June 15, 2022

Seasonal Eating Guide: Summer Edition

Welcome to our Guide to Seasonal Eating: Summer Edition!

Discover the local FLAVORS of Summer.

Summer is here! The grills are out, picnic baskets are being packed in preparation for outdoor adventures, and water-related activities are being planned. The days are longer and the sunshine brings a familiar heat and humidity to Virginia and Maryland. We’re craving bright, fresh and fragrant bites to keep our energy up. The local farms are packed with farm-fresh fruits, veggies, making it easy to enjoy tons of variety this summer.

The farmers are in a flurry of activity. Lots of harvesting and planting….and sweating! Fall’s plantings of summer produce are all maturing and being harvested daily right now. Also, planting for fall sweet potatoes is happening.

The Seasonal Roots online farmers market allows you to choose your basket size and customize how you fill it each week. Enjoy your local seasonal favorites… and discover new ones this summer!

IN THIS ISSUE

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Benefits and Uses of Summer Favorites

Every tasty bite of summer’s harvest is ready to fuel our adventures and gatherings.

Because all our produce is harvested nearby, it gets to you fast while it’s still packed with nutrients and flavor. And so good for you! Eating local has so much to offer in summer and is so much better than produce that has to travel across the country or oceans to make it to your grocery store.

Check out some of our summer season recipes here.

Read on below to see what’s in season and some of the benefits of seasonal eating in the summertime!

BASIL

Benefits: Source of vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, strong antioxidant and antibacterial qualities. 

Uses: Add to salads, marinades, and pizzas. Sprinkle over berries, ice cream, or a summer cocktail/mocktail. Try basil pesto on a variety of dishes well beyond pasta!

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: May-November.

 

BELL PEPPERS

Benefits: Source of Vitamins C, B6, and fiber. Red peppers contain more than twice as much vitamin C as an orange, plus antioxidants. 

Uses: Add to salads, pizzas, and stews. Stuff them or toss them on the grill. 

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-August. 

 

CHERRIES

Benefits: Source of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory qualities, especially the tart variety. 

Uses: Snacks, toppings, or cook them into cakes, pies, and sauces.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: May-August.

 

 

EGGPLANT

Benefits: Source of anthocyanins to protect heart health, nasunin to help improve blood flow to the brain, and chlorogenic acid to help prevent cancer. Also supports strong bones, boosts cognition, and protects the digestive system. 

Uses: Add to stir fries and ratatouille. Grill, roast, and bake them.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-August.

 

GRAPES

Benefits: Source of antioxidants and vitamin K. Help prevent blood clots, contribute to strong bones, and support healthy brain function.

Uses: Snack on them fresh or frozen. Add to salads, salsas, or smoothies. 

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: August-October. 

PEACHES

Benefits: Antioxidants, vitamins C & A, and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and post-workout muscle recovery. 

Uses: Snacks, cobblers, pies. Add to salads and sweet or savory sauces, or grill them!

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-September. 

 

 

 

SUMMER SQUASH

Benefits: Great source of antioxidants, including vitamin C. Promotes a strong immune system and good eye health. 

Uses: Use a spiralizer to make a healthy pasta substitute, chop them up and add raw to a grain salad, or brush slices with olive oil and grill. Bake or add to soups, stews, stir fries, and kabobs.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: May-September. 

 

SWEET CORN

Benefits: Source of vitamins B1, B5, & C, phosphorus, manganese, folate, ferulic acid, and fiber. Good for the heart, eyes, cancer prevention, and memory enhancement. 

Uses: Boil, steam, roast, or grill. Eat it on the cob or off. Add kernels to salads, soups, and stir fries.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-August. 

 

SWISS CHARD

Benefits: Source of antioxidants. Rich in magnesium which has been linked to control of blood sugar levels, depression, anxiety and migraines. Also has potassium which is linked to reduced blood pressure and bone and muscle health.

Uses: Use it like spinach. Add to salads, soups, stews, stir fries, and smoothies. Wrap sandwiches or burgers.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-August

 

 

TOMATOES

Benefits: An army of antioxidants! And a great source of vitamin C, beta-carotene to support healthy eyes and skin, minerals like potassium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth, protect against cardiovascular disease, and reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

Uses: Add to salads, sandwiches, sauces, stews, stir fries, salsas, kabobs, pizza, or just enjoy them plain with a little salt.

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: July-October.

 

WATERMELON

Benefits: Low in sugar, high in vitamins A & C to help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, lycopene which may help protect against UV rays and cancer.

Uses: A refreshing snack, a low-calorie dessert, or add to a salad. 

Virginia and Maryland harvest season: June-August. 


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Summer Produce Packs an Antioxidant Punch

As we all know, antioxidants may help prevent or delay cell damage. In this capacity, research suggests that they can help improve cognitive function and have a role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. There are actually hundreds of substances that can act as antioxidants, but some of the most well-known are: vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and selenium.

Seen one antioxidant, seen them all? Despite all of the marketing buzz, it turns out antioxidant supplements have not been proven to help prevent diseases. If you’d like to read more about this, view this Harvard nutrition study here. The health benefits come from when you get your antioxidants from food. You can find antioxidants in fruits, vegetables and even spices and herbs like turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, etc. If you want a signal on how rich in antioxidants your diet is, check out the color in your plate. The more color and variety, the more antioxidants you’re likely consuming! 

Fruits and veggies absorb flavor and nutrients like antioxidants from the sun and earth – right up until the moment they’re ripe. Pick them early to ship long distances and they will never reach their full potential… even if they eventually look ripe. Local produce from Seasonal Roots gets to you from Dirt to Doorstep® within days allowing you to enjoy all the benefits of healthy eating!

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Why Knowing Where Your Food Comes From Matters

Knowing where your food comes from is easier when it’s nearby. At Seasonal Roots, we talk with our farmers, visit their farms, and share their stories with you so you can know them, too. 

Here’s an example, and true story, that illustrates how 2 of the Seasonal Roots farmers are learning from each other, and together, making a difference.

Flores Farm and Sion House Farm are both located in the Northern Neck of the middle peninsula of Hampton Roads. Through the connection of Seasonal Roots these two farms not only share information with one another on growing practices and other tricks of the trade, but they also coordinate with each other about what they are growing for us and how they both fit into our market! Omar Flores and Justin McKinney have become such good friends that they decided to spend a day together driving down to North Carolina to pick up Sweet Potato starts for this season’s plantings. I love hearing these types of stories and wish that I could have been along for that ride!

Since our farmers and food artisans are nearby, it’s easy to keep our food chain transparent – you always know where our local food comes from, who grows and makes it, and how they operate. For more information about some of our partners visit https://www.seasonalroots.com/our-partners/.

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Healthy Eating on the Go

When the sunshine is out, we want to be outside as much as we can to soak it up…and sometimes you may find you don’t have much time during the day to sit down and eat. Here are three easy tips to help you still eat healthy while on the go so you can maximize your fun in the sun!

  • Freeze your fruits so they can stand the heat longer: frozen grapes are super refreshing to eat on their own, while other fruits can be frozen for more creative use like peach “sugar” cubes for lemonades or smoothies, or watermelon popsicles. If taking frozen fruits with you, make sure you slice them for easy grabbing, pack them in a resealable container, and keep them in a cooler.
  • Raw veggies versus cooked foods: raw foods are more cooling than cooked foods, easier to eat on the go, and more hydrating. Opt for cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, etc. As tempting as it may be, wait to wash and don’t cut your veggies until you’re ready to pack them so you can retain as much freshness as possible. 
  • Infuse your water with leftover fruits and veggies: it’s easy to become dehydrated in the summer, and because of their lack of pesticides and preservatives, your fruits and veggies are perishable. Don’t let any extra fruits and veggies go to waste. Instead, stay hydrated by incorporating them in the water you drink. Try a sprig of mint as a garnish to a cool glass of cucumber infused water to help satisfy your thirst. Get creative and stay hydrated! 

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Rut Buster Tips

Sometimes we get into a habit of cycling through the same meals each week. And we acknowledge that can work especially if you have picky eaters in the household. However, if you feel you are in a rut, summer is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new fruits and veggies! So, here are a few suggestions on how to spruce up your meals and bust the rut!

  • Rotate your greens: We all know there are so many amazing green veggies out there that you can try in place of say spinach or lettuce. Switching in some different greens can add new flavors, texture, beauty and nutrition to your meals. Think swiss chard, watercress, arugula, cabbage, microgreens or bok choy. You can prepare all of these the same way you would prepare spinach, and their unique flavors will zing up your salad, stir-fry, sandwich, etc. Simply changing your go-to greens, and/or incorporating several in one dish, can completely transform a meal! 
  • Add fruits to a savory dish: One easy way to make a savory meal fun is to sweeten it up with some fruits! Peaches and berries are great items that can be cooked into sauces for meat, or tossed into a salsa or salad for a “sweet and savory” effect.
  • Turn a meat dish vegetarian: You can swap ground beef for lentils or mushrooms, or chicken for eggplant, while maintaining those familiar profiles of your go-to dishes. The swap opportunities here are endless!
  • Forgo the recipe altogether: When the ingredients are fresh, sometimes you don’t need a recipe. Simply chop up the veggies and top off anything you like. How about putting onions, tomatoes, and cilantro directly on top of chips (plus melted cheese) instead of officially mixing into a salsa? Top any item (rice, quinoa, fish, meat, etc.) with fresh herbs; it will look beautiful and taste great.

An easy way to approach item swaps is swapping out just one ingredient in a favorite recipe. That way, you’ll still get your familiar flavors, but the added ingredient will make the dish “new.” Over time, you can play with bigger swaps and see what you like best! We all get into habits of consuming our “go to” meals, but with so much summer variety it’s a perfect time to test and create some new favorites.

 

About Seasonal Roots

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood market managers – who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grass fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.