The summer harvest has brought a rainbow to our shopping basket.
Whether you have been shopping at the local Farmer’s Market, fresh from the farmer or at the neighborhood supermarket, you have undoubtedly been enjoying the selection of farm fresh produce.
The variety has increased in the past month and will for a few more months if we are lucky.
What are you doing with these goodies? Can you use them all before they wilt?
Benefits of Eating More Plants
Eating more fruits and vegetables will be a bonus for your health (and your palate)!
Fresh produce in season is even more delicious and affordable too!
Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. They are also rich in compounds such as antioxidants and phytochemicals that makes our bodies rejoice!
Experts agree that a plant-based diet is one that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.
There are many health benefits according to researchers to incorporating more produce into your meals and snacks including:
- Better control of blood pressure
- Reduced body mass index (weight loss)
- Lower HbA1C or blood sugar control
- Lower cholesterol levels in the blood, lower heart disease
- Reduced incidence of cancer especially colon cancer
- Improved skin condition
- Better hydration
- Improved gut health and reduced inflammation as a result of a healthy microbiome
A plant based diet is also more cost-effective for most families especially when using in-season produce and moving protein like meat and poultry to ¼ of the plate.
The time is now to take advantage of the summer bounty and ease plant based eating into your lifestyle.
Tips to Add Produce to Your Plate
Are you finding new ways to add produce to your plate or do you struggle with preparation and recipe ideas?
Here are a few ways to add the rainbow of fruits and vegetables available now to our meals. Imagination, creativity and an open mind to new foods and ways to use them will help you enjoy more of summer’s bounty!
- Add watermelon chunks, strawberries, kiwi, or oranges to your summer salads. The pop of color against the greens and the burst of sweetness will tingle your taste buds.
- Make a chilled fruit soup to enjoy on a hot summer evening, such as this Melon Soup.
- For the fruit on the counter that is starting to go bad, purée a mixture and freeze it in little cups or popsicle molds for a fun summer treat when the kids come inside from the heat.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables that are starting to wilt and store in your freezer in airtight containers that you have labeled with the date. These little packs will come in handy when in-season produce starts dwindling and you need a quick meal or smoothie.
- Find new ways to use produce that the family hasn’t tried yet, like grilled okra, veggie spiral noodles, veggie panini, roasted vegetable mix, vegetable stir fry, chow chow, fruit infused water, pickle veggies of all kinds, rice bowls, smoothies, fruit in overnight oats, pizza toppings, broccoli salad, or corn salsa.
- Get into canning. Can some of your garden’s bounty to use throughout the year or give as gifts. Pickling, jamming, or making into chutney are great ways to extend the harvest. Safety is key when canning so here’s a good video to help you can food from the garden or farmer’s market safely.
- Make a soup for dinner and you will have leftovers for other meals too! Gumbo is a great meal and includes fresh tomatoes, okra, and peppers. You can also whip up a bean soup with fresh veggies that may be starting to wilt. A vegetable soup with whatever you have in the fridge such as carrots, squashes, kale, peppers, okra, green beans, tomatoes, leeks, asparagus, broccoli rabe and kohlrabi. When you make a vegetable soup, you are only limited by your imagination.
- Try out the variety of fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme, dill, and many others to season up even your usual weekly meals with an infusion of new flavor!
- Include avocado on things like toast or salads or sandwiches.
- Use a large Portobello mushroom in place of a burger for a veggie burger you will savor! Don’t forget to add slices of tomatoes, onions, peppers, kale, or avocado to keep the veggies coming.
I hope you enjoy all these new ideas to add a splash of the garden (no matter where you find it) to your plate.
You can find even more healthy recipes for our favorite foods in my cookbook Recipe Renovation for the Health of It.
Love to hear how you add produce to your meals so I can try it myself too!