Tips and Tricks for Using Your Summer Produce
By Dave Whitney, Produce Buyer, Co-op Owner
Summer is upon us! July and August really show off the abundance of produce items Michigan has to offer. The best way to get fresh, affordable, and nutritious food is to buy produce while it is in season. Summer in Michigan may be a relatively short season, but it’s filled with delicious nutrition! Choose from sweet, juicy fruits and crisp, refreshing vegetables, either way your produce options are vast during this sunny and productive season. Visit the Co-op, pick up your CSA, or drop by the Farmer’s Market and grab the freshest version of these yummy must-haves!
Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, oh my! These sweet bites are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C!
Here are some ways to enjoy them:
- Eat them plain
- Add to smoothies for a refreshing snack
- Sprinkle over yogurt or oatmeal
- Add to water for flavorful hydration
- As a salad topping
Nothing feels more like summer than sinking your teeth into a huge slice of melon, while the sweet juices run shamelessly down your chin. Dig into all melon varieties during the hottest days of the year; including watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. Here are a few ways to enjoy them:
- Bite-sized slices that are fork ready!
- Add to a fruit salad
- Nutrient-packed ice pops with this recipe…
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cups fresh watermelon
- 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup coconut water
- Blend melon and coconut water until smooth. 2. Pour into ice pop molds. (can be found with kitchen accessories in most stores) 3. Drop in kiwi chunks. 4. Freeze.
The peachy-perfect, super-sweet and juicy summertime favorite. Lucky for you, this delicious fruit is more than just a tasty treat. Peaches are full of antioxidants, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and potassium. Enjoy them while you can!
Here are a few suggestions:
- eat them raw!
- grill them
- bake them
- slice and fold into cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a protein packed snack
- toss in a smoothie
- single-serve peach cobbler using this recipe…
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 whole peaches
- 1 Tbsp almond flour
- 2 Tbsp rolled oats
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
- pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 375F 2. Slice your peaches in half and remove the pit – you can do this by running your knife along the peach, circling the pit until you have sliced through the fruit. Then twist the two halves until you can separate them. Remove the pit. 3. Dig a small cavity into the peach. 4. Mix together the almond flour, rolled oats, honey, walnuts, and salt. 5. Spoon the mixture into the four halves. 6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the peaches reach desired tenderness.
Cherries are like gold in the summertime. With such a short growing season, snatch them up while you can! Cherries are a great source of potassium for better heart health, antioxidants to combat free radicals, and phytochemicals to reduce inflammation. Enjoy them this way:
- straight off the stem!
- pitted and blended in a smoothie
- dehydrated for a perfect grab-n-go snack
- pitted and sprinkled on greens for a perfect summer salad
- pitted and mixed with cottage cheese for a protein-packed snack
Figs are often overlooked but, man, they sure are tasty! Fruit is nature’s candy, and figs live up to that reputation. They are so sweet and perfect for curbing your sugar cravings. Give figs a try with these suggestions:
- all by themselves!
- with cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt for a protein-packed snack
- paired with a soft cheese like brie or goat cheese
- baked in homemade granola bars
- sliced to top off your salad
- grilled and enjoyed as dessert
Or try this recipe for a sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres that will impress all of your friends!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 large sweet potato
- 4 oz fresh goat cheese
- 3 figs
- Preheat oven to 375F. 2. Cut sweet potato into thin disks. 3. Lightly spray with olive oil. 4. Bake for about 15 minutes. 5. Top off your sweet potatoes by spreading on the goat cheese and adding freshly sliced figs.
Fresh herbs are a great way to add serious flavor to a dish without adding tons of sodium or calories from oils. Try adding fresh herbs using these pairings:
- Add fresh basil to poultry, in fresh pestos, or homemade pasta dishes
- Add mint leaves to water or fresh fruit
- Add cilantro to homemade salsa, rice, poultry, or fish
- Add rosemary to roasts, grilled potatoes, or to poultry
Because this veggie has a mild flavor, it is super versatile and can be used in many applications. Zucchini is a great source of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin C, so you can feel good about eating it too!
Here are a few ways to enjoy this fresh veggie:
- Diced and grilled with olive oil and seasoning
- On a skewer with lean protein and peppers
- Spiralized as a noodle replacement
- Stuffed with marinara sauce, ground turkey, and Parmesan cheese
If you’ve been scarred by gray, mushy canned green beans like I have, do yourself a favor and bite into a fresh, crisp green bean the next time you get a chance. They provide vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, and potassium. These are essential vitamins and minerals that help our bodies function optimally. Here are a few ways to enjoy green beans:
- Snap off the ends and dip them in hummus
- Lightly sauté in olive oil or coconut oil
- Steam for a couple of minutes
- Chop them up and toss in a salad
Corn on the cob is a classic side dish to your backyard barbecue, but you can also enjoy it with this fresh and healthy homemade salsa recipe:
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 can black beans
- 2 cup fresh sweet corn
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup red onion
- 1 jalapeno (optional)
- juice of 1 lime
- salt & pepper to taste
- Drain and rinse black beans. 2. Chop tomatoes, avocados, red onion, and jalapeno. (chop the jalapeno very finely) 3. Combine beans and corn. 4. Squeeze lime juice over the salsa, add salt and pepper and mix. Enjoy on top of eggs, lean proteins, or with tortilla chips.
Crisp cucumbers are a great, refreshing summer snack! Cucumbers help keep you hydrated, contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and provide our bodies with many vitamins and minerals we need to function optimally.
Here are a few ways to enjoy this seasonal vegetable:
- eat them plain!
- dip in hummus
- slice and throw in water for a refreshing, flavor-infused drink
- slice and toss in a salad
- pickle to enjoy all year long!
The tomato… is it a fruit, or is it a vegetable? (Technically it’s a berry!) Either way, this summer food is loaded with nutrition. Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, C, and folic acid. Some people can eat tomatoes whole just like an apple. If you’re not one of those people, don’t worry, there are loads of other ways to enjoy them:
- Mixed in a salad
- On a sandwich made with whole grain bread
- In a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil
- Canned for year-round enjoyment
- homemade salsa
- homemade marinara sauce
Just seeing the bright array of colors is an indicator of the vast health benefits of peppers! Sweet peppers are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A, B6, C, K, and E. Here are a few ways to enjoy them while they’re around:
- Eat them raw
- Slice and dip in hummus
- Chop and top off your salads
- Grill them
- Add to a skewer with more veggies and lean protein
- homemade salsas
- Sautee in olive oil with onions, cumin, salt and pepper for the perfect fajita veggies
- Add to a stir fry
Summer offers a wide variety of sweet and juicy fruits and crisp, refreshing vegetables. The possibilities are endless. Explore, experiment, and enjoy! You will never get bored of your fruits and vegetables this season!