One of my favorite things about summer is having fresh produce from my garden. However, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out ways to get creative with it by the end of summer, and I hate seeing any go to waste. So, I asked my fellow colleague, Katrina Detter, RD, to provide some information and recipes for your summer produce this season:

It is summertime, which means our gardens will be spitting out fresh produce for us once again. I have to be honest, I get excited about summer produce initially, but by the end of the season, I am sick of corn and zucchini. Have no fear! I will help you explore the history, nutrition, and provide recipes to beat the boredom this season.

» Summer Squash. Did you know that all squash in general are native crops of North America? The Wampanoag Native Americans cultivated winter and summer varieties in the early stages of America.

Nutritionally, summer squash are rich in Vitamin C, an antioxidant which aids in collagen production, wound healing and iron absorption. In just one ½ cup serving, squash contains 15 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. In addition to that, summer squash contains 1 gram of fiber per ½ cup serving. Fiber aids in digestion and helps you have a healthy colon.

Recipe: Wash the squash and cut the ends off. Do not peel. Most of the nutrition is in the skin. Chop your squash in whatever form you like best. I prefer circles. Second, grab some aluminum foil and make a “foil packet.” Add another sheet of aluminum foil to the top forming a pouch to enclose the squash. Add in your chopped squash with a little drizzle of oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top. Third, place foil pack on your grill for about 20 minutes or until tender. You will be amazed with how delicious this is.

» Watermelon. Cultivated in South Africa, watermelon quickly made its way to Egypt, to the Mediterranean, then to India and finally to China. Interestingly enough, China is the world’s largest producer of watermelons. Watermelon later made its way to America through the slave trade. Watermelon is a very nutritious fruit made mostly of water (91 percent) with 6 percent sugar. This fruit is loaded with vitamin C while low in fat and sodium. It is also full of fiber. One cup of watermelon contains about 50 calories and 1 gram of fiber. What a tasty, healthful treat.

Recipe: First, prep your watermelon by cutting it in half and using a melon baller to form melon-balls. You will want to spoon out about 3-4 cups of watermelon. To the watermelon, add ¼ cup of feta cheese crumbles. Mix together. If you want to get a little spunky, add some freshly chopped basil. This fruit salad is a great dessert option for a patriotic holiday cookout.

» Corn. When I think back to my childhood and helping my dad in his garden, corn was always something we had an abundance of, and to be honest it was my least favorite (and still is). However, the history behind it is very neat. Corn was actually nonexistent in the wild until it was cultivated in Central Mexico many, many years ago. Eventually, when the Mexican culture migrated to America, they cultivated this crop in the Americas. Later, when the Europeans came, it was the Native Americans that taught them how to cultivate many grains, especially corn.

Though is does contain calories and carbs our bodies need, corn is actually one of the least nutritious grains because there is no niacin in this grain. Niacin is the precursor to tryptophan, an essential amino acid in our body. We have to eat foods that contain essential amino acids to make proteins in our body. Without niacin, our bodies will not make tryptophan.

Recipe: First, get to shuckin’ and wash corn. Cut corn off the cob and add to a bowl. Add: 1 can of black beans (drained/rinsed), ½ cup of diced tomatoes (I like using Roma or grape), a bundle of finely chopped cilantro, lime juice, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Mix altogether. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to integrate. Serve with your favorite tortilla chip or top a salad with it for some extra flavor.

Katrina Detter is a registered dietitian from Gamewell, N.C. Read more of her nutrition advice at livebetterwithkatdetter.blogspot.com

Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at mandynix85@gmail.com.

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