14 Summer Superfood Recipes to Beat the Heat
Summer superfoods are ripe for the picking! Head to your closest farmer's market and seek out these nutrition powerhouses while you can. These superfood recipes will show you just how to use them.
Beets are a fantastic addition to salads, soups, and more. Raw or roasted, they add freshness and nutrients to your recipes. Beets get superfood status because they contain betalains—antioxidants that can help lower inflammation, a risk factor for chronic diseases. Plus, beets are rich in nitrates: Your body converts these compounds into nitric oxide, which helps relax your blood vessels to improve circulation and potentially lower blood pressure.
You can find beets in a variety of colors beyond red, such as golden and candy-striped. When you add beats to a recipe, you’re adding brightness to your plate and a wider variety of antioxidants to your meal.
Try my Roasted Beet and White Bean Power Bowls for a plant-based and superfood-packed summer meal. Don’t miss the health benefits (and risks) of beets you never knew about. Here are ways to make superfoods even healthier.
Blueberries deliver a lot of flavor for only 80 calories per cup. These little blue gems are a good source of dietary fiber, serving up 3.6 grams per serving. Fiber helps promote healthy digestion and makes you feel fuller faster.
Plus, blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, which can support your immunity. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The berries are also high in manganese, a nutrient that helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients. As a nutritionist, I love working blueberries into recipes such as these Easy No Bake Glazed Blueberry Oat Bars. Here are 8 incredible health reasons to add blueberries to your cereal.
Although corn on the cob is a must at summer gatherings, few people realize it’s also a superfood. Rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, corn helps promote healthy eyesight, prevent cataracts, and protect against macular degeneration—the most common cause of age-related blindness. Give this delicious Chili Lime Corn recipe from Lindsay Livingston, RD, a try. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and heat to serve friends and family members at your next barbecue. Here’s a simple trick for husking that will make your day.
Known as summer squash, zucchini is of course at its peak when the days get warmer. The squash achieves superfood status thanks to all its fiber—2.5 grams of fiber per cup of sliced zucchini. Some of this fiber is in the form of pectin, which may help keep blood sugar and insulin levels within healthy ranges.
For a delicious snack, try this Baked All Dressed Zucchini Chips. They’re a great alternative to the typical potato chips and a great way to use up any surplus zucchini from your garden! Here are an additional 23 recipes you didn’t know you could make with zucchini.
“Nothing screams summer like fresh herbs,” says Natalie Rizzo, RD. “Basil may be a great topper to a pizza, but it makes an even better addition to a fresh salad. With vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants—not to mention a refreshing taste—a little bit of basil will go a long way. Plus, you can grow it on your windowsill to add some brightness to your home.” Try Rizzo’s Basil Strawberry Spinach Salad for a refreshing way to enjoy this super herb. Don’t miss the ultimate guide to keeping herbs fresh you didn’t know you needed.
“Sweet summer peaches are a rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants involved in skin health and cancer prevention,” says Jessica Levinson, RD. “These are both extra important during the summer months when we’re exposed to more direct sunlight.” Try Levinson’s Peach Panzanella Salad for a fresh take on a classic summer recipe. Here are an additional 30 recipes for refreshing summer salads.
“Cantaloupe is one of my favorite summer fruits, and it makes a delicious addition to fruit-based ice cream,” says Amy Gorin, RD. “It provides many nutrients, including a big burst of immune-boosting vitamin C along with filling fiber.”
“Swiss chard is a seasonal superfood that’s filled with minerals. The minerals move up from the soil into the Swiss chard leaves to load them up with magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, and potassium. Swiss chard is also high in calcium and phosphorous and is a good source of zinc,” says dietitian Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD, co-author of Simple Foods for Busy Families.
Try Yablon Brenner’s Chard Salad with Carrots, Beets and Sunflower Seeds. It definitely passes the test and doesn’t call for too many add-ins. Here are 10 ways your “healthy salad” is making you gain weight.
A one-cup serving of green beans is only 30 calories, yet it has 3 grams of fiber. The beans are also rich in vitamin K, which is crucial for growing—and maintaining—healthy bones. Loaded with heat-sensitive antioxidants called carotenoids, green beans retain more of their nutrients if you steam or blanch—rather than boil—them.
Here’s a Green Bean Tuna Salad with Artichoke Hearts that makes a tasty protein- and veggie-packed lunch or light dinner.
“This melon has amino acids that promote blood flow and improve cardiovascular health,” says dietitian Madeline Basler, RD. “Plus it contains nearly one-quarter of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which helps keep skin and hair moisturized and encourages healthy growth of new collagen and elastin cells.”
According to dietitian Jessica Penner, RD, “Watermelon is about 92 percent water and contains a small amount of electrolytes, making this fruit a secret weapon for staying hydrated on hot summer days. As an added bonus, watermelon is one of the most concentrated sources of lycopene, a potent anti-inflammatory agent.”
This fruit (yes, fruit) is rich in lycopene, a fat-soluble carotenoid that may help boost heart health. Adding some oil or fat to tomatoes helps increase the amount of lycopene your body absorbs.
Tomatoes also serve up potassium, an electrolyte that can help counteract the effect of sodium to lower blood pressure. Try this Asiago Pesto Pizza with Broiled Tomatoes recipe from Liz Shaw, RD, for a mouth-watering way to enjoy fresh tomatoes this summer. Read about the 13 superfoods that every woman needs in her diet.
Because they’re 96 percent water, cucumbers are an excellent way to fill up fast on fewer calories while staying hydrated this summer. This summer superfood is also a good source of fiber if you don’t peel off the skin. A cup of cucumbers is only 16 calories, yet also offers a hefty dose of disease-fighting antioxidants, such as tannins and flavonoids.
“Cherries are an antioxidant-rich summer superfood,” says dietitian Lindsey Janeiro, RD. “Flavonoids like anthocyanins give cherries their beautiful color, as well as potential anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. And another bonus: Cherries are sweet enough on their own; you don’t need to add sugar when you use them in recipes.” For a perfect summertime treat, try Janeiro’s Chocolate Cherry Almond Nice Cream. Don’t miss these 11 fruits and veggies you may be better off buying frozen.