We’re all about eating seasonal and buying local as much as possible. Incorporating fresh, seasonal produce can be rewarding and sustainable with a side of fun in the kitchen 🙂
Eating seasonally teaches you to be creative with what’s available at the farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store. You can even take your creativity further and preserve what you can to enjoy the tastes of summer a little bit longer. From fresh cucumbers for a chilled cucumber salad to ripe and vibrant tomatoes for pasta sauce from scratch, eating seasonally provides a ton of healthy and satisfying options.
Specific crops and their seasonal dates will vary by region. Here we’ve compiled some of our seasonal favorites in the Northern California region.
Apples: Provides a great source of fiber, pre-biotics and Vitamin-C. Look for apples with a smooth skin and deep in color. Look for different varieties (Gala, Honeycrisp, Jazz and Granny Smith to name a few!).
Arugula: One of our favorite tender leafy greens for a fresh summer salad. Arugula is best if enjoyed within a few days of purchase as it is highly perishable. Look for leaves that are firmer and vibrant green in color and avoid leaves that are yellow or look mushy.
Bell Peppers: Varying in color from red, orange, yellow and green. They should be vibrant in color with a smooth, glossy skin. Be sure that the skin is completely dry to avoid rapid deterioration if stored in the refrigerator. Meal prep tip: Chop up all your peppers and store them in the freezer.
Berries: Mixed berries are the perfect touch on top of oatmeal, mixed with Greek yogurt or even alone as a side snack. We recommend blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Be sure to check the bottom of the basket when choosing your berries. The best are richest in color and a good soft-firm balance. Depending on where you get them, some stores label with a “Ripe” sticker 🙂
Chard: Often referred to as “Swiss chard,” we love this colorful tender green! The colorful stems should be firm and vibrant in color; avoid those with dull looking stems, even if you don’t plan to use the stems. Leaves should be deep in color and more on the crisp side as far as texture. Chard tends to collect moisture quickly, so to avoid bitterness, store in the refrigerator unwrapped and enjoy within 1-2 days of purchasing.
Citrus: Great Vitamin-C! Our favorites include grapefruit, lemons and oranges. All are best if consumed within a few days of purchasing, but will keep well for about a week or so if stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. When selecting these fruits, look for a medium firmness. Too firm means they aren’t yet ripe.
Cucumbers: Versatile and super refreshing! We enjoy pickled veggie salads or cucumbers with hummus as a snack. You can infuse your water with cucumber for a cool and crisp hydration on these hot days! You’ll want to look for cucumbers that are on the firmer side and vibrantly colored. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Eggplant: You may or may not have come across different types of eggplant in the store. They vary by texture and can be firm, stringy or creamy. Go for an eggplant that is firm to the touch. The fresher the better (and less bitter!). The leaves on the stem should be a nice green color as well. They are best if kept out on the counter at room temperature (they don’t like the cold) and used within a few days of purchasing.
Summer Squash/Zucchini: A super filling and low calorie option for your meals, yielding just 18 calories per cup. Also serves as a great anti-inflammatory agent with a decent amount of fiber. Store tightly wrapped in paper (to avoid moisture) in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few days for optimal freshness. They typically don’t do well in the freezer as they quickly turn to mush when thawed.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a year-round fruit, but their time to shine is late summer/early fall. We’ve found the best tomatoes at our local Farmer’s Market. Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamins A and C and also rich in fiber. Choose those with a deep color, and firm/taut skin. They are best kept at room temperature as sometimes storing in the refrigerator takes from the taste. We find them to be super versatile in the kitchen and use them for sauces, salads or as a snack with some balsamic vinegar.
*Enara patients: Speak with your dietitian about the foods that are appropriate for your particular program.