Summer’s Bounty- Add fruits and vegetables to your recipes for zing!

Summer provides a great time of year for buying seasonal produce. These fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients that will help you optimize your nutrition this summer. Adding interesting new ingredients to old recipes can add a little something to your summer dinners. Grilling chicken on the bar-b-que is delicious, change the recipe by filling skewers with chicken, pineapple, tomato and onion, and you now have a fresh and delicious summer meal.

Listed below are some fruits and vegetables packed with nutrients and a fresh new way to add them to your meals.

Blueberries: Blueberries are packed with antioxidants which may help counteract heart disease, cancers, and other types of illnesses. They peak late summer and are a delicious addition to your summer salad.

Pineapple: While this fruit is available year round, the peak buying season is between March and July. This is a fruit high in Vitamin C and it also contains an enzyme that relieves indigestion as well as inflammation. The enzyme called bromelain is found near the stem, so when adding pineapple to your skewers, leave it on!

Watermelon: Watermelon is a good source of vitamin A, C, iron and lycopene which has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The peak time for watermelon is from mid-June to late August.  Try pairing your chopped watermelon with grilled pork chops and fresh spinach for a new twist.

Peaches and Nectarines: These fruits are a good source of Vitamin A and fiber (with the skin). A peach also contains some Niacin, a B vitamin, which is involved in the synthesis of DNA, and helps to maintain the normal function of your skin, nerves, and digestive system. These fruits are delicious without any additions, but for a scrumptious alternative, cut your peaches in half and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes. Once removed, add yogurt or ice cream for a new summer dessert.

Summer Squash:  Squashes contain an unusual amount of antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids- lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are especially helpful in protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Squash is delicious sliced into disks, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, sesame seeds and parmesan cheese.

Eggplant: The season for eggplant is August to October, though you can find it many other months of the year. Research on eggplant has focused on a phytonutrient found in eggplant skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. Grilled eggplant is a delicious and easy addition to any meal.

Tomatoes: Though they are the most delicious in July through September, you can find tomatoes year round in any market or produce stand.  The tomato is high in the antioxidant lycopene which is known for its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage. For a unique salad Chop mini tomato, cucumber and feta cheese drizzle with olive oil and pepper.