Eating summer produce seems like such a natural thing to do, but take a look around you in the supermarket and you may notice something - certain foods are available year-round. When you actively seek out seasonal vegetables, you’ll realise that you’re likely supporting local farmers, eating locally and reaping all the benefits too. Go lightly into the new year with these summer vegetables on your fork.
Why is eating seasonally important?
Eating seasonally refers to including fresh fruit and vegetables in the season it grows in. This means that the food is locally grown and hasn’t had to travel far from its place of origin. This has enormous benefits to your health and to the environment.
As a result of changing your weekly produce shop to include only seasonal and locally grown, your produce will be brimming with nutrients and vitality. As an added benefit, local produce is picked close to its perfect ripeness so it’s always at its most delicious.
As you alter your pick of produce with each shift in season, you’re also providing a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and different forms of fibre. Variety is key to a healthy diet - eating seasonally just gives that extra little push to include more variety.
The more you move towards a seasonal produce-based diet, the more you will also be supporting local businesses and your local economy - from farmers to pickers and their stockists.
Eating out of season
On the other hand, eating out of season and therefore imported food that has had to travel long distances causes it to lose its nutritional value significantly. It’s also likely to have been picked at a less than ideal time and refrigerated during transport - so it’s not going to be as delicious and enjoyable as locally grown produce.
What about high-demand produce that has been grown close to home but is out of its natural season? This puts farmers in a situation where they must grow genetically modified crops to withstand seasonal changes. If you are trying to avoid genetically modified ingredients then this is all the more reason to immerse yourself in a seasonal way of living and eating.
Does seasonal veg also have to be organic?
There are a few things to keep in mind when eating seasonally. While seasonal produce is going to contain an abundance of nutrients, it’s still worth considering what falls into the “clean 15” and the” dirty dozen” categories.
If you haven’t heard of these lists before, they are a really helpful guide created by the Environmental Working Group to help consumers decide what to always purchase organic or conventionally grown.
Of course, if you can choose all organic then go for it - but for anyone who has to be a little more discerning, this is a great list to refer back to.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Honeydew melon
Vegetables to enjoy this summer season
As you can see from the list below, you can get a lot of enjoyment and nutritional benefits from eating seasonal veg. Aim to eat a variety of seasonal vegetables to get the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals. The list below also has suggestions for the best pairings for each vegetable - so you will never get bored!
- Aroma: grassy, buttery, earthy and bitter.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, betacarotene, vitamins B5 and K, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous.
- Pairs well with: egg, mustard seed, basil, dill, parsley, pepper, nutmeg, tarragon, chives, sesame, ginger, olive oil, thyme, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, orange, lemon, lime, leek, onion, radish, peas, potato, salmon, almonds, walnuts and pecans.
- Aroma: sweet, grassy when green and mellow, buttery when yellow.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, betacarotene, vitamins C and K, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
- Pairs well with: other beans, tomato, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, parsley, lemon, lime, beef, chicken, shallots, citrus, peach, nectarine, almonds, walnuts and olive oil.
- Aroma: sweet when red to yellow, grassy and bitter when green.
- Nutritional benefits: vitamins C, E, K and B6, betacarotene, folate, antioxidants such as quercetin and lutein.
- Pairs well with: tomato, basil, celery, potato, zucchini, eggplant, beef, lamb, chicken, salad greens, olive oil, citrus, garlic and squash.
- Aroma: grassy, savoury, spicy.
- Nutritional benefits: vitamins C and K, betacarotene, potassium, folate, magnesium, choline and antioxidants.
- Pairs well with: pear, carrots, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, shallots, squash, tomatoes, watercress, parsley, coriander, nuts & seeds, eggs, beef, lamb, chicken, fish &seafood.
- Aroma: mild, mellow and similar to marrow.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, vitamins C, K and B6, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate and antioxidants.
- Pairs well with: potato, carrots, celery, garlic, citrus, capsicum, nuts & seeds, eggs, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, pears, peach and nectarines.
- Aroma: grassy, fresh and mellow.
- Nutritional benefits: vitamins C and K, magnesium, potassium, manganese and antioxidants.
- Pairs well with: rocket, avocado, beets, capsicum, cabbage, carrots, celery, citrus, eggplant, lemon, lime, lettuce, onion, orange, papaya, peas, radish, salad greens, shallots, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, watercress, watermelon, olive oil, mint, dill, salmon and sesame seed.
- Aroma: bitter, mild and sweet.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, potassium, magnesium, betacarotene, folate, antioxidants, including anthocyanins, and vitamins C, B6 and K.
- Pairs well with: capsicums, garlic, ginger, lemon, onions, parsley, tomatoes, zucchini, potato, basil, coriander, sumac, cumin, mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, citrus, olive oil, tahini and sesame.
- Aroma: mild, neutral to bitter and sweet depending on colour and variety. The darker the leaf the more flavour.
- Nutritional benefits: lettuces like cos/romaine, oak leaf, endive and butter lettuces are filledwith folate, vitamins C and K, manganese, betacarotene, iron, magnesium, calcium andcopper.
- Pairs well with: parsley, mint, chives, oregano, capsicum, olive oil, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, beets, onion, cabbage, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pear, orange, eggs, nuts & seeds, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish & seafood.
- Aroma: earthy and umami.
- Nutritional benefits: mushrooms like white button, swiss brown, portobello and crimini are packed full of vitamin D, folate, choline, magnesium, protein and fibre.
- Pairs well with: asparagus, leeks, lemon, garlic, shallots, onions, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, chives, marjoram, olive oil, pepper, dill, parsley, tarragon, basil, oregano, rosemary, eggs, fish &seafood, beef, lamb and chicken.
- Aroma: pungent, sharp, sweet, acidic depending on the variety and colour.
- Nutritional benefits: prebiotic fibre, vitamins C and B6, manganese, sulfur and quercetin.
- Pairs well with: garlic, leeks, potato, tomato, beef, lamb, chicken, fish & seafood, pear, pineapple, peach, nectarine, plum, choko, carrot, squash, celery, zucchini, rosemary, thyme, citrus, cinnamon and ginger.
- Aroma: sweet, grassy, buttery.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, protein, vitamins B1, C and K, betacarotene, folate, iron, and phosphorous.
- Pairs well with: mint, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, dill, curry, black pepper, pork, chicken, eggs, nuts & seeds, asparagus, leek, onion, garlic, shallot, lemon, tomato, celery, radish, greens, potatoes and carrot.
- Aroma: mellow, mild.
- Nutritional benefits: resistant starch when cooked and cooled, fiber, keep the skin on for all the nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and B vitamins.
- Pairs well with: onions, eggs, garlic, curry, bay leaf, beef, chicken, eggs, cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, mustard, olive oil, parsley, mint, coriander, celery, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, tomato and capsicums.
- Aroma: spicy, sweet and zesty.
- Nutritional benefits: vitamins B2, B3, B6 and K, folate, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc and fibre.
- Pairs well with: peas, snow peas, beans, celery, potato, nectarine, peach, fig, eggs, fish &seafood, chicken, mint, parsley, coriander and citrus.
- Aroma: mild and grassy.
- Nutritional benefits: betacarotene, vitamins C, E, K, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, antioxidants quercetin and zeaxanthin.
- Pairs well with: other greens, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, tomato, eggplant, garlic, onions, leeks, parsley, coriander, lemon, lime, chicken, fish, seafood, beef, lamb, nuts & seeds.
- Aroma: sweet, earthy and nutty.
- Nutritional benefits: betacarotene, vitamins C and K, calcium, folate and magnesium.
- Pairs well with: zucchini, choko, pumpkin, tomatoes, potatoes, chicken, fish, meat, garlic, olive oil, lemon, lime, eggs, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, coriander, chilli and capsicum.
- Aroma: Depending on the variety, they can taste fruity & sweet or tangy.
- Nutritional benefits: fibre, vitamin C, antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, lutein, calcium, potassium and phosphorous.
- Pairs well with: meat, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, basil, parsley, marjoram, olive oil, oregano, garlic, cucumber, potato, mushrooms, onion, avocado, eggs, parsley and capsicum.
- Aroma: grassy and peppery.
- Nutritional benefits: betacarotene, calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamins C and K, sulforaphane, antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein.
- Pairs well with: ginger, garlic, lemon, lime, tomato, peas, potato, eggs, onion, olive oil, parsley, other lettuce leaves, chicken, fish and avocado.
- Aroma: sweet, bitter, grassy and earthy.
- Nutritional benefits: vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, folate, potassium and magnesium.
- Pairs well with: eggs, almonds, spring onions, onion, garlic, tomatoes, pear, citrus, olive oil, meat, fish, seafood, chicken, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, coriander, parsley, mint and squash.
Of course, eating within the season will ensure that all of the veg you choose to add to your meals will be even more flavourful and nutrient-rich.
For more inspiration on how to add seasonal vegetables to every meal, check out my book I Am Food: Eating Your Way to Health here.
Want to learn more about Summer Eating, join our Summer Cleanse Online Program
- Environmental Working Group. Dirty DozenTM EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM. Accessed December 2021 from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php