In Southern California, we have the greatest selection of colorful, flavorful, and nutritious fruits and vegetables year-round, but we get even luckier during the summer. Juicy melons, plump berries, succulent stone fruits, and vitamin-packed vegetables will soon be overflowing farmer’s market stalls, roadside stands, local shops, and backyard gardens.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular summer fruits and veggies that you can add to your meal planning.
Harvested in mid- to late-summer, there are more than a dozen varieties available. Ranging from tart (such as the traditional green Granny Smith) to sweet (hello, Honeycrisp!), apples are high in fiber and antioxidants, low in calories, and provide such a range of flavors that some are ideal for snacking, while others are better for baking.
Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are all bursting with vitamin C and antioxidants, and are a great source of fiber. These fragrant, colorful fruits are incredibly versatile—try them on their own, in smoothies, in pies, as toppings for oatmeal and yogurt, and more.
Available from late spring and through the summer, around 20 varieties are widely available in the U.S. Cherries are typically divided into sweet (best for snacking) and tart (best for baking). Both types deliver vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and are low in calories.
This barbecue favorite is rich in healthy minerals and vitamins A, B, and E. High in fiber and weighing in at only 100 calories an ear, corn fits in with a nutritional diet or weight-loss efforts. Just-picked corn is so sweet and flavorful, all you have to do is grill it lightly and add a pinch of salt – no butter required.
The saying “cool as a cucumber” really does apply to this summer favorite. Coming into season when SoCal’s temperatures start to soar, cucumbers are fiber-rich and nearly 95% water to keep you full and hydrated. Packed with vitamins, minerals, folic acid, and carbohydrates, they make a light, refreshing snack on their own, or can be used in cool summer soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.
Recognizable for its rich purple skin (though it is available in other colors), the eggplant is delicious when grilled, roasted, or baked, and it’s a staple of many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. High in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water, eggplants are sometimes used as a meat replacement in vegetarian dishes.
At its best in late summer and early fall, garlic comes in a number of nutritious and delicious varieties. High in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this super food is believed to be good for battling bad cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Garlic is used in all kinds of cooking and food preparation including sauces, dressings, spreads, and in recipes from cultures around the world.
Is there any fruit that says “summer” more than watermelon? Slice it, cube it, grill it, freeze it, serve it with savory snacks, or make juices and drinks—there are countless ways to enjoy this flexible fruit. Jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, this refreshing melon is also high in lycopene—an antioxidant currently being studied for its health effects related to the heart and certain cancers.
Try Them All!
Take some time to explore the wide variety of fresh healthy eating options in the produce section this time of year – you may be able to get some of these spring staples and fall favorites, too. From the deep reds and blues of berries, to the deep green of cucumbers, now is the time to exercise your taste buds. Add some color to your plate!