Summertime, and the livin’s easy…(aaaand the veggies are the best.)
Ok, so maybe Sublime didn’t sing about the veggies. That’s my little remix. But seriously, summer vegetables are the best. Am I right or am I right?
There’s just something amazing about the warm weather, the long days, and abundance of fresh produce that makes me so happy. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m fortunate to have access to more summer farmers markets than I even know what to do with. And beyond that, there are markets that even run year-round. A total luxury.
Access to locally grown, fresh produce is relatively easy. And I definitely don’t take that for granted.
But when I lived in small-town southern Indiana, summer was also made amazing by the fact that the *one* farmers market in the area ran every Saturday during the summer months. I had friends who were vendors at the market, so I would get to visit with them, peruse all the handmade goods, and stock up on vegetables and fruit for the week. It was such a beautiful way to spend Saturday mornings.
To be honest, this is the place that I truly realized the importance of supporting local farmers and buying locally grown, seasonally-appropriate food. That’s such an impactful realization to come to, and I’d argue that’s why everyone should make an effort to look up their local farmers markets and support them when they can.
If you don’t know where your closest farmers market is, I can help you! Visit Local Harvest (linked here), and type in your location in the top search bar. This will pull all the farmers markets in your area.
Ok – back to the original topic – summer vegetables. There’s no time like the summer time to stock your fridge full of your favorite, fresh veggies. I’m going to list out some of my favorites in this article.
Your task – find your local farmers market, and go scope these veggies out there. I promise you won’t regret it.
Table of Contents
Cucumbers are quintessentially summer. I personally love cucumbers because they are so easy to eat. You can just slice and go if you’re low on time (which I usually am). Fresh cucumbers are my favorite because they give you that perfect amount of crunch. But I’m sure you’d like to know what health benefits come along with eating all those summer cucumbers.
Cukes (especially their seeds) are rich in phytonutrients – such as lignans and flavanoids – which have been shown to potentially help improve cholesterol. Besides that, phytonutrients are important for combating inflammation and oxidative stress in our body. This veggie is also rich in vitamin K and molybdenum.
If you want to up your cucumber intake, make this sunny cucumber salad from the blog. You’ll love it.
Bell peppers fall right in line with the “you can eat them fast” category. I’ve been known to eat one just like an apple (and I always get some crazy look when I do it in public). But they are also delicious cooked, roasted, sauteed, etc.
Bell peppers can come in a variety of colors – most notably, red, yellow, orange, and green. The red, yellow, and orange varieties are rich in carotenoids like alpha- and beta-carotene, lycopene, and capsanthin. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that are disease protective and beneficial for the strength of your immune system. Carotenoids like alpha- and beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body.
Be sure to grab some fresh peppers from your local store or market. They will keep in the fridge for 7-10 days. You can whip up this delicious Italian sausage and pepper recipe or the 3 pepper frittata for a yummy and filling breakfast.
Ah, tomatoes – before you say it, I know someone is going to call me out for tomatoes actually being a fruit. Yes, techincally you are right. But you see, I love tomatoes. These might just be my favorite of all the summer produe. I’ve been known to tell people that my absolute favorite food in the world is a cherry tomato picked right off the vine. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. So I can’t write this article without mentioning them. Can we all agree that’s ok?
Tomatoes are super abundant in the summer months. And they are so easy to grow on your own. You don’t even need a garden. This article from WikiHow lays it all out for you – because, admittedly, I’m not the expert gardener here.
Vitamin C is the tomato’s claim-to-vitamin fame. One cup of sliced, raw tomatoes yields 33% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can help fight against chronic disease, boosts immunity, and is great for cardiovascular health.
Deep red tomatoes are my favorite of choice, but you can find the fruit/veggie in myriad of colors. Tomatoes do fall in the Dirty Dozen for 2019, so please opt for organically grown ones when you can. (Again, grow them yourself or buy them at the farmers market!)
Once you’ve got your tomatoes, might I suggest making this Tuna Zoodles with Tomatoes recipe or Baked Tilapia with Roasted Tomatoes. Both perfect summertime dinners.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up eating a lot of eggplant. But that’s changed a bit in my adult years. A perfectly ripe eggplant can actually be a delicious treat if you cook it up in the right way. They are “in season” towards the end of summer – August will be your best bet.
Eggplants are considered to be a member of the nightshade family – the same as tomatoes and bell peppers, actually. They are rich in antioxidants (are you noticing a trend???) and have vitamins and minerals such as fiber, copper, and vitamin B1.
When storing eggplant in your home, wrap it in paper towel, throw it in a glass container, and store in the fridge. You should eat the veggie within 5-7 days.
Need a meal idea? Check out our Grilled Eggplant with Pork and Mint from the blog.
Last, but certainly not least, we’ve got summer squash. How could I write an article about summer vegetables and NOT talk about summer squash?
There are different varieties of summer squash including zucchini, crook-neck, straight neck, and scallop-type. The skins on summer squash are softer than the winter squash – their counterparts. You will find summer squash in yellow and greens.
Squashes are a great low-carb vegetable with the added benefit of vitamins and minerals. Think B vitamins, vitamin C and K.
Need a recipe or two? How about this Poppy Seed Summer Squash Salad or Squash Noodles with Pesto?
There you go – some of my favorite summer vegetables. What did I miss? What are your favorites? Drop us a line and let us know.
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