Summer is here and food gardens are growing all around us. From succulent fruits to savory vegetables, Pacific Northwest produce has a lot to offer both in flavor and nutrition.
Your local farmers market is a great place to start trying new, local crops and a wide variety of other fresh foods, with the added benefit of getting to meet the growers and supporting local businesses. The greater Seattle area has multiple locations where you can pick up fresh produce including Ballard, Capitol Hill, Magnolia, Phinney Ridge, University District, West Seattle—and the granddaddy of them all—Pike Place Market. Pike Place also has four additional farmers market locations around town through summer and early fall including City Hall, The Regrade, South Lake Union, and First Hill; see their website for the full schedule of days and times.
While many Seattle-area farmers markets are open year-round, summer is the perfect chance to try local foods because so much is in season. Look out for berries and cherries, nectarines, sugar snap peas and artichokes early in the season. If you’re feeling more adventurous try fiddleheads, or nettles, a leafy green plant known for its excellent source of fiber.
Look for “powerhouse” foods, those with the most nutrients for the calories. Powerhouse foods include leafy greens like kale, arugula, watercress, and bok choy. These foods are high in fiber, folate, iron, and calcium. These vegetables make a great summer meal when chopped up with locally-grown berries and crisp green onions.
Also keep an eye out for produce in a variety of colors like carrots, which come in the traditional orange as well as white, purple, red, and yellow. Yellow and orange carrots tend to be high in beta-carotene and lutein that promote healthy eyes. Purple carrots tend to be high in antioxidants and can also help reduce the risk of heart disease. Red carrots are usually higher in lycopene, also found in tomatoes, which can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Finally, remember to avoid anything that appears out of season for your area. That butternut squash you’re looking at in July may not be grown in Washington.
Want more help creating a healthy diet and meal plan that’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with me or another one of our nutritionists who can help you create a customized plan with your needs and goals in mind.