Did you know that the COLOR and SMELL of fruits and vegetables is due to their phytonutrient content??
The more vivid in color and the more aromatic a fruit or vegetable, the more concentrated the phytonutrients in the product. Phytonutrients are important compounds that have been found to have a wide variety of positive effects on the human body, including reducing inflammation, acting as powerful antioxidants, aiding in hormone regulation, and even playing a powerful role in preventing cancer. So lets get to know some of summer’s earliest rock stars!
Although thought of as a vegetable, tomatoes are actually fruits that are rich in the phytonutrient lycopene. Most abundantly found in tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits, and apricots, lycopene has been found to be inversely related to developing cancer found in the prostate gland, lung, and stomach and may also be able to inhibit tumor growth (1). Furthermore, lycopene has been found to be a potent antioxidant, which may also help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing inflammation (2).
TIP: Make sure to eat tomatoes with a high quality oil, like extra virgin olive to aid in the absorption of the fat soluble phytonutrients.
Rich in powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, anthocyanins found in cherries have shown to act similar to NSAID drugs, dampening the inflammatory response within muscle tissue. Furthermore, reductions in serum inflammatory marker CRP were noted after 2 servings of Bing cherries (3). This is an indication that cherry consumption may help reduce systemic inflammation within the body.
TIP: Anthocyanins are more concentrated in dark and tart cherries.
This abundant garden vegetable is not only rich in fiber but also rich phytonutrients that have shown to have many positive effects including reducing the risk of ulcers, promoting the growth of friendly bacteria, and supporting overall health via anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities (4, 5). Plus due to its rich fiber content it can help balance blood sugar levels and fuel friendly bacteria in the colon. It's a win-win situation.
Tip: Turn zucchini into a delicate pasta by using a julienne or spiralizer. Then toss with your favorite pesto or sauté with garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
So I hope you skip the grocery store and head to your local farmer’s market to load up on these delicious goods! Every color and every smell offers something special. May the natural beauty of your exciting market finds transform into a delightful dish to share with friends and family.
Summer Zucchini Pasta
Serves two as a side (or 1 as an entree)
1 large yellow zucchini
1 ½ tsp ghee or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp chili flakes
1 ½ tsp packed fresh oregano, finely minced
Sea salt and ground pepper
Handful fresh feta
Handful finely grated parmesan (I used a microplaner)
Garnish: fresh thyme
Using a julienne peeler peel the zucchini into thin ribbons. Stop peeling once you get to the seeds. Set the peeled zucchini strands aside.
Heat the ghee over medium low heat and add the finely minced garlic, fennel seeds, and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant.
Add the zucchini ribbons and the freshly minced oregano...it should sizzle in the pan...if not then increase heat to medium. Stir to combine. Add a generous pinch sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Allow to sauté another 2-3 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Be careful not to overcook because it can become too soft quickly. Once the zucchini is tender turn off the heat and toss in a handful of feta and grated parmesan. Stir to combine. Season with additional sea salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, use a large fork to twirl the pasta onto a large spoon and serve in little pasta mounds. This dish tastes great along side a salad and grilled meats or seafood, topped with a Bolognese sauce made with freshly picked tomatoes, or simply just eat the pasta on its own…its that delicious!!
1. Gajowik A, Dobrzynska M. Lycopene – Antioxidant with Radioprotective and anticancer properties-A Review. National Institute of Public Health. 2014;65(4):263-271.
2. Burton-Freeman BM, Sesso HD. Whole Food versus Supplement: Comparing the Clinical Evidence of Tomato Intake and Lycopene Supplementation on Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Adv Mitr. 2014;5:457-485.
3. Bell PG, McHugh MP, Stevenson E, Howatson G. The role of cherries in exercise and health. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014;24(3):477-90.
4. Sharma D, Rawat I, Goel HC. Anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities of some dietary cucurbits. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 2015;53:216-221.
5. Sharma D, Rawat I, Goel HC. Antioxidant and Prebiotic Potential of Some Cucurbits. Res J Med Plant. 2012;6(7):500-510.