We are in the thick of summer, thank goodness. With one too many polar vortexes in my memory, it seems like the sunshine took longer to get to us this year. No doubt, with great temperatures, also comes awesome produce. A few of my favorites that are in peak season and on my plate include:
This peppery lettuce is a household favorite, which popped on our radar when my husband lived abroad in Australia. This green was termed as “rocket,” and could be found on every menu around town. A few of my favorite ways to enjoy this leafy vegetable includes in a salad with lemon, olive oil and cherry tomatoes; very basic. For my husband I will add some Parmesan cheese, as the salty dairy ingredients marry very well with the arugula flavor. Another idea includes topping some baked eggs with this green. Spinach is not the only lettuce that can be paired with breakfast. Arugula is known for many things including it’s detoxifying powers and antioxidant powerhouse.
Not a fan of arugula, pick up some butter lettuce this month instead. The soft lettuce goes so well with beets, in my opinion; which takes us to the next ingredient on the list.
I used to think of beets in a way that a two year old likes Brussels sprouts; aka no thank you. I have to admit, I gave them another try after attending a health conference and the PhD speaker couldn’t say enough good things about the crop including it releaves constipation and is one of the best foods for our liver. I’ll take anything to help nurture our fat burning organ. I will use beets in my smoothies, chopped on a salad with some grilled chicken and pumpkin seeds or cooked with carrots. I can draft the reasons why we should eat more beets as there is a lot of scientific support, but I can quickly state that days I have beets, I feel better, noticeably better.
I may have a theme here of peppery foods. First I listed arugula and now I find I have radishes. Either way, all the above are great and obviously in-season making it win-win. Radishes are something I have come to appreciate and my first memory of them goes back to grade school when I was vacationing with my friends on the Jersey Shore and their mom had radishes soaking in water. We walking into the kitchen after a hot morning at the beach and the mom popped a radish from the bowl into her mouth explaining how refreshing they were. This made me want to try them, and I did. They were refreshing and very different than most vegetables. Since this fond memory, every summer I get some fresh radishes and soak them, and put some together for a snack as is, or slice and dice into a salad. This hydrating vegetable aids digestion, detoxing and weight management among many more perks.
Who does not like a homegrown summer tomato? I am certain there is no one. Maybe is someone is following a no nightshade diet, but that is nor here or there. Gosh though, summer tomatoes are the king of the garden this time of year. If you are growing some, I may guess you are also sharing the wealth with those around due to the rate they grow. I love tomatoes with a little olive oil and sea salt, or on one of my paleo burgers. Another treat is when I make the household caprese salads. My mouth is watering thinking about the flavor of a fresh tomato and Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. I think I know what we are having for dinner now…
Cantaloupe, the fruit I once called the cheap filler in a fruit salad. Indeed, it is cheap, but the taste is a new found love. Funny enough, my 22 month old son inspired me to enjoy this fruit as much as I am, with his deep desire of this lush fruit. Cantaloupe has a spectrum of nutrients and research has even shown it can reduce metabolic syndrome. Chop one up for a summer BBQ or wrap some of the melon in prosciutto for a real food choice for dessert. Either way, if you didn’t think you liked this fruit, perhaps give it another look like I did.