Summer brings the warm weather, the sun and the overflow of fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables. From the grocery stores to the farmer’s markets, the tables are loaded high with colorful, healthy produce just waiting to be used in your next meal. It is time to take advantage of the natural nutrients these foods offer, and make sure your kids are getting their share of the garden’s treats! With summer starting to come to an end, we need to eat up as many of it’s best fruits and veggies before they are done for the year.
Tomatoes: While tomatoes are common and available all year, they are at their peak in the summer months. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, A and K. They provide a good amount of lycopene which can protect you from heart disease and cancer.
Simple suggestion for kids: Try taking the seeds out. When your child is just getting used to tomatoes, they may be intimidated or freaked out by the seeds and tomato “guts”. Try cutting up a tomato and discarding the “guts” before mixing it with fresh mozzarella balls, a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Spinach: Popeye’s favorite veggie for a reason. Spinach is packed with over 13 different flavonoids which act as anti-cancer substances. It is a great source of vitamin C and A as well as folate, which helps in developing a strong cardiovascular system. Spinach is also an excellent source of iron – an important mineral for growing children because it aids in getting oxygen to cells and providing energy.
Simple suggestion for kids: Make your favorite smoothie and toss in a big handful of spinach. Your children will never know it’s in there and can enjoy the fun green color of the nutrient-rich smoothie!
Kale: Don’t be intimidated by this green, leafy plant. Kale is high in fiber, which promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation and keeps us feeling full. It is also a major source of vitamin K, one cup provides over 1000% of RDA (recommended daily allowance). This huge dose of vitamin K is helpful in strengthening our bones. Kale also packs a lot of vitamin A (over 100% of RDA) which is essential in growing healthy teeth and bones, as well as the growth of reproductive organs.
Simple suggestion for kids: Make kale chips! Place a layer of kale on a cookie sheet, spray with olive spray and a sprinkle of salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until edges are crispy.
Zucchini or Summer Squash: Maybe one of the most versatile summer vegetables out there! Summer squash is low in calories and fill of vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene. Vitamins C and A are effective anti-inﬂamatory agents which can deter the development of asthma.
Simple suggestion for kids:Shred zucchini and add it to a low-fat banana bread or your favorite marinara sauce. No one will ever know it’s in there!
Blueberries: This sweet and fun-shaped fruit is in season from July to early September. Blueberries rank at the top of the list when it comes to antioxidants capacity. They have also been proven to prevent urinary tract infections and help with brain growth and development.
Simple suggestion for kids: Take your kids to a local blueberry patch and show them how to pick fresh, local berries! If you don’t live near a patch, buy a pint of berries and have your kids sort a handful from biggest to smallest. Have fun eating the fresh berries fromsmallest to biggest!
Peaches: Peaches are sweet, juicy and delicious in the summer months. They are high in fiber and in vitamins A, C, and E. Peaches are also high in potassium and low in sodium which make them great for maintaining healthy blood pressure. They can easily be frozen or canned so you can enjoy their benefits all year!
Simple suggestion for kids: Cut a peach into small pieces and stir in Greek yogurt for a snack that is packed with protein and calcium!
Watermelon: Aside from being a cookout favorite, watermelon also offers electrolytes and potassium that we often lose through perspiration. The juicy fruit is rich in vitamin B while helps keep energy levels high! Watermelon is is great for hydrating since it is about ninety percent water.