Top Pick’s at the Farmer’s Market

Healthy eating is easy in the summer, when a variety of produce is in season and widely available. And what’s better than heading out to your local farmer’s market to support your local farmers and having a rainbow of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables right at your fingertips!?

While all fruits and vegetables are good for you, I have a few favorites that I like to look for when I’m shopping at the farmer’s market.

Asparagus! If you happen to find the purple kind, don’t pass it up! It has certain anthocyanins that help ward off cancer, plus all of the disease-fighting compounds as the green variety. Tip: Check out the shape; the stalks should be firm and straight. Older stalks tend to be crooked, which means they have lost some of their nutrients.

Cherries! These beauties are full of flavanoids, compounds that help protect against cellular damage caused by oxidation. Tip: Stems that are bright green and flexible are a sign of freshness.

Zucchini! You can’t beat a vegetable that is entirely edible — from the seeds, to the flesh, to the skin — you can eat it all! Tip: Don’t buy the biggest ones — they tend to be “seedy” and have a woody taste. Opt for the smaller ones for better flavor.

Bell Peppers! Green, orange, red or yellow, these sweet peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and carotenoids — both of which are potent antioxidants. The green ones have just as much vitamin C as the red! Tip: Ripe bell peppers will be a deep, vivid color, feel heavy for their size and be firm.

Rhubarb! Low in calories and high in metabolism-boosting B vitamins, this versatile vegetable is a great pick. Tip: Covered rhubarb will last in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you have extra, dice the stalks and freeze in a freezer bag for later use. And don’t eat the leaves — they are poisonous!

Edamame! This baby soybean is packed with protein and fiber, which makes it the perfect snack to curb your mid-afternoon hunger. Tip: Boil the soybeans in a couple inches of water for 15 – 20 minutes, then drain and freeze or refrigerate.

By Jocelyn Johnson, MS, RD, LN

Clinical Dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital

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