Summer time is here … HOORAY! Bring on the beach vacations, picnics, trips to the pool and of course camp lunches. If you’re like me and tired of serving up the ole carrots and ranch dip, look no further for a few new, exciting and tasty fruits and veggies to add to your lunch box or cooler to keep things on the healthier side this summer. Each variety of produce listed is easy to find at most larger, local grocery stores. Enjoy these colorful and interesting fruits and veggies at the dinner table, poolside or added to your snack repertoire.
Sugar Snap Peas – Delicious raw or cooked, the sugar snap pea has a sweet crunchy exterior with peas inside its pod. Don’t be fooled, unlike many pea varieties the entire pod can be eaten. When serving sugar snaps to my kids (and myself) I prefer to remove the fibrous string at the end as it can be a little tough to chew. Dip sugar snaps peas in hummus or dressing, steam them using this simple recipe or toss them into your next stir-fry for some added crunch. Be careful not to over cook the pods or they will fall apart and become mushy.
Jicama – A root vegetable native to Mexico and South America, Jicama will be a refreshingly crisp and delicious addition to your summer picnics. Once purchased, wash and peel off the thin outer skin with a vegetable peeler (similar to a potato). Jicama has a crisp texture and mildly sweet taste comparable to an apple. Serve raw with a squeeze of lime, a pinch of salt and dash or chili powder or toss with olive oil and salt and bake until golden to make jicama fries.
Blood Oranges – Sweet, tart and interesting in color, blood oranges will be a hit in your kids’ camp lunches. To prepare, treat these yummy fruits just as you would any orange, but caution, most varieties of blood oranges have seeds. If you’re into juicing take advantage of the brilliantly colored juice of blood oranges and add to popsicles or mixed drinks for an extra splash of color.
Kale – Kale is a hearty, dark green that is mild in flavor which makes it super versatile while packing a nutritious punch. Prepared in salad, kale is a great addition to picnic lunches because it holds up well even after sitting in dressing (unlike lettuce that wilts). Try this recipe for a simple preparation of kale salad that is quite tasty. Kale is also delicious roasted and made into chips or added to soups that call for leafy greens.
Papaya – Mildly sweet and juicy, papaya is refreshing on a hot summer day. Since the papaya fruit is large, one goes a long way — an extra bonus for summer snacking. Select a fruit that is about half green and half golden yellow in color that gives slightly to gentle pressure. To prepare, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and discard and cut the orange fruit off the rind for easier eating.