Every season brings activities that seem exclusive to that time of year. Summer is no exception. Many foods are also quintessential to the season. In the summertime, you need to look no farther than a roadside stand or your local Farmer’s Market. The choices seem endless. Many farms also welcome guests. If you have one near you, put the family in the car and enjoy a visit. Walk in the orchards. Pick your own. Or pick one of the baskets that will surely be waiting. The fruits and vegetables of summer are beautiful, fragrant and delicious. It’s a delight to the senses, from farm to table. But the very best part of these summer indulgences is that they are good for us, too!
There is no plausible way to cover them all, short of writing a novella. But let me share a few examples. The links below can provide additional information. Let’s start with peaches. And, yes, I am partial to SC peaches. In a study from Texas A & M, results showed that peaches (no matter where they’re grown) can fight Chronic illnesses like Diabetes and Heart Disease. These fuzzy beauties can also reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Peaches provide an excellent source of the antioxidant Vitamin C. And that is beneficial in combating the formation of free radicals known to cause Cancer. Vitamin C can also reduce wrinkles. Are you listening, girls?
Watermelon isn’t just for kids. It is a nutrient-rich food that any age can benefit from eating. And everyone seems to enjoy it, too. Around 92% of watermelon is water. This provides needed electrolytes in the summer’s sweltering heat. Another heads-up for the athletes, out there … Amino acids, like L-citrulline, found in watermelon can reduce muscle soreness. Vitamins A and C are great for healthy skin and hair. Remember that C is a wonderful antioxidant. And the fiber in watermelon aids in healthy digestion.
Okra isn’t just a “Southern thing”. It boasts many healthy benefits like fiber, folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, protein, thiamin, etc. These things promote good heart health and strong bones. You’ll find antioxidants in okra, too.
Yellow veggies like corn, summer squash, peppers, beans, golden beets, etc., offer many nutritional benefits. The “Yellows” provide us with plenty of antioxidants, vitamins (A, B, C, E & K), etc. Antioxidants fight inflammation, among other things. They boost your immune system. Manganese strengthens bones. These veggies are also heart healthy. Some can clear toxins from the kidneys. Others aid in lowering bad cholesterol and blood-pressure. They can even help with fatigue!
Cherries are another great indulgence, of summer. They offer a load of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Just 1 cup of these little gems (approx. 21 cherries) is less than 100 calories and can provide 15% of your daily Vitamin C. That’s healthy snacking! Cherries can slow the aging process, help to combat many Chronic illnesses, lessen joint pain, lower bad cholesterol, etc. Cherries and cherry juice have been shown to lower the risk of Gout attacks. Tart cherries are one of the few foods that provide Melatonin. This is a hormone that aids the sleep-cycle. And we can all appreciate a good night’s rest!
If you are looking for a fun activity, or a way to introduce new foods to your family, plant a garden or visit a Farmer’s Market. I have very fond memories of summers that are long past … their delicious bounty … and the adventures that transpired. Every year, amid the long days and warm weather, they come come back to me and always put a smile on my face …
I remember the Rainier Cherry tree, in my uncle’s backyard. My cousins and I would pick those cherries every morning, right after breakfast … still wearing our pajamas … our bare feet running through the dew-laden grass. I remember my grandma’s garden — lush with goodness and envied by many. And I remember the gardens that we planted, too — though ours were never as outstanding as hers.
What we didn’t grow, we found at the local Farmer’s Market. I always enjoyed taking those shopping trips with my Mom … smelling the fresh fruit, making selections, trying new recipes. Even now, I can remember my mother and grandmother teaching me the fine arts of canning … freezing … even drying. We were an industrious bunch — breaking beans, shucking corn, peeling peaches and laughing. No matter the task at hand, there was always a lot of love and laughter … fruits, vegetables, chutney, chow-chow, jams, jellies. Our freezers and pantries were proudly stocked. Those are some of the lessons that you never forget. And making them were some of the best Summer indulgences.
* Photo by Ian Baldwin on Unsplash