While there's no such thing as a "bad" food, there are of course certain foods that are more nutritious than others. Whether you're looking for kid-friendly breakfast ideas or quick dinner recipes for busy weeks, it's always a good a time to familiarize yourself with popular summer superfoods so you and the family can stay healthy this summer — as well as make the most of seasonal summer produce. So, stock your fridge with these summer foods and try our easy recipe ideas that incorporate in-season fruits and vegetables for a nutritious summer dinner.
When you're spending a lot of time outdoors engaging in family-friendly summer activities and backyard cookouts in the heat, it's a good idea to serve up summer recipes that are light and easy. Oftentimes, the ingredients you choose can mean the difference between a much-needed energy boost and a lazy summer afternoon nap. So, whether you're looking to get some more nutrients into your body or are simply looking to change up your summer dinner routine, here are the top summer foods to incorporate into any breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner recipe. All of the items are easy to prepare — with our recommended recipes or any others — and would pair beautifully with a non-alcoholic summer cocktail for an all-around perfect, summery meal.
Lycopene gives tomatoes their bright red color and helps protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Turns out, that same substance can also help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also have potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients, which are known to lower blood pressure.
Get the recipe: Tomato & Watermelon Salad
As its name implies, this fruit is a hydration hero, and fluids are exactly what you need when the heat is on. "Watermelon's high water content keeps you cool and hydrated," Janel Funk, MS, RD, LDN, a Boston-based registered dietitian who runs the website Eat Well With Janel, tells Woman's Day. That same high water content will also keep you feeling full. As an added summer bonus, "watermelon also contains lycopene, which protects skin cells from sun damage," Funk explains.
Get the recipe: Watermelon and Feta Salad
This sweet citrus fruit is rich in potassium, a nutrient that's crucial in the summer.
"You lose potassium through sweat, which puts you at risk for muscle cramps," Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, and author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, tells Woman's Day. "Eating oranges replenishes your supply and keeps muscle cramps away." Oranges are also about 80% water, so popping a few juicy slices will keep you hydrated during your sweatiest summer days.
Get the recipe: Crunchy Turkey Salad with Oranges
"The protein satisfies your growling tummy," Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, president of Nutritious Life, tells Woman's Day. Glassman recommends brands that are low in fat and high in protein, like Oikos non-fat Greek yogurt which has twice the protein of regular low-fat yogurt. Yogurt also adds a dose of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that keeps your digestive system running smoothly.
Get the recipe: Curried Tomato Coconut Lentils with Gingery Yogurt
"Celery act as [a] diuretic, helping you lose excess water weight without causing dehydration," Glassman says. How? The ingredients in this vegetable stimulates your kidneys, causing them to flush waste and extra fluid from your body, which decreases bloating in your stomach.
Get the recipe: Celery Snails & Caterpillars
Both fennel and its seeds are jam-packed with important nutrients, including but certainly not limited to: fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Fennel seeds are also known to boost your metabolism.
Get the recipe: Crispy Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk Fennel Salad
Cantaloupe — like honeydew and watermelon — is a diuretic, meaning it can help the body get rid of extra fluid and salt. This is particularly important for women, "because we're so affected by hormonal changes," Sherry Ross, MD, women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, tells Woman's Day.
Get the recipe: End-of-Summer Gazpacho
Honeydew is naturally low in both fat and cholesterol, making it a quick and healthy source of energy. It's also packed with vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and Vitamin A.
Get the recipe: Minty Pear-Honeydew Smoothie
Blackberries contain a wide array of important nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and E. They are also a healthy source of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that create a blackberry's rich purple color.
Get the recipe: Berry Oatmeal Crumble
"Raspberries are a food that goes unnoticed a lot — they can be very expensive off-season — but there are a lot of awesome qualities in the powerful little raspberry," Ross says. "They're very high in vitamin C and have 8 grams of fiber per cup."
Get the recipe: Raspberry Smoothie Bowls
Apples are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, and contain polyphenols, which have been linked to lowering blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke. If you keep the skin on the apples, you'll maximize the amount of important nutrients you consume.
Get the recipe: Crispy Pork Milanese with Apple-Ginger Salad
Sweet, juicy strawberries are filled with flavonoids, powerful disease fighters found in many fruits and vegetables. "They [also] increase blood flow to skin and decrease sensitivity to light, which improves skin's appearance, structure and texture," Glassman says.
Although avocados could be lumped in with nuts as a healthy source of monounsaturated fat, Ross says it's such a superfood it deserves a placeholder of its own. "If I were on a desert island, I would want to be there with an avocado tree because they're so good for the heart and overall wellness," Ross explains.
Get the recipe: Avocado Tomato Toast
Elizabeth Berry (she/her) is the Updates Editor at the Good Housekeeping Institute where she optimizes lifestyle content across verticals. Prior to this role, she was an Editorial Assistant for Woman’s Day where she covered everything from gift guides to recipes. She also has experience fact checking commerce articles and holds a B.A. in English and Italian Studies from Connecticut College.
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