The Best Seasonal Produce for Healthy and Delicious Summer Meals
During hot summer weather, the last thing you want is heavy meals. Building your meals around fresh, seasonal produce is an excellent way to create lighter dishes while making your diet more nutritious.
In Franklin, VA, we're fortunate to have the Franklin Farmer’s Market practically on our doorstep. Here, you'll find a wealth of delicious, healthful ingredients to create mouthwatering dishes in your Independent Living apartment. Let's explore the best seasonal produce to add to your summer meals.
Tomatoes thrive in warmer weather and are an ideal addition to fresh salads and zingy pasta sauces. Alternatively, mix freshly chopped tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, and basil, and pile the mixture on top of toasted bread to make a quick bruschetta — perfect for a light lunch when the temperature rises. When you're dining out, you'll find tomatoes on the menu at The Back Porch and Grille in our signature Chef Salad.
This juicy vegetable offers plenty of health benefits for seniors. They're high in vitamin C and antioxidants, potentially helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, their high water content can help you avoid dehydration in hot weather.
Like tomatoes, water-rich cucumbers are ideal for staying hydrated during the summer. They're also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Vitamin K supports bone health, and getting enough vitamin A in your diet can help protect your eyes, heart, and kidneys while boosting immunity.
Fresh cucumbers are versatile, and you can find plenty of ways to incorporate them into your summer meals. While they're delicious in salads, you can also add slices to your water bottle for a hit of fresh flavor. Consider grating fresh cucumbers and combining them with natural yogurt, garlic, and kosher salt to create a cooling dip for pita bread, or cut them into slices to use as crudites to dunk in hummus or salsa.
Summer squash is an excellent ingredient for senior wellness because it contains high levels of antioxidants, including beta-carotene. According to the Cleveland Clinic, beta-carotene can reduce your risk of cervical, bladder, and lung cancer. It's also rich in calcium, potentially boosting bone health in older adults. However, many people are uncertain about how to use summer squash in recipes.
You can replace potatoes with chunks of cooked squash as a healthy accompaniment to meat or fish. Alternatively, load a baking tray with squash, chicken, and other chopped seasonal veggies to create a nutrient-rich taste treat. If you find chopping squash hard work, consider cutting a whole squash in half and roasting it in the oven in its skin with the seeds removed. You can then scoop out the tender flesh or serve the roasted squash whole topped with salsa or shredded cooked chicken.
If you crave extra flavor without adding excess salt to your meals, fresh herbs are your friend. Adding a few sprigs of herbs to drinks, marinades, and dressings can give dishes a new flavor dimension, and many offer health benefits. For instance, parsley is high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, while basil contains eugenol and essential oils that may help to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Not sure where to start? Head over to The Back Porch & Grille at The Village at Woods Edge to enjoy fresh herbs alongside other seasonal ingredients. Our chefs incorporate herbs into many of our food and drink options, and you may even pick up some tips for using these ingredients when you prepare meals and snacks in your Independent Living apartment.
If you've ever visited our community garden, you'll know how glorious our zinnias look around the entrance in the summertime. However, these vibrant flowers add more than just a pop of color — they also attract pollinators and insects, such as ladybugs, that help keep garden pests under control. Therefore, zinnias help us keep our community garden healthy and support our seasonal crops.
Zinnia flowers are edible, although they have a bitter flavor that some people dislike. However, their vibrant hues make them ideal for decorating cakes, salads, and desserts for special occasions. And there's nothing like a colorful bouquet to brighten up your summer table!
Schedule a Visit
Senior wellness is at the heart of everything we do at The Village at Woods Edge. From outstanding local leisure amenities to fresh, healthful dining options, our Independent Living community offers a wealth of resources to help you enjoy a vibrant lifestyle. Call 757-517-2791 to schedule a tour today to explore our services, amenities, and accommodations.