With apologies to our hard working farmers and farmer’s market vendors, some of us still need a cheat sheet this time of year to remember what produce is in peak season right now here at home. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until the fall harvest to enjoy healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally. Before you plan your next meal, check out FitClub’s list of fresh produce and be sure to stock up!
- Asparagus—Not only does asparagus make your meal taste more like summer, but it also packs a huge nutrient punch and can add vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as several minerals including zinc and manganese to your diet. Asparagus has been associated with reducing carcinogens in your body, fighting fatigue, and promoting healthier use of insulin. While it can be enjoyed raw, baked, or grilled, experts advise that cooking asparagus may cause it to lose some of its nutrients. Adding raw asparagus to your summer salads adds huge health benefits with very few calories and no fat!
- Spinach—One serving of spinach includes only twenty-three calories and the only carbs in spinach are from its fiber content. The fiber content alone can make you feel better and improve your digestive function, but the vitamins and minerals in spinach make it a summer favorite. Like asparagus, spinach is full of important vitamins, but spinach also contains iron and calcium, important for bone health and oxygenation throughout the body. To complete a peak-season spinach salad, add radishes and broccoli, both of which are also nutrient powerhouses and in peak season right now! Not only is spinach delicious in a salad, but adding a handful to a fruit smoothie will add all of the nutrients, without any taste.
- Cilantro, garlic, parsley—If you’re looking for a way to add flavor without calories to your next home cooked meal, cilantro, garlic and parsley are ripe and taste great with many dishes. Fortunately, in central Illinois we can easily come by fresh, homegrown herbs without relying on the packaged varieties in the grocery store aisles.
- Cherries, rhubarb and strawberries—If you’re looking for a sweet treat, cherries, rhubarb and strawberries are also in season. Cherries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber but also contain healthy doses of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re sore after your next workout, try adding cherries to your diet to relieve tension and soreness. Add this fresh produce to your favorite seasonal meals or enjoy them alone as a sweet treat after a healthy dinner.
Adding fresh fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, but in the summer each of these nutrient-dense foods can provide an instant taste of summer while you also maintain peak health. Be sure to post your favorite recipes in the comment section and let us know how you’re enjoying the fruits of our local farmers’ efforts this summer season!