Summer produce stands are packed with vibrant colors and flavors –– not to mention nutrients.
While summer produce is often delicious by itself, pairing it with another ingredient or two can ramp up flavor and pack an even bigger bang for your nutritional buck. Check out these five ways to serve up summer’s best.
Heirloom tomato slices drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil
Summer tomatoes are a good source of potassium and Vitamin C, as well as the phytochemical lycopene, which gives them their vibrant red-orange colors. Research suggests lycopene may lower risk for a variety of health conditions. Drizzling tomatoes with oil may enhance the antioxidant effects of the lycopene.
Summer corn is sweet and juicy, and plentiful this time of year. While usually referred to as a starchy vegetable, corn kernels are actually a whole grain making them a great option to serve in place of side dishes made with refined carbs. One large ear is approximately 123 calories and boasts around 4.5g protein and 3g fiber.
Strawberries tossed with balsamic vinegar
A cup of ripe, sliced strawberries clocks in at just 53 calories and provides 3g fiber, and a full day’s worth of vitamin C. To enhance flavor and sweetness, try drizzling some with high-quality balsamic vinegar, and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Greens with blueberries and a lemon vinaigrette
Hot weather calls for cool (and quick) dishes. Fresh greens, like baby spinach or arugula, tossed with blueberries and a lemon vinaigrette make for a perfect summer salad. Research suggests adding an oil-based dressing increases the body’s ability to absorb and use those bioactive carotenoid compounds found in darker, leafy greens. For a quick semi-homemade lemon vinaigrette, add lemon juice (1 Tbsp per ¼ cup dressing) to any extra virgin olive oil-based dressing.
Watermelon salad with feta and mint
Juicy summer melon is good any way you slice it. This quick, refreshing salad brings a cool sophistication to any summer gathering. Toss 6 cups cubed watermelon, ½ cup chopped fresh mint, 1/3 cup crumbled feta, 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp lime juice, and a dash each of salt and pepper. The watermelon is packed with vitamin A and associated carotenoids; tossing with oil may enhance the absorption of those nutrients.
CAROLYN WILLIAMS, PHD, RD