I delight in summer foods. Even back when I lived in the Midwest – St. Louis, Ohio, and Northwest Indiana – I eagerly anticipated summer foods even though the blistering heat and insufferable humidity accompanied them. I especially love summer vegetables: zucchini, eggplant, greens, corn, if it grows in the ground in summer and is edible, please feed it to me.
Now that we live in Washington, I relish summer foods even more. Maybe that’s because now, instead of sweating over the grill or oven in tank tops and shorts, we’re wearing up in our favorite Patagonia zip-ups as we sip a cool beer and feast on summer produce.
In reality, Seattle seasons are like this: rainy post-fall (winter), feels like fall with still more rain (spring), pre-fall with some warm days (summer), and fall (actual fall), at least in my observation over the past 13 months. However, the produce still follows the seasons!
In honor of the nearly official start of summer, I want to share with you my 5 favorite summer vegetable recipes from the past two years of my blog. My focus quickly shifted from an equal balancing of running and recipes to mostly running with hiking and recipes thrown in (food blogger I am not, for I love my simple meals far too much), but nutritious food is still an important focus for me. We runners need to eat, both for fueling and nourishing our bodies, and because eating is an enjoyable and community-building act. And if you don’t eat enough vegetables in your diet, the array of options in the summer is the perfect time to improve your diet and eat more plants.
What are the benefits of eating more seasonal vegetables?
- They’re fresher, which means they taste better!
- Seasonal produce is often grown locally rather than shipped from overseas, which means it is more environmentally sustainable.
- Vegetables are high in nutrients, which means they’re ideal for fueling your running, improving your body composition, and facilitating a healthy, active lifestyle.
- Vegetables are low in calories, so you can eat a huge volume of them. It’s volume, not always calories, that’s satisfying to that monster in our stomachs named runger.
- Vegetables are the ultimate lazy dinner: a salad, grilled vegetable, or veggies roasted high and quick don’t take long to prepare, which is every hungry and tired from training runner’s dream.
5 Summer Vegetable Recipes
I obsess over zucchini in summer: seldom does a weekly grocery trip from May to August not include purchasing at minimum 5 zucchinis. My favorite preparation of zucchini is grilled with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, but its culinary uses are numerous: zoodles, zucchini bread, roasted, raw, in salads, or even in sweet dishes like pancakes or oatmeal.
Zucchini provides vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, manganese, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
One of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables is to deliberately incorporate vegetables into each meal (which I’ve been slacking on recently). These green goodness chia oats pack a nutritional punch to start of your day with zucchini, chia seeds, and green apples.
What’s not to love about avocado? They’re flavorful, full of satiating healthy fats, and rich in potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients!
Although I’m not a nutritionist, as a running coach who’s done her research, I recommend healthy fats to my athletes when they ask for nutritional advice. Why? Research such as this study from the University of Buffalo conclude that female runners who eat healthy fats (up to 20-30% of their diet from fats) reduce their risk of running related injuries and female athlete triad.
Avocados can be served as guacamole, used in place of mayo on a sandwich, or served up with grains and lean protein or legumes for a nutritious and satiating simple meal. I’ve heard from readers that this vegan curried beans and greens rice bowl is delicious, satisfying, and simple to make.
Eggplant, like mushroom’s is a meat lover’s vegetable thanks to its savory, umami flavor and its chewy, meaty texture. Like zucchini, eggplant is incredibly versatile: grill it or roast it to add to pizza, pasta, salads, or sandwiches. I love roasted or grilled eggplant on salads especially, such as this eggplant, red potato, and roasted chickpea arugula salad.
Red Bell Peppers:
Vibrantly colored bell peppers, which are in season from July to October, are full of antioxidants, vitamin A, and fiber. Bell peppers are best served grilled, raw and dipped in hummus or guac, over a salad, or, if you’re feeling creative, pureed in a sauce like in this chicken paprikash with roasted red pepper sauce.
June through October are the best months to enjoy these powerhouse vegetables. Did you know that the nitrates found in beets boost your endurance? Yes, these vegetables are a legal performance enhancer, which is why some runners sip on beet juice before a big race.
If beet juice doesn’t exactly please your palate, try this golden beet, sweet potato, and quinoa buddha bowl.
If you’re looking for more seasonal summer vegetable recipes, try my e-cookbook Eat to Run. I wrote and photographed the 50+ recipes last summer, so the book contains numerous seasonal recipes including Nectarine Cashew Green Smoothie Bowl, Tuna and Zucchini Nicoise Salad, Fish Tacos with Grilled Corn and Tomatoes, and more!
Since the Eat to Run e-cookbook features so many summer recipes, it’s on sale for the month of June! For $15 (instead of $20) you receive 50+ recipes, including vegetarian, Paleo-friendly, and gluten free recipes and tips for cooking at home, all in one downloadable e-book.
Linking up for Foodie Friday!
What’s your favorite summer vegetable?
What’s typical summer weather in your area? Is it already hot where you live?
Do you prefer to eat out of bowls or plates?
Bowl meals just convey a sense of comfort, even if what’s in them isn’t necessarily traditional comfort food.