During the summer we always seem to eat the same fruits and veggies, such as watermelon, okra, strawberries, or even tomato heavy dishes. On a trip to the grocery store or the farmer’s market, different summer produce items may catch your eye. They can look interesting, out of the ordinary, or unfamiliar, but you are curious about them. What nutrients or benefits could you be getting from these mystery fruits or veggies? Well, we are here to tell you the 8 best fruits and vegetables you should be eating this summer.
It’s good to be different, to step out of your comfort zone. There are so many summer produce varieties that can expand your taste buds and expose you to new flavors. New flavors mean new summer recipes! So try these summer fruits and veggies for new flavors and more nutrition.
This bulbous cabbage turnip looking veggie, which is packed with vitamin C and potassium, is often overlooked. Belonging to the same family as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi can be eaten cooked or raw. It can be a great raw, crunchy addition to salads or veggie platters, or you can steam it, boil it to make a mash, or cut the bulb into strips and roast them to make fries. Add some homemade raw ketchup to the mix and you’ve got yourself a healthy snack.
Green zucchini, yellow crookneck, or round pattypan squash are rich in fiber and have properties that help regulate blood sugar levels. They have special components that help keep insulin, metabolism and blood sugar levels balanced. They have tons of B vitamins, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can bake, sauté, or eat them raw in salads. You can make zucchini noodles or zucchini cakes that have a crispy outside and a creamy center.
While these may not be the most exotic produce item, it has the highest concentration of antioxidants in the onion and leek family. Did we mention they have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties? Shallots have been known to help in the reduction of liver and colon cancers, as well as diabetes and heart disease. These are great in sauces, add bold flavor to stir-fries, and can stand in for an onion in any recipe.
Daikon, the long white radish from East Asia, has a similar flavor to regular radishes, but it is a little sweeter. It is packed with anthoxanthin, which is an antioxidant that has been known to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Daikon is a versatile ingredient that can be made into raw fries, or added to a Thai salad or a flavorful curry. When buying daikon, make sure the skin is smooth and not wrinkled.
Arugula salads are a fixture in many Italian restaurants. This mild, peppery green is a proven source of folate, vitamin C, and calcium. Lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil really help bring out arugula’s natural flavors. This green isn’t just for salads, you can blend it in smoothies or make it into a pesto with shallots. What a coincidence!
Hen of the Woods
Although the name might indicate a chicken that lives in the woods, this is actually a giant mushroom. With immune boosting minerals and B vitamins, Hen of the Woods or Maitake has been used in Chinese medicine for many years. Additionally, the extract from the mushroom helped boost the immune systems of breast cancer patients, who where undergoing chemotherapy. You may not see this in your average grocery store, but you may find it at a farmer’s market or Asian market.
What is a pluot? This stone fruit is a combination of a plum and an apricot. This hybrid fruit is juicy, scrumptious, and can come in a variety of colors. You can use pluots in place of plums or apricots, or you can just eat them out of hand. In addition to tasting great, these help improve digestion, can relieve constipation, helps to boost vision, and helps regulate metabolism.
Are you in need of some beta-carotene? Munch on this nutrient-dense green in salads, or you can sauté it or blend it in a smoothie. You can treat it the way you would arugula. This green is rich in vitamin K, which is essential for bone health.
Try these summer fruits and veggies this summer to expand your ingredient list and gain new recipes. Looking for seasonal produce is always a good idea to get new benefits from things that aren’t available year-round.