By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
There's no better time than now to try new fresh foods -- there's just such a huge abundance of produce this time of year. We're obsessed with our local farmer's market, but also slightly overwhelmed. Everything looks so good but we can only carry so much in our burlap bag!
To find out what sorts of things we absolutely shouldn't miss this time of year, we called on Monica Reinagel, M.S., a super-cool nutritionist, chef, and blogger for our new sister site, Nutrition Data (check out the link in the dark blue tool bar!). We're obsessed with her blog, the Compare Foods tool, and the Food Search tool.
Related: Beat the heat with one of these no-cook meals tonight!
If you like ... Spinach
You'll love... Kale
Both of these veggies are a good source of iron and calcium, but spinach contains oxalates that can interfere with the absorption of these minerals. Kale, on the other hand, is low in oxalates, so you're able to soak up more of the nutritious goodness. Kale requires a little more cooking than spinach because it's tougher. Reinagel usually sautes it in olive oil (crushed garlic or thinly sliced shallots are a nice addition) until it's wilted. Then she adds a quarter cup or so of water or chicken stock and covers the skillet to let it braise until it's tender. Finally, she removes the lid to cook off any remaining liquid, and dresses it with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Yum!
If you like ... A fruity beverage post- workout (say, coconut water or Gatorade)
You'll love... Watermelon slices
"When watermelon is in season, why settle for bottled anything," says Reinagel. Fresh chilled watermelon is a great way to re-hydrate after a run or bike ride. Like an electrolyte beverage, watermelon helps replenish potassium and magnesium, and despite the sweet taste it's surprisingly low in sugar.
Bonus: Do you dare? Take the SELF fitness challenge!
If you like... Crispy romaine
You'll love... Fennel
Just as lettuce starts to fade in the summer heat, fresh fennel starts to show up at the farmer's market, according to Reinagel. For a sophisticated alternative to the green salad, she suggests swapping fennel for your romaine. It pairs especially well with Italian food -- serve after the main course, Italian-style, to cleanse the palate and promote digestion. Slice the bulbs as thinly as you can, then fan them out on a salad plate and drizzle with EVOO and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Seriously simple (which we love!), but will definitely impress your guests!
Related: Eat these superfoods for flat abs
If you like... Summery dips and cheese
You'll love... Cucumbers
"Although we buy cucumbers all winter long, it's this time of year that you remember what they're actually supposed to taste like," says Reinagel. When they're at their crispest and flavorful best is the perfect time to sub them in for crackers when serving, say, goat cheese canapes, or in place of bread or crackers when scooping up hummus. While they're a decent source of vitamin K, which helps build strong bones, the big benefit here is that you'll save a lot of carbs and empty calories.
What are your favorite healthy summer swaps? Use the Compare Foods tool from Nutrition Data to find your best options!
MORE FROM SELF:
Check out SELF's stop cellulite workout
- SELF's annual healthy food awards showcases 66 fast fix foods you'll love to eat!
- Beat the heat with one of these no-cook meals tonight
- Find the best swimsuit for your body type now!
Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio