June marks the celebration of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month and the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts Medical Center is offering tips on how to better incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your summer diet.
Wondering what vegetables are in season during the summer?
Registered Dietitian at the Weight and Wellness Center, Melissa Page, MS, RD, LDN highlighted the variety that the different months of summer offer. “A lot of the greens are in season particularly in June. Kale, collard greens, arugula, and lettuces can easily be added to salads or quickly sautéed. And in July, there are zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant as well as all sorts of peppers that come in season.”
There are also healthier options for one of America’s great cooking pastimes: grilling.
Ms. Page recommends cooking white meat chicken and fish such as swordfish, salmon, and cod as alternatives to their fattier red meat counterparts. If you do want to eat red meats, she recommends purchasing leaner cuts. “Leaner pork cuts like pork tenderloin, pork roast or a pork loin can be marinated and put on the grill. Also with steak, there are lean cuts of beef that you can grill as well. Sirloin and strip steak are both very lean, so if you really like beef, those are some things you can enjoy.”
On the sweeter side
Fresh fruits can serve as healthier alternatives to traditional summer treats like ice cream. Melons such as watermelon, cantaloupes and honeydew come into season in the summer as well as a wide variety of berries. Simple tricks such as freezing grapes and making popsicles with non-fat Greek yogurt and fruit can also serve as a way to sweeten things up without the fat, calories, and sugar that a typical cup of ice cream would have.
Consumers should also be wary when reading advertisements that suggest that frozen yogurt as a healthier option to ice cream. “Often,” she says, “frozen yogurt sold at the ice cream shop or in the grocery store is going to have a lot of added sugars, so you definitely need to take a look at the nutritional facts and watch the sugar content. I suggest buying sugar free options or taking non-fat Greek yogurt and sweetening it up with pureed fruit.”
Ms. Page also emphasizes the need to remain hydrated this summer. It is important to drink eight cups of water a day and replace any water lost from exercise. If you’re looking to have something with a little more flavor, Ms. Page recommends seltzer water. “It’s a great option if you are comfortable with carbonation. They have a lot of different flavors with no calories and no sugar. . However, my favorite alternative is adding fruit to water. Slicing strawberries, cucumbers, or herbs and adding them to your water is great because there are no extra sugars, but you’re getting some flavor without all the calories.”