Summer time in Indiana offers colorful, tasty and fresh produce that you can’t get any other time of year. Many people have grown gardens and have more than they know what to do with. Maybe you’re the lucky recipient of extra produce or you’re the one trying to offload the produce. Let’s think of some ways we can use this produce without increasing our food waste.
Lots of times we have tried vegetables one way and don’t care for them, so we decide we shouldn’t eat them anymore, but sometimes it takes multiple ways to try a food before you learn to like it. Let’s take beans, zucchini and spinach for example. These are 3 vegetables that many people tell me they don’t care for. However, when we chop them and mix them with seasonings and stick them in a tortilla to make a quesadilla they suddenly become vegetables that many can’t resist.
If you have children, this could be a great time of year to introduce them to new foods. These fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their flavor profiles, so what better time to try them. Get your children involved in growing and picking the produce. Or maybe involve them in the preparation of the food. When kids put their own sweat and time into growing or preparing something they are more interested in trying it. The more excitement you can build around trying the new food, the more likely they are to like it. It always tastes better when you learned how to grow it, prepare it and now finally get to eat it.
Here are a few tiny things to try at home to increase vegetable consumption:
• Select a dish for dinner and add one new vegetable ingredient to it.
• Add produce to all meals, veggies are wonderful in an omelet.
• Going to a cookout. Make a veggie tray to take with you and share your harvest with others.
• Create a dip, hummus, dill or ranch, veggies raw or cooked make delicious snacks.
• Preserve it, you can freeze, can or dry pretty much any item. If you don’t have a canner, many foods like cucumbers can be pickled and kept in the fridge.
• Store produce in appropriate locations to get the longest shelf life possible.
Cucumbers are one of the vegetables I am overflowing in. One idea is to make Melon salsa. This is a great way to use any melon, onions and hot peppers that you have in plenty as well. Tomatoes are another veggie that I can’t work through fast enough. Try stuffed summer squash using zucchini or yellow squash, tomatoes, rice and protein of your choice. Making homemade tomato sauce is another great way to preserve those tomatoes and use all winter long in soups or for pasta night. Find these ideas and more at Purdue Extension’s food link website at extension.purdue.edu/foodlink. The food link website, helps identify the types, selection, preparation and storage of foods that are locally grown in Indiana.
Monica Nagele is the Montgomery County Extension Educator and County Extension Director, Health and Human Science. She is a registered dietitian. The Extension office is at 400 Parke Ave., Crawfordsville; 765-364-6363. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.