Just like that, summer is within reach. It’s a season of leisure and play. Days are long, warm, and the front porch beckons. From vibrant peppers and sweet tomatoes, to gem-like berries and juicy watermelon, food simply tastes better in the summer. With June around the corner, it’s time to add more variety to your plate. Think: fresh strawberries, fragrant basil, and grilled corn. With a few simple swaps, you’ll usher more creativity to your plate. Plus, you’ll diversify your consumption of vitamins and minerals. How to eat seasonally in the summer is easy—it’s simply a matter of adding more color to your grocery basket.
Colorful Summer Produce is packed with nutrients
Summer produce is not only delicious, but it’s packed with antioxidants. Mother Nature knows best. Bright colors (found in tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens, etc.) contain polyphenols—and polyphenols help prevent disease. These compounds are found in all kinds of plants. Unsurprisingly, regular consumption of fresh produce has been associated with a reduced risk of many chronic illnesses. In most cases, the deeper the color, the more nutritious the food. For example, blueberries help keep your mind sharp, and tomatoes are linked to a decrease in prostate cancer. To get the maximum power of these phytochemicals, eat the rainbow. Luckily in the summer, eating the rainbow is drool-worthy.
WHAT IS SEASONAL EATING?
Fresher, sweeter, more flavorful, and vibrant fruits and vegetables are what you have to look forward to when you choose to eat with the seasons! Seasonal eating a sustainable way of eating. And it has a variety of health benefits. This lifestyle encourages you to focus on produce in season—for your geographic area, specifically. There are many reasons to eat with the seasons, but these are two:
foods grown out of season need ripening agents
When foods are grown out of season, they can’t follow their natural growing and ripening rhythms. In order for certain fruits and vegetables to be available year-round, ripening agents are used. These include chemicals, gases, and heat processes. If you want berries in the winter, instead of opting for conventional berries (sprayed with pesticides), grab a bag of frozen organic berries instead. Mix them into yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or make homemade berry jam.
Foods Grown in Season ripen naturally
Food in season tastes better, is more nutritious, and is cheaper. Citrus hits different in the winter. Juicy tomatoes are summer’s candy. You get the gist. Naturally-ripened fruits and vegetables—grown and picked in season—are typically full of flavor and nutrients.
how to eat in the summer to be healthy
Hello, basil, bell peppers, cantaloupe, cherries, and more. Stone fruit and backyard barbecues await. Below are 10 tips and tricks for healthy eating in the summer.
ease into warmer, longer days
No matter where you live, summer’s arrival can feel abrupt. Here in Colorado, our temperatures skyrocket— practically, overnight! A few days of warm summer air may be followed by a week of spring temps. In the early transition from spring to summer weather, follow the natural desire and to eat root veggies and heavier foods during the cold spells. Then, switch to tomato salads and lighter fare during hot days. Regardless, be sure to stay hydrated.
focus on transitional foods
The best way to create a grocery list for the spring-summer transition is to cross reference seasonal grocery lists. Any foods that are on both of those lists make great transitional foods. Do your best to load up on these foods.
cook your greens
If you aren’t accustomed to eating many greens, cook them. For greens like bok choy, spinach, kale, etc., either sauté or roast them. Just like fruit, whole vegetables have a lot of fiber. Once they’re cooked, the fiber will be partially broken down and easier to digest—this is helpful for vegetable-eating newbies.
drink Lemon, honey, and mint iced tea
Cool your senses and boost your immunity with a refreshing, homemade iced tea. Here’s an easy recipe.
swap out hearty grains
Summer is naturally a grain-free season, as these foods are traditionally not harvested until fall. If you feel inclined, reduce your portions of hearty grains, like oats and pastas. These can be nourishing foods, but in terms of how to eat seasonally in the summer, swap hearty grains with other complex carbohydrates, like beans, beets, carrots, couscous, and tabbouleh.
Opt for raw honey
Focus on lower-glycemic sugar (or unrefined sugar, like this raw honey). In the spirit of taking a lighter approach—that will also help balance blood sugar—be mindful of your sugar intake. Spring is a great time to take a step back from heavy winter desserts and opt for more refreshing, lower-sugar options (like my lemon poppyseed bread!).
Balance your dosha
Know your Ayurvedic body type. For example, if you’re a pitta body type, cooling foods are the name of the game. Ingredients like coriander, cilantro, lime, shredded coconut, avocados, cucumber, asparagus, watermelon, red lentils, and mung beans are great for the hot, summer months.
honor your appetite
For some, appetite naturally begins to wane during the hotter months. Unlike winter, where the hunger may have been incessant, spring boosts natural fat metabolism that decreases cravings, hunger, and appetite. Tune into your true hunger to help you feel energized, satiated, and vibrant.
keep up your supplement routine
Keep up with your anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting regime. Continue taking vitamin D (although you likely need less in the summer), ashwagandha, and other supplements to keep immunity strong throughout the year.
support your gut
Gut health is key. Many bitter roots (harvested in the late-spring) help to boost liver function, strengthen immunity, and create a healthy environment for new summer microbes to proliferate. Baby microgreens—like sprouts—are loaded with nutrients, feeding intestinal microbes and supporting healthy gut bacteria. Add them to your favorite summer salad! Last but not least, summer fruits are incredible nourishing. Berries and cherries are rich in antioxidants, helping transform the gut.
THE 7 BEST SEASONAL EATING COOKBOOKS
In need of inspiration? Below are the best seasonal eating cookbooks:
THE LOST KITCHEN
SIX SEASONS: A NEW WAY WITH VEGETABLES
MOLLY ON THE RANGE
LOVE & LEMONS EVERY DAY
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.
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