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Shopping at Summer Farmers' Markets

Warm weather means a wide array of fresh options at the farmers’ market! Loading up your basket with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables is a great way to make sure help you eat right by filling up on fresh produce instead of processed foods. Be sure to add these nutritious items to your list:

1. Tomatoes

Supermarket tomatoes can’t begin to compare to the juicy, ripe ones you’ll find at the farmers market — and talk about some amazing flavor! You’ll probably be able to find a wide variety of types, like intriguing zebra striped tomatoes, sugary sweet yellow plum tomatoes, and many interesting heirloom varieties. Pick up a mix of types to find new favorites, and enjoy appealing and healthy tomato salads while they’re at their peak.

2. Multicolored carrots

Did you know that carrots come in many shades besides the conventional orange hue? You can pick up carrots in colors that include red, yellow and purple. In addition at adding an extra dash of color, the darker shades indicate a higher beta carotene content, as well as the presence of other antioxidants — all good things!

3. Leafy greens

Tired of kale? A trip to the farmers market will yield many leafy green choices, each with a wealth of health benefits. Mustard greens contain high amounts of antioxidants, especially vitamin A and vitamin C. Peppery mustard greens add bite to any meal where you’d usually use kale. Mizuna is a milder mustard green that you can add to a salad for taste, while obtaining vitamin C, folate, and iron. Swiss chard comes in a rainbow of colors and can be sautéed like spinach and is a great source of vitamins K,A and C and other nutrients.

4. Peaches, apricots and plums

These “stone fruits” offer vitamins A and C, potassium, niacin and dietary fiber in a sweet and convenient package. These fruits are easy to grab for snacking on the go, and they can help curb sugar cravings. Fruits that are on the firm side will survive the trip without bruises if you throw one in your bag on the way to the gym, pack them for a short day hike, or carry them along while running errands.

5. Berries

A handful of fresh berries can provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Take blueberries for example, according to WebMD, “Just one cup has 13,427 total antioxidants – vitamins A & C, plus flavonoids”. Berries also contain a good helping of dietary fiber that increases feelings of satiety and helps you feel fuller longer. Eat berries on their own or mix them into oatmeal or yogurt for a change of pace!

6. Eggs

Studies show that eggs from chickens who get to “scratch and peck” outside are healthier than eggs from chickens who don’t. Look for cartons labeled “free-range,” “pasture raised,” or “certified organic”. These eggs will typically have higher levels of beta carotene, vitamins A, E and D, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They are also lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. Plus, the brightly colored yolks can look prettier when cooking and in finished dishes.

The most important thing to do when you visit the farmers market is to fill your basket with healthy, fresh foods; skip the sugary and fat-laden baked goods and treats that can tempt you along the way. Concentrate on the fresh foods that you can use to make healthy meals and snacks. By purchasing these and storing them at home in plain sight, you’ll be more likely to eat better and soon see the benefits of a varied and nutritious diet.