During the warm summer months, a local farmers' market is the perfect place to pick up ripe and locally grown fruits and veggies. Ask around to find the closest ones in your area.
Tomatoes are summer's juiciest veggie (or fruit if you want to be scientific—but we won't get into that debate). Their peak season is July through September, but tricks such as sprinkling them with sugar during the off season will help bring out flavor. Tomatoes also boast a large amount of Lycopene, which is believed to keep certain cancers at bay.
This juicy tomato salad really showcases the flavors of the seasons with fresh veggies and garden picked herbs.
We've got a major crush on carrots because of their high carotene count. Carotene helps protect against cardiovascular disease, but also helps your vision, especially in the dark. The crispy cool taste of carrots is available year round, but like tomatoes, they are at their best during the summer months.
A simple combination of carrots, oils and herbs is all that's needed to make this Mediterranean inspired recipe shine. The salad is great as a stand alone snack, but will also make for a fantastic side.
Okra is one of those commonly overlooked veggies because many people aren't sure how to cook it (we'll help you with that in the next slide). But go down south and you will find that okra has been a standing staple of Cajun cuisine for centuries and one of gumbo's go-to ingredients.
Sauteed Okra keeps crisp and fresh when tossed in this light pasta dish.
Eggplant is certainly a head turner with its rich violet hue and shiny outer coating. Inside, its texture is spongy and dense making it a heartier vegetable than most. Eggplants are at their best from August until October.
Grilled eggplant is spiced up with ginger, peanut oil, and soy sauce in this flavorful sandwich. Top with arugula and you have a perfect balance between fresh and cooked ingredients.
This summer squash is a farmers' market fave because it is easy to grow, easy to cook, and extremely versatile. Sliced and grilled zucchini is a great side with just about anything during the summer months. And since its peak season is from May to August, there will be plenty available at market.
Although typically eaten with a warm butter spread in the the morning, our Zucchini bread is so sweetly addictive that you may find yourself eating it all day long.
Heat and humidity got you down? Cool off with a chilled cucumber cocktail. Or two.
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The following kitchen-centric gifts are the perfect mix of practical, fun and special.