Summer is here in all its glory. Aside from beach trips, vacation destinations, and outdoor grill days, summer marks the best time of the year to enjoy seasonal produce. After all, summer is when nature offers its prodigious bounty of fruits and vegetables in every size, shape, color, texture and flavor. It’s time to pack each and every meal with seasonal produce while it is at its very best! So, in honor of summer produce, I asked some of my favorite dietitian experts for their top tips on how to make the most of the season. Read on for their very best tips.

My Tuscan Aspargus Farro Salad is a hearty dish that is full of vitamins and minerals.

1. Let veggies inspire you. “Most of us plan meals by choosing the animal protein that will headline the meal. Instead, challenge yourself to plan a meal around a vegetable that inspires you. A picture on social media, trip to the farmer’s market, peak in your CSA box or a few moments in the produce aisle at your grocery store are all great places to start. You can even survey your family to find out their favorite vegetable, or choose a vegetable that’s new and interesting to you,” says Katie Cavuto, RDN.

2. Waste not, want not. “Don’t “waste” the less sweet part of melons close to the rind because your family won’t eat them/turn up their noses. Cut the parts close to the rind (less sweet) and use in juices or smoothies. They can even be frozen and used later. Freeze/save “might get overripe before we get around to eating it” fruits and veggies as well. Freeze on cookie sheet, then put in freezer bag or container. Shake out as addition to juice, smoothies, muffin, pancake, cereal or even soup,” says Jan Patenaude, RD, CLT.

Use up those extra zucchinis with my Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

3. Take advantage of summer. “Summer is the best time for beautiful produce! I love adding seasonal fruits to salads, breakfast foods and desserts, and even salsa (Mango and watermelon anyone?) Any leftover vegetables I’m not grilling or mixing in whole grain dishes I toss into omelets and even gazpacho!” says Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, RDN, blogger at One Hungry Bunny.

My Freezer Heirloom Tomato Eggplant Pasta Sauce is perfect to store for later.

4. Save some for later. “Preserve it so you can have fresh produce all year round! It’s really easy to freeze or can summer fruits, and many people don’t know that a lot of their veggies (even greens!) can be frozen – you simply need to blanch them first so they keep their quality in the freezer. Try looking for sales on seasonal produce at the grocery store, buying in bulk from a farm, or doing ‘you-pick’ to get the best prices and have enough to freeze or preserve,” says Kate Lee, MPH, RDN, blogger at Home Cooked Happy.

5. Don’t be scared of fermentation. “I love capturing summer’s bounty through picking and fermentation! I love doing quick pickles of onions, radishes, okra, kohlrabi and even fruit like watermelon rinds! I keep the jars in my fridge and add pickled veggies to salads,” says Christianna Gozzi, M.A, culinary instructor, nutrition graduate student, RD-2B, and blogger at Christy the Baker.

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