June 18, 2024

June marks the official beginning of summer, and with that, an abundance of fresh produce is hitting store shelves. If you have a green thumb, you may reap the benefits of the seasonal produce in your own garden, but for those who (like me) can barely keep their house plants alive, farmers’ markets and grocery stores are your go-to. Wherever you get these summer staples, just remember they are a great way to increase the nutrient density of your diet while putting delicious meals on the table in no time. Here are five dietitian favorites to stock up on in June. And while most are produce picks, one may surprise you.

1. Artichokes

One of the highest-fiber foods out there, artichokes pop into season this month and are a wonderful addition to a meal. Eat an artichoke as an appetizer and you’ll add 7 grams of filling fiber before you’ve even had your meal. One medium artichoke contains just 60 calories and packs 3.5 grams of protein, in addition to potassium, an important electrolyte for regulating fluid balance in the body., 

Culinary dietitian and author Wendy Jo Peterson, M.S., RDN, is a fan of artichokes and encourages people to add more to their diet. “Don’t let the prep work scare you,” she says. For an easy guide to steaming, grilling and even microwaving, read this simple guide on How to Cook Artichokes. Then, check out these 18 Artichoke Recipes You’ll Want to Make Forever for even more delicious inspiration.

2. Cottage Cheese

While June happens to be National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, it’s also National Dairy Month. Given this, registered dietitian Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, owner of Enjoy Food Enjoy Life, recommends adding a certain dairy staple to your cart this month: cottage cheese.

Cottage cheese is a great, fuss-free way to get more protein and important nutrients into your diet. A 1-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese provides 24 grams of protein for just 180 calories. It’s also a good source of calcium, an important mineral essential in keeping your bones strong and supporting muscle and nerve function.

The one downside with cottage cheese is that it’s a bit higher in sodium. If a health care provider has advised you to watch your sodium intake, limit yourself to a ½-cup portion or consider a reduced-sodium variety. You can enjoy cottage cheese on its own, or it pairs perfectly with seasonal fruit (like peaches or berries) for a filling snack.

3. Peaches

Stone fruits are a delicious addition to the fruit selection during the summer months. While plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots and peaches are all stone fruits, Rodriguez is a fan of peaches in particular. Not only do peaches offer a natural sweet treat, they also pack a solid nutritional punch. One medium peach contains just 80 calories, 3 grams of fiber and (surprise!) 2 grams of protein. Plus, it gets its yellow-orange-hued flesh from beta carotene, an important antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A and plays a role in eye health and immunity. “Peaches can be paired on the grill alongside a pork tenderloin you might have in the freezer to create a filling, flavorful meal,” recommends Rodriguez. Another idea? Grill up omega-3 rich salmon alongside those peaches in our reader-favorite Grilled Salmon and Peaches with Basil-Pistachio Gremolata.

4. Rhubarb

The word rhubarb may instantly transport you to your grandma’s Rhubarb Crisp. But, that’s not all this summer vegetable is good for. In fact, rhubarb makes a wonderful addition to both sweet and savory dishes, as well as a fun, fresh juice for beverages. In addition, rhubarb has a pretty stellar nutrient profile. One cup of diced rhubarb has just 30 calories, plus 2 grams of digestion-friendly fiber. As you explore this vegetable, consider trying it in one of our popular rhubarb recipes here. 

Peterson recommends stocking up on this seasonal gem and exploring the world of jams, salsas and even mocktails. “Rhubarb pairs great with seasonal berries to make a fun, flavorful compote to enjoy on top of Greek yogurt, toast or savory proteins,” Peterson says. One of our favorite recipes is our Honey-Lime Chicken Tenders with Rhubarb Salsa.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are consistently recommended by dietitians. And, for good reason: A 1-cup serving packs 3 grams of fiber and 85 milligrams of vitamin C (94% of your Daily Value), an important antioxidant needed for a strong immune system and collagen production in skin. Plus, with only 50 calories per serving, it’s a low-calorie sweet treat.  

Both Peterson and Rodriguez recommend adding berries to your cart this summer. Making a PB&J? Rodriguez recommends using sliced strawberries in place of jelly. Likewise, Peterson likes adding strawberries to summer salads for a sweet punch of flavor. We recommend trying this pretty Spring Pea Salad with Strawberries for a plant-forward twist this summer.

Dietitian-Recommended Tips to Make Healthy Meals Happen This Month

Follow these tips from Rodriguez to plan nutritious start-of-summer meals:

  • Consider more shelf-stable and freezer-friendly items. Fresh foods like fruits and veggies look so good at this time, but don’t forget to stock your pantry with staples like canned beans, oats, canned tomatoes, canned fish and pasta so you can create a few different meals in a pinch. Even having frozen veggies and fruit on hand (yes, even with fresh fare in abundance) can come in handy since they require no prep work.
  • Shop your kitchen before hitting the store. Buying multiples of fresh foods you forgot you had increases the likelihood something will go to waste. Before shopping, do a once-over in your refrigerator and pantry, think about what needs to be used up and see if you can create meals with these items.
  • Have a plan in mind. Know what you’re going to do with what you buy. For example, if strawberries are on sale, consider buying extra. When you get home, wash and chop some for peanut butter and “jelly” overnight oats, slice them over cottage cheese in individual containers or immediately freeze for smoothies.

The Bottom Line

June is prime time for summer produce. Fill your cart with seasonal berries, like beautiful red strawberries, stone fruits like peaches, and other popular produce picks like artichokes and rhubarb. Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant this time of year, but that’s not all that dietitians recommend you stock up on. Be sure to include some other kitchen staples, like cottage cheese, to help make balanced meals happen in a flash.

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