Summer is in full swing! Its presence surrounds you with the warmth of the sun and humidity in the air, children enjoying outdoor activities, outdoor grilling, and the wonderful fruits and vegetables the season has to offer. Summer time is one of the best times of year to take advantage of the delicious garden goodies this season has to offer. Whether you have your own garden to enjoy or take advantage of the seasonal produce offered at the grocery store, there are many delicious and fun ways to enjoy them. It’s also important to be safe when preparing these foods as well.
Eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet. But before you can enjoy them, it’s important to remember some important safety practices when preparing them for cooking and consuming:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you begin food preparation.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating. Throw away any produce that may be rotten.
- Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or consuming. Even if you do not plan to eat the skin of a fruit or vegetable, it is important to wash produce first. Scrub firm produce (i.e. melons, squash) with a clean produce brush. The FDA does not recommend washing fruits or vegetables with soap, detergent or commercial produce wash. After washing, use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry your produce.
Once you have taken appropriate measures to clean and prep your produce, it is time to have fun with preparing your garden goodies! There are lots of delicious ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, but summer is the perfect time for grilling. Here are some fun and healthy ways to grill your produce:
- Fruit and vegetable kabobs: cut your fruits and vegetables into bite-size pieces. Lightly season your vegetables if desired (i.e. garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, seasoned salt, pepper, etc). Thread your fruits and vegetables onto wooden or metal kabobs. Grill your kabobs until the fruits and vegetables are tender.
- Vegetable foil packs: Lightly coat a large piece of aluminum foil with canola or olive oil. Place bite size pieces of vegetables (and fruits if desired) into your aluminum foil. Put the foil pack on the grill for 25-35 minutes (or until heated through).
- Marinated grilled vegetables: cut vegetables into bite-size pieces. Prepare your favorite marinade (i.e. lemon pepper, balsamic, garlic, etc.) in a gallon bag. Pour vegetables in the gallon bag with prepared marinade and toss vegetables to coat evenly in marinade. Refrigerate bag for 30 minutes before grilling. Pour vegetables into a grill basket and cook on the grill for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Be sure to take advantage of the delicious produce that is offered this season. Visit farmers markets, the grocery store, your family garden, or other family members, friends, or co-workers if they have an abundance of produce from their gardens. Let your creativity inspire you to prepare fun and tasty meals with the delicious produce of the summer season. Most importantly be safe during preparation, have fun and enjoy your garden goodies!
For more information about the value and benefit of local farmers markets, check out this blog from my colleague.
Our online calendar includes upcoming local farmers markets that will include a Deaconess booth. www.deaconess.com/calendar, keyword “market.”