Enjoying the Bounty of Summer
Lauren Weatherford, WVU Extension Agent, Fayette and Nicholas Counties
Ripe tomatoes, juicy berries and fresh corn are just some of the joys of summertime. Whether you pick them from a garden, visit the local farmers market or shop at the grocery store, fresh seasonal foods are in abundance. To find out what’s at the peak of season here’s a WV Produce Calendar.
After a busy day of fun and sun we often have a big appetite. Choosing leaner meats, together with seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables can be a great way to be healthy while enjoying the best summer has to offer. Fresh herbs such as mint, basil, oregano, dill, thyme and rosemary can add immense flavor to your food without fat and sat.
The grill is a terrific way to cook fresh foods with lots of flavor. Skip the same old hamburgers and hot dogs and instead add in some chicken sausage, turkey cutlets, fresh fish or seafood to grilled vegetables and even fruits. Shrimp or chicken Kabobs with fresh peppers, onions, zucchini and squash is a healthy and tasty meal. Be creative, try something new. Have you ever had grilled broccoli (a family favorite), cauliflower, romaine lettuce, watermelon or avocado? For dessert try some grilled peaches with just a touch of honey and cinnamon.
Vegetable grilling tips:
- Cut your veggies into workable pieces. Small enough to cook well and evenly, but big enough that they won’t fall through the grill. And put like vegetables together like mushrooms, squash and zucchini, while peppers and onions take a little longer.
- Using a grilling basket, skewers or foil packets are also great options
- Season with salt and pepper and a small amount of healthy fat such as vegetable, olive or coconut oil. This helps keep in the moisture and secures the seasonings. But be careful to only add a little, more than a light coating isn’t necessary and only adds extra calories.
- Marinades such as a light vinaigrette are a great option.
- Grill over a medium heat, watching carefully, and only turn once. Vegetables should cook 4-10 per side depending on the structure and density.
- Pre-cook potatoes and root vegetables like carrots. This will reduce cooking time while still giving it that great grilled taste.
Fruit grilling tips:
- Use a clean grill. You don’t want your fruit to taste like your chicken.
- Choose ripe and colorful fruit.
- Cut into large pieces that won’t fall through the grill.
- You can oil your fruit, it’s not a necessity, but use a neutral oil that won’t add flavor like safflower or grapeseed oil.
- Leave in place on one side for 3 minutes or until the fruit starts to soften and brown, then turn over for 1-3 minutes.
- Fruits that a good for grilling include stone fruits such as peaches/apricots, sliced apples/pears, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries and even bananas (leave them in the peel and cut lengthwise).
Here are some additional resources for fresh summer recipes, grilling including recipes for fruit and vegetables, outdoor cooking safety, growing and cooking with herbs, and where to find your local farmers market.
Fresh Summer Recipes
- WV Living
- University of Delaware Extension Service
- https://www.foodnetwork.com/grilling/healthy/photos/fresh-healthy-summer-recipesBon Appetite
- Farmers Market recipes
- Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market
- Call your local WVU Extension office for a farmers market near you https://extension.wvu.edu/offices
Stay Healthy during grilling season