It’s summer— for me it is the best time of the year to explore the many seasonal foods available here in the Northwest. Hop on the bike Saturday morning and ride down to the local farmers market. The number of markets has doubled in the US since 2009, so no matter where you are, you should be able to find one near. (The produce will only be fresher if it comes from your neighbor’s backyard.)
You may start with a list, but also shop for what catches your eye. The midsummer offerings are diverse because most of the early summer crops are still available (such as leafy greens, carrots, beets, etc.) but more crops such as tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, beans are now coming on. It’s fun shopping for what is available any given weekend because of the variety. Explore! Try foods not normally found in the super market.
A Healthy Snack Buffet
My favorite way to satisfy that sweet tooth and stay healthy is with fresh picked fruit. In fact, studies have shown that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-associated diseases.
Whole fruits contain a bounty of antioxidants and healthful nutrients, not to mention their cellular scaffolding, made of fiber, makes us feel full and provides other metabolic benefits. When you bite into an apple, for example, the fruit’s fiber helps slow your absorption of fructose, the main sugar in most fruits. Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar. Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Fruit can also help keep us from overeating by making us feel fuller. Unlike processed foods, which are usually digested in the first few feet of our intestines, fiber-rich fruit breaks down more slowly so it travels far longer through the digestive tract. This triggers the satiety hormones that tend to cluster further down the small intestines. Another benefit from fiber: it changes our “intestinal flora,” by helping different species of healthy bacteria thrive.
With every changing season, the astounding variety of colors, shapes, and flavors is showcased. If you’ve never ventured to a farmers market, I highly recommend giving it a try. (Use our Top 10 Farmers Market Tips to ensure a successful trip!)