During the summer months, gardens everywhere spring to life. Whether you have tomatoes blooming on the vine in your backyard or frequently head to the nearest farmer's market, you likely take advantage of the abundance of produce from May through September.
Of course, it can be tough to figure out new ways to make the most of the fruits and veggies that grow during summertime. Below are five of our top ways to sneak more produce into your diet in delicious, innovative ways.
1. Grill Your Garden Treats
Sure, you grill burgers and ribs, but when was the last time you tossed corn on the grill? Have you ever steamed newly cut carrots, onions, green beans and a dash of orange sauce wrapped in a foil pouch on the grill grates?
Experiment grilling all sorts of produce from skewered sweet potato pieces to halved, lightly buttered peaches. You might be amazed at how the grill brings out different flavors.
2. Rev up Your Smoothies
Switch up your smoothie by adding fruits and vegetables you don't ordinarily include in your morning or noontime treat.
Chunks of melons, pieces of kale, blackberries, zucchini, beets and even cucumbers can make it into your blended beverages. Play around with ratios of veggies to fruits to discover exciting combinations your taste buds will appreciate. You may find some new favorites, or at the very least, avoid falling into a rut.
3. Create Ridiculously Varied Salads
While there's nothing wrong with a plain green side salad, summer is the ideal time to toss anything and everything into your salads. Slice up some crunchy radishes, juicy pears, sweet onions and colorful peppers to top basic types of lettuce.
Want to add some protein for a nutritionally complete meal? Bathe chicken or tofu in a soy sauce marinade in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour before grilling or baking. You'll appreciate the rich taste.
4. Make Desserts Fruit-Based
You may end up with tons of fruit in your refrigerator. Use it up by tossing it into layered yogurt parfaits. Just put a scoop of honey-sweetened plain yogurt into a bowl, top it with a layer of fruit slices or pieces, top with more yogurt, and garnish with some nuts or seeds. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied without overloading your body with sugary desserts.
If the day is very hot, freeze fruits like grapes, cherries and bananas. They're amazing when frozen. You can even take some extra from your morning smoothie, freeze it in a popsicle mold and eat it later for an indulgent dessert.
5. Incorporate Produce Into Every Meal
Rather than letting any meals go by without fruits, vegetables or herbs, make sure you have at least one kind of produce spotlighted in every meal. For instance, if you're skewering shrimp and scallops, make some zucchini veggie kebabs slathered in Asian grilling sauce to go along with the shellfish.
Sneaking produce into breakfasts, lunches and dinners will help you stay fuller longer and improve your daily nutritional intake.
Ready to go green — and all the other colors of the rainbow available in your produce aisle? Grab some San-J Asian Cooking Sauces, bookmark your favorite produce recipes and start making culinary magic.