Summer Produce: Fruits & Vegetables in Season (with Recipes)
Summer is officially here, and it’s now the perfect time to add more variety to your plate with some summer produce! Fruits and vegetables are available to us year-round, but did you know that each season has its own list of fruits and vegetables? Eating fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season is the best way to get the maximum flavor and nutrients.
By: Alyssa, RDN, LD
Eat the Rainbow
There are many reasons to consume fruits and vegetables – both in the summer and year-round. Fruits are not only flavorful and colorful; they are packed with nutrients vital to our health such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The phrase, “Eat the Rainbow” encourages eating a variety of fruits and vegetables because different colored fruits and vegetables contain different phytonutrients.
Research believes one of the main benefits form most phytonutrients is antioxidant activity, which helps rid the body of oxidizing agents that could cause harm and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Take advantage of the delicious summer produce to help you eat the rainbow.
Eat with the seasons
You might be wondering why it’s best to eat product in season?
- Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen during their natural growing season. Produce that’s not in season undergoes early picking, cooling, and heating which reduces the nutrients and flavor. Fruits and vegetables in season spend less time from farm to table, so they can maintain much of their nutrition and flavor.
- Eating seasonally is more cost-efficient. When farmers are harvesting a large abundance of produce due to the crop being in season, the cost of the produce will go down. When produce is locally sourced, then the traveling expenses and storage are not required, therefore reducing the production costs that are then passed onto the consumer.
- Helps to support local farms and economies. When you support local farmers and growers, that money stays in the community and subsequently helps stimulate local economies.
So let’s dive into summer produce to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season, how to buy them, and what to cook with them!
Your Guide to Summer Produce
- Whether it is strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries. They are all in season in summer. Berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They are the most vibrantly colored fruits you’ll find.
- Tip: Berries are a great addition to summer salads.
- Check out these great recipes: Spinach Berry Salad & Triple Berry Summer Salad
- The peak season to get the best cherries is early summer. They are a good source of vitamins C,A and K. When buying cherries, look for shiny skins with bright green stems.
- Tips: Add cherries to your favorite desserts, salads, and salsas.
- Check out this recipe: Double Crust Cherry Crisp
- Peak season to get the best peaches is from July to August. Peaches are rich in vitamin A. Look for a deep, golden yellow color when buying.
- Try this recipe: Arugula Peach Salad
- Nothing says summer like this red and juicy fruit. Watermelon is packed with cooling, hydrating juice, it’s the ultimate heat quencher. It’s not only a great source of water but vitamin A , vitamin C , Vitamins B6 and magnesium and potassium. The best time to get a juicy watermelon is from July to August. When choosing a watermelon, look for darker green melons, that are heavy for their size.
- Check out this refreshing salad: Watermelon Salad
- You can find imported mangoes all year round. However, the peak season is from May through September. Mangos are rich in Vitamin C and a good source of fiber.
- Tips. Learning how to cut a mango has never been so easy either. Follow this link for tips on cutting the best mangos!
- Prepare fresh mango many ways, including in a salad or sorbet: Mango Sorbet & Mango Salad
- This tasty melon is packed with nutrients. Cantaloupe is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. And for anyone with a sweet tooth who is trying to cut down on refined sugars, cantaloupe is a healthy way to satisfy those sweet cravings.
- Check out this recipe for a summer caprese salad: Cantaloupe & Mozzarella Caprese Salad
- Yes, a tomato is technically a fruit. From little grape and cherry tomatoes to the large variety of heirlooms, summer is the absolute best time of the year for tomatoes. Peak season is from May through October. When choosing tomatoes at the farmers market or grocery store, look for one that is deeply colored, smells sweet, and feels firm but not hard. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate.
- One of the most popular vegetables during summer times, cucumbers are not only nutrition and delicious but also versatile. Most often, they are consumed raw in the form of salads, as a snack choice, or as part of a beverage.
- Try this recipe: Cucumber Salad
- Summer squash includes zucchini and yellow squash. Its peak season is June through late August. They are high in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. They can be eaten raw as vegetables noodles, diced for omelets or simply grilled.
- Recipe: Sautéed Yellow Squash Zucchini
- Long, warm days and light summer meals make fresh corn a summer must. Generally, at its sweetest when it’s eaten as close to harvest as possible. Whether it’s boiled, steamed, or cooked on the grill, corn on the cob is a sweet summer favorite.
- Bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, poblano peppers, you name it- now’s the best time to start chopping them. Yellow and orange are the sweetest of the bunch (red peppers are just mature green peppers), and are best when grilled, baked or sautéed. These vibrant veggies are not just eye-appealing but provided the body with ample amounts of nutrients. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins C,K,E as well as folate and potassium.
- Some recipes to try: Turkey Stuffed Peppers & Chicken Taco Chili Stuff Peppers
- While available year-round, eggplant is at it’s peak from July to October. Eggplants are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in few calories. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamin A, C, K, B6. Look for ones that are smooth and naturally shiny, and feel heavy for their size.
- Tips: Sliced eggplant can make a great substitute for meat or pasta.
- Try these recipes: Sautéed Eggplant & Eggplant Parmesan
I hope this guide to summer produce helps you eat the best fruits and vegetables in season right now! If you’re struggling to find the right nutritional balance in your own diet, check out our Nutrition Guidance Program (available to current and future hormone therapy patients).