By the end of August, your vegetable garden output has slowed down considerably with one or two exceptions. Tomatoes are one of those crops that continue to provide us with beautiful fruits of summer, typically through most of September in many parts of the country. And, if you’ve had a homegrown tomato right off the vine, you know there’s nothing quite like it. Aside from their wonderful flavor, there’s also health benefits–one medium tomato is a great source of Vitamins C and A, potassium, fat free, cholesterol free, low in sodium and low in calories.
Taking advantage of fresh tomatoes can be done in many ways–from making homemade tomato sauce, to adding them to your nightly green salad. I’ve pulled together a few recipes that really highlight their sweet flavor, which I think you’ll enjoy right now while they are at their peak. I’ll start with something simple, but it’s a salad that really reminds me of a side dish my mom used to make with tomatoes from my dad’s garden. Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad uses few ingredients–tomatoes, onion, fresh mint leaves, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. This is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight side dish or beautiful enough to bring along to a picnic or cookout.
Photo courtesy of Jason Varney
Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes are another simple, yet incredibly delicious recipe. The wonderful thing about using tomatoes when they are in season and fresh off the vine is they are so flavorful. This recipe calls for minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped herbs like basil, thyme or oregano, a bit of sugar, and salt/pepper to taste.
Photo courtesy of Five Heart Home
Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad combines two summer favorites in one incredible salad. Only five ingredients come together–tomatoes, peaches, Burrata cheese (it’s an Italian cheese), balsamic vinegar and basil. It once again proves that when using fresh, in-season produce, you need very few ingredients to make your dish delicious!
Photo courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod
If you need more ideas for using fresh tomatoes, Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has their Top 10 Ways to enjoy tomatoes. Think Gazpacho, stuffed tomatoes, and a healthy tomato vinaigrette! Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with some after school snack ideas your kids will love.
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Grapes are a favorite fruit nationwide and it’s no surprise considering they are popular in all forms–fresh, dried (raisins), and the liquid form (grape juice). Grapes are also readily available year-round in your local supermarket, which makes it easy to add them to your daily diet. Here are the top five reasons I rate grapes as a ‘go-to’ fruit for snacking and more:
- Versatile – Grapes are wonderful eaten alone, added to green salad (think sweet and savory) or included in other fruit creations. I’ll show you some interesting options later in this blog.
- Nutrition – Flavonols (antioxidants) that are found in grapes have been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system. Grapes are also fat free, low in sodium, cholesterol free and a 3/4 cup is only 90 calories.
- Portable – Grapes make a wonderful snack that travels well since you can easily carry them around with you. They are perfect for taking along to the beach, pool, picnics, sporting events or car rides.
- Kid-Friendly – Little hands can easily snack on grapes and children love their sweet flavor. As a parent, you’ll feel good they are eating something healthy too!
- Taste – Green or red, you can’t go wrong. Grapes sweet flavor is something you can always count on and they never go out of season.
I mentioned how versatile grapes are and I wanted to share a few recipes using grapes you might not typically create. Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad combines different flavors to create a fresh salad that is flavorful and healthy. Broccoli, grapes, pasta, onion, turkey bacon, and pecans are combined with a light dressing you’ll create from scratch.
Photo courtesy of Eat Yourself Skinny
Roasted Grapes with Thyme, Fresh Ricotta and Grilled Bread is a wonderful appetizer. The ingredients are basic–grapes, olive oil, salt, thyme sprigs, rustic bread and ricotta cheese. A really simple, yet elegant dish.
Photo courtesy of Alexandra’s Kitchen
Pecan Crunch Grape Salad will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. I modify this recipe to reduce the amount of sugar used in the crunch topping and I use reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream as well to lighten the recipe even further without losing any taste.
Photo courtesy of Deliciously Sprinkled
Fruits & Veggies–More Matters features this Grape and Cashew Salad Sandwich as one of their healthy plates. It’s a perfect lunch entrée and combines low-fat cottage cheese, red grapes, cashews, and fresh parsley for a delicious sandwich spread.
I hope you enjoy these fresh recipes and I’ll return next week with some ways to use tomatoes from your garden.
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Usually by mid to late August, parents find themselves counting down the days until school starts. Camp has typically ended and all those favorite summer activities that your kids found to be so appealing in the beginning of summer, aren’t as much fun almost three months later. So what can you do other than sit them in front of the TV for the next few weeks?? Thankfully, there ARE productive activities your kids can do and they actually involve fruit and veggies of all things! Culinary projects with your kids can be both educational and fun (for you and your child). In addition, this is something that won’t require a lot of expertise, so it’s great for “cooks” of all ages.
This past July 4th, my niece, Brianna, who is 11-years-old, decided to create a patriotic treat for our dinner table. Brianna loves to experiment in the kitchen, so she took a bit of time during the afternoon to spend on her latest masterpiece, which included berries from the refrigerator and some mini marshmallows. The end result was the American flag as seen below. Super simple, cute and she really enjoyed preparing it for everyone.
Berry Popsicles are a little more advanced and may need more supervision, but these refreshing treats are a great culinary project to take on with your kids. A definite plus is the fact they are healthy, as the ingredients include Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla and berries. At only 53 calories per serving and no fat, you can feel good about indulging in these sweet treats yourself!
Photo courtesy of Muy Delish
Make this recipe for Homemade Granola and you’ll have a wonderful topping for yogurt, fruit, a quick snack or even eat as a cereal. Again, this will use some supervision for younger children as it does requiring some cooking. Once you try this homemade version you’re likely to shun the store-bought variety and an added bonus is this version contains less fat and no preservatives. You’ll use old fashioned oats, coconut chips, spices, your favorite nuts or seeds, dried fruit, oil, brown sugar and honey.
Photo courtesy of True Aim
Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has more ideas for involving your kids in the kitchen, which will help them make better nutrition choices as they grow. Visit their Kids In The Kitchen page to see how you can involve them in grocery shopping, cooking, and even gardening. I’ll be back next week with some reason you should be including sweet grapes to your diet.
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