Getting Fit with Help from the Harvest of the Season!!
Don’t look now, but we are officially in the month of August. The month most people call the month that ends the summer!
Don’t let the month pass you by without indulging in all the great fruits and vegetables that are now available from if not your own garden, then that of your local growers. There are many benefits of eating food in its proper season. Think about it: There was a time where people ate the fruits and vegetables available to them, and if you think about it, it seems that there were fewer food intolerances and allergies to deal with back then. In fact, many would say that eating the right kinds of food during the right time of the year and avoiding them at other times is very important to a healthy diet. The line of thinking is that seasonal eating is a way for us to reconnect with food eating patterns as nature originally intended. Fruits and vegetables consumed in the appropriate season contain natural proteins and sugars and carbs that are essential to your life. Also keep in mind back about 100 yrs. ago, everything grown was done organically without the use of heavy pesticides and other additives to get enhanced growth.
Today, out-of-season produce that is now available to the consumer requires pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals in order for them to survive and keep them looking fresh for market. These things naturally compromise the nutritional value of the food itself. One other perk when eating seasonal foods is you are usually spending a lot less on your purchases, which means eating in season is overall easier on your wallet.
So now that you’ve made the simple decision to eat what’s in season (in August), here are a few garden or farm items that you can take advantage of putting in your shopping basket:
Corn: Who doesn’t wait all summer long for those ears to ripen and be ready to be picked??
Despite the bad rap that corn gets for being an ingredient in … everything, corn in its most pure form is actually good for you and is currently being harvested this month. It’s a great source of niacin, vitamin C and folic acid. Studies on the benefits of folic acid have shown it to be important in preventing neural-tube birth defects and heart disease.
Zucchini is great because it is low in calories yet incredibly substantive. It is also high in vitamins A, C and K and potassium. It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in pancakes, lasagna or even as a healthy alternative to fries. Or you can go the simple route and grill some up with tomatoes and black beans for a delicious, vegetarian skillet meal. And there are several recipes out there for a zucchini soup that not only tastes great but can be frozen so that you can enjoy not only the taste but its helpful nutrients long after the snow is on the ground!
See below for the simple directions and ingredients to make this soup from this plentiful crop:
Makes 8 servings – 133 cals per bowl
2 tablespoons margarine
2 onions, chopped (Vidalia onions should be plentiful right now!)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 zucchinis, chopped
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon fresh basil
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup dry potato flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons of chopped dill weed
Directions Cooking time, appox. 35 mins.
In a large frying pan, melt butter or margarine; add onion and sauté until translucent. Add diced potato, zucchini, thyme, rosemary, basil, and white pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.
In a medium-sized cooking pot, add broth and bring to boil. Add zucchini/potato mixture; reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
When cooked, puree in food processor or blender in batches. Return to cooking pot, add milk and bring just to boil, but do not boil. Add instant mashed potato flakes and soy sauce and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Garnish with dill weed. Soup may be served hot or chilled.
Make it, eat it, savor it and if any is left freeze it for that cold day in December – January.
Yellow summer squash
Like its relative, zucchini, yellow summer squash is a good source of vitamins C and K and potassium, without many calories. It is also a good source of fiber. You can grill this veggie as well, but it also makes for a good pizza topping or soup.
Are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Blackberries have also been shown to be helpful in slowing cognitive decline, protecting the heart and lowering blood pressure. They are also an excellent source of vitamins C and K and manganese.
Nothing says summer then the taste of a juicy, cold slice of cantaloupe! The bright orange color is a dead giveaway that this fruit is overflowing with the antioxidant beta-carotene. One cup contains over 100 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C. (It’s also one of the Top 50 Summer Diet Foods for Weight Loss.)
Shopping tip: Choose melons that are round and firm, and heavy for their size. Give them a whiff—sweet smelling melons are ready for you to munch!
This member of the nightshade family grows on vines (like tomatoes) and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Purple, white, and black are some of the more popular hues you’ll find at the market.
Fun fact: The flavor of an eggplant depends on its gender. Male eggplant have fewer seeds and are sweeter compared to female eggplant, which tend to be more-bitter. To tell which gender your eggplant is, check the bottom. A male eggplant has a shallow, round indentation, while a female eggplant has a deep indentation shaped like a dash. This is typically regarded as a “Brain Food” Thanks to nasunin, an antioxidant in eggplant peels that helps protect brain cells, and a host of other vitamins and minerals, this wholesome veggie is an ideal brain food. And since it’s also low in calories and carbs, eggplant makes the perfect base for a variety of delicious entrees, side dishes, and snacks.
Probably one of the most highly prized ingredient for flavoring everything from stews to sauces to both Mexican salsas and chilies and regular dips for entertaining. This breathy veggie is the cousin of leeks, shallots, onions, and chives. Garlic is a perfect way to add tremendous flavor to dishes, for few calories too. One clove contains close to five calories, several B-vitamins, and calcium. Garlic also contains the phytochemical allicin, shown to have antibacterial properties. Garlic is the one harvested crop that will be found in more kitchens.
The above are just a few of the many items of the bountiful harvest available during the month of August. Be sure to visit your local farmers market and take advantage of what is fresh and good for you. Remember your body performs better when you stoke it full of the right fuels. Happy Harvesting!