Summer is here, and that means some of the yummiest in-season fruits and vegetables are popping up in your local community and maybe even your backyard. Summer farmers markets carry anything from cheeses to crisp vegetables, oven-fresh breads to mouth-watering in-season fruits, so why not take advantage of them.
Eating local from your farmers market and planting your own garden is beneficial to your health as well as your pocket, said Master Sgt. Darren Banks, diet technician and NCO in charge of the Ramstein Health and Wellness Center.
“Buying local produce from the people who maintain the land has many perks,” Banks said. “(They have) lower prices than at a supermarket (and) healthier, pesticide-free options with no preservatives — great if you’re looking to eat organic on a budget.”
A few seasonal fruits and vegetables, Banks said, to add into your diet include strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and cucumbers.
“You want to have a wide variety of foods to get the most nutrients and minerals for your body,” he said.
Growing your own produce is always beneficial, especially since you know exactly what you are eating and where it came from. If you are puzzled on what to plant or grow, beginning with what your family eats most is a good way to start, Banks said. A couple quick visits to your local garden stores can be helpful also.
“They can go to the stores and get advice from them,” Banks said. “Local garden stores can be of assistance to help you, (like) should you start from seeds or start from the pots?”
To get you started, here are some healthy summer recipes you can whip up after a short visit to your local farmers market or your own backyard. Some are good complements to a main meal or a delightful snack.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
• 2 medium zucchinis, halved
• 1 large carrot, cut about 2 ½ inches off end of carrot, slice in half and then sliced diagonally
• 2 tablespoons light butter (Country Crock or low-cholesterol butter)
• 1/2 small onion, diced
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 cup cooked couscous
• 1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, oregano or mint, finely chopped
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise. Cut 2-1/2 inches off bottom of carrot and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half on the diagonal.
Boil zucchini and carrot “sails” for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. With a small knife or even an
ice-cream scoop, dig the center of the zucchini out (leaving about 1/2-inch thickness to zucchini boat). Dice scooped out zucchini and remaining end of carrot. Heat butter in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes). Add carrots and zucchini and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add to cooked couscous. Stir in feta cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Place zucchini halves on baking sheet. Scoop couscous mixtures into zucchini halves, stuffing generously and form mounds. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully place carrot ends on small skewers or toothpicks and stick sails in boats.
Nutrition info per serving: 130 Calories, 5g Total Fat, 16g Carbohydrate, 260mg Sodium, 2g Fiber, 5g Protein
Herby Cucumber Salad
Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)
• 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
• 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
• 1 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped mint
• 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 5 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (about 2 large)
• 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
Combine the first 11 ingredients in a food processor or a blender, and process until well blended. Combine the cucumber and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with yogurt mixture then toss to coat.
Nutritional info: 65 Calories, 2.6g Total Fat, 1.8g Carbohydrate, 150mg Sodium, 9.9g Fiber, 1.8g Protein
Homemade Pasta Sauce
Ingredients: (Serves about 8)
• 28 ounces canned stewed tomatoes
• 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 yellow onions, chopped
• 2 green bell peppers, chopped
• 5 cloves garlic, chopped
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil
• 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
• Salt and pepper to taste
Blend the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in a blender. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions, peppers and garlic. Pour in tomatoes, and reduce heat. Add sugar, basil and oregano and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (optional) before serving.
Nutritional Info: 96 Calories, 1.9g Total Fat, 19.6 Carbohydrates, 177mg Sodium, 2.4g Fiber, 3.1g Protein
Strawberry Banana Flax Smoothie
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
• 1 medium banana, chopped
• 1 cup fresh mixed berries
• 3/4 cup almond milk (any low-fat milk will work)
• 6 ounces of light strawberry or plain yogurt
• 1 tablespoon flax seed, ground (optional)
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/2 cup ice (if desired)
In a blender, add in fruit, yogurt, ground flax (optional) and milk. Add ice (if desired) then add honey. Blend about 30 seconds (or until smooth and has no chunks). Serve.
Nutrition info per serving: 177 Calories, 2.2g Total Fat, 36.5g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber, 4.7g Protein
Summer Squash and Tomato Side Dish
Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 pounds summer squash, thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered fresh basil
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add squash. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan until the squash begins to soften, about three to five minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan then add the garlic. Cook, stirring until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in tomatoes. Cook, stirring tomatoes about five minutes. Return squash to the pan, add salt and pepper (to taste) and reduce the heat to medium.
Cook, stirring often, until squash is tender and the tomatoes have cooked down. Stir in the basil (adjust the seasonings if desired). Serve!
Nutritional info per serving: 74 Calories, 7g Carbohydrates, 13mg Sodium, 2g Fiber, 2g Protein