This post was written by Nicole Swingle for her nutrition education and counseling class. She is majoring in Dietetics at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She wants to educate people on how to incorporate seasonal fresh whole foods in meals.
It’s that time of year again—when the new seasonal veggies, herbs, and fresh berries start going on sale! The time of the year when the farmer’s markets start opening up again and the time for picnics in the sunshine!
Most Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables each day. The USDA recommends to have half of your plate at every meal to be filled with fruits and vegetables. There are many ways to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables every day.
The ways to use fruits and vegetables can help you broaden variety in your diet. I understand how it can get boring to have the same fruits and vegetables in the same form every time you eat them.
With that being said, I wanted to shed light on ways to cook some of the seasonal produce in the stores now for your upcoming family dinners and other get-togethers!
First seasonal produce I want to talk about is corn!
There are many ways to cook it besides boiling it in a pot as and serving with butter! You can:
- Boil or grill corn on the cob and make a corn, watermelon, lime, and cilantro salad
- Roast corn in the oven and put it in guacamole
- Wrap it in bacon and grill it
- Make a corn and black bean slaw
- Add it to an omelet with some mozzarella, tomato, and basil
Recipe for the corn and black bean slaw:
- 2 cans of black beans, rinsed
- 1 corn on the cob, boiled and cut off the cob
- 1 T of lime juice
- 2 T of olive oil
- 1 tsp of cumin
- ½ of a red onion, diced
- Fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the black beans, corn, onion, and cilantro in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the lime juice, cumin, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix the liquid and pour over the black bean and corn mixture. Refrigerate or serve immediately.
Another seasonal food this time of year are peas.
Instead of just steaming peas, you can:
- Make a pesto with peas
- Make a chilled pea soup
- Make curry with peas
- Put them in a pasta salad
- Sautéed with olive oil and garlic with herbs
Recipe for pea pesto:
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup of pine nuts
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- ½ bunch of parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon juice (optional)
Heat the peas up in a pan to boil, then drain. In a food processor, combine the cooked peas, garlic clove, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, lemon, salt and pepper. Blend until all the ingredients are chopped smoothly. Slowly pour in the olive oil while blending.
Pineapple is another piece of produce that is popping up in the grocery store right now!
Besides just cutting pineapple up to eat (which is delicious to do), there are other tasty ways to have pineapple:
- Cut up pineapple and put with chicken and peppers on skewers to grill
- Put it in smoothies for a delicious and refreshing drink to have in the beautiful weather
- Make your own popsicles by blending pineapple up with some orange juice and freeze yourself!
- Make a salsa with pineapple in it to have as a dip
- Roast pineapple with pork tenderloins for a delicious combo
Recipe for a pineapple smoothie:
- ½ cup chopped pineapple
- 1 small “cutie” mandarin
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 T chia seeds
- 1 cup ice
- ½ cup milk of choice or water
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!
Broccoli can be used in many ways besides just steaming or boiling it!
- Roast it in the oven with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic
- Have it in a pasta salad
- Eat it raw with tzatziki sauce
- Use it in a stir fry
- Broccoli and cheddar soup
There are many other foods that are in season this time of year like apricots, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, lettuce, zucchini (which is delicious as zucchini noodles to substitute pasta), rhubarb, cherries, and asparagus.
Seasonal produce is important to pay attention to because not only is it cheaper to buy, but it tastes better since it is in its peak harvest season and it is chock full of nutrients! Try to get at least three servings of fruits and vegetables in each day. Incorporating fruits and vegetables can be easy as well as delicious!