Here in the East, we’re in the season of great local eating! Think juicy peaches, nectarines, plums, and corn, tomatoes and young and tender zucchini.
Taking advantage of both the season and the in-store specials might appeal to the customer who knows what the produce items are and how to use them. But some customers have a limited food vocabulary and a fear of anything that doesn’t come in a box or can. It’s an ideal time to help people think “out of the box!”
From a nutrition point of view, learning to cook or using a fresh veggie or fruit is the first step. Preparing it right is the second step. One of the most common problems is overcooking, which not only leaves the produce looking like mush, you’re also cooking away the nutritional content.
Once again, supermarkets can come to the rescue with some food coaching. We have the raw materials and the experts who know food. Here are some food coaching starters:
• Some veggies are more digestible when cooked rather than raw. That’s great if it’s done right. The nutrients are more available as long as nothing is overcooked.
• The key is to steam, microwave, stir-fry, roast or grill to the al dente stage! Using less water is best, and timing is important. Color should be great, fiber is softened to make it easier to release the nutrients and most of the nutrients are intact!
• Grilling stone fruits like halves of peaches, plums or nectarines can double as a luscious side or a great dessert.
• Salsa is in and most summer fruits and veggies lend themselves to this method of preparation. A fruit salsa works equally well with fish or chicken; and use veggie salsas for wraps, pork or beef. The list is endless.
• Fruit that is bruised or overripe can be a great compote or fruit soup for an appetizer or dessert.
• And don’t forget to add freezer instructions so your customers can take advantage of great food prices and tastes during the peak summer months for later use!