Farmer’s markets can be found in many of our communities. Buying produce from local growers is a good way for you to support the local economy and to eat healthier. Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C and potassium and can add color to your dishes. They taste sweet and add some crunch to your foods. A dish of plain strawberries is good. Another way to serve strawberries is to put a serving in a bowl and top them with low-fat, sugar-free vanilla yogurt. That way you will also get some of the calcium you need, too. Buy strawberries that are firm and shiny with a healthy color. Strawberries that are dark or dull are usually overripe. Strawberries bruise very easily. One bad strawberry can affect the whole container! Wash the strawberries before before removing the hull and just before you will be using them. Rinse them under cold water – do not soak strawberries!
Spinach is usually found at most local markets. Spinach is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. It is a good source of Vitamin C and iron. Fresh spinach makes a delicious fresh salad. Most of the spinach in our supermarkets is prewashed. This is due to the fact that spinach grows best in sandy soil that clings to the plant. Thoroughly wash spinach just before using it. Wash it by immersing the leaves in a large bowl of water and shaking the leaves gently. Do not soak spinach. Make a main-dish salad with lots of mixed vegetables with the fresh spinach and try some of the newer low-fat dressings. Add cooked chicken, ham, or other protein source for a complete meal.
As the summer progresses, more fruits and vegetables will be available. One key to make sure to get the most nutrients from your fresh fruits and vegetables is to limit the amount of time you keep them in storage. First-quality fruits and vegetables can deteriorate in the refrigerator, losing vitamins and nutrients. Plan to buy only what you will use in a few days. That goes for all produce. Research shows that the longer a food is stored, the greater the nutrient loss. Fragile produce like berries, tomatoes, peppers, etc. should be stored for only two or three days. Bagged greens deteriorate quickly after opening – use them up in a day or two.