Blast Off: Take advantage of seasonal produce

It can be easy to get stuck in an uninspired food routine that leaves you reaching for the same fruits and veggies time and time again.

It can be easy to get stuck in an uninspired food routine that leaves you reaching for the same fruits and veggies time and time again. But with the change of seasons just around the corner, why not take this opportunity to branch out and try some different seasonal produce. Changing your grocery list will not only keep your taste buds interested, it will also ensure your body’s getting plenty of added vitamins and minerals. There is so much variety to choose from — all it takes is a visit to the grocery store or the local farmers’ market.

Take zucchini, for example. While they can be purchased year round, they are freshest and most plentiful among local growers between May and July. Members of the squash family, zucchinis are loaded with healthy benefits such as magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, copper, folate, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and several B vitamins.  They are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of dietary fibre. When choosing zucchini, look for those that resemble a cucumber in size and shape and have a smooth, thin skin that is either green or yellow in colour. There are lots of ways to enjoy this often overlooked veggie! Try it sliced and grilled on the barbecue or cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and baked at 350 degrees Celsius for 20 to 25 minutes. Add grated zucchini to your baking as a sneaky way to get your kids to eat their veggies. You could also consider adding raw, grated zucchini to a salad or slice it up and and serve on a sandwich.

Eggplants are another excellent option. Grown on vines, eggplants are part of the nightshade family along with peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. They have a spongy flesh, meaty texture and slightly bitter taste, with the skin being especially bitter. Choose eggplants that are shiny, firm and heavy for their size. Avoid those that are dull in colour, have brown or soft spots, or have wrinkled skin. Eggplants are in peak season from July through October and, nutritionally speaking, are a great source of fibre, contain potassium and folate, and are even rich in cancer-fighting flavonoids. Beyond simply roasting this tasty veggie, try it grilled on the barbecue with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They are also great when roasted and mashed into a dip called babaganoush.

Summer is the time to enjoy berries. Loaded with antioxidants, folate, vitamin C, B and E, these little nuggets of goodness are also packed with soluble fibre, which helps promote a feeling of fullness. Naturally sweet, berries can often satisfy the urge to reach for a sugary snack. With so many varieties to choose from, they can be easily mixed in with your morning breakfast cereal or smoothie, or added to your next salad. Try tossing together some arugula or spinach, a small handful of toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a handful of berries, and top it all off with some crumbled goat cheese — quick, simple, and tasty!

For more hints on healthy eating, book a free consult and fitness assessment today with one of Fitness 4 Life’s certified personal trainers. We’d love to show you how easy and delicious healthy food can be. For more information, visit our website at www.fitness4life.tv.