Shopping in Season

Enter the Hangout

So how is everybody enjoying their summer so far?!  This is the season for BBQs and gorgeous nights… maybe even some poolside beveraging?  Can I interest you in a Pina Colada..?  Well, it’s also a great time for food (as if there’s a bad time for food!)  Eating foods like fruits and vegetables during their seasonal peak has many perks.  Not only will you get the best flavors, but it will also save you money… and that’s a win / win situation! 

When you purchase food that is in season, it’s grown in its natural state.  Out of season fruits and vegetables are usually shipped from a further location or grown under stressed environments.  For example, asparagus and brussel sprouts are currently out of season since it’s summer time.  In other words, you will pay an arm and a leg for them at the grocery store.  When foods are in season, they hit their peak ripeness and supply us with much more nutrition and vitamins that our bodies need.  Not to mention, you are supporting local farming programs which harvest certain foods during certain times of the year.  Overall, you are getting a fresher, tastier, economically friendlier product… sounds delicious!

Right now, mangos are in season and tasting great.  When they’re ripe, this fruit has to be one of the sweetest I’ve tasted and it’s definitely one of my favorites.  The mango is extremely versatile and, during the summer, you can find it in all types of dishes.  For example, it goes great in salsa, salad, and it even pairs well with meats like pork and chicken.  You can also get creative with it and throw it on the grill.  Just searing it on either side really brings out the sweet sugar flavor while almost caramelizing the fruit.  My favorite way to use the mango, however, is in a smoothie.  Frozen chunks of mango mix fantastically with bananas, oranges, and strawberries for a healthy breakfast.  The rum is optional…

Now that your mouth is watering, let’s talk about another versatile food that’s in season; zucchini!  I may be going out on a limb here, but this might be my favorite vegetable.  You can grill it, sauté it, blend it in a green smoothie, and even make bread with it!  Here’s a quick healthy tip for utilizing zucchini… you can use it to replace pasta!  That’s right, a raw zucchini can be shaved into pasta form and the texture goes great with your favorite sauce and maybe some black bean “meatballs” for those “Meatless Monday” nights. 

When you think outdoor BBQs and parties, there has to be one fruit that pops into your head… Watermelon!  I remember being a child and munching down on this delicious fruit in pieces bigger than my hands could hold.  Now that I’m an adult, I hollow them out and fill them with watermelon flavored adult beverages… or, I blend them in my morning breakfast shakes to add a great summer flavor.  We all know it’s basically a staple in a fruit salad, but did you know that it also tastes great thrown on the grill?  Try that as your side dish alongside the main meal.  And, next time you see this fruit on sale at the grocery store, be sure to jump on the opportunity.  They can be cut into small chunks and tossed in the freezer for use later in the season. 

So, do your guests a favor and make sure these fresh fruits and veggies are available at your next gathering.  Experiment with them and see what great dishes and flavors you can create.  Head to your local farmers market and pick up what’s in season and what’s locally grown.  Be sure to do it fast since the season of yellow leaves and pumpkins is around the corner.  I’ll see you next time and we can discuss what fruits and veggies taste great when the temperature drops a few degrees! 

Joe Granat is a frequent contributor for The Healthy Moms Magazine.  When he’s not running or writing, he can be found browsing the produce isle like a man on a mission.  For more of his tips and advice be sure to visit www.HealthLush.com, Twitter, & Facebook. 

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Shopping in Season
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