I love summer for so many reasons, one of which is the great fruits and vegetables that are garden fresh. There is so much produce that is harvested during this time of year. Following is some important information about the health of the following superfoods and recipes you can try.
There’s nothing like watermelon to quench your thirst, and give you the needed hydration for those hot days of summer. In addition, watermelon is full of vitamins A, B6, C, lycopene, antioxidants and minerals. There’s also evidence that watermelon helps with cardiovascular health, and has a protective effect against strokes, because of its extremely high levels of lycopene. See http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/35/7/1584. for the full study. Lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes, helps reduce cholesterol, relaxes blood vessel walls, and protects the skin from UV rays among other benefits. I love making watermelon, mint and feta salad in the summer. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that’s healthy and satisfying from Tory Avey’s kitchen. You can also add arugula to round out the taste.
- 1 7-8 lb. seedless watermelon, chilled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 limes, juiced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best)
Servings: 8 servings
Cherries from Oregon and Washington state are also in season. There’s lots of varieties from tart to sweet, although the tart kind have been found to have the most benefits. Cherries have recently been identified as a superfood, due to their high level of anti-oxidants such as super-nutrients quercetin, hydroxycinnamates, potassium, carotenoids and melatonin. These have been found to have substantial anti-inflammatory properties, and in some experiments have been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen and tylenol in decreasing pain. In a randomized, double blind trial of runners, some of whom were ingesting cherry juice for the 7 days prior and right after a running event, the runners who drank cherry juice reported significantly lower pain. For the full study, see /www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20459662. It’s also been shown to help gout, arthritis pain, and autoimmune diseases.
Artichokes are great to add to salads, and also pack a major nutrient punch. They are contain two natural chemicals cynarin, and silymarin, which aid in detoxifying the liver, stimulating the kidneys, and increasing the flow of bile. They are also jam-packed with iron, and essential minerals like manganese, copper, calcium and phosphorus. These minerals help build red blood cells, optimize fluid balance, and control heart rate and blood pressure. Vitamin K and B complex vitamins contained in artichokes help in bone, brain and skin health.
Debby Doktor’s luscious artichokes:
1. Using a jar of Trader Joe’s whole artichokes, drain the artichokes ( in a colander) & lightly rinse with cold water.
2. Gently squeeze to release excess water.
3. Slice each artichoke in half vertically & place cut side down on paper towels. Cover top with more paper towels & press down lightly – or use dish towels. Let rest until artichokes are free of moisture.
4. Heat a heavy large skillet with Evoo to coat the bottom of the pan completely on medium-high heat.
5. When the oil is hot, add the artichokes, one piece at a time, cut side down & not touching. Sauté until nicely “grilled” & then turn carefully to “grill” the other side.
6. Place on a serving platter, cut side up. Drizzle with the warm oil from the pan and/or with additional Evoo of your choice(I used Meyer lemon olive oil. Sometimes I use Spanish or Greek Evoo). Sprinkle with finely diced fresh herbs (I used Italian parsley, basil, lemon thyme, & oregano) & a sprinkling of smoked paprika.
7. Serve warm or at room temp.
Last but not least, beets are one of nature’s most perfect foods. They are low in calories, high in fiber and phytonutrients, have loads of Vitamin C, (a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-system booster), iron, manganese and potassium. Beets (also known as beetroot) help blood flow, may reduce blood pressure, and help build lean muscle mass. They are versatile and have a long shelf life, but are best used when fresh picked. Beet greens are also rich in vitamins and minerals. You can substitute beet greens for kale and spinach in salads, soups or smoothies. Here’s a great recipe for lunch for a beet and hummus wrap, along with one of my personal favorites, beet dip with yogurt.
Hummus Beet Wrap
1 Tbsp. Hummus
1 6-inch Sprouted Grain Tortilla (Gluten Free available )
½ c. (75g) Peeled and Grated Beet (TIP: Cut beet into 3 or 4 big chunks and grate using thegrating disk for a food processor or large holes of box grater.)
2 tbsp. Feta (½ oz.)(15g)
¼ Packed c. (5g) Arugula, roughly chopped
Spread hummus on tortilla, leaving a 1 ½ inch(4cm) border. Sprinkle evenly with beets, feta, and
arugula. To roll up, fold in 2 opposite sides of tortilla and roll, starting with the end closet to you.
Slice each wrap in half on the diagonal. Wrap each wrap tightly in foil or parchment paper and
refrigerate in an airtight container or zip-top bag. (Make Ahead: May be made up to 1 day in
Beet dip with yogurt from the Jerusalem cook book:
900g (2 medium beets
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
250g (1 cup) Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp date molasses or date syrup
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish the dish
1 tbsp za’atar
2 spring onions (scallions) , thinly sliced
15g (3 tbs) toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
60g (1/3 cup) soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
Summer is a great time to experiment with different salads, wraps, and simple vegetable preparations using olive oil, lime juice or lemon juice. Fruits with high levels of water help with hydration, while providing loads of essential vitamins and minerals. Eating these superfoods is a form of multi-tasking! You get high doses of anti-oxidants, which contain important nutrients that strengthen your immune system, control caloric intake while feeling satiated, and aid in the health of your organs and cardiovascular systems.
Bon appetit – your body will thank you!