What’s in Season for June.
It’s time to celebrate summer! In June, we can enjoy apricots, beans, chard, cherries, kale, lettuce, mangoes, onions, papayas, peas, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, spinach and zucchini.
Here are tips on using some of our favorites!
Cherries have a short season making these gems of nature a delicious summer snack. Cherries are virtually free of fat and sodium. They are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, and B complex and are packed full of antioxidants. Research has shown that eating cherries can help the body prevent heart disease and cancer.
In addition, cherries contain compounds that help relieve the pain of arthritis, gout and even headaches, by blocking inflammatory enzymes. In fact, 20 cherries are 10 times as potent as aspirin. Sweet cherries are also considered to be excellent sources of boron. Boron consumption, coupled with calcium and magnesium has been linked to increased bone health. Sweet cherries are also a significant source of melatonin. The melatonin in cherries may help influence positive sleep patterns.
Finger Food Mania: Trail Mix
Trail mix is a great summer snack, easy to make, and lasts for weeks in airtight container on the kitchen counter. It is an excellent no-mess, on-the-go snack, but it’s not just for the trail, it makes a terrific high-energy breakfast.
Combine any or all of these ingredients in an airtight container and toss gently to mix. Store airtight. Lasts for weeks.
- Dry snacks: cereal (low in sugar – i.e. Cheerios, Kix, Corn Chex, etc), small pretzels, graham cracker or rice cake pieces, or animal crackers.
- Dried fruits: Cherries, apricots, raisins, mangoes, or coconut flakes (Tip: big pieces of dried fruit can be cut up easily using kitchen shears).
- Nuts and seeds: sliced almonds, pecan pieces, cashew pieces, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or peanut pieces.
Age to introduce: Over 18 months. Trail mix can be a choking hazard for children, especially those who have difficulty with textures. If you have concerns, supervise your child while he/she is eating it.
Green beans are low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. They are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Folate. These factors and nutrients all help to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and hypertension. Green beans are also a diuretic and may be used to treat diabetes.
At the market: Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October. Good quality beans should have long, straight pods and be well-colored. They should also be free of decay or blemishes and snap easily when bent. There are some interesting varieties of green beans on the market – Chinese yard long and French haricot verts are two that you might consider trying.
Storage: Refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag.
Preparation: Trim or snap off both ends. (an excellent job for your little kitchen helper). Wash in clean, cool water before cooking.
Here are a few easy ideas to add green beans in your meals:
- Layer blanched green beans, tomato slices, and Vidalia onion rings on a platter. Drizzle with a Dijon vinaigrette.
- Sauté green beans in butter until crisp tender. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and crisp bacon bits just before serving.
- Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to sautéed green beans just before serving.
- Add chopped (1/2 inch length), uncooked greens beans, to soup or risotto prior to cooking.
- Thaw and drain a package of frozen French-style green beans and add it to a stuffing recipe.
- Green beans and firm tofu are the perfect ingredients for a spicy Chinese stir-fry.
- Make an easy 3 bean salad for picnics, potlucks and block parties:
1 can (16 oz.) each: green beans, red kidney beans and garbanzo beans (choose low or no salt). Drain and rinse beans for 60 seconds under cold water. Place beans in a salad bowl. Add 1 small red onion cut in very thin slices, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice and 2/3 cup of Italian Salad Dressing. Toss to mix flavors. Can be made a day ahead. Refrigerate.
Ranking high on the list of nutrient dense fruits, the flesh of a mango is peach-like and juicy with a hint of pineapple flavor. The flavor is pleasant and rich and high in sugars and amino acids. Mangoes are one of the best sources of Vitamin A, and contain beta carotene. They are also a terrific source of Vitamin C!
The papaya is a pear-shaped fruit with a bright golden-yellow skin. The yellow-orange flesh is juicy and silky smooth, with a sweet-tart flavor. Papayas are low in calories and sodium and are excellent source of vitamin A and C, and potassium. There are also small amounts of calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin present in papaya. They contain a lot of water, making them a great thirst-quenching snack when playing sports or other outdoor activities.
Papayas contain a digestive enzyme that is used to tenderize meat. This enzyme, papain, is commercially harvested in large quantities from the skin and green fruit. but papaya juice has been used for centuries in South America to tenderize meat.
A derivative of the word meaning “sweetest”, Zucchini was given its interesting name by the Italians. With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchinis are low in calories, carbs, and are fat free. Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants, and they provide some beta-carotene, trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, and small amounts of vitamin C and calcium. They also provide a healthy dose of potassium and are a good source of fiber.
At the market: Zucchini should be firm with dark green, shiny skins. Smaller sizes are more tender and flavorful. Avoid zucchini that shows signs of injury, pitting, or dull skin.
Storage: Refrigerate. Zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked.
Here are a few easy ideas to add zucchini in your meals:
- Shred a zucchini into a tossed salad, or make cole slaw with ½ shredded zucchini and ½ shredded cabbage.
- Slice zucchini into sticks and serve with ranch dressing or dip.
- Add some crunch to homemade or store bought gazpacho by garnishing it with diced zucchini and chopped green onion.
- Add culinary zip to plain rice or couscous. Sauté one cup of diced zucchini, ¼ cup dried cranberries and ¼ cup chopped onion in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and dash of turmeric. Cook 4-6 minutes, until softened. Toss the mixture with cooked rice or couscous and serve.
- Sneak some extra nutrition into your children’s food. Add shredded zucchini to a muffin or sweet bread recipe, or replace some of the potato with shredded zucchini in a potato pancake recipe.
- Zucchini boats for your dinner table: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers to make a boat. Fill the boats with one of the following mixtures:
Chopped onions, mushrooms, peppers, tofu, and tomatoes
Chopped walnuts, dried cranberries and apricots, and honey.
Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil or butter. Bake covered in a casserole dish at 350 for about 45 to 60 minutes.