Seasonal Summer Veggies

How amazing has the weather been lately? Can you believe we saw temperature in the mid-twenties in May? I had the pleasure of being off work on the hottest day of the year (so far) and spent hours strolling around the beautiful surrounds of Belvedere House. This is one of my favourite ways to spend summer day – strolling around new places, taking snaps and obviously enjoying a nice lunch!

It’s too warm to be spending hours cooking in the kitchen. Salads are a much easier option and so many salad veggies are now in season.

Peppers. My favourite veggie. Raw in salads, roasted on the BBQ, as a snack with hummus – the possibilities are endless.

Typically known for the red, yellow, orange and green varieties, peppers are available in white and black/blue – have you ever seen them? Although all peppers share many similarities, red and green peppers have a few key differences in their nutrition profiles. Red peppers are superior in terms of vitamin A and vitamin C while green peppers win on the folate and iron scale. These differences are primarily due to the components that give the peppers their different colours.

This summer, my Drop Chef dish of the moment is the Roast Harisssa Chicken with Sweet Potato and Peppers – celebrating the fabulousness of the red pepper. This dish is wonderful as is but try cooking the chicken on the BBQ – wow! And what’s more, this dish is allergen free*.

Tomatoes. Eaten like a vegetable but technically a fruit. Lycopene is the component found in tomatoes, and many other red/pink fruits and vegetables, which gives them their vibrant red colour. Lycopene belongs to the family of carotenoids which important for vitamin A.

Tomatoes are a delicious addition to salads, are an ideal snack at the desk and can add a dimension of flavour to stews and soups. Have you tried Drop Chef\’s new Sundried Tomato Rice dish? It is all about the summer vibes.

Asparagus. With seasonal availability lasting from late spring to mid-summer, it’s now time to stock up on this nutrient-rich vegetable. Like most vegetables, asparagus is low in calories, a source of fibre and high in vitamins and minerals.

Keep an eye on Drop Chef\’s menu throughout the summer to get your delivery of Tomato Penne with Halloumi and Roast Asparagus. The pan-fried halloumi adds body to this delicious vegetarian dish while the fresh rosemary and garlic add depth of flavour.

Carrots. Good for the eyes they said. There’s truth in it. Vitamin A, found in carrots, is required for the body to synthesise rhodopsin, the pigment in the eyes that operates in low-light conditions. Without it, the deficiency disease of vitamin A, Night Blindness, may develop.

Carrots will come in to season in July and run through until the end of January, meaning you’ve lots of time to get creative.

Grated carrot is a wonderful addition to salads, adding vibrant colour and crunchy texture. In the Drop Chef Buddha Bow, grated carrot perfectly absorbs the salad dressing and is a wonderful contrast to the soft chickpeas.

If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen and fancy your hand at a spot of baking, why not whip up a carrot cake! I use the recipe from Avoca and have shared on my blog .

Including vegetables in the diet is important for good health. Healthy eating guidelines for Ireland suggest that we should be eating 5-7 portions of fruit/vegetables every day. While vegetables are seasonal, advances in growing, processing, shipment and preserving techniques means that it is possible to get your hands on most vegetables all year round. Remember: Lots of variety = Lots of colour = Lots of nutrients.

To keep up to date with what is in season, check out Bord Bia’s nifty calendar of seasonal availability for fruit, vegetables and herbs.

For more meal inspiration and ideas, follow The Baking Nutritionist on Facebook and Instagram .

Amy Meegan, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, UCD

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