Summertime is the perfect time to pack our meals full of vegetables and fruits, as many of them are in season this time of year. Fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet because they are packed with a myriad of nutrients our bodies need to maintain our health and wellbeing. A few examples of nutritious fruits and vegetables that are in season throughout July and August include bell peppers, blackberries, corn, cucumbers, cherries, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini and summer squash.
Although vegetables are plentiful, and often less expensive, this time of year, many of us still have picky eaters at home. There are several tricks of the trade to sneak in added vegetables to some of the family’s favorite meals. For instance, when preparing spaghetti, chop up fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and mushrooms and add them into the sauce. Spinach is another vegetable that can be easily disguised because it cooks down well and can be added into healthy snacks, like fruit smoothies.
Another good rule of thumb is to “eat the rainbow”—the more color on your plate, the more nutrition you are receiving from your meal. And as far as portions go, non-starchy vegetables are the one food group you don’t have to worry about, as they are packed with nutrients.
Making sure you eat proper portions and include the right variety of foods in your diet can be difficult, and often, the guidance of a dietitian can get people on the right track. Cone Health has an exceptional network of registered dietitians dedicated to helping patients develop and maintain healthy, balanced diets that work for them and fit into their lifestyles.
Leslie Williams is a registered dietitian at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Williams received a Bachelor of Science in foods and nutrition at Appalachian State University in 2012, and a Master of Science in human nutrition at Winthrop University in 2013. She completed her internship at Lenoir Rhyne University in 2014.