It’s never too early to start planning your healthy summer snacks and meals around Maryland’s abundant fruit and vegetable crops. According to the Maryland’s Best website, the strawberry harvest that begins in May provides us with our first taste of locally grown fruit.
June and July provide such delicious and nutritious offerings such as apricots, blueberries, raspberries and cherries. July through September adds more local favorites, such as cantaloupes, honeydew, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and watermelons. Eating fruit in season is an economical way to meet the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
Choosing fruit in a variety of colors helps ensure the intake of a multitude of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They are also a low calorie, low sodium and low fat convenient snack.
Although summer makes fresh, whole fruits more accessible, frozen, dried and canned fruits are also a part of a healthy diet. Choose canned fruits packed in water or natural juice, and make sure frozen fruit has no sugar added. Look for 100% fruit juice.
Be creative by adding fruit in non-traditional ways. Fresh fruit in salads adds sweetness to a savory dish, including pasta salads. Grapes added to chicken salad boosts its fiber content. Grilled pineapple, peaches and bananas are a healthy addition to a family barbecue. Even baked summer fruit dishes provide the nutrients of fruit without the extra calories and fat from traditional pies. And let’s not forget drinking our fruit in healthy smoothies!