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10 Easy and Healthy Ways to Use Summer Produce

Natalie
Stein
July 25, 2023
Produce
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In this article:

  • Summer produce can be abundant from the garden or supermarket, and it’s nutritious and delicious!
  • Eating more produce can help you lose weight and improve health.
  • Here are 10 ways to use summer fruits and vegetables. The recipes are healthy, easy, and versatile.
  • Lark offers a friendly and encouraging program that can help you make healthy decisions 24/7, like eating more fruits and vegetables.

Summer produce can be abundant whether it is growing in your garden or you see it at supermarkets or farmers’ markets. Here are 10 ways to use tempting, nutritious, and delicious summer fruits and vegetables.

1. Eggplant Turkey Casserole

This is a basic recipe, but everyone needs a basic recipe in their repertoire for a simple make ahead or weeknight dinner! It’s even easier because you don’t have to peel the eggplant. In one pan, it has lean protein, vegetables, healthy fat, and a whole grain. Feel free to add other vegetables, such as spinach or mushrooms. If you’re on a low-carb diet, you can skip the pasta and add cauliflower instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb each), cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups of cooked whole-grain penne or other pasta
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the ground turkey.
  2. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients.
  3. Add them to a sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the casserole browns.

2. Baked Salmon and Tomatoes

This is a delicious and easy way to use tomatoes and get heart-healthy omega-3 fats from salmon. You can bake it in the oven or on the grill, so it’s a perfect recipe for any time of the year. Keep it super simple with just basil, or add olives, capers, and/or oregano for more flavors. You can serve it with brown rice or whole-grain pasta, more roasted vegetables, or fruit.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 small salmon filets, about 12-16 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 medium tomatoes, in medium-thick slices, or 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Place a piece of salmon on a piece of foil. Top it with ¼ of the tomato mixture. Fold the sides of the foil up and crease them together to make a packet. Place it on a baking sheet or pan.
  4. Repeat with the other pieces of salmon.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes with a fork.

3. Green Tomato and Chicken Soup

Green tomatoes can be abundant near the end of summer as tomato plants still produce their fruit, but it doesn’t ripen well. You don’t have to fry green tomatoes to enjoy them - though you certainly can make healthy “fried” green tomatoes by coating them with whole-grain flour and baking them.

This recipe for green tomato and chicken soup is easy, and you can make it in advance. It tastes good hot or cold. In this recipe, you roast the tomatoes with olive oil, then make the soup in a pot. You can serve it as is, stir in plain yogurt or milk to make it creamier, or top it with cheese or toasted whole-grain pita pieces.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of green or red tomatoes, or 8-12 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound of cooked skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups of low-sodium broth
  • ½ teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toss the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic, and bake them for 20 minutes in a baking pan at 450 degrees.
  2. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot. Cook for 4 minutes, then add the tomato mixture, chicken, broth, and spices. Stir, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve or cool and refrigerate. Freeze leftovers if desired.

4. Corn on the Cob with Feta Yogurt Sauce

Sweet, juicy, corn on the cob has fiber and is fun to eat. Why slather it in butter and make it greasy and high-calorie? Instead, use feta cheese, Greek yogurt, and mint leaves to add flavor, protein, and calcium. You can grill, steam, or microwave the corn.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of corn, broken in half
  • 3 ounces of low-fat feta, divided
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Chopped mint leaves, optional
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, optional
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of feta cheese with the yogurt, oregano, lemon juice, and mint and garlic, if using.
  2. Grill the corn.
  3. To serve, put the corn on plates and drizzle the yogurt sauce evenly over each half of an ear. Top the corn with the remaining crumbled feta cheese before serving.

5. Roasted Bell Pepper Pesto

Roasting bell peppers is so easy. This pesto is a delicious alternative to mayonnaise or mustard on sandwiches. You can also mix it with rice, use it as a sauce for whole-grain pasta, or mix it with tuna and chopped vegetables for a healthier version of tuna salad. You can freeze any leftover pesto.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled

Directions:

  1. Remove the cores and membranes from the bell peppers and slice them into quarters. Toss them with the olive oil and roast them at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in the blender and pulse gently until the mixture is blended but chunky. Pour into a container and use, refrigerate, or freeze.

6. Baked Zucchini Onion Pancakes

This is a recipe that you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate the pancakes until you are ready to use them; then serve them cold or reheat them in the oven or microwave. They are great on their own or with some fruit or a few slices of avocado.

After grating the zucchini, blot them with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This recipe calls for cheddar cheese, but you can use mozzarella, swiss, feta, parmesan, or almost any other cheese. You can also skip the cheese and use an extra egg to make it dairy-free. If you are avoiding gluten, you can use almond, brown rice, oat, or another gluten-free flour.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of grated zucchini, about 3-4 zucchini
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 2 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup of diced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, optional
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl. Add more flour if needed to thicken it.
  3. Drop spoonfuls of batter on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggs are set.
  4. Serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

7. Chili Lime Baked Cucumber Chips

Who needs potato chips when you have cucumber chips? They’re low in carbs, and they’re a great way to use and preserve cucumbers without pickling them. You can experiment with other spices for the seasonings, or try them with parmesan cheese.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can make these in the oven by baking them for 3-4 hours at 180 degrees, or until crispy.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of lime juice, or juice from about 2 big limes
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Blot the cucumber slices to remove extra moisture.
  2. MIx the cucumber slices with the other ingredients until they are coated.
  3. Place the cucumber slices on dehydrator trays and dehydrate them for 12 hours at 130 degrees, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

8. Watermelon Lime Popsicles

What can you do with the rest of a huge watermelon when it’s too big for your family? These are a super healthy, super simple dessert or snack option to cool down in the heat. Just blend the ingredients, pour the mixture into molds, add popsicle sticks, and freeze.

Use popsicle molds or small paper or plastic cups to shape your ice pops when freezing them. You can also use ice cube trays and use the ice cubes to cool down water and flavor it when you’re busy hydrating.

Makes 16 popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of watermelon cubes
  • Juice from 1 lime or ½ lemon
  • Handful of mint leaves, optional

Directions:

  1. Puree the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Pour into molds and add a popsicle stick to each one.
  3. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. You may need to run the molds under warm water to loosen the pops when you’re ready to eat them.

9. Peach Salsa

This salsa has the flavors of traditional salsa, but the ripe peaches or nectarines add sweetness. Make it as spicy as you want with store-bought or garden-grown jalapenos. Serve it as a dip with crunchy vegetables or whole-grain crackers, use it to top fish or chicken tacos, or cook it with fish or chicken in a pan.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large peaches, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of freshly chopped cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • Jalapeno, seeded and deveined, and finely chopped, optional

Directions:

1. Mix the ingredients together. Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving to let the flavors develop.

10. Grilled Cantaloupe

This is a simple dessert. Just grill the cantaloupe and top it with walnuts to serve it. You can also add small balls of mozzarella or a small scoop of cottage cheese.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cantaloupe
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 ounces of chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Cut the cantaloupe into sixths or eighths and cut the flesh out of the rind to form spears.
  2. Brush the spears with olive oil and grill them.
  3. Plate the spears and top them with walnuts to serve.

How Lark Can Help You Eat Healthier

What you eat is hugely important for health, and eating fresh produce in nutritious ways is a great step to take for healthy eating. Lark can be there 24/7 to cheer you on and support you as you make healthy choices that can make you proud. With Lark, you can get motivation and coaching on building healthy habits around food, activity, and more.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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