I always say, veggies are good all the time. Great for snacks, great for meals, great for on-the-go. But the best way to get the most out of your veggie choices is to buy the most seasonal vegetables. Like we discussed last week, buying seasonal not only allows you the best and most fresh selection, but also helps to support local produce and local farming, even more when you buy them directly from the producers at a local farmers market or store that buys local. Pick out a few from my favorite five below to add into your meals this month!
- Bell peppers – With 6 delicious colors to choose from, picking the perfect pepper is easy to do! While the purple and white varieties are harder to come by, green, red, orange and yellow are more common and easy to find at local grocers and supermarkets. If you have wondered why you like one color variety but not another, you’re not crazy! While all pepper varieties start out green, as they ripen, they change color from green to red and get sweeter as well. If you don’t like the robust flavor of green pepper, give another color variety a try and you may pick a pepper you like! These are the perfect addition to salads, sautés, and kebobs on the grill!
- Sweet peas – More than just a phrase of adoration for another, sweet peas or sugar snap peas, do live up to their names. Unlike their heavier and thicker pea cousin, the snow pea, sweet peas are the type of pea we are most used to seeing and eating as plump round pea inside of fried rice and served as a vegetable with many dishes. Peas are a protein packed member of the legume family, also containing antioxidants, which can help prevent some cardiovascular diseases and help with digestion from their natural fiber content. Try a cold pea salad this summer for a protein packed fresh vegetable side dish.
- Eggplant – A family member to the potato and others of the nightshade vegetables, the eggplant is a deep purple oval shaped vegetable that is a rich and hearty vegetable suitable to many different cooking methods. Sliced and grill, or breaded and baked, eggplant can take on many delicious flavors for many different flavor profiles. Eggplant is also an excellent source of potassium, a mineral known for its benefits on water retention, blood pressure, and kidney health.
- Chickpeas – Maybe you know them as garbanzo beans, these small, round, tan legumes are commonly consumed in their pureed form as hummus! However, chickpeas can be served up roasted and crunchy, sauteed and whole, or as a tasty hummus. The amazing protein and fiber content of the chickpea can help to keep you full and can help control your blood sugar too. The great amounts of magnesium and potassium can help prevent high blood pressure as well as lower bad cholesterol, helping your overall heart health. Try tossing these plant-protein packed beans with onion, cucumber, tomato and red wine vinegar for a refreshing veggie packed salad.
- Beets – The most vibrant of the root vegetables, beets are a bright red, earthy and hearty root that has many benefits beyond taste! Not only do beets contain many vital vitamins and minerals such as folate, iron, and vitamin C, all essential for skin, immune, and heart health, they also contain a special compound called inorganic nitrates. These nitrates have been extensively studied and have shown to increase athletic performance by increasing exercise capacity. Try pickling these bright red beauties to toss in your next mixed greens salad for a bright punchy bite.
Article co-authored by: Jessica Skeffington, Dietetic Intern