Edgy Veggies: Summer Edition
Here's how to eat the season's most surprising produce picks.
Corn on the cob may get a lot of play come summertime, but there’s no reason to limit your seasonal vegetable experiences to the familiar. A few months back, we introduced some of our favorite edgy veggies and below, we refresh our list with some out-of-the-CSA-box picks for the warmer months, and the creative ways you can partake.
What is it? Pronounced “hecama”, this root vegetable is grown in many parts of Central America, South Asia, the Caribbean, and some Andean South American regions. Unlike other starchy root vegetables such as potato and sweet potato whose peel can be eaten, jicama has a thick, dust-brown colored inedible skin. The white, edible inside has a crisp texture and a succulent, sweet, starchy flavor. Jicama is one of the very low-calorie root vegetables boasting only 35 calories per 100 grams. A cup of jicama has a whopping 6 grams of fiber and is rich in vitamin C, folate, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
How to eat it: Raw jicama has a sweet, succulent apple-like fruity taste. Peel off the thick skin using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, cut into cubes or sticks and sprinkle with lime juice, a light coating of olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss them in a salad or slaw or enjoy them as a crunchy side to any meal. Jicama mixes well with other fruits and vegetables such as orange, pineapple, carrot, and green beans.
What is it? Sunchoke, also known as a Jerusalem artichoke, is a nutty and flavorful root vegetable. They are incredibly rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and trace amounts of B vitamins. Sunchokes taste slightly like an artichoke heart mixed with jicama and earthy mushroom. If you have never worked with sunchokes before, they look strikingly similar to a ginger root. Sunchokes contain a unique fiber called inulin, which helps your digestive system move along by adding bulk to food by holding onto water and moisture.
How to eat it: Sunchokes are typically eaten like a potato or other root veggie. You can roast, steam, puree, bake, or boil before eating. Try them thinly sliced with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and tossed in your favorite summer salad.
What is it? Blueberries are one of the most popularly consumed berries in the US, and for good reason. They are nutrient-dense and taste delicious. Most of us are familiar with the highbush variety of blueberries (which is the most popular variety found in our local stores), but there are other varieties such as lowbush and rabbiteye. Lowbush blueberries are also known as “wild blueberries” and are a nutrition goldmine. Blueberries have been shown to help with cardiovascular health, insulin resistance, and contain anti-cancer benefits. Because blueberries contain a great amount of fiber and are lower in sugar than some other fruits, they have a low glycemic index which means better blood sugar regulation and steady energy. On the color spectrum, the purple-blue-red-orange spectrum is home to the most antioxidant-rich fruits, and wild blueberries are the winner overall. Just one cup has about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation of antioxidant vitamins A & C.
How to eat it: Look for wild blueberries in the frozen section of your local grocery store. Add a cup of frozen blueberries to your morning smoothies for an extra antioxidant boost.
What is it? Romanesco is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, sometimes called “broccoflower.” It has high levels of carotenoids which help promote glowing skin and is high in iron, vitamin C, and folate. Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, romanesco contains fiber compounds that bind very well to bile acids in our digestive systems, which ultimately help to lower cholesterol, especially when cooked. Cruciferous veggies such as romanesco have powerful overall benefits from their antioxidants, sulforphane, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. For added cancer protection, it is recommended to consume ½ cup per day or 2 cups of cruciferous vegetables per week.
How to eat it: Romanesco has a soft texture and pleasant nutty-cauliflower flavor. You can easily use it in dishes that would traditionally call for cauliflower, especially for meals where you want an extra “wow” factor – hello Fibonacci sequence.
What is it? Dulse is edible seaweed also known as sea parsley or sea lettuce flakes. It is an excellent source of iodine and is high in vitamin B-6, iron, and potassium. Healthy adults need about 150 micrograms of iodine per day and eating just a small amount of dulse can easily fulfill that requirement. A ¼ ounce serving of dulse contains only 18 calories and is fat- and cholesterol-free. While it isn’t a significant source of protein, carbohydrates or fiber, dulse is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
How to eat it: Dulse is available fresh and dried in most health food stores. Fresh dulse has a fairly strong odor and taste. Be sure to rinse it well before using it in salads, seafood dishes and stir fry. Dried dulse is milder and can easily crumble into flakes that are hardly noticeable in soups, stews, and casseroles. You can also make dried, ground dulse into a nutrient-rich exfoliating scrub by combining it with coconut or olive oil for a healthy summer glow.