Summer is literally days away, which for some means so too are barbecues, apple pie and ice cream. But for me – an upstate New Yorker – it means fresh berry picking at area farms and the arrival of dragon fruit at the local grocer.
Fortunately, fruit and fun aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have your barbecues and eat your produce too – in fact, you can do both at the same time. Here are five nutritious summertime foods – plus a recipe for one of my favorite dishes to bring to family get-togethers and afternoon barbecues that incorporates them all.
1. Dragon Fruit
Also called pitaya, dragon fruit is part of the cactus family and offers a mild, subtle flavor. Its flesh will be white or magenta with black seeds, and the texture is often compared to the kiwi fruit. Dragon fruit is high in fiber and vitamin C, and it contains healthy fatty acids. The fruit is also low in calories – just 90 calories in one cup.
Beyond delicious, berries including blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are among the foods with the most antioxidants. Blackberries are known for being high in fiber and rich in vitamins A, B and K. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are free radical scavenging antioxidants. Blueberries, meanwhile, may help fight inflammation, thanks to the fruit’s high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids – almost 86 milligrams in just a 1-cup serving. The fruit also provides adequate potassium, phosphorus and vitamin A. Finally, raspberries not only add a beautiful hue to any recipe, but they are also loaded with calcium, potassium, folate and healthy omega-3 fatty acids – 155 milligrams in a 1-cup serving.
3. Hemp Seeds
If you have never eaten hemp seeds before, now is a great time to add them to your diet. These tiny seeds contain an abundance of nutrition. Nutty in flavor, they provide a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fiber and all nine essential amino acids. They are also a great protein source, with 10 grams in a 3-tablespoon serving.
4. Collagen Powder
Collagen powder is just about everywhere these days, and with good reason. Loaded with amino acids, abundant research has shown collagen powder can aid in digestion and is a key component in healing the intestinal wall. It’s also well-known to potentially reduce exercise-related joint pain and may help repair muscles. Plus, it’s a great source of protein, with most collagen powders containing 8 to 14 grams per scoop.
5. Sunflower Seeds
These delicious seeds add a bit of crunch to any dish and are loaded with heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of vitamin E, selenium, niacin and protein, with 13 grams in just a half of a cup.
Berry Banana Bliss
Start to finish: 10 minutes
2 bananas, not overly ripe
1 small 5.3-ounce yogurt or yogurt substitute (I use Silk’s vanilla or blueberry yogurt)
1 scoop collagen powder (I use Further Food since it has no taste and dissolves easily)
Nuts and seeds of your choice (consider hemp, flax, sunflower or pumpkin)
Optional toppings: melted chocolate, honey, coconut flakes or shreds, lavender, edible flowers
Cut each banana (with the curve upright) lengthwise into three segments. Pat dry.
Combine collagen powder into your small yogurt container and stir until dissolved.
Spread an even but thin layer of yogurt across each banana. Keep in mind that too much yogurt will make the toppings slide off.
Next, add fresh berries. I like to crush the raspberries before adding them – it spreads out the color and gives the dessert texture.
Top with seeds and a final toppings of your choice. Consider drizzling with a hint of honey or chocolate.
Store in refrigerator until it’s time to serve.