It’s Sum-, Sum-, Summertime!
There’s no better time of the year for fresh eating than summer! You’ll find an abundance of fresh food – mainly fruits and vegetables -- at supermarkets, farmers markets, farm stands, and through community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives. This is undoubtedly the season for eating fresh and healthy!
Summer eating is usually characterized by easy recipes and simple meals that don’t require much time in the kitchen. Time should be spent enjoying the great outdoors and with family. So, put on your best flip flops, make a jug of sun tea, boycott the oven, put away the pots and pans, and prepare for healthy eating with these tips:
- Plant a garden with your favorite veggies or participate in a community garden program; share the bounty of the season with your neighbor.
- Shop at local farmers markets or order from CSAs.
- Make salads, salads, and more salads with fresh herbs and spices (go easy on anything creamy or dripping in oil); start your meal by filling half your plate with fresh veggies.
- Use the grill, but go light on the BBQ sauce; use a fresh marinade on meat, fish, and veggies; cook veggies directly on the grill, in foil packets, or a grill basket; check the internal temperature of meat and fish before eating.
- Go light on the alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
- Grill stone fruits for a refreshing dessert.
- At picnics and potlucks, remember to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Use coolers and other well-insulated containers to preserve the temperature of hot and cold foods.
And when you feel like going out, patronize restaurants that follow a farm-to-table theme. Farm-to-table restaurants are on the upswing as consumers want to know where their food is sourced. You will not find a farm-to-table menu at a fast food joint; rather, look for independently-owned restaurants. You can find out where the farm is located, how the farmer raises livestock, and expect seasonal, creative menus that rotate according to the harvest schedule. Sometimes the weather and mother nature provide unavoidable changes to the menu, but experienced chefs know how to work around these operational issues.
In Central New York, check out these farm-to-table restaurants this summer:
- The Cider Mill
- The Brine Well Eatery
- Elderberry Pond
- The Evergreen
- The Stoop Kitchen
- Scenic Root
- Heritage Hill Brewhouse & Kitchen
- Empire Brewing Company
In Season Right Now: Strawberries
Strawberries are a summertime favorite! Technically, strawberries are not berries despite their name. The red flesh produced by the plant is considered false or accessory fruit. It is the straw-colored “seeds” that are the fruiting part of the plant, and each one contains a real seed. On average, each strawberry has about 200 seeds.
In CNY, strawberries will be in season by the end of June, but can be found sooner at the local markets. These early berries purchased at local supermarkets will typically be cultivated from large crops in California or Florida and are picked under-developed to compensate for transportation lags. This is apparent by their white-pinkish centers. Strawberries that have an opportunity to fully ripen on the bush are a deep red color, are juicy, offer a far superior taste and flavor, and smell sweet. They are perishable and tend to go bad rather quickly, so try using them within a few days of purchasing. Wait until you eat them to rinse if not washing them ahead of time can lead to mold growth.
Besides being a tasty treat, strawberries have an impressive amount of health benefits due to the benefits of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. These antioxidants have been associated with lowering the risk for chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and likewise can protect the skin from sun damage and environmental toxins, aid in detoxification, benefit brain health and may prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Because strawberries are one of the most chemically sprayed crops, I highly recommend organic strawberries. They are consistently on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list year after year.
- 49 calories in 1 cup
- 0 grams of fat
- 1 g of protein
- 4 mg of vitamin C
- 230 mg of potassium
- 18 mg of magnesium
- 3 g of fiber
- 7 g of sugar which puts is low on the glycemic index
Eat strawberries raw, in pies, jam, smoothies, shortcake, and homemade ice cream. There’s no wrong way to eat strawberries! Check your local listings for U-pick strawberry farms in CNY. Pick and eat fresh or rinse and freeze for later use.
Katina Sayers is the owner/operator of Katina’s Nutritional Coaching Corner. She has an extensive background in health and education that began with degrees in exercise physiology, health and physical education, community health, and culminating with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She completed an advanced certificate of study in Integrative Nutrition and Health Coaching from the renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. For the last four years, she has worked one-on-one with clients, presented a multitude of nutrition topics for large and small audiences, contracted with businesses to implement worksite wellness initiatives, and currently manages day-to-day food service operations at a local non-profit agency, as well as directs activities related to nutrition and health. Katina can be reached at email@example.com.