Get a taste of summer with these nutrient-rich fruit and veggies. All of them are being picked fresh as we speak and can be found now at your local farmers markets or farm stands.
Strawberries: the ultimate, sweet symbol of summertime – bursting with flavor yet completely guilt-free! Locally grown berries are at the farmers market throughout June and July.
- Did you know? Strawberries grown in the Pacific Northwest are different than those from California. Washington varieties tend to be smaller, a deeper red, and spoil a bit more quickly. However, they are just as sweet and juicy as their larger cousins from the sunshine state! They are also easy to grow in your home garden.
- Nutrition: bursting with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants to boost your immune health and keep you regular
- Meal ideas: add them to your morning cereal, oatmeal, or plain yogurt. They work great in salads too – try a spinach salad with toasted pecans or walnuts and sliced strawberries with a vinaigrette dressing.
Tomatoes: so many varieties, so little time! Be adventurous this summer and try Sun Gold cherry tomatoes or heirloom varieties such as Red Brandywine. Tomatoes are in season at your local market from now until October.
- Did you know? Top tips for growing tomatoes: grow them in a sunny spot in your garden (at least 8 hours of sun daily); use stakes or sturdy supports; prune them during growing season to avoid disease, provide airflow and produce larger fruit. Get them started in Spring to give them plenty of time to grow and ripen on the vine.
- Nutrition: contains an antioxidant called lycopene whose health-promoting effects increase when tomatoes are cooked
- Meal idea: homemade pasta sauce with ripe Roma tomatoes and basil
Summer Squash: possibly the most versatile and dependable vegetable on the planet; the farmers market will offer unique varieties – sporting stripes and fun shapes. Perhaps this will tempt the children to eat their vegetables? Summer squash grows well in Washington, peak season is June through October.
- Did you know? Britain holds the record for the largest zucchini grown – at 65 pounds! However, it was probably not the tastiest – small or medium-sized zucchini tend to have more flavor
- All shapes and sizes: popular varieties include: green zucchini (most familiar), yellow zucchini (golden version), yellow squash (straight or crookneck), pattypan squash (shaped like little flying saucers, in yellow, green or a combination) or eight-ball zucchini (round version)
- Nutrition: contains a wide variety of nutrients and is a good source of potassium, Vitamin C and many antioxidants; it’s also low in calories and low on the glycemic index
- Meal idea: try Zoodles (zucchini noodles) in place of spaghetti for an Italian meal lower in carbs and calories; you can make them with a spiralizer, a mandolin or even a vegetable peeler
Find a Washington state farmers market near you
Author: Lisa Henderson, MS, RDN, Health Coach