Happy last day of July! We’re officially into those “Dog Days of Summer” and with these long, hot days come all the classic summer produce. The farmer’s market stands are overloaded, and it is the easiest time of the year to eat fresh fruits and veggies.
Every menu can use some fresh ideas. Here are our favorite ways to snack on fresh produce, and they’re (mostly) ready in 5 minutes or less:
“You can put just about anything in a tortilla:”
Spread yogurt, lowfat cream cheese, peanut butter, or almond butter on a tortilla and fill it with your favorite fruit for an instant sweet yet satisfying pick me up. Another option is to puree your fruit and plain yogurt: use that as a dip for tortillas or spread and roll for an easy on-the-go snack.
Or you can spread that same tortilla with cream cheese or lowfat salad dressing and fill it with your favorite veggies- tomatoes, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, you’ve got almost endless options.
Another tortilla idea is to spread with hummus (maybe try a flavored variety) and sprinkle with salad shreds (shredded lettuce). It’s crunchy, cool, and easy to grab and go.
Use those crisper drawers
Especially if you have hungry kids in the house, a fridge drawer of fresh, washed, ready to eat fruits and veggies is always a good idea. Spend a few moments on the weekend chopping up fresh veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, etc) and packing them in sandwich baggies for a healthy snack you don’t even have to think about.
Are you a Ranch Dressing dipper? Our nutritionist recommends mixing a packet of ranch dressing into lowfat plain yogurt or sour cream. This gives you an extra serving of dairy and helps you avoid the empty calories and fat grams found in most bottled ranch dressings/dips.
There’s more to veggie dips than “just” ranch: you can dip almost any veggie in hummus. There are also some great premade tzatziki dips and fresh guacamole options out there (the Costco spicy avocado hummus is worth a try).
Dust off your blender
Smoothies are a great way to turn almost any fresh fruit (and even veggies) into a quick and tasty snack. If you plan to add greens to your smoothie it helps to start with a strong base: yogurt, orange juice, or bananas. Throw in all your favorite produce and blend away. If using frozen fruit you’ll need to add some sort of liquid- some great sugar free options are non-dairy milks, coconut water, pineapple juice, or any fruit juice.
(psst- if you’ve got kids, pour the smoothie extras into popsicle molds! They’ll love it!:)
Plan for tomorrow
Overnight oats are all the rage right now. Have you tried them?
Here’s how you make it: put 1/3 cup oats (quick or rolled oats- not instant), 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds, ½ teaspoon of flavoring/extract (vanilla, lemon, etc), ¾ cup of any dairy or non-dairy milk in a bowl. Stir it up and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning add your desired fruit (peaches, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, plums, pears, apples, etc) and enjoy. Instant breakfast!
If you’re thinking about tomorrow, fruit and veggie breads are a great way to sneak in another helping of produce. You can substitute the fat/oil in any recipe for yogurt or applesauce. If it calls for a cup of butter or oil: swap it for 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup plain applesauce, and 1/3 cup oil or butter (equals one cup). You’ll never notice the difference. If you don’t mind a cak-ier bread, go ahead swap the oil for all applesauce. Try banana bread, applesauce bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, carrot bread, etc. And if you don’t want the oven running that long- just pour the batter into muffin cups and reduce the baking time by a 1/3.
One of the cool things about living in the Columbia Basin is the variety of food grown right here in our backyard. Head down to the Farmer’s Markets (Pasco on Wednesday, Kennewick on Thursday, Richland on Friday, Pasco again (at TRAC) on Saturday, and Richland West/Queensgate on Sunday) and find a food or two you’ve never eaten. Go home and google or pinterest what to do with that fruit or veggie and give it a try. You never know, you might find your new favorite food!
Remember that you can put almost any veggie (or even fruit) in a salad. The combinations are literally endless.
Give frittatas a try. Or make an omelet. You can add a number of veggies to either of these. Take last night’s leftover veggies, pour scrambled eggs over the top, and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Call it breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three! 🙂
We have yet to meet a vegetable that isn’t made better by EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), a little salt and pepper, and a BBQ grill. Try brushing eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata), sweet potatoes, or mushrooms in oil and grilling until tender. Season with salt and pepper and find your favorite! (And if you want to take those same veggies to a whole new level, try topping with a little bit of pesto after grilling!)
So there you have our favorites! What’s your favorite way to eat fruits and veggies in the summertime?
We Wish You Good Health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club
Photo Credit: Natalie Maynor via Flickr