1. Beets and beet greens
Beets pack a one-two punch when you buy them whole and eat them from root to shoot: The beetroot satisfies the sweet tooth and provides energizing carbohydrates, while the tender beet greens balance things out with a mildly astringent flavor and a host of B vitamins and minerals to help you use those carbs.
Keep in mind that your eyes need protection from the summer sun's UV rays just as much as your skin does. Since beets and beet greens are rich in beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, they're proven to help reduce the risk of sunlight-related eye problems, including diseases of the macula and retina. To maximize the benefit of beets' nutrients, steam the beetroots for 15 minutes. Then, give the beet greens a quick wash and chop, and toss them with the cooked beetroots, some orange segments and your favorite fruity vinaigrette for a summer-worthy side dish.
• Beet Risotto
• Beet Salad
• Cold Beet Borscht
• Sesame Wilted Beet Greens
2. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a favorite amongst backyard gardeners because it is so robust and easy to grow. A distant relative of celery, chard is a plant with a very high water content, particularly in the stem. This makes munching on Swiss chard a healthy choice for hydration during the warm summer months. Chard is most readily available in June and August, and the leafy green can be blanched and frozen for year-round enjoyment. And who wouldn't want to enjoy it all year round? Swiss chard boasts one of the highest levels of vitamin K, surpassed only by kale, spinach and collard greens. One cup of boiled Swiss chard provides over 570 micrograms of this bone-building nutrient – that's over 700 per cent of the daily requirement! Swiss chard is also packed with beta-carotene and vitamin C, which help counteract the aging effects of summer sun.
• Swiss Chard Gratin
• Chicken and Swiss Chard Fusilli
• Hot Swiss Chard and Artichoke Dip
Page 1 of 2 - find more healthy -- and delicious -- summer foods on page 2
Like chard, tomatoes are a practical and popular summertime food that contain lots of water and can be easily grown in your yard. You may know tomatoes for being high in lycopene, but did you know they are also a great source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium? To maximize the benefits of the lycopene and other cancer-fighting nutrients, opt to buy organic tomatoes and tomato-based products such as ketchup or pasta sauce. Studies show that organic versions have as much as three times more lycopene and vitamin content than sources that aren’t certified organic. If your tomato intake is generally limited to a solitary slice on your burger, or a couple wedges in your salad, try gazpacho, a refreshing tomato and cucumber summer soup that's proven to reduce oxidative damage by boosting blood levels of vitamin C.
• Egg and Tomato Panini
• Tomato and Feta Salad
• Roast Tomato Sauce
4. Dandelion greens
Speaking of gardening, weeding can become harvesting if you save a few stalks of dandelion greens to add to your salad or vegetable sautée. Adding dandelion greens gives a boost of valuable calcium, potassium, vitamin C and carotenoids to your diet. Dandelion greens or dandelion tea are also often used for detoxification of the liver, as they have the unique ability to break down excess mucus produced because of the summer heat. If you're prone to water retention and swelling during the warm months, dandelion greens would be a good herbal remedy, given their richness in bitter compounds that promote urination.
• Dandelion Gratin
• Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Mushroom Dressing
Ubiquitous at summer barbecues, no list of summer superfoods would be complete without corn. The bad buzz around high-fructose corn syrup may have tarnished corn's reputation, but make no mistake – in its natural state, corn is a healthy choice. Though it's technically a whole grain, corn provides many nutrients that are often associated with green vegetables, such as folate, vitamin C and lutein. At about 170 calories per one cup, that's not a bad bargain. Just be sure to go easy on the melted butter when you enjoy that side of fresh corn on the cob.
• Country Corn Bread with Real Corn
• Corn and Zucchini Saute
• Tomato Corn Salsa
Page 2 of 2
Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the best selling book The Last 15 – A Weight Loss Breakthrough and founder of the Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, please visit drjoey.com or shulmanweightloss.com