Guest Blog for LI TRIO-Healthy Summer Eating
Special to litrio.org: Guest blogger Marianne Bajor, RD, CDN, CDE-Transplant Dietitian at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla NY presents a series on healthy eating for transplant recipients and everyone else on the planet.
Blueberries, blackberries, plums, grapes, cherries, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, corn, broccoli, peas, cucumbers, and zucchini – these are a few of the many fruits and vegetables in season this summer in the New York area. These refreshing and healthful foods provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and most importantly – flavor. Fruits and vegetables in season tend to be less expensive and taste better. With the vast selection of fruits and vegetables in season this summer, there are plenty of delicious and creative ways to include them into your daily eating pattern.
For a refreshing way to enjoy your vegetables, make Gazpacho, a traditional Spanish cold soup made with pureed raw vegetables and tomato juice. Simply chop up cucumbers, tomatoes, red and green peppers, celery, onions, garlic, and blend with lemon juice and low sodium tomato juice. Add some cilantro and cumin for extra flavor and let the soup chill in your refrigerator for about two hours. Set aside extra chopped veggies to throw on top of the soup when ready to serve. For a complete recipe, check out the link below to the “USDA What’s Cooking? Mixing Bowl”.
The outdoor barbeque isn’t solely for burgers and chicken; there is also room for fruits and vegetables. Assemble vegetable kabobs by threading small chunks of zucchini, peppers, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes on metal skewers. Brush a mixture of olive oil and seasonings, like oregano and pepper, on the veggies and grill uncovered until the vegetables are tender, making sure to turn the skewer every few minutes for even cooking.
Create a sweet version with 1-inch chunks of fruit, like fresh pineapple, pitted plums, melon, and cherries. Save excess juice from the cut up fruits and mix together with a little bit of honey and cinnamon. Using a brush, baste the fruit with this mixture. Keep the skewers on the grill until the fruits are heated through and turn a golden brown color, around five to ten minutes per side. These kabobs will be a hit with family and friends at your next summer barbeque.
If you are short on time, there are several simple ways to include fruits and vegetables into your day. At breakfast, add some berries to your oatmeal or tomatoes and spinach to omelets. Add some romaine lettuce and tomatoes to a sandwich and enjoy hummus and red bell peppers as a mid-day snack. Try a new vegetable at dinner each night of the week – asparagus, broccoli, and spinach are delicious when cooked in olive oil and garlic. A simple fruit salad consisting of melon and berries and a scoop of Greek yogurt is a tasty and healthy alternative to cakes and ice cream.
Remember to follow proper food safety principles when handling your produce. Rinse your fruits and vegetables thoroughly. If it is spoiled or moldy, throw away the entire fruit. To avoid cross contamination, designate one cutting board for produce, and another one for meat, poultry, and fish.
Make the most of your summer and enjoy the wonderful fruits and vegetables in season!
The Gazpacho recipe is here.