Flavors of the Summer
Now’s a great time to take advantage of seasonal fresh produce and herbs. They are not only packed with nutrients, but taste wonderful.
Ahhhh … it’s summer! Time to bring the pace of life down a notch and settle into the ease of backyard picnics and lazy days at the pool. Trading our winter coats for flip-flops is a tradition those of us in the Midwest welcome with open arms. The trees are green, the birds are singing and our flower pots are full of color. Everything, it seems, inspires us to get outside and enjoy this amazing time of year that is so, well, FRESH!
Summer is a time to grow – and if you’re looking to add a little “fresh” to your wellness routine it’s the perfect season to explore and check out something new – from a new book to a new hiking trail. It’s also a great time to rediscover the foods that nourish our bodies best.
Many of us have heard reputable health organizations encouraging us to choose plant foods as the core of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibers and plant chemicals to keep us well. They work synergistically to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease and cancer and aid in weight loss efforts. Clearly, if we want to amp up our food choices for healthy aging, the best place to look is the plant kingdom.
The best part? Not only does produce provide essential health benefits, but it packs in great flavor.
From the Source
We’re fortunate to live in McHenry County where a variety of fresh produce is available directly from the source via local farmers markets.
You can visit a farmers market in the morning and with your purchases, create a fresh green salad for supper, a side dish of seasoned veggies – or even a main course. Sweet sun-kissed strawberries, tender spinach, peppery radishes, crisp corn on the cob and vine-ripened tomatoes are either currently in season or will be soon, offering peak flavors to tempt your taste buds.
Learning new ways to appreciate the fruits and vegetables of the season offers a wonderful opportunity to enhance a healthy lifestyle and to connect with the process of food. It’s about trying a new recipe or growing an herb.
So dig out your vegetable peeler and salad spinner and take advantage of the longer days by preparing and enjoying fresh food. Let the fruits and vegetables guide you as they come into season. Most can be steamed or roasted, tossed into a salad, added to a sandwich or simply eaten raw. The idea is to tune into what’s growing in your own community and to realize that you don’t have to go far to find satisfying and flavorful food that nourishes you in more ways than one.
Below are a few ideas for celebrating what our local farms have to offer:
- Plant a pot of herbs – perhaps pesto basil?
- Create your own fresh salsa with tomatoes, onions and jalapeños – or try a sweet mango salsa (recipe idea below!).
- Visit a local farmers market – when was the last time you enjoyed beets or brussels sprouts?
- Try a new vegetable or vegetable-based entrée – kohlrabi on a salad perhaps?
- Build a healthy salad for supper – toss in roasted vegetables.
- Go strawberry picking – you’ll have plenty for the week and useful frozen portions for later.
- Host a picnic – challenge your guests to bring unique vegetable dishes.
Recipe: Avocado-Corn Salsa
Makes 4 Servings
1 avocado, diced
1 Cup fresh sweet corn kernels (or thawed frozen)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
2-3 Tbsp Lime juice (or more to taste)
Salt to taste
Combine avocado, sweet corn, tomatoes, cilantro and red onion in a small bowl. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
Heidi Kramer is a nutrition specialist and inspirational speaker who has inspired thousands to lose weight, change bad eating habits and become champions of their own health for more than 20 years. Kramer is available at Cary Physical Therapy for individual counseling and group programs. Reach her at 847.516.9038.