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A man and woman shop for fresh produce at a colorful farmstand as sun shines through the trees above.

Best of Summer Salads, Grilled Meats and Treats: Part One

As sunny summer days pour into slow, firefly-lit summer nights, the endless list of things we love about the season only seems to grow longer. At the top? Crafting colorful meals from fresh, locally-grown seasonal produce.

Opting for local fruits and vegetables, according to the American Board of Physician Specialities, helps to enhance healthy eating by giving your body the nutrients it needs and limiting harmful substances like high fructose corn syrup. While eating heavily processed foods can have adverse impacts on our health, an emerging “food as medicine” school of thought among medical professionals recognizes that a nutritious diet rich in items like local produce can act as a measure of both prevention and intervention. 

Eating locally also allows us to experience the most flavorful, in-season foods, benefit the environment, and promote a safer food supply. Local fruits and veggies are also of higher nutritional value than  food distributed from elsewhere. Because the time it takes from local produce to travel from harvest to table tends to be shorter, items are able to maintain higher levels of naturally wellness-supporting nutrients. In addition to nourishing our bodies, choosing local food gives us the opportunity to nourish our communities by supporting our nearby food systems. 

One of the very best ways to shop for fresh seasonal produce, aside from visiting local produce farms, is at your community farmer’s market.

Shopping for Local Produce 

What is a farmers market? 

If you’re new to the local produce scene (welcome!), you're in for a treat. At a farmers market, growers gather in a marketplace to sell their produce, flowers, and prepared foods directly to consumers. In addition to a beautiful selection of fruits and veggies, farmers markets are an excellent place to find local honey, meats, fish, farm fresh eggs, specialty mushrooms, cheeses, herbs, plants, and more. 

Farmers Markets, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), are “a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system,” tied strongly to our nation’s history. They began in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, nearly 300 years ago. 

Today, there are thousands of markets operating across the country. For help finding one near you, check out the USDA National Farmers Market Directory or explore the National Farmers Market Coalition directory. 

What Fruits and Vegetables are in Season? 

Supporting your balanced diet with seasonal produce is one of the best ways to experience life’s most flavorful, nutritious meals. 

Summer fruits and vegetables:

In-season Fruits: Peaches, cherries, apples, plums, tomatoes, summer squash, bananas, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, limes, cucumbers, avocados, zucchini, and mangos

In-season Vegetables: Carrots, romaine, arugula, sweet corn, bell peppers, okra, eggplant, beets, green beans, and asparagus

In the summer, look for these tasty fresh-from-the-farm treats, all of which are high in dietary fiber to help support a healthy weight, digestive balance, and longevity. 

Best of Summer Salads

Fresh summer salads are one of the most nutritious ways to eat for the season, but they can also be one of the most creative. Plus, when it’s simply too hot to turn on the oven, easy summer salads are a delicious way to beat the heat.  The right balance of textures, flavors, and sometimes unexpected ingredients can lead to the most chef’s kiss-worthy addition to the table at your next backyard gathering. If you’re looking for no-fuss healthy dinner inspiration, try one of these mouthwatering summer salad recipes this week:

Grilled Peach Salad
Fresh summer peaches are rich in essential vitamins and nutrients to help support your well-being all season long:

Essential Vitamins

Vitamin A - supports vision, immunity, organ function, reproductive health, and growth and development. This vitamin is a carotenoid, a pigment which gives yellow and orange fruits and veggies their color. Carotenoids are also crucial to skin health and key to a radiant complexion.  

Vitamin C - critical to the body’s healing process, this antioxidant nutrient helps to protect cells against free radicals and supports immunity, muscles, cartilage, and collagen. It’s also been shown to help slow and diminish signs of aging like wrinkles. 

Vitamin K - supports blood clotting, bone heath, cognition, and heart health, and is essential to overall wellness

Folate (B9) - also called folic acid, this nutrient helps convert food into energy and supports a healthy nervous system, development, hair, skin, nails, and eyes. 

Niacin (B3) - this vitamin supports the nervous system, digestive system, and a heathy complexion. 

Potassium

This critical mineral is essential for every bodily function and supports nerves, muscle contraction, bone health, and healthy blood pressure. It can also be crucial in aiding post-procedural recovery

Next time you fire up the barbecue, get ready to see peaches in a whole new light. This 10-minute dish makes an excellent side along with your favorite grilled meats, or deliciously takes center stage as a standalone meal. 

Recipe:

Salad Ingredients

1 peach

½ tablespoon olive oil

1 handful arugula (or other greens of your choice)

1 handful cherry tomatoes sliced

¼ cup blueberries

1 tablespoon almonds sliced

½ tablespoon feta cheese crumbled

Orange Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon orange juice

⅛ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon sugar

Directions

  • Cut peaches into sections and toss gently with oil. 
  • Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until the peaches have gentle grill marks on both sides.
  • Remove and set aside.
  • Add dressing ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly until combined. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 
  • Layer greens in a salad serving bowl.
  • Add a layer of sliced cherry tomatoes and top with blueberries. 
  • Fan grilled peach slices over the top of the salad.
  • Top with feta cheese and dressing, and enjoy!
Carrot Arugula Salad with Fig, Goat Cheese, and Avocado

Carrots are rich in B vitamins and A & K, carotenoids, and potassium, as well as biotin

Biotin 

This beauty-boosting vitamin (B7) supports healthy hair, skin, and nails, as well as promoting heart health, immunity, and metabolism.  

Recipe:

Salad Ingredients

4 large carrots, cut in half vertically and stems/tops removed

1 tablespoon avocado oil

Freshly ground salt and pepper

5 ounces baby arugula

¾ cup dried fig halves

⅓ cup walnuts halves and pieces

⅓ cup goat cheese crumbles

1 avocado, sliced

½ cup roasted chickpeas (optional, for extra protein)

Maple Tahini Dressing Ingredients

¼ cup drippy tahini

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

½ teaspoon dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

2-3 tablespoons warm water, to thin out a bit

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat the grill to medium high heat (about 400 degrees F) and grill the carrots for 15-25 minutes total or until slightly tender, flipping halfway through.
  • Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon, garlic powder, water, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Add arugula to a large platter and layer with toppings: grilled carrots, dried fig halves, toasted walnuts, goat cheese crumbles, avocado slices, and chickpeas.
  • Drizzle tahini dressing all over the top and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Divide into bowls and enjoy!
Summer Salad with Cherries

Nothing says fresh quite like a summer green salad with fruit fresh from the farm stand. In-season cherries are also rich in vitamin C and potassium, and packed with copper, magnesium, and manganese. 

Copper

This mineral supports immunity, energy, and brain development. It’s also an excellent nutrient for supporting an active lifestyle, promoting bone and connective tissue health. 

Magnesium

An essential mineral for all bodily functions, magnesium supports sleep, mood, blood sugar and more. It can be an especially important nutrient for exercise performance

Manganese

mineral involved in metabolizing essential nutrients and supporting connective tissue and sexual hormone health

Recipe:

Salad Ingredients

1 (5 oz) spring lettuce mix 

1 cup cucumbers sliced lengthwise and chopped

2 cups Sweet Northwest cherries pitted and halved

1/4 cup blueberries 

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Dressing Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar  + more if needed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Salt + pepper to taste

Directions

  • For the salad: Toss everything together in a large mixing bowl. 
  • Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients, taste and adjust as needed. Drizzle over the salad, toss together one more time. 
  • Serve and enjoy!

Top salads with farm fresh eggs for a boost of muscle-building protein and additional essential vitamins, or crumble locally-produced cheeses over your greens for extra bone-supporting calcium. 

Even with local seasonal produce, getting the optimal amounts of every nutrition you need can be challenging. Streamline your wellness routine with the right multivitamin for you

Stay tuned for part two of our Best of Summer Salads series for more nutritious seasonal fun!

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