Eating Your Way to a ‘Super Summer’: June Superfoods
The sun is blazing, farmers markets are popping up everywhere and all you really want to do is go lie on a beach somewhere. Yes, June has arrived.
During the spring and summer it is easier than ever to get a hold of fresh produce. With all of the choices out there, That’s Fit narrows down a list of three of the best for you — and most delicious — superfoods for the month of June. Whether you’re making yourself a packed lunch for work, hosting a dinner party on your deck or having a picnic, these three foods can be easily added to your June diet.
Although figs are available year-round, they add a little something extra to an early summer meal. They also happen to be chock full of fiber, calcium, potassium and iron. Although figs do contain some calories, they are extremely low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. According to Katherine Brooking, registered dietitian and co-founder of AppforHealth.com, “[Figs] are often overlooked, but they are so so good for you!”
How to Buy and Eat
When buying fresh figs, Brooking recommends checking the skin of the fig before you purchase it to make sure that the skin is intact and that the fig itself isn’t too mushy. Figs can be eaten raw or dried and make a fantastic supplement to salads, breakfast grains and spreads.
“Figs are a great way to liven up your summertime dishes. When you put figs into a salad people think you’ve done something really gourmet,” says Brooking.
Most people think about watermelons in terms of their namesake — water content. Although these delicious summer fruits are made up of more than 90 percent water, watermelons also contain a surprising amount of important nutrients. Watermelons are one of the best sources of lycopene — a phytochemical that is responsible for the fruit’s beautiful pink hue and that acts as an antioxidant. Watermelon also contains Vitamin A — which can help eye health, according to Brooking — Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. “[These vitamins] are important in creating a healthy immune system,” says Brooking. As if you even needed an excuse to eat watermelon?
How to Buy and Eat
At only 46 calories per cup, watermelon is an amazing dessert option during warm weather. Brooking has been indulging in after-dinner watermelon for over a month and says, “It quells the sweet urge that I always have after dinner … [and] really fills you up because of its water content.”
If you’re planning on buying a whole watermelon (and can lug it home), make sure that you store it at room temperature. However, once the fruit has been sliced you’re better off keeping it in the fridge.
Kale is a leafy green that Brooking says often confuses people. Those who know how to serve it, however, swear by it. And it happens to be insanely good for you. In addition to being low-calorie, fat-free and sugar-free, kale is a great way to get dietary fiber, protein, folate, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It also contains Vitamins A, C, B6 and K (which prevents against blood clots).
How to Buy and Eat
Brooking urges consumers to look for kale bunches that have green and purple leaves — but make sure to avoid anything that looks yellow or brown. Once kale has been exposed to air, it should be stored in the fridge in an airtight bag.
When preparing kale, it can be used both raw (in salad dishes) and cooked. “My favorite cooking method [for] kale is to rub the leaves in olive oil or tahini and [then] cook them for five minutes with garlic, olive oil and broth.” Sounds delicious — and nutritious — to us!
The Bottom Line
Use these superfoods as part of a balanced diet — just look at the way MyPlate encourages Americans to fill up half of their plate with fruits and veggies. Eating seasonally can be a good way to remind ourselves to fill in the gaps in our diets. Says Brooking, “When it comes to educating people about healthy choices, you have to bring it down to a level of practicality.”
When the foods you are buying come from a local source and have been picked recently, nothing is more practical than that.