Without sounding too much like a summer heat complainer, I’m grateful our summer storm season started off mild — that is if your house didn’t have a tree fall on it, or flooding, or electricity loss. I had the latter. My gratitude extends to the fact the power in my neighborhood was restored before the awfully hot humid recovery Monday. Sunday had a nice breeze. That was following my vacation to the heat. The Orange Beach area of Alabama has become so popular, my brother-in-law’s niece and her husband were there at the same time. Almost caught other friends, but they left the week before we arrived.

As someone who suffers from heat exhaustion, I have to watch being out in the sun too long. Being in the pool’s cool water, the indoor pool, or swimming in the surf are ways to stay cool, but when a wrong turn and misdirections force a three mile walk in the sun on the sandy shore, pulling a wagon — it takes more than shade and AC to bring back my joy — and get rid of the heat stroke headache.

I made a beeline to the grocery store for lots of fresh fruit. Most folks know the natural popsicle frozen grape treat — a go to for summer heat refreshing. Missing the family fig tree, I purchased a container of fresh Black Mission figs. Peeled with a dash of cream or evaporated milk makes this a treat — on top of ice cream isn’t a bad idea either. I loved finding these fruit dishes for any meal.

Parents imploring their children to eat their fruits and vegetables is a nightly occurrence at many dinner tables. Reluctant youngsters may have a seemingly innate resistance to vegetables, but parents should stay the course, as the importance of making fruit and vegetables a routine part of one’s daily diet is hard to overstate.

Children might be seen as the most resistant to fruits and vegetables, but reports indicate they’re not alone. A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that just 12 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting the standards for fruit consumption as established by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are determined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Even fewer people, 9 percent, are meeting the standard for vegetables. The picture is somewhat better in Canada, where the Canadian Community Health Survey 2017 found that 28.6 percent of Canadians age 12 and older report consuming fruits and vegetables more than five times per day. However, that figure steadily declined since 2015. That’s unfortunate, as fruits and vegetables have been linked to a host of health benefits.

Why eat fruit and vegetables?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that fruits do not contain cholesterol and are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. In addition, fruits contain a host of essential nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate, that are historically underconsumed. Similarly, studies have shown that vegetables, which also are great sources of vitamins and minerals, can help people reduce their risk for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

How can to include more fruits and vegetables into a diet?

Routine is a big part of many people’s lives, and some may find it hard to change their dietary routines. But people who aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables likely don’t need to completely overhaul their diets in order to include more fruits and vegetables. In fact, the American Heart Association notes that the following are some easy ways for people to sneak more fruits and vegetables into their diets.

• BREAKFAST: When sitting down for a bowl of cereal, add some bananas, raisins or berries to your bowl. When making eggs or breakfast potatoes, add chopped up onions, celery, green or red bell peppers or spinach.

• LUNCH: Forgo sandwiches in favor of fruit or vegetable salads at lunchtime. If you must have a sandwich, top it off with vegetables like cucumbers, sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, and/or avocado.

• DINNER: Replace less healthy side dishes with fruit or vegetable salads, and don’t forget to include steamed vegetables, even frozen ones, on your dinner plate every night. Add chopped vegetables, such as onions, garlic and celery, when creating soups, stews or sauces.

A few simple strategies can help people eat more fruits and vegetables and reap the many rewards that such foods provide.

About today’s recipes

Breakfast has long since been dubbed “the most important meal of the day.” While some might dispute that distinction, there’s no disputing that a delicious breakfast can be a great way to begin a day.

Freshness can go a long way toward making breakfast something special. For example, fresh peaches make the recipe for “Peach Bruschetta with Blue Cheese” from Christopher Hirsheimer’s “The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook” (Chronicle Books) something to savor. The dish also works as an appetizer and can be made with nectarines.

Cookouts are on the horizon and people are always on the lookout for delicious dishes that are easily cooked on the grill. Burgers are a staple of grilling season and might be relatively simple. But that does not mean they have to be ordinary.

Switching up the main ingredient (i.e., the ground meat) used as the basis for burgers is an easy way to add a new flavor profile to this familiar dish. Turkey is a versatile ingredient that can be flavored in many different ways with spices and other ingredients to add punch to turkey’s relatively mild taste.

“Turkey Burgers with Mango Salsa” from “Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Cookbook” (Taste of Home Books) by the editors of Taste of Home adds a tropical spin to classic cookout menus. This recipe also offers a special treat by way of a spreadable cheese nestled right in the heart of the burger patties.

The tastes of summer are often amplified by fresh, regional produce. Peaches are a classic warm-weather fruit that provide just the right amount of sweetness to a variety of dishes. While it’s easy to pigeonhole peaches into breakfasts and desserts, they’re equally at home in more savory dishes.

Fruit often pairs well with mild-flavored meats like poultry and pork. For a refreshing dinner that’s easy to prepare and cooks up in just about 30 minutes, try “Roasted Pork Chops and Peaches” from “Real Simple: Dinner Tonight Done!” (Time Home Entertainment) from the editors of Real Simple.

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