By Mercy's Constance Manion, RD
Summer is the best time to make use of plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables in season. There is no other time of the year that offers as large of a variety of these foods. Fresh fruits and veggies can add variety to menu planning and healthy sources of fiber and nutrients. There is no substitute for the use of colorful whole foods. The brighter the food and more variety, the better.
Vegetables that you will see frequently during the summer months include various peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, okra and squash. Summer fruits to utilize are melons, peaches, apricots, strawberries and rhubarb.
A great place to find fresh produce locally is the Ada Farmers’ Market. The market is located on the northeast corner of 12th and Townsend Street. It opens at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to October.
To get you thinking about using fresh fruits and vegetables this summer, recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner are included, with information about each meal.
As you have heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good option for breakfast is always a high-fiber cereal with your favorite fresh fruits or a fruit smoothie. The berry banana fruit smoothie recipe provided is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. It is also a great choice because it is low in fat and sodium.
A fast and easy way to utilize green peppers and onions for lunch is by preparing pork and pineapple kabobs. The pepper and pineapple team up to provide an excellent source of vitamin C and are readily available.
For dinner, I recommend grilled skirt steak with fruit salsa. These tender steaks are an economical source of protein and iron, and low in fat. The colorful fruit topping provides flavor and eye appeal. This recipe provides good sources of vitamins A and C and utilizes summer food favorites. When selecting your fruit, purchase ripe peaches which are intensely fragrant and give slightly to gentle pressure.
I hope you will experiment cooking with fruits and vegetables to enjoy what summer has to offer. Making healthy choices beyond fast food, processed foods, and frozen dinners can provide pleasure and vitality to your daily menu planning and encourage you to prepare your own meals.
Recipes for the meals mentioned in this article can be accessed here: Ada Recipe Cards.