Meadville Tribune

July 21, 2009

Ten Ways to Add Summer Produce to Your Plate

Ten Ways to Add Summer Produce to Your Plate

Summer produce abounds. This is a great time of year to expand your fruit and vegetable repertoire. Visit the Market House and pick up some fresh veggies, pick up a new kind of fruit at the supermarket that you’ve never eaten before. Do not be afraid.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of your daily diet. They provide essential vitamins and also fiber to keep your gut healthy. Fruits and vegetables can help people with diabetes control blood sugar and help lower blood cholesterol. They help those who are on a weight loss program lose weight, and they help anyone who is at a healthy weight, stay there.

There is no such thing as a ‘balanced diet’ without fruits and vegetables. Raw or cooked, they are all good, so if you are interested in improving your health, make an effort to add more of them to your diet. This does not mean that a healthy diet is only composed of fruits and vegetables; but that they are part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Set some goals for yourself. If you are a “banana person”, make an effort to add another fruit to your day. If you only eat raw carrots, take a dare to try some vegetables on your pizza the next time you order out. Better yet, make your own veggie pizza at home and you will really be surprised at how much you love the flavors. Think about how you can add more vegetables to foods or dishes you already favor.

Try these strategies to kick up your daily produce intake:

Slice a fresh peach into your morning cereal, or onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an evening treat.

Wash three pieces of fruit in the morning and put them somewhere that will get your attention. Set a goal to eat them by the end of the day.

Pack a small apple in your briefcase or car. Munch on it when hunger strikes mid-day.

Blend some fresh blueberries with low fat vanilla yogurt in the morning for a quick and healthy smoothie.

Buy some plums. They are in season, quite small, and take minutes to eat. They fit into your purse easily and can be eaten on the way out the door.

Try fruit with meats and main dishes. Sliced peaches or mangos make wonderful addition to salsa or can be sautéed with chopped onions as a wonderful accompaniment to fish or poultry.

Add fruit to your tossed salad. Sliced strawberries, pears or apples are delicious paired with fresh salad greens and small amounts of pungent cheeses such as blue cheese or feta.

Buy what is in season and on sale. Farmer’s markets are a great place to stop for summer vegetables because you know what they offer is fresh and reasonably priced. This also adds some surprise to your diet- you just purchase whatever they have out on the table that day then prepare it for dinner.

Grill vegetables. Slice eggplant, zucchini, and onions. Toss in a bit of olive oil then place on grill on low heat. Use a grill plate or aluminum foil so they don’t fall through. Grill until cooked, or lightly charred. Use these veggies as a side dish or save them for the grilled pizza recipe below.

Take advantage of the many recipes available on the Internet to inspire your vegetable preparation. Just do a search for whatever veggie you pick up at the market, and try a new recipe!

Enjoy more produce and you will not only add flavor to your diet, but also pump up your fiber and vitamin intake. Here’s to your health!

Rust, is a licensed registered dietitian who has a private practice in Meadville. She is a nutrition instructor for Penn State’s World Campus and a licensed provider for Real Living Nutrition Services®. For more information about her online weight loss counseling service, visit her Web page at www.rosannerust.comor contact her at

Try this grilled pizza as a main meal or appetizer:


1 large (or 2 small) skinless chicken breast

2 Bell peppers, green, yellow and/or red

One small to medium eggplant

1 large pizza shell, homemade or store-bought

1 cup tomato sauce or pesto

2 cups Part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook chicken breasts: Place on grill, turning to brown both sides. Cook for five minutes, then to keep chicken moist, take off grill, wrap in aluminum foil, place back on grill to continue cooking, about twenty to thirty minutes or until done. Remove from grill and set aside to cool slightly (You can always cook more chicken breasts, then save them for later use storing in the refrigerator or freezer.)

While chicken is finishing in foil, grill vegetables. Slice bell pepper in half and remove tops and seeds. Place peppers on grill pan with flesh side down. Lightly “smash” to flatten. Grill until slightly cooked then turn. Char skin side down then remove from grill, cover and set aside. When cool, gently remove skin. Slice or chop peppers, set aside in bowl.

Peel and slice eggplant into one-eighth inch slices. Lightly coat with olive oil, then place on grill and watch closely, turning so they don’t burn. Cook until tender then remove from grill.

Slice peppers and eggplant. Slice or shred chicken and set aside.

Prepare pizza: Spread tomato sauce or pesto onto pizza shell. Cover with shredded mozzarella. Add sliced vegetables and shredded chicken to pizza. Sprinkle feta over top.

Carefully place pizza shell directly on grill over low heat. Watch closely and remove when cheese is melted. Transfer to serving plate or pizza pan. Slice and enjoy!

Rosanne Rust, MS, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant

Licensed Provider for Real Living Nutrition Services® []