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Perhaps you have noticed the abundance of produce ripening on the vine in your neighbor's yard or, better yet, in your own garden. This is the perfect time to start incorporating the plethora of fruits and vegetables into your daily meals.

There is a variety of reasons to include more fruits and vegetables into your meal planning. It costs less to use the produce that is in season and locally available than to choose those that have to be shipped. It is also a great way to use up the surplus from your garden or your generous neighbor's plot next door. It doesn't get any better than growing something with your own hands and nothing tastes fresher! Lastly, including more fruits and vegetables into your meals provides additional vitamins, minerals, fiber, water and phytochemicals which may defend the body against heart disease and cancer.

It is easy to add summer's bounty into your meal plans. Add fresh fruit including berries, melons and stone fruits into your smoothies, spoon them on top of your plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt or cereal in the morning and on top of a chilled dinner salad as a sweet surprise at the end of a long day. Shred summer squash and add to casseroles and salads and as a last minute addition to soups to boost the nutrient value of your dishes. Wash and chop your veggies ahead of time, refrigerate, then use them at a moment's notice. Most veggies can be blanched, or slightly cooked, and then frozen for later use during the winter months. Variety is the spice of life!

Even if your own garden has had a lackluster performance so far this season, explore your favorite local farmer's market to scope out what is locally available. We are so fortunate to have a farmer's market open almost every day of the week, so get your walking shoes on and bag up a cornucopia of produce to boost your intake of fruits and veggies. Another quick way to use up your garden surplus is to prepare a veggie-style soup in your crock pot in the morning, so when you arrive home at the end of your work day dinner is waiting for you.

Whether you grow your fruits and vegetables yourself or picked them up at a roadside stand, try a new recipe to expand your horizons. The Summer Harvest "Ceviche" recipe* below embraces the use of produce so you can try something new and ramp up your nutrition all at the same time!

Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.

Summer Harvest "Ceviche"

1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed or cooked corn cut off the cob

1 cup frozen edamame, thawed

2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges

1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped (save for garnish)


Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 orange

2 tbsp olive oil


1. Whisk together ingredients for dressing in a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine nectarines and all vegetables. Toss well to combine. Pour dressing over salad and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. If desired, wait to pour dressing until ready to serve or serve dressing on the side for those who are watching their calorie intake.

3. Add cilantro before serving and adjust seasonings as necessary.

4. Add grilled fish, or to make the dish vegetarian, add quinoa and black beans for protein.

*Recipe courtesy of Ann Danahy, MS, RD, LDN and adapted from Food and Wine.

Copyright HealthStarts2Day 06/2023

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