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Peaches– rich in vitamins A & C, potassium and fiber. Delicious & juicy when eaten raw.
Cherries– Raw cherries are high in fiber and vitamin C. Watch out for the pits.
Watermelon– High in vitamins A & C and rich in potassium.Â Very refreshing on a hot summer day.
Choosing healthy options is easy when shopping local farm markets and stands.Â Fruits and vegetables harvested from the earth are naturally low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.Â When eaten fresh this produce is in its healthiest state and contains the most benefits for you. Be careful when preparing and cooking your produce, not to add sodium and oils that make it an unhealthy option.
The goal of theÂ USDAs ChooseMyPlate is to make half of your plate at meal times consist of fruits and vegetables. Shopping local farmer’s stands and markets is a great way to help make that happen.Â Get healthy and help your local farmer at the same time.Â Be certain to bring a bag along, after strolling the rows of beautiful, farm fresh produce in the sweet summer air, you will need one!
To find local markets in your area search: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/
& Basil salad
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheeseÂ (if all you can find is the tub, make sure to pat it real dry)
- 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
- Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella into large cubes.
- Add basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
- Stir lightly.
- Sprinkle with a little salt
- Chill for at least one hour. Store in the refrigerator.