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Colour your plate with fresh summer produce

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Colour your plate with fresh summer produce

Summer’s seasonal produce is packed with an abundance of nutrients that promote good health, says 5+ A Day.

5+ A Day nutritionist, Bronwen Anderson, says it is easy to include fresh fruit and vegetables in your daily meal plan thanks to the variety of fresh produce in season over the summer months.

"Seasonal produce is not only excellent value, it is also at optimum flavour and quality, making it highly nutritious," she says. "And at this time of the year it’s easy to include an extra serving at breakfast, lunch and dinner or as a refreshing and energy boosting snack".

"Eating a wide range of fresh seasonal produce helps to maintain a strong immune system. Go for variety and colour to maximise health benefits," she says. "With such a wide variety of summer fruit and vegetables to choose from, increasing your daily intake and adding fresh new flavours to all your favourite recipes is simple to do."

Here are some quick seasonal recipe ideas using cherries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes and avocado.

Cherries: Date from prehistoric times in Asia and are a member of the rose family.

Nutrition: Cherries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and are rich in antioxidants. They are also low-GI for longer lasting energy.

Quick recipe ideas Toast sliced baguette and spread with goat cheese, add rocket and top with chopped fresh cherries for an easy festive canapé. Add a fruity twist to Christmas Day feasts by adding pitted fresh cherries to chicken, turkey or pork stuffing. Or add a festive flavour to salads by adding fresh cherries to green salads.

Raspberries: Mainly red in colour but have cousins that are yellow and black.

Nutrition: Raspberries provide a source of fibre, thanks to their high number of seeds. The red berries also contain Vitamin C and Folate, which are important for expectant mothers.

Quick recipe ideas: For a healthy start to the day, sprinkle raspberries over cereals or add to a breakfast smoothie.

Blueberries: One of the few fruits native to North America.

Nutrition: Loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C and iron, blueberries are widely considered to be a superfood that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other serious health conditions.

Quick recipe ideas: For a powerhouse breakfast, add a handful of blueberries to bircher museli for an extra antioxidant kick. For a healthy snack that kids will love, dip fresh blueberries into Greek yoghurt, place the berries on a tray lined with baking paper and freeze until firm. Lighten up chicken salad with plain low-fat yogurt, fresh blueberries and some crunchy celery. This mix works well in wraps, romaine leaf "boats," or on top of salad greens.

Tomatoes: Affectionately known by the French as ‘pommes de’armour’, which means apples of love.

Nutrition: Tomatoes are a source of fibre and Vitamin A and an excellent source of Vitamin C, to boost immunity. Due to the presence of the antioxidant, lycopene, tomatoes can help in the prevention of several cancers.

Quick recipe ideas: Tomato bruschetta is a wonderfully easy way to enjoy fresh, ripe, seasonal tomatoes. Dice tomatoes and mix through fresh chopped basil, flat leaf parsley, olive oil, then pile onto garlic-rubbed toasted bread. Add a bit of colour to the barbecue with cherry tomato and Halloumi cheese skewers. Thread onto skewers and before grilling, brush skewers with a vinaigrette consisting of garlic, oregano, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and olive oil whisked together.

Avocados: Known as the 'alligator pear' due to its pear shape and bumpy green skin.

Nutrition: Avocados are a superfood providing vital nutrients needed for a healthy body. In fact, the Guinness Book Of World Records lists the avocado as the most nutritionally complete fruit in the world. Avocados contain Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E which are important for brain health. This, combined with avocados’ potassium content, helps to reduce blood pressure.

Quick recipe ideas: Kick-start the day with smoked salmon and mashed avocado on toast for a fantastic combination of healthy fats from the avocado and protein from the smoked salmon to keep you going. For a refreshing, nutrient-packed summer salad combine chunks of watermelon with avocado, radish and feta, topped with mint and chives. Or arrange bowls of marinated olives, roasted peppers, crumbled feta cheese and diced avocado with toasted pita bread as a mezze type snack.

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