August is the last full month of summer, the last truly warm month and the last of the summer harvest. Peaches hang heavy on the trees, the buzz of cicadas has reached its peak and the last warm rains kiss the leafy trees. It is time to enjoy the peak of the summer harvest. Soon, we will begin tending autumn vegetables and much of our current produce will disappear from store shelves.
Nutrition and mental health are closely tied; each affects the other and as part of a plan for healthy living, women at Brookhaven Retreat learn to create simple and healthy meals that nourish the mind, body and spirit. Incorporating seasonal produce is a fun way to add the healthiest ingredients to your next meal.
Here are some fruits and vegetables hitting their peak in August that you should be sure not to miss.
Apricots: An apricot’s orange color is a sure sign of its beta-carotene content. These delicate summer fruit are smooth, sweet and taste great grilled. Try leaving them on the grill for a few minutes until the sugars caramelize, then serve with a scoop of coconut ice cream or vanilla whipped cream.
Blackberries: Blackberries, like other berries, are thought to prevent cognitive decline and protect heart health. These berries are full of antioxidants that research suggests slow the effects of aging and reduce blood pressure. Blackberries are also an excellent source of vitamin C and can be enjoyed in everything from salads to smoothies.
Eggplants: This vegetable’s rare purple color is a sign of its brain and cardiovascular benefits. It’s also a great source of fiber, which may help lower cholesterol. Try it sautéed or as a meat replacement in a veggie sandwich.
Gooseberries: These tart green berries take some getting used to, but come into season in August and are full of fiber and vitamin C. They are definitely worth trying, but taste best in a jam or cooked into savory sauces.
Pears: Pears are just beginning to come into season. They are especially nutritious with the skin on and are full of fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds. Their juicy, honey-like flesh is a great snack that prevents hunger throughout a busy day.
Summer Squash: The quintessential summer squash is rich in fiber, potassium and vitamins C and K. Summer squash is wonderful grilled, but is also a great way to add bulk and nutrition to stir fries, chilies and pizzas.