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What’s In-Season For The Summer…

Thank goodness it’s almost summer again! After the year it’s been, hopefully for summer 2021 we can start to get more comfortable with socializing and seeing friends and family in person again. Warm summer weather, both kids & teachers being out of school, outdoor activities are plentiful and people traditionally seem more relaxed. What a wonderful season this is!

Personally, back in the day before COVID, I always enjoyed travel, mornings with a coffee in my hand amongst my garden habitants and wandering the many farmer’s markets Toronto had to offer. My favorites to visit were always Evergreen Brickworks, the Withrow Park Farmers Market and the Leslieville Farmers Market

Sorry, got a little sidetracked…

Another great thing about summer time in Canada is you don’t have to rely so much on produce and food products from other countries. The list of fresh in-season produce available in B.C. is extensive, but I am going to focus on a couple groups and individual vegetables and fruit for this blog.  However, you’ll find at the bottom of this article a full list of the most available in-season produce for you to look at.

Most of this list will be fruits and vegetables that are generally available fresh throughout B.C. for the entirety of the summer season (Beginning of July until the End of September)

You will also notice a few similarities in available produce with what is available in B.C. during the fall season, which I cover in my Fall In-Season Produce Blog

Leave it to Vitamins & Minerals

The leaf classification of vegetables, often these days termed as Greens, is one of the most widely available in-season vegetables for residents of B.C. Summer really is the best season to access these types of produce. General species of lettuce, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage and spinach all similarly provide a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. (more information on Cabbage can be found in my fall in-season blog, the link of which I provide above).

Most abundantly available in these greens are Vitamins K, A, C and minerals such as manganese, copper and magnesium. Vitamin A particularly, when in plants, is in the form of beta-carotene mostly, which is known as the vitamin that benefits our sight and skin. More specifically, vitamin A maintains the health of the cornea, and is necessary for the formation of Rhodopsin, which is required for us to see better in low light.  Manganese (not magnesium) is also abundant in greens. This mineral is known to support healthy bones and is beneficial in helping regulate blood-sugar levels.  Both spinach and Kale have fantastic Anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in the digestive system.

Interestingly enough, it is believed that the levels of nitrate available in spinach benefit numerous conditions, not just inflammation. Gut bacteria have the ability to convert the nitrates into nitric oxide. From there they get distributed through the body, benefitting blood pressure, while also being a muscle relaxant for the intestinal tract. Nitric oxide is also believed to benefit heart disease, diabetes and possibly even erectile dysfunction.

Vegetable Food Geek Fact:

All leafy greens are best to eat raw, not in the case of spinach though. Because of its oxalic acid levels, spinach’s source of minerals such as calcium and iron are not as easily absorbed by the body. In this case, it is recommended to cook spinach for just a couple minutes, as the high temperatures break down the oxalic acid. If you dislike the taste of spinach on its own, maybe try cooked spinach with pasta, in a casserole, or even in a stir-fry with some brown rice.

Fruit Country

Fruit is the earth’s dessert…. I’m not sure if that sounded right?  Nevertheless, other than honey and maple syrup, fruit (and in some cases vegetables) is the most natural source of glucose and fructose this earth has to provide. And the only thing better than consuming raw fruit on a hot, sunny day is consuming LOCAL raw fruit on a hot and sunny day in B.C.

For the most part, B.C.’s fruit become available throughout the summer season. Berries such as strawberries, raspberries and even Saskatoon berries are more in season through July and August.  But B.C. also provides an abundance of pitted or tree fruits. Apricots, cherries, peaches, apples and plums, all for the most part, available in the 2nd half of the summer months. 

In general, fruit consumption is a wonderful way to satisfy sugar and sweet cravings, and are a much better way to consume glucose thanks to the fiber. Plus, with fresh fruit, you’re consuming plenty of vitamins and nutrients that are almost never present in processed desserts and sweets. 

Consumption tip:

Want to take advantage of both fruits and veggies on this list?  Why not combine them in some meals?  How about a smoothie with:

  • leafy greens such as spinach or kale
  • beet
  • radish
  • in season fruit such as strawberries, peaches or apples.

Or add some berries or peaches to a nice ‘Spring’ or ‘summer’ salad. All the essentials can be found in B.C.!

Your roots are showing

There is a surprisingly wide variety of root vegetables in-season during the summer months in B.C. Beets and carrots are just a couple that should be locally available throughout the summer.  Parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga and even turnips are typically ready for harvest closer to the 2nd half of the summer months.

Many of the root vegetables listed above I go into general detail in my fall in-season blog, but right now let’s talk about radishes.  This root vegetable is rich in Vitamins B2, B6 & C, and is high in mineral supply such as Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and copper.

Radishes are also high in fiber and have a low glycemic index score (does not spike blood-sugar levels). Much like leafy greens, radishes can benefit digestion, lower inflammation, and also because they are considered a diuretic, can help prevent kidney infections, and assist in proper function of the urinary tract.

Not sure about how to eat radishes in a way that is appealing to you?  Try pickling radishes!  Other than mixing them in with salads, another yummy way to eat radishes is to slice off the ends, and soak them in a bath of balsamic vinegar in the fridge for a few hours.  A delicious little mid-day hors d’oeuvres or snack to take to work.

This is Corny, but…..

What kind of B.C. based food blog would this be if I didn’t mention the sweet corn on the cob that this province has to offer over the late summer months!

Personally, my favorite place to get corn on the cob is Desert Hills Ranch in Ashcroft, B.C.

Now, I’ll admit, corn on the cob doesn’t provide a wide array of nutrients. In fact, corn is considered an allergenic food for many, and wouldn’t typically be on a nutritionist’s recommendation list.  Corn on the cob though can be a good source of Vitamin B3, B6 & B5. All of these vitamins play an important role in energy production in the body, and also the protection and support of antioxidant use in the body.

Despite some people’s views that corn is not ever fully digested, according to a recent study which can be found here, it is believed that the fibre that exists in corn can be considered digestible and a high-fibre source for our systems, and will not spike blood-sugar levels.

I may not recommend corn to clients too often,  however, I am a significant supporter of enjoying the act of cooking, particularly in the summer. And if nostalgia or (safe) social gatherings have to facilitate that, then I’m for it!  Plus, the window of about a month from august to September is short, so you might as well enjoy a nice cob of corn or two during a nice sunny day with loved ones! Food should be a consistent element in our day-to-day enjoyment.

There is a variety of nutritional benefits for consuming any of the fruits and vegetables I listed here.  However, some individuals experience deficiencies or conditions where consuming certain produce, such as goitrogenic vegetables & fruit, that may be harmful or irritating. If you require a specific list of food recommendations to accompany any conditions you may be experiencing, contact me as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist or another holistic healthcare practitioner. You can find my contact info here on my website, or for more information on Whole Instinct Nutrition, visit my Nutritional Consulting page.

In general, all of these foods are fresh, and rich in nutrients. And that’s important! Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables are much better options than processed food, pre-made packaged foods, or fast food products. Try focusing on what is in season in your area or country; its important when focusing on your nutrient intake, and your overall health.

Here’s hoping we can enjoy this summer a little more freely than in 2020!

Summer In-Season List

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