Summer is hands-down the best time of year for vegetables. Absolutely nothing beats a tomato fresh from your garden or the farmers market. Most of these summer veggies do not require a lot of prep time so you can really make the most of your summer, out of the kitchen, spending more time with your family.
We usually find that as the weather gets warmer, our appetite shrinks. Focusing your meals, especially dinners, around salads and vegetable dishes simplifies your meals and frees up time for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather.
I am not a vegetarian although my daughter-in-law is, so I always include a protein in my meals and find that helps me to maintain my healthiest weight. I also have found that limiting (for my husband) and eliminating grains (for myself) and focusing instead on a small portion of protein, healthy fats and lots of beautiful, fresh summer vegetables really resets our appetites and taste buds.
We plant a vegetable garden each year and my staples are cucumbers, zucchini, grape tomatoes and eggplant. I love including a fresh-from-the-garden cucumber in my morning smoothie. You will be surprised at how refreshing it tastes.
I love using my Veggetti spiralizer and making spiralized cucumber and grape tomato salads. I also make “zoodles” often—zucchini noodles, which need virtually no cooking! I combine them with warmed tomato sauce and grated Parmesan for a faux pasta and the warm sauce “cooks” them just enough. I’ve also combined them with a peanut sauce made with one of the powdered peanut butters you can find in the supermarket now and it becomes a delicious, cold Asian style salad.
Eggplant from the garden is so sweet and delicious. I sometimes combine cubed eggplant, chopped zucchini and tomatoes into a delicious ratatouille. Yes, it requires cooking, but it’s a quick one-pot meal or side dish that takes very little time to put together. I’ve even made it in the slow cooker which is even easier.
You can also make a healthier version of “fries” using zucchini and eggplant! Then you have them ready for a snack or side dish that kids especially will love and you won’t feel guilty letting them have as much as they want. You can visit my website and click on the Recipes tab for some ideas!
Several times a week I make a huge salad using whatever fresh produce I have from my garden and local farmer’s market or supermarket and often top it with a sliced avocado, olives, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and a couple of hard boiled eggs to bump up the protein and healthy fat content and make it a complete meal. Combining some raw apple cider vinegar with a healthy oil like avocado, olive,, hemp, flax or almond oil is the perfect dressing. There’s no cooking involved and I don’t feel heavy and lethargic after a meal like that.
Besides the more common summer veggies—zucchini, tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers, eggplant, mushrooms and peppers, I encourage you to consider sprouts. I see mung bean, alfalfa, broccoli, radish, sunflower, lentil and mustard sprouts in my supermarket. Almost any seed can be sprouted. The simple process of sprouting releases enzymes making them easier to digest as well as increasing the amounts and bio-availability of protein, vitamins and minerals, transforming them into nutrition powerhouses.
Sprouts are loaded with vitamins and minerals and add such a delicious crunch to salads, wraps, sandwiches, pizza and anything else you add them to. You can add a handful to your morning smoothie or even into your morning eggs or a quick stir fry.
All you need to do is be sure they are fresh, keep them refrigerated (they’re very perishable and don’t last long so eat them quickly!) and wash them thoroughly before eating them. I actually combine a capful of colloidal silver in a spray bottle of purified water and spray my sprouts before consuming to be sure they are free of any salmonella or e-coli bacteria.
I hope I’ve convinced you to focus your summer meals around those delicious, fresh vegetables!
Ann Musico is a certified holistic health coach, independent nutritional consultant, author of Today is Still the Day and other books. She works with women of all ages to empower them to live well so they can model health and wholeness – spirit, soul and body – to their families and beyond. Visit her website at www.annmusico.com to learn about the coaching options and weight loss plans she offers as well as numerous free resources you can access.