Healthy You: Producing with produce in the summertime

Summer is a unique time, when we have different encounters with the foods of the season.
From barbecues to farmers markets to our own maverick zucchini plant in a pot on the porch, it offers a greater opportunity to eat and use up fresh produce (or save for later!).
Sure, grocery stores carry all the summer produce year-round regardless of its growing season.
Yet despite this, when summer hits and our gardens (or our neighbors) are going ape, we scratch our heads for recipes that will use up the most of the kale, zucchini, tomatoes and other produce.
If canning produce to use later isn’t your thing, you’ll want to find recipes you can use now. And if you’re going to eat them now, you’re going to want a variety of recipes!
Here are a few resources, recipes and ideas of how to use produce this summer (or to save it for later with little effort):


If you want to try to really make a dent in your zucchini and squash, you might need to try something other than zucchini bread, which actually doesn’t use up much of a zucchini! Try finding recipes for zucchini tots, noodles (zoodles) or relish.
Some produce will freeze depending on how you’ll use it later. You can freeze summer squash or zucchini if you plan on using them for soups when the weather gets cold.
Frozen squash gets mushy when thawed, which is 100% OK when going into a soup! Just make sure you cut them into pieces and scrape out the seeds for best results. You can also freeze kale (for smoothies) or chopped onions (for roasts or soups).

Recipe Websites to Try

Delish Knowledge: Each recipe is developed by registered dietitian Alexandra Caspero. She takes a vegetarian /plant-focused approach to all of her recipes, but don’t let that scare you if you aren’t a vegetarian. Alex knows how to treat a vegetable right so that it tastes amazing and remains healthful! (https://www.delishknowledge.com/)

Cook’s Illustrated: Always fun, always educational, Cook’s Illustrated has a world of recipes. Recent posts include “Easy Meals That Won’t Heat Up Your Kitchen” and “20 Summer Salads You Can Make a Meal Out of.” It’s worth a look. (https://www.cooksillustrated.com/)


Below are my favorite go-to recipes during the summer. Best of all, they last for days (if you don’t eat them that fast).

Kale and Quinoa Rocket Fuel Salad
Before you dismiss this salad, think again! It’s so hearty, flavorful and simple that even kale or quinoa skeptics will change their minds! My family eats this almost every day during the summer due to our abundant kale crop!
♦ 1.5 cups (270 grams) of red quinoa, uncooked (you can make this with the common brown quinoa, but the red is far better! It doesn’t get mushy!)
♦ 10 to 12 ounces (2-3 bunches) of kale
♦ 1Tablespoon (15ml) olive oil to massage
♦ 3 sticks celery, diced
♦ ½ cup (80 grams) of raisins
♦ 1 cup of broken walnuts (or any nut you prefer)
♦ 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds (again, any nut you prefer)
For The Blended Dressing:
♦ 3 Large garlic cloves (can be omitted if garlic is not tolerated)
♦ 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) of olive oil
♦ 2 lemons, juiced (or ¼ cup or 60 milliliters)
♦ 2 Tablespoons (30 milliliters) hone (or real maple syrup)
♦ 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt
♦ 1 teaspoon of black pepper

LITTLE GARDENERS, Cathryn’s daughters hold some of the produce from their vegetable patch.

Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Add the raisins to your cooked quinoa pot. (The moisture and heat plump them up.)
In a giant salad bowl, de-rib the kale (either using a knife or just rip it off). Continue to break up the leaves into tiny pieces or cut with a knife.
Massage kale with your hands until it’s brighter green than before. (This is the secret to making your kale taste good like a restaurant salad!)
Add in one tablespoon of olive oil to kale and massage a little more.
Blend dressing ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.
Combine everything in the salad bowl: kale, quinoa-raisins mixture, celery, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and blended dressing.

CATHRYN’S NOTE: Unlike many salads, this salad keeps VERY well as leftovers, so don’t fear that leftovers will get soggy and disgusting. They won’t! They get even better!
SOURCE NOTE: “The Mom Cookbook,” from GlowBodyPT, is downloadable at www.glowbodypt.com/mom-cookbook.
If you’re a mom and like this recipe, then you WILL want to buy it from the website.
If you do so, then print it in color and spiral-bound it for a couple bucks for easier use later. It’s 100% worth it!
– From “The Mom’s Cookbook: by GlowBodyPT.com, with adaptations and notes from Cathryn

Cucumber Salad
This is one of those “non-recipe” recipes! Measurements are approximate, depending on the amount of cucumbers you have or your preference for the tartness of vinegar. (My version is fairly balanced and is not overly sweet.) Don’t get hung up on exact amounts. Just use basic ratios and change it up to taste.
♦ Cucumbers, peeled. Use as many as you have but this recipe will work well for four large cucumbers. Dial it up or down depending on your amount.
♦ ¾ cups of rice vinegar (you can use others, but rice vinegar is most balanced)
♦ 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of oil (either olive or avocado)
♦ Dill, to taste (try a teaspoon at a time)
♦ Sugar or maple syrup, to taste (start with one tablespoon)
♦ Sea salt, to taste (start with ¼ teaspoon at a time if making a small amount)

The basic ratio of the dressing is three parts rice vinegar to one part oil. Salt and sugar to taste.
Slice the peeled cucumbers into rounds or half-moons. Place in a medium sized bowl.
Mix up all the ingredients except the cucumbers. (You may warm the vinegar, salt and sugar in a microwave first if you want to dissolve faster. Add in oil after.)
Pour dressing over cucumbers. Taste and make adjustments.
Eat immediately. Or, better yet, let it sit overnight!

NOTE: Do NOT throw out the dressing when all the cucumbers are gone! Save it for the next time you get cucumbers!

– Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She lives in the McDowell Creek area with her husband and daughters.