Every year it happens. I’m blissfully enjoying the spring bounty of strawberries, when the delicious summer grapes and blackberries show up. I immediately load my grocery cart up with more fruit than I can fit in my fridge. Next the watermelon, peaches, and blueberries appear, and my already crowded refrigerator space takes another hit. The weather continues to get warmer, and my fridge continues to get fuller, until finally, the cherries arrive. Oh, the glorious, shiny, dark red cherries – they beckon me with their perfectly juicy balance of sweet and tart. At this point my refrigerator is about to explode with the amazing summer bounty of fruit, and the next problem occurs. Now, when I open the fridge doors, how do I choose what to feast on? My solution is to eat all of it, all the time, all at once, and all day long. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but massive fruit salads of every variety occur regularly in my kitchen. A perfect companion to all this fruit is a big container of plain full-fat Greek yogurt (my favorite brand is Fage) and a drizzle of honey to make a delicious protein-rich breakfast or an easy evening dessert option. Summer fruit is a wonderful, hydrating, and refreshing snack option too, so I’d venture to guess that if you keep your fridge full of fruit, you might be less tempted to dig into those less healthy options lurking in the pantry. If you get carried away and buy too much, most summer fruits freeze well for later use.
If I don’t already have you dreaming of a summer fruit salad, let’s highlight the nutritional merits of a few of the most delicious summer fruit options:
- Strawberries: These juicy red delights are packed with vitamin C – around a cup of berries has enough vitamin C for the whole day.
- Grapes: Green and red varieties are a great source of B vitamins, and are full of a special type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which is fancy speak for cancer fighting super hero.
- Blackberries: One of the lesser known qualities of blackberries is that they are a good source of folate. Folate is good for more than just pregnancy. Folate helps prevent heart disease and is good for the brain too.
- Blueberries: These little round globes of blue yumminess are well known for having one of the highest levels of antioxidants in the fruit world. They also have a healthy dose of fiber and are low in calories.
- Watermelon: Water is the key word, as watermelon is wonderfully hydrating for the summer heat since it’s full of… water! (Duh.) It’s also a super source of the antioxidant lycopene (great for prostate cancer prevention) and other carotenoids.
- Peaches: Peaches have got it all. They have a little bit of everything, nutritionally speaking - B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, fiber. Plus they make a killer peach cobbler.
- Cherries: Blood pressure lowering, sleep aid, arthritis benefit, cancer prevention, pie filling – cherries can do it all.
The end of the summer fruit season is such sweet sorrow, so eat them all day long, all summer long, lest you regret it when the fresh summer fruits are gone.
Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious healthy foods and providing nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does community education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. Look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas.