We can encourage physical—and mental—balance by adding lots of fresh produce into your diet. At the end of the summer just before fall, we can enjoy seasonal heirloom tomato, zucchini, and sweet corn.
We may have a preconceived notion of the perfect red beefsteak tomato: round, smooth, with consistent coloring. In contrast, heirloom tomatoes are not always the prettiest tomatoes on offer because of their odd shapes and colors. This is a distinct advantage though, because those lines, bumps and crazy color variations are a result of their genetic biodiversity.
How to Select the Perfect Heirloom Tomato
Select carefully. Even with the unique shapes, try not to buy any that are heavily cracked or split since breaks in the fruit’s skin can invite disease and insects. If you do buy one that is cracked, just be sure to wash it well—or even blanch it—before eating.
Heirloom Tomato Benefits
These tomatoes are a rich source of Vitamin C. They are also valuable for their Vitamin K content, necessary for functional blood clotting as well as strong and healthy bones.
The abundance of potassium is valuable since this electrolyte is known to assist in lowering blood pressure. Heirlooms are also high in the anti-oxidant lycopene. Research shows that lycopene plays a role in cancer prevention.
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Benefits
We know the obvious difference between zucchini and yellow squash: one is green and the other is yellow! Aside from this, their shapes are distinct – yellow squash tends to taper at the top and have a fat bottom while the zucchini squash tends to be straight from end to end. Both squash are great to use in vegetable-based recipes to offer variety of hue.
Yellow squash and zucchini squash are nutritionally similar when it comes to high water and fiber content and low caloric value. Zucchini also has high levels of potassium, folate and magnesium. It is highly anti-inflammatory and the presence of Vitamin A in zucchini aids in enhancing our vision and preventing age-related eye issues such as macular degeneration.
The Sweet in Sweet Corn
Sweet corn sometimes gets a bad rap because many people believe it is too high in carbohydrates or has no nutritional value. Yet it is important to note that fresh corn is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup. One ear of fresh corn has about 60 calories and only 2.3 grams of sugar, which is less than an apple!
Corn on the cob is full of fiber, beta-carotene, lutein, Vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. It is also naturally gluten-free. One more benefit to sweet corn is that it contains large amounts of insoluble fiber, which is a prebiotic helpful for maintaining good gut bacteria.
Dish Ideas for Market Fare
- Chop heirloom tomatoes for a salsa or a gazpacho.
- Pair heirloom tomatoes with other veggies for a salad or stew.
- Spiralize zucchini for noodles (zoodles) and sauté in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or toss with pesto or your favorite marinara.
- Eat corn from the cob.
- Cut kernels off the cob and add to a salad.
- Fold fresh corn kernels into the batter of your favorite baking recipe.
- Combine all for a hot or cold soup.
Summer Vegetable Soup (hot or cold)
This delicious soup combines fresh, end-of-summer produce and a few fresh herbs. You can serve it hot or cold. I love it cold for a refreshing savory lunch on a warm day.
- 3 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, chopped
- 3 ears of white corn
- 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 yellow boatneck squash, sliced into thin circles
- 2 zucchini squash, sliced into thin circles
- 4-5 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large Anaheim pepper, chopped (if you don’t want any spice this is optional or you can use a bell pepper)
- 1 bunch of lacinato (dinosaur) kale, stems and veins removed
- 4 cups low sodium stock (vegetable or chicken)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450F. Place corn in foil-lined baking tin. Mix 2 TBSP of olive oil, some sea salt, pepper and the chopped fresh oregano and coat the corn ears with the marinade. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the extent of roasting you like). Cool and then scrape the kernels in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat with the other 2 TBSP of olive oil. Add the chopped carrots, onion, sea salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes and then add the chopped zucchini and yellow squash, garlic, thyme, kale, and Anaheim (or bell) pepper. Cook around 10 minutes. If this needs more oil while cooking, it’s okay to add up to another TBSP of olive oil.
Stir in the corn, chopped heirloom tomato, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until everything is well-combined and at the desired consistency. Serve hot or cold and save the leftovers, since the flavors will continue to marinate.
Carrie Gabriel is a food-savvy dietician who has dedicated her life to helping guide others up the stairway to overall health and wellness. She has a Master’s Degree in nutritional science from CSU-LA, has experience at hospitals and in diabetes education; she is currently a freelance consultant working with private and corporate clients developing meal plans, conducting nutrition sessions and cooking demonstrations, and teaching seminars.