Growing season is here, so fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables are available to us Western New Yorkers.
Because our season is so short, we can't put off getting out and grabbing the goods. I loved the fresh from the field asparagus early in the season and did freeze a little for later. If you love something, buy a little for later. Living alone I just put a few bags of small portions in the freezer. Just blanche and put into a freezer bag, easy peasy. I almost missed the locally grown strawberries this year as they came early and are leaving quickly.
Half of our plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, whether they are fresh, frozen, dried, or canned. We should be eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, plus beans and peas.
Farmer's markets are open, and it is important for us to support our local farmers. Here are some tips on how to improve your meals with fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
Use the grill. You can use a skewer for smaller cuts; put bigger pieces right on the grill or cut them up and wrap them in foil. Be sure to add seasoning and brush with oil. Try grilling fruits such as peaches, pineapple and lemons; it brings out great flavor intensities.
Expand and enhance any casserole or pasta dishes by adding any vegetable in season, such as sauteed onions, peas, squash, pinto beans or tomatoes.
Try adding fruits to a toss salad, such as strawberries or orange segments; or try vegetables such as roasted beets on a spinach salad.
Try veggie sandwiches, made of sliced tomatoes, lettuce and avocado with cucumber, peppers, or almost any sliced vegetable.
I love cold meals in the summer. I love to cut up tomatoes, onions, add white beans and feta cheese with Greek or Italian dressing.
You could add pasta as well and add any cut up vegetable that you like.
Try adding different sauteed vegetables to eggs and omelets, such as mushrooms, spinach, peppers or onions.
Try fruit and/or vegetable smoothies. You'd be amazed how well kale tastes if you add fruits to the smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to use produce that has lost its freshness. Put almost any combination of fruits and/or vegetables in your blender and enjoy. Add yogurt for creaminess.
Snack, snack and more snack, on fresh fruits and vegetables. They are low in fat and calories, are extremely nutritious and taste great. What more could you ask for?
Try a new fruit or vegetable which you've never tasted before. Your produce people can tell you how to prepare it.
Save the Date: Annual Senior Summer Picnic, Friday, Aug. 10 at Midway State Park
Please remember to contribute toward your OFA nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable at current levels without the support of participant contributions. Be aware that Food Stamps can be used toward your contribution. I do not want to have to make any further cuts to nutrition services. Thank you for your support.
Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious noon meals at several congregate dining sites throughout the county along with a restaurant dining out program. Our dietitian, Cheryl Walhstrom, RD, is available for nutrition counseling in your home at no cost to you. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Call the office for more details and information at 753-4471, 661-7471, or 363-4471.