Are you ready to enjoy the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables while keeping to the paleo diet? Not a problem! This time of year, farmers’ markets and grocery stores are overflowing with fresh, organic, and often locally sourced produce. If you’re new to the paleo diet, then you may be feeling torn about wanting to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables while wanting to stick with the protocol, but guess what? Nearly all fresh fruits and vegetables are paleo-friendly!
Our Favorite Seasonal Summer Vegetables
Sweet, red bell peppers are a treat in the summer. Whether sliced up raw as a snack or roasted with garlic and olive oil, peppers are at their peak freshness between July and September, and that’s when you’ll find them at their most flavorful. Even better, they are packed with nutritional benefits, including your daily requirements of immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants while only having around 30 calories per serving!
Fresh, local cucumbers have a bright, clean flavor that makes a great base for your fresh green juice or serves as the foundation for delicious salads. Extremely low in calories, cucumbers are composed primarily of water, making them a simple, healthy snack that boosts hydration. Plus, when you add fresh, organic cucumbers to your diet, you’ll get an excellent source of phytonutrients which help reduce inflammation in the body and provide you with vitamins and minerals.
Eggplant is in the same family as tomatoes and peppers and is at its peak freshness in the summer. This low-calorie vegetable has dietary fiber, copper, vitamin B1, and is surprisingly versatile. Enjoy a paleo alternative to hummus with baba ganoush, which replaces the chickpeas of hummus with roasted, pureed eggplant, or slice it in thin layers as an alternative to pasta in a paleo alternative to lasagna!
Even though they look like cucumbers, zucchinis have more “substance” and a more developed flavor. Zucchini is a summer squash that is a good source of fiber, manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, but in addition to its nutrition, it’s also incredibly versatile. Many people who follow the paleo diet turn to zucchini as a healthy and delicious alternative to pasta by using a spiralizer to create “zoodles.”
No vegetable is associated with summer quite like the tomato! A staple of home gardens and farmers’ markets, fresh, organic tomatoes are bursting with flavor and nourishment. Tomatoes offer vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium, and are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene. So, when you’re shopping for seasonal produce, be sure to reach for tomatoes.
These are just a few of our favorite summer vegetables, but feel free to go forth and explore your favorites!
Not sure what to do with your produce? Try this simple, tasty recipe that’s great with leftover chicken for a fast weeknight meal!
Italian Chicken and Vegetables With Zucchini Noodles
- 1 pound cooked chicken breast, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 2 medium zucchini, ends removed
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil (for garnish)
- Julienne or spiralize zucchini into a large bowl to create “noodles;” set aside*
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet, add onion and bell peppers and saute until softened;
- Add garlic, tomato, eggplant, and crushed red pepper; saute for three to four minutes;
- Add cooked chicken to the seasoned, sauteed vegetables and stir. Allow the chicken to absorb the flavors and reach the desired temperature.
- Serve over zucchini noodles and top with chopped basil.
Feel free to get creative with herbs and seasonings and make this dish your own! This recipe serves up to four people.
*Note: Spiralized zucchini can be eaten raw for maximum nutritional benefits, while also providing a nice, crunchy texture. However, if you prefer, you can saute your zucchini noodles in olive oil for three to five minutes over medium heat to soften for more of a traditional pasta texture.