Commentary: Tasty ways to prepare summer vegetables

Commentary: Tasty ways to prepare summer vegetables
July 06
02:00 2017

By Lynne M. Mitchell 

Summer is a great time to grill outdoors and eat salads.   Summer is also peak season for many tasty locally grown vegetables. 

According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020, we should eat a minimum of 2 ½ servings of vegetables a day.   A serving is one-half cup of cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables.  In order to meet that goal, it is a good idea to use different cooking methods to mix it up and keep things interesting! 

Here are some popular and tasty ways to enjoy vegetables this summer!

*Fire up the grill!   For grilled vegetables, brush veggies with olive or vegetable oil before placing on the grill.  You may also want to oil the grill grates.    Season with pepper and a small amount of salt (optional).  Cooking time will vary depending on the vegetable, where the vegetable is placed on the grill and the thickness of the vegetable.  To avoid charring, don’t over oil veggies or cook at too hot a temperature.  When grilling smaller items, use a skewer, grilling basket, foil sheet or foil pouch (just fold foil to make a pouch).  Cut vegetables lengthwise (squash) to get more surface area.  You may also want to pre-cook veggies and finish them on the grill.  Denser vegetables will take longer on the grill than watery vegetables. 

*Try stir-frying for a colorful side dish or entree.  Start by cutting vegetables in a similar size for uniform cooking.  The smaller you cut your veggies, the quicker they will cook.   You may want to chop veggies on the weekend or your day off to save time during the work week.  Start off with a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat, and begin adding the veggies.  I like to start with onion and peppers and then add a variety of veggies including broccoli, carrots, summer squash, and zucchini.  There are a lot of great recipes for stir fry sauces on the web if you search for stir-fry vegetables.  Common ingredients used to season stir fry dishes include ginger, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar and broth.

*Salads make a wonderful summertime meal.  Start with dark leafy greens and add other fresh, in-season produce such as cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, blueberries and peppers.  For protein, add your favorite beans or a protein food such as chicken breast, shrimp or salmon.  Top off with a homemade salad dressing using olive oil.  Grains such as farro, brown rice, bulgur and quinoa make great sides or can be added to a salad bowl.  Salads are quick, easy and delicious!

*Raw veggies make a quick and nutritious snack.  You can buy vegetables washed and pre-cut, baby size or you can wash, peel and cut them yourself.  Many raw veggies have a satisfying crunch to them, are great for dipping and make a low-calorie snack.  For added nutrition, try dipping veggies in hummus or homemade bean dip as a snack.

When you eat your main meal, veggies should take up about half of your plate!  Eat a wide variety of vegetables for maximum nutrition.  When possible, eat vegetables grown in season for optimal freshness, nutrition and flavor.  Consider supporting local farmers and the local food economy by shopping at farmers markets or other retail outlets that carry locally grown foods.

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health ( You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line) or

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