10 Essential Plant-Based Foods to Enjoy this Summer

10 Essential Plant-Based Foods to Enjoy this Summer

As the weather gets warmer, it's time to enjoy the sun and yummy summer foods! Summer is great for fresh fruits like juicy watermelon, tasty strawberries, sweet peaches, and ripe tomatoes. Don't forget about grilled tofu kebabs or veggie burgers for a satisfying meal after a day outside.

There are lots of good foods for summer, but we've picked our top 10 favorites. These foods are healthy, tasty, and perfect for any summer occasion.

Specific Nutrients for Warmer Weather Months

When the weather gets warmer, your body needs different nutrients. In summer, you probably spend more time outside playing sports or gardening, which makes you sweat more. When you sweat, you lose important stuff from your body that needs replacing.

Also, spending time under the summer sun can hurt your skin. Wearing sunscreen and protective clothes helps, but some nutrients might also help protect your skin from damage caused by the sun's rays.

Make sure you get enough of these important nutrients during the summer:

  1. Electrolytes: When you sweat, you lose electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Adding electrolyte powder to your water can help you stay hydrated and replace the minerals you lose when you sweat.
  2. Vitamin C: Some studies show that vitamin C might help protect your skin from damage caused by the sun. Make sure you get enough of this powerful antioxidant, especially after spending time in the sun.
  3. Vitamin D: Even though the sun provides vitamin D, many people in North America don't get enough of it. Don't forget about this important vitamin just because it's sunny outside.

Eat Seasonally

Summer brings a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies straight from the farm to your table. These seasonal delights are picked when they're perfectly ripe, making them tastier and more nutritious than produce that's been shipped long distances.

Choosing seasonal produce is not only tastier but also easier on your wallet. Plus, it supports local farmers who grow your food, which is a great bonus.

There are many reasons to enjoy local, seasonal produce, but my favorite is simply because it tastes better! Summer is the best time to savor delicious, affordable, fresh fruits and veggies that you can't find at other times of the year.

Seasonal Produce Provides More Nutrients

Eating fruits and veggies when they're in season gives you more nutrients than when they're not. That's because seasonal produce is picked when it's ripe and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Since it doesn't have to travel far, it retains more of its goodness by the time it reaches your plate.

As fruits and veggies sit around after being picked, they lose some of their nutrients. So, produce that's been shipped long distances or stored for a while isn't as nutritious when you eat it.

Summer produce is especially nutritious, packed with vitamins A and C, which are great for your immune system, skin, and eyes. Seasonal fruits and veggies are also lower in calories and have lots of water, which is good for you.

If you have a farmers market nearby, check it out before you go to the grocery store. And if you're not sure what's in season during the summer, here are some top picks to look for.

Top 10 Plant-Based Foods for Summer

Watermelon 

Watermelon

Watermelon is a fantastic summer treat, not just because it's in season, but also because it's packed with water—about 90%! This makes it super hydrating and refreshing, especially on hot days. And don't worry about the seeds—eating them won't make a watermelon grow in your belly! Loaded with vitamins A and C, plus the antioxidant lycopene, watermelon is a must-have for summer.

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes

Fresh-picked tomatoes straight from the vine taste amazing in the summer. They're easy to grow at home and are rich in antioxidants that can help shield your skin from sun damage. Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, just like watermelons. The redder the tomato, the more lycopene it likely contains. One of the tastiest ways to enjoy tomatoes is on a grilled veggie burger.

Berries 

Berries

Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are ideal summer snacks—they're light, refreshing, and bursting with antioxidants. Research suggests that berries can defend your cells against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Some studies even found that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have some of the highest antioxidant levels among commonly eaten fruits. Enjoy berries on their own, toss them in a summer salad, blend them into a smoothie, or freeze them into homemade ice pops. They're delicious any way you slice them!

Corn 

Corn

Sweet corn is a quintessential summer delight, perfect for barbecues and outdoor gatherings.

But sweet corn isn't just tasty—it's also packed with health benefits. It's a great source of fiber, which aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation. Additionally, corn is rich in vitamins A and C, crucial for maintaining healthy skin and eyes. Its potassium content also helps regulate blood pressure.

Cucumbers 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the ultimate cooling and hydrating snack. With a water content of 96%, they're an excellent choice for staying hydrated during the summer heat. While most of our hydration comes from drinks, about 20% comes from water-rich foods like cucumbers.

Not only are cucumbers hydrating, but they also provide essential electrolytes like potassium and sodium, perfect for replenishing your body after a long day outdoors. They're also a good source of vitamins A and C.

Peaches

Peaches

Peaches are a summertime necessity, offering a sweet and juicy treat that's perfect for hot days.

Peaches may help your skin retain moisture and are packed with vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.

Whether enjoyed fresh or incorporated into delicious recipes like vegan peach pie, peach crisp, or grilled with a dash of cinnamon, peaches are a delightful addition to any summer menu.

Eggplant 

Eggplant

Eggplant is a nutritious vegetable, packed with fiber, vitamins C and K, copper, manganese, and thiamin. It also contains phytonutrients that are linked with reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Despite some feeling unsure about how to prepare eggplant, it's quite versatile! You can enjoy it baked, grilled, on skewers, or in dishes like ratatouille or vegetarian moussaka. It even holds up well in a simple grilled or roasted eggplant Parmesan.

Bell Peppers 

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and various B vitamins. Surprisingly, they offer more vitamin C than citrus fruits. They also provide fiber, copper, and manganese.

Bell peppers come in different colors—green, yellow, and red. Green ones are unripe and less sweet, sometimes tasting slightly bitter. Red peppers are sweeter, making them great for snacking. Regardless of color, you can enjoy bell peppers raw, roasted, or turned into salsa.

Lemon 

Lemon

Lemons are known for their tangy flavor and high vitamin C content, along with flavonoids.

For those following a plant-based diet, lemons are especially useful as their vitamin C helps improve iron absorption from other plant foods, such as red lentils and leafy greens.

Lemon adds a zesty kick to both sweet and savory dishes. And as the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

Beans 

Beans

Beans are fantastic for plant-based protein, fiber, and iron. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and are available dried or canned at most grocery stores. Popular options include black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Beans can be used in many dishes and are perfect for adding to summer salads or grilled veggies.

Bonus:

Water may not be food, but it's crucial for summer! Staying hydrated is vital, especially when it's hot and we sweat more. Without enough fluids, our bodies can't work properly.

During summer, keep a reusable water bottle filled with cold water nearby to ensure you're drinking enough. Aim for at least eight glasses a day. If plain water isn't your thing, try adding a slice of lemon, orange, cucumber, or other fruits, veggies, or herbs for a refreshing and hydrating boost.

Conclusion

Summer brings an abundance of tasty, locally grown plant-based foods. These favorites not only taste great but also help keep you hydrated, cool, and nourished during the warmer months.

Make sure to include these delicious seasonal treats on your shopping lists this summer. Whether it's juicy watermelon, fresh berries, ripe tomatoes, or crisp zucchini, there's something for everyone to savor!

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