12 summer fruit and veggie recipes

Published June 01, 2013

| Health.com

Summer brings a wealth of deliciously ripe produce. Here are a dozen of the freshest seasonal fruits and veggies and mouthwatering ways to serve them.

Berries

Enjoy them on their own or on salads, desserts, and cereal.

Health benefits include:
• Low in calories
• Rich in antioxidants, which neutralize cell damage
• May reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease
• May reduce risk of colon or ovarian cancer

Harvest season: May-September

Try this recipe: Blueberry-Blackberry Shortcakes

Cucumbers

These crisp and cool veggies are for much more than salads (and spa treatments). They can be used in gazpachos and substituted for celery in tuna and chicken salad recipes.

Health benefits include:
• Contains silica, which improves the complexion and health of the skin
• Good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium

Harvest season: June-November

Try this recipe: Pickled Ginger Cucumbers

Eggplant

Most people think of eggplant in calorie-laden eggplant Parmesan. However, this rich purple veggie can be grilled, roasted, and enjoyed in a variety of summer dishes.

Health benefits include:
• Good source of B vitamins
• Antioxidant-rich
• May reduce cholesterol levels

Harvest season: July-October

Try this recipe: Szechuan Spicy Eggplant

Peaches

This fleshy fruit has a sweet, almost tangy taste that blends well in smoothies and other beverages. For a summer treat, slice some peaches and enjoy with a cream cheese (like Explorateur) and a glass of chardonnnay.

Health benefits include:
• Good source of vitamin A
• Good source of potassium

Harvest season: May-October

Try this recipe: Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Bell peppers

With their tangy flavor and signature crunch, bell peppers are a summer diet must-have. The lively colors will bring dishes alive and add a nutritional bonus.

Health benefits include:
• More than 100 percent of your recommended amount of vitamins A and C
• Contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which may lower the risk of high cholesterol

Harvest season: May-December

Try this recipe: Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Onion Lasagna

Squash

Unlike winter squash, summer squash has a soft and almost creamy quality. Its mild taste works well with herbs such as basil, thyme, and rosemary.

Health benefits include:
• Excellent source of vitamin C
• Contains omega-3 fatty acids

Harvest season: May–September

Try this recipe: Summer Squash with Tomatoes and Basil

Tomatoes

Though tomatoes are considered a fruit, they lack the sweetness that characterizes that food group. However, cooking or grilling them may take away some of their bitter or acidic flavors.

Health benefits include:
• Contains lycopene, which has antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties
• Good source of niacin, which has been used for years as a safe way to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol)

Harvest season: June-October

Try this recipe: Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

Pears

The soft texture and sweet taste of pears make them the perfect fruit for summertime. And their mild flavor lets them blend well with a variety of recipes.

Health benefits include:
• Good source of vitamin C and copper
• 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving

Try this recipe: Caramelized Onion-Pear Pizza

Apricots

Starting in May, enjoy the sweet, smooth, and faintly tart taste of apricots. Not only are they the perfect juicy addition to any meal, but they are also nutrient-rich.

Health benefits include:
• Beta-carotene and lycopene for heart health
• Good source of vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps with vision and cellular growth

Harvest season: May-July

Try this recipe: Honey-Vanilla Poached Apricots

Figs

Though dried figs can be enjoyed year-round, fresh ones are in-season starting in June. The chewy texture of the fruit is a favorite for baking. However, roasting them in the oven makes a sweet, tender treat.

Health benefits include:
• Good source of dietary fiber
• 15 percent of your recommended amount of potassium and manganese

Harvest season: June-November

Try this recipe: Oat-Topped Fig Muffins

Corn

Corn has been a summer favorite way before the days of gas grills and microwaves. Though it's sweet enough to eat on its own, summer corn tastes delicious with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Health benefits include:
• Almost 25 percent of vitamin B1, which helps cognitive functioning
• Contains beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of lung cancer

Harvest season: June-November

Try this recipe: Savory Buttermilk Corn Cakes

Okra

Okra is often ignored as a summer veggie, but it is perfect for soups, canning, and stews. Its subtle taste enhances the flavor of tomatoes, onions, corn, shellfish, and fish stock.

Health benefits include:
• Contains insoluble fiber, which is essential for digestive health
• Good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid

Harvest season: June-November

Try this recipe: Spicy Pickled Okra

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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