Summer is the best in the Midwest. Farmers markets are popping up all over the area with locally grown goodness. The summer is the perfect time to try new things, especially new produce! As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I often dabble in the culinary arts. I love to try new recipes using produce grown in our family garden (on my father-in-law’s farm land). He and I are pictured with our corn crop on July 4th.
Corn and peppers provide good sources of fiber. Fiber is helpful for lowering cholesterol and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Tomatoes and peppers also pack in the vitamin C, an important antioxidant. Tomatoes also are excellent sources of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K and manganese.
Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large cob of fresh corn (or 2 small cobs) – cooked and cut off cob
- 4 medium fresh tomatoes chopped
- ½ cup red onion
- Lime juice – 2 fresh limes
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Here is a great option for fresh corn, tomatoes and peppers. Feel free to add any ingredients such as chopped green pepper to this mixture. It is great as a side dish for grilled chicken, tacos or as a salad topper. This year, I tried growing a few new things. Spinach was one that I had never grown, but knew I loved. Spinach is rich in many nutrients iron, folate, vitamin C. It has many uses such as sautéing and adding to pasta dishes, in my favorite minestrone soup, and for salads. Salads can be boring and are often deemed “rabbit food” (believe me the rabbits and deer do like my lettuce and spinach). Salads can be made into delicious culinary creations by simply mixing your favorite foods. When I have a salad, it better be fancy! In touring our garden, there are many things that would be delicious additions, including raspberries.
Fun fact: Did you know that raspberries contain 9 grams of fiber per cup? Amazingly, that is over 1/3 of your average daily requirement of 25-25 grams. Not only are they packed with fiber, the also contain valuable antioxidants such as vitamin C and phytochemicals such as quercetin and gallic acid which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health.
‘Fancy’ Raspberry Salad
- 2 cups fresh leaf lettuce
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 3 ounces grilled chicken
- ½ cup fresh raspberries
- 2 teaspoons slivered almonds
- 1/8 cup red onion
- 1 Tablespoon feta cheese or shredded parmesan cheese
Other vegetables to add to a mix of spinach, lettuce and raspberries would be red onions, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, celery or roasted beets. Others include strawberries (in the summer), apples and pears (in the fall), are also amazing in a fancy salad! Aim for a rainbow of color. Other additions include: nuts, seeds, lean proteins such as chicken, fish, steak, beans or legumes, eggs, and even cooked whole grains including barley, quinoa or wild rice. Instead of a cream-based dressing, try a vinaigrette. Olive oil, a mono-unsaturated fat or the most heart healthy fat, is the perfect oil to use when making salad dressings.
Simple Vinaigrette Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 -3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons of honey
- ½ teaspoon of oregano
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
Get out to the garden, the farm or the farmers market. Try new things! Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. This ensures low calorie, high volume, high nutrient foods help keep you satisfied and prevent disease.
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