May. 22. 2017
How-to
McKel Hill

McKel Hill

MS, RDN, LDN, Dietitian

Summer is here, literally (!), which means the sun is beaming, weekends are spent poolside, refreshing drinks are in hand, and my favorite of all, summer fruits and vegetables are at their peak! I’ve shared a bit about CSAs before, and one in particular that I get during this time of year is from my farming friends at Bloomsbury Farm. It’s really great to utilize in season produce when you can. Today I want to shine some light on how to cook and use summer vegetables so you can navigate it simply this season!

How to Cook with Summer Vegetables

First things first, if you want a primer on what fruits and vegetables are in season in your region, I created some “produce guides” years ago here! Why eat seasonal? Eating seasonally ensures peak nutrition because you’re quite literally getting produce picked fresh with minimal time from farm to your market to your kitchen. More importantly, it’s about supporting your local community, the farmers, and all their hard work in feeding communities through their passions of growing healthy foods. It’s a win-win. With CSAs in particular, you’re able to support your local farms and pick up fresh produce on a weekly basis right from the farm! It’s a great way to challenge you and your family to get creative in the kitchen by trying new whole foods, making new recipes, and getting to know what grows seasonally in your region. Here’s a quick primer on ways you can use seasonal vegetables this summer:

Raw

Did you know there are some foods that retain best nutrition when eaten raw? The same goes for some foods that are better when cooked! When the weather is hot in spring and summer, it’s a great time to be creative with raw recipes from smoothies, raw desserts, salads, dips, and even soup that are cooling and easy to make.

(nutrition) stripped: vitamin C, B vitamins, and some minerals like magnesium and potassium are heat-sensitive, meaning those vitamins/minerals will decrease when cooked. It’s a great reason to try eating summer foods raw – try raw cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, asparagus, and blueberries. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever cook these foods because some folks need cooked vegetables for digestion reasons, etc. It’s just a great reason to try more raw recipes and get the peak nutrition you can.

Recipes to try this summer!

Marinated

Using simple marinades makes enjoying vegetables a breeze, especially great for those of you who may have picky eaters at home or if you need a little variety boost in the veggie department. Some of my favorite marinades are vinegar or lemon juice based with a kick of fresh herbs and seasonings depending on which vegetable we’re cooking.

The marinade formula: it can be anything from your favorite store bought marinades, Tessemaes and Hilary’s are my favorites to use, otherwise I’ll mix olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, minced garlic, an herb that I have on hand (i.e. rosemary, basil, parsley, dill, etc.), sometimes pineapple or lemon juice especially with animal proteins.

Here’s how to make and use a marinade: in a large glass container with an air tight lid or you can use a large ziploc bag, whichever you have handy, add diced or chopped vegetables of your choice along with the marinade. Give it a good shake or stir until everything is coated evenly and store in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours before cooking.

Recipes to try this summer!

  • Marinated Portobello Mushroom Sandwich (from the #NScookbook!)
  • Fish or chicken with olive oil, lemon, pineapple, and dill – one of our favorites to grill!
  • Dill and parsley with lemon go a long way for a simple marinade with summer squash

Grilled

Good ole’ grilling! Everyone is familiar with the world of grilling in the summer, it’s synonymous with pool parties, BBQ’s, and summer gatherings – but what about grilling vegetables? So much of the focus is on the BBQ with animal proteins, which is fine, but let’s give the plants and vegetables a bit more love with these fun recipes to try on the grill.

Recipes to try this summer!

  • Grilled romaine salad: take a head of romaine lettuce and cut longways, brush with olive oil and a touch of sea salt and grill cut-side down for about 4 minutes or until grill marks are visible. This is a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of grilling on a salad! Dress and serve as you would normally, I like cut strawberries and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Grilled Peaches with Sweet Cashew Cream
  • Cauliflower Steaks with Mint Chutney
  • Blissed Out Black Bean Burgers
  • Campfire Banana Boats
  • Good ole’ vegetable skewers: to a wooden skewer, add chopped vegetables of your choice brushed with olive oil and sea salt, grill for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Frozen

For obvious reasons, having a recipe toolkit loaded with your favorite frozen treats is a must have for summer! Here are some tasty and nutrient dense ways to beat the heat. Added bonus, like all NS recipes there’s no added sugar so many of these are low sugar friendly, gut friendly (hello fiber), and loaded with antioxidants.

Recipes to try this summer!

When you try any of these recipes this summer, I wanna hear about it, so let’s chat! Leave a comment it and don’t forget show off how you live #nutritionstripped on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Now off to get ready for a summer shindig…

xx McKel

Check out the recipe page for hundreds more ideas with recipes to try this summer!