Keeping seasonal ingredients in mind while dinner planning is a great strategy for adding more freshness and nutrients to our meals.
I am a farmers market groupie.
Truth be told, farmers’ markets even make my “things to do” list while I am vacationing!
It does my heart good (in more ways than one) to take in all of that fresh produce. Piles of brightly colored foods, some familiar, others perhaps new to me. My brain fires on all cylinders conjuring up ways to use this or that while excitement and anticipation build. I also get a boost from chatting with the farmers, further connecting with my local food scene.
Even if you are not as passionate about visiting markets as me, thinking seasonally while planning weekly meals is a helpful strategy. Including seasonal items brings more freshness, flavor, and nutrient value to our meals. It’s also generally kinder to our budgets and the environment, both of which are huge bonuses.
4 Tips for Incorporating more Seasonal Ingredients into Weekly Meals
1. Learn what is seasonal in your location. What’s fresh in June in North Carolina can be different from what’s available in Minnesota.
2. Cycle a few items into your menus at a time. Trying to include everything that’s available is simply overwhelming, leading to frustration and food waste.
3. Keep things simple. At their peak, seasonal ingredients are full of flavor and do not require complicated recipes. Let them shine through simple preparation methods. How about:
- slicing tomatoes and/or cucumbers then drizzling with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or a light vinaigrette
- steaming or grilling corn on the cob, before brushing with butter or olive oil, and sprinkling with seasoned or plain salt, and pepper
- assembling a simple mixed fruit salad (or one single fruit), enjoying as is or with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
- grilling zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, root vegetables, or fruit to bring out the natural sweetness
- sautéing summer squash or green beans with olive oil, then adding a sprinkling of fresh herbs or a spice blend
4. Extend the enjoyment of seasonal produce by freezing, canning, or incorporating them into a sauce or condiment. It’s such a treat to use preserved items later in the year!
DINNER PLANNING IDEAS
This month’s dinner planning ideas highlight the use of seasonal produce when creating delicious summer meals. Enjoy!
Grilled Chicken topped with Basil and Super Greens Pesto
- Serve with sauteed seasonal vegetables (green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.), and a cooked whole grain pasta.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal – super greens, basil, olive oil, walnuts, other seasonal vegetables, whole grains
Roasted Fish (such as haddock, halibut, cod, or any white fish) with Cherry Tomato Confit
- Serve with roasted asparagus or broccolini, and cooked whole grain.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal –fish, tomatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic, herbs, asparagus or broccolini, whole grains
Greek Salad with Lentils and Quinoa
- Serve with fresh fruit and/or a cup of fresh tomato soup.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal – greens, lentils, quinoa, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, feta cheese, olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbs
Photos: Love + Craft Kitchen, LLC
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