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It’s finally summer!
What’s a good reason to love the season of sunshine aside from all the time we get to spend outdoors? An abundance of fresh, local, and wholesome foods, of course!
Health conscious food-lovers on the east coast rejoice this time of year because farmer’s markets are bursting with colorful edibles that are otherwise not available (or not as delicious having been imported.)
Foods that are seasonal and local tend to be fresher and tastier because they were given the opportunity to fully ripen on the farm and didn’t have to travel a long distance before being purchased.
Additionally, they are often packed with more nutrients for the same reason. And if that’s not enough to convince you to shop local, supporting nearby agriculture benefits your local farmers, economy, and creates a more sustainable food system for everyone.
So let’s dig in!
Here’s what you’re likely to find at your local farmer’s market on the east coast this summer, and a few quick ideas for how to use your farmer’s market haul:
Arugula – this spicy and pungent leafy green is theperfect zesty addition to salads, breakfast frittatas, and even smoothies.
Bell Peppers – high in Vitamin C, these colorful and tangy treats make a great crunchy snack cut up into sticks ready for dipping into your favorite hummus, or sautéed with onions as a side dish.
Corn – the epitome of summer food and high in fiber too! Grill or bake it, then use a knife to cut the kernels off and toss onto your salads.
Carrots – get creative with these Beta Carotene packed beauties and spiralize them for a creative salad topping or side dish, or juice them for a refreshing and hearty drink.
Cucumber – hydrating and cooling cucumber is delicious on its own, but for a new twist, slice thin, then add to a bowl of water with sea salt for two hours before draining to make a refreshing quick-brined side dish.
Peas – sugar snap or English peas, packed with Vitamin K, are delicious raw, and make great salad toppings, or can be frozen to use in soups and stews come fall.
Radishes – detoxifying and satisfyingly crunchy slice them thin and add to salads, chop fine and sprinkle over tacos, or roast with potatoes and other veggies.
Rhubarb – perfect for jam (especially when combined with strawberries), in pie, or juiced.
Summer squash – spiralize and toss with your favorite pasta sauce, bake into fritters along with scallions, or eat raw with hummus or cheese.
Lettuce – Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Mesclun, you name it! These delicate leaves are nutritional powerhouses and serve as the perfect base to any and all summer salads.
Scallions – the perfect topper when sliced and sprinkled over everything from baked potatoes, to tacos, to salads!
Let’s consider it a given that all of these can and should be eaten raw, but for the sake of creativity we came up with additional ideas too!
Apricots – full of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A apricots are delicious sliced and mildly sautéed with unsalted butter and brown sugar, and placed on top of your oatmeal, ice cream, or breakfast toast.
Blackberries – boost the nutritional value of your date-night cocktail by muddling bioflavonoids and Vitamin C packed blackberries with mint, lemon juice, lime juice, and a little sweetener, then add seltzer, vodka, and ice.
Blueberries – Antioxidant-rich blueberries make a delightful simple jam! Simmer with just a bit of water and a cinnamon stick, when the consistency is no longer watery remove from heat, take out the cinnamon stick, add vanilla extract, maple syrup, and chia seeds. Place in the refrigerator and eat within 1 week.
Cherries – remove pits and freeze a handful overnight, then add to a smoothie in the morning with coconut milk, raw cacao, and banana.
Plums – tart and sweet all at the same time! Plums are great in juices, as a salad topping, or mashed and frozen as popsicles.
Strawberries – in a double boiler, melt some dark chocolate, then dip strawberries in chocolate and freeze over wax paper for an hour or longer.
Peaches – remove the skin, mash with a mortar and pestle, then add to a large batch of homemade iced tea along with mint for a refreshing twist on peach iced tea.
Basil – considered one of the healthiest herbs with a big dose of Vitamin K tryadding basil to salads, chop into vinaigrette, or go for the classic caprese salad with basil, tomato, and mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Cilantro – make a simple chimichurri with a large handful of cilantro, fresh garlic, olive oil, lemon, and sea salt. Use that to top your summer squash fritters, baked salmon, or basically anything that could use a little zest.
Mint – combine with warm water, apple cider vinegar, lemon, cayenne powder, and a drop of honey for a restorative and energizing morning drink.
Parsley – can be used similarly to cilantro above, added to fresh salads, juiced, or mixed in to salsa.
You’ll likely find additional local produce depending on the specific timing, your location, preferences of your local farmers, and some other factors, but hopefully this will give you a great place to start. If you come across something that doesn’t look familiar, ask the farmer what they do with it!
What’s your favorite local food in summer? Share in the comment below.