The best nutrients come from eating seasonally
A large part of following a Paleo lifestyle is always making the best effort to eat whatever is currently in season. Food is metabolized differently depending on the current season and weather conditions. For most of history, in-season local produce was the only food available.
Today you have the option to eat almost any type of fresh produce year-round. But, making a point to eat foods only in-season and that are available locally means they not only taste better and are less expensive, but they're metabolized more efficiently to provide the most nutrition during those seasons. Eating seasonally is also better for the environment because it doesn't rely on monocultures or on shipping produce around the world.
It's finally summer! That means the produce department is looking plentiful. Summer is by far the most abundant season of the year, offering up the most colorful, delicious and exciting vegetables. Knowing what they are allows you to take advantage of them while they are at their peak!
For more inspiration on cooking seasonally, grab a copy of Chef Pete’s book, Paleo By Season here>>>>>
While some farmer's markets will have different offerings compared to others, keep your eyes out for some of our favorites.
Crisp. Crunchy. Cool. No, that’s not the sound of fall but rather the best way to describe cucumbers.
Whether shaved paper-thin for a quick pickle or part of a chunky chopped salad, cucumbers add texture, taste and flavor to many dishes. Cucumber loves to mingle with fresh green herbs such as mint, chive and dill. This summer vegetable can also serve as the base for a summer vegetable soup, like gazpacho, or a cooling infused water or Paleo cocktail.
Despite what you may have heard, be sure to keep the seeds in your cucumber; it’s where this vegetable’s umami taste is hiding. Cucumber loves to mingle with fresh green herbs such as mint, chive and dill.
Rich in minerals and vitamins, carrots deliver an earthy sweetness to a cooked dish or a delicate crunch to your summer salad lineup.
For a kid-friendly side, roast heirloom carrots in the oven until they begin to caramelize — tossing them next with wild honey, extra virgin oil and toasted walnuts.
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Summer squashes are picked while their skin is still soft and edible. The “summer squash” name refers to this gourd’s short shelf life compared to hard-shelled pumpkins.
Zucchini is king in this squash and is ideal for frying, sautéing, steaming, grilling or stewing. Zucchini is one of the best grilled summer vegetables. It should be salted, sweated and caramelized on your grill.
Pesto, stir-fry and even lemonade are all perfect vehicles for basil.
Garden basil, whether it’s the Thai or Italian variety, will gussy up your adventures in the kitchen. Stir a handful of fresh basil into a slow-simmered tomato sauce for an extra layer of flavor or add raw or frizzled basil to add both fragrance and sweetness to Southeast Asian inspired stir-fries and soups.
If you grow basil at home, you can harvest the leaves all summer. After you harvest a pinch of leaves, two more basil stems will grow from where you plucked!
Juicy, plump, unrivaled. Would it even feel like summer without garden-fresh tomatoes gracing your dinner table?
Widely used in both American and international cuisines, the tomato is a multi-functional late summer vegetable — scrumptious right off-the-vine, tasty when slow-stewed and even sweet enough to be churned into ice creams.
Eggplants come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Thai eggplants are small, round and green. Italian eggplants are oval-shaped and burgundy purple. Japanese eggplants are slender — vaunting a bright violet hue.
Whether your eggplant is milky white or pitch black, this is one versatile summer vegetable that's good for grilling, frying, sautéing or baking. Many chefs recommend “weeping” the eggplant before any high-heat preparation, a.k.a. salting the sliced eggplant and drawing out its bitter liquid.
Summer-loving strains of pepper bear their spicy fruit in summer months, transforming into Thai chili, banana peppers, serrano and the extra-hot habanero. On the mild side, you can stuff sweet bell or mildly spicy poblano peppers for a delicious meal
New potatoes are freshly-harvested potatoes that feature soft skin and a moist middle. Because of their thin skin, new potatoes do not store well.
This summer vegetable is best eaten when freshly-harvested, before the potatoes have been bruised or begun to dry out. These delicate tubers only need simple preparations. According to chefs, a simple (and simply addictive) way to cook them is a gentle boil, followed by a light vinaigrette. New potatoes are also perfect roasted or grilled on the barbecue.
It’s odd that green bean casserole is so popular during the late fall, because green beans are at their best during the summer. During these hot months, you don’t need to cover up the beans with a \ sauce—they’re delicious on their own. We don’t suggest you pick through every single bean at the farmers’ market, but try to grab a handful of the brightest-hued beans. At home, compost any beans that don’t have a crisp snap to them.
Okra is a summer vegetable used in West African, Indian and Southern cooking as a key ingredient in slow-simmered stews like gumbo or in gravy-like curries.
In addition to delivering a nutty and almost peppery taste, okra is used by cooks around the globe to thicken sauces and soups.
Pick out the brightest pieces you can find that are no more than four inches long, and avoid any blemished or soft pods.
Grown throughout the Americas, tomatillos are a staple in traditional Mexican cooking that's used most famously to make tangy salsa verde (green salsa). Tomatillos boast a tart, almost citrus-like flavor. They can be served raw in a salsa fresca (fresh salsa) or grilled/blanched in a smoother sauce.
Big changes are on the horizon, check back with Pete’s Paleo tomorrow for a new look and new options!
As the warmer months fill our days with sunshine, it's only fitting that we enjoy the bounty of the season. Summer produce is refreshing, versatile and bursting with vibrant flavors. With so many options at your fingertips, it's time to plan a trip to the market and taste for yourself how delicious summer vegetables can be.