When it comes to summer produce, watermelon and corn seem to bask in the sunlight. But by mid-July, you may feel like you’re in a rut. One great thing about summer - there are so many other tasty fruits and vegetables in season. Don’t overlook the little guys of produce!
Summer's top 10 most underappreciated fruits and vegetables:
This fruit is native to Asia and looks like a tomato! Persimmons are consumed fresh, dried or cooked. Cut them like you would an apple (eaten whole or sliced) and they can be eaten on their own, or you can add them to a salad. Nutritionally, persimmons are high in fiber and minerals like manganese, vitamin C and iron.
This fruit is native to China and loves warm, tropical climates. Lychees are peeled, pitted and commonly used in fruits salads. Lychees are high in vitamin C and polyphenols, which have been shown to prevent diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. You may see them at frozen yogurt shops – so get wild and add some to your froyo!
Rhubarb is a fruit grown widely. The stalks are cooked with sugar to offset the tart taste, and then made into pies, crumbles or jams.
7) Passion Fruit
This fruit is actually a berry native to South America. Passion fruit is used in fruit salads, desserts, cocktails, or juice. Try it with a bit of chili powder and a fresh squeeze of lime.
Think of these berries as the perfect children from raspberry and blackberry parents. Boysenberries look like maroon-colored blackberries and are traditionally made into jams or pies, but can be eaten raw. These berries are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants like many of their cousins.
5) Chayote Squash
Technically a fruit, this plant originated from Mesoamerica. While it can be eaten raw, try roasting it, just as you would summer squash.
4) Asian Pears
This fruit is native to East Asia and has a thick brown skin. The pears are served peeled and raw, and tend to be large in size (and sometimes large in price). The fruits are high in fiber and potassium, and make a nice addition to salads or stir-fries.
These dark purple beauties can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled. The green leafy portion is also edible! Beet juice has been shown to aid in high blood pressure. Beets are high in folate and manganese. Our bodies cannot break down the red color, so do not be alarmed if the color of your urine changes after you consume this vegetable. If you're seeing red and don't care for it, try yellow beets.
2) Swiss Chard
This leafy green vegetable with red stalks is grown worldwide and is very high in vitamins A, K and C. This vegetable can be bitter, but cooking it takes away some of the bitterness. Try Swiss chard in place of spinach (sautéed chard, swish chard enchiladas).
High in fiber and antioxidants, this fruit is very versatile. Eaten dried or fresh, figs are nutrition powerhouses because they have a diverse amount of phytochemicals. California produces the largest amounts of figs in the U.S. Get creative with figs since they can be eaten raw or cooked. Try prosciutto wrapped figs, fig and goat cheese tart, or fig salsa.
Dallas is one of the few cities in the U.S. that has a farmer’s market open 7 days a week. The Shed is where regional farmers sell their fruits and vegetables within the Dallas Famers Market (920 S Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201). The Shed is open Fridays through Sundays.
Caroline manages the internal wellness program to improve the health of Methodist Health System’s employee and dependent population. A University of Oklahoma graduate, Caroline has 10 years experience as a registered and licensed dietitian.