If you are on a mission to give your diet a makeover, summer is the perfect time to start eating healthier!
During the summer season healthy fruits and vegetables are in-season and bountiful, said Norman Regional registered dietitian Keri Hale. Traditional summer foods like corn-on-the-cob and watermelon offer many health benefits in addition to being perfect for picnics.
“Most fruit and vegetables have a high-fluid or water content. They are all a great source of fiber as well as vitamins,” Hale said. “Also people should try to get five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. More matters! Whatever you are doing now, try to aim for more!”
To incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your life, aim for vegetables as your side dish and fruits as your dessert, Hale said. She recommends five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Seasonal summer foods that offer great nutritional value include: peaches, watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, peppers, corn, tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
Eat the Rainbow
Hale recommends people also seek out a variety of colors to get different nutrients. Your plate should be as colorful as possible. For instance fruits and veggies along the orange to yellow color spectrum contain Vitamin A. These include mango, cantaloupe, carrots and colored peppers. Vitamin C can be found in both the vibrant reds of strawberries and tomatoes and dark, leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach.
Preparing Healthy, Fresh Meals
So what’s the best way to prepare your fresh picks? Hale said grilling is perfectly safe, but does not recommend charring food or eating burnt foods. Grilling fruits and vegetables is a safe and easy alternative to steaming or baking them.
“Try grilling delicate veggies or fruits such as tomatoes or onions in a foil bag, grill basket or by making a kabob,” Hale said. “Tougher fruits and veggies such as peppers or corn can be added directly to the grill.”
For some inventive and new ways to prepare fruits and veggies, think about items such as fruit salsa, cold veggie salads, fruit trifles and replacing meat with earthy, hearty vegetables such as mushrooms or eggplant.