By: Catherine Cooley, CHWC
One of the many joys of living in Michigan is having the benefit of shopping at numerous local farmers markets. Straight from our local farms, colorful displays of produce make it easy to prepare healthy, flavorful meals using the freshest fruits and vegetables at the peak of their season.
What’s in season?
All fruits and vegetables have a peak season where they flourish and taste best. Use this Michigan Availability Guide to determine seasonality and when you can expect your favorite fruits and vegetables to appear at your local market. Not sure where the nearest market is located in your area? Use this Farmers Market Locator to find which Michigan farmers market is closest to you.
One of the benefits of buying local food is it tends to be more flavorful and nutritious than food that has been transported from afar. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available and it can turn into a great, family-friendly day – visit this Michigan U-Pick Guide to help you find a nearby orchard.
Health experts and chefs agree that eating seasonally carries a variety of benefits to your health, taste buds, the planet and to your wallet. You can feel good about supporting local, sustainable farms, save money by cutting out the added cost of distribution and transportation and get a broader variety of healthy foods in your diet.
Here are a few recipe ideas for some of Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:
Apples are one of the largest fruit crops in Michigan, with more than 16 different varieties. One medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fiber and is loaded with antioxidants. Try these easy-to-make Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips for a healthy spin on a crunchy snack.
It’s flavorful, nutritious and one of Michigan’s first signs of spring. In fact, Michigan asparagus is the state’s first green vegetable harvested each year. There are so many ways to prepare fresh asparagus. This Asparagus and Arugula Pasta Salad recipe is just one delicious way to enjoy.
Nothing means it’s summer in Michigan more than freshly picked blueberries. Enjoy them fresh, in smoothies or add them to your favorite recipe. I recommend trying these Healthful Blueberry Bran Muffins for a healthy breakfast or snack this summer. The nutritional benefits of blueberries are almost endless, packed with Vitamin C and a leader in antioxidant activity per serving.
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious of all garden vegetables. Luckily, it is not difficult to grow in Michigan. Because of their extended crop availability, there is likely an abundance of this versatile veggie at your local farmers market. Consider adding this Lemon-Parmesan Broccoli Foil Pack to the menu next time you’re grilling out this summer.
Michigan produces 70-75 percent of all tart cherries and 20 percent of sweet cherries grown in the United States. Cherries have recently come into the spotlight as research published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition revealed that Montmorency tart cherry juice may help ease muscle soreness after exercise. Because of their abundance here in Michigan, it’s easy to enjoy cherries in a wide range of dishes such as this classic Michigan Cherry Salad.
Peaches help fortify your health with a good source of potassium and vitamins A & C, which can help keep your skin healthy this summer. Peaches are also aid in weight management because they supply a good source of fiber at about 30-50 calories. Treat yourself with some Fresh Peach Sorbet as a smart and low-calorie way to end a meal.
A well-known superfood, spinach is higher in iron, calcium and vitamins than most other cultivated greens. In addition to its rich nutrient profile, spinach is also incredibly versatile and its mild taste makes it a perfect addition to add to a wide range of dishes. Adding fresh spinach leaves to a smoothie is a simple and popular way of sneaking in more of this delicious, leafy green into your daily diet.
About the Author: Catherine Cooley, CHWC, is a Health Coach in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about supporting Priority Health members on their journey to improving their health through lifestyle change and achieving their personal best. Catherine is a lifestyle coach through the National Kidney Foundation’s Diabetes Prevention Program and has a background in weight management and corporate wellness programming.