Summer Fruit and Vegetables: Making the Most of What’s Garden Fresh
Filed under: Culinary
August 13, 2015
“What do you think of when we think of summer? I think of warm sun, dancing to live music, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Maybe it’s the vibrant colors I adore, the sweet smells of each fruit, vegetable or herb—or maybe it’s the possibilities of preparing fruit and vegetables as the main fare.” – Chef Ariella Bangs
As a professional chef, gardener, educator, and writer, Seattle-based chef Ariella Bangs balances nutrition and fun with food. And when it comes to summer eating, her focus is on fruit and vegetables. “What’s better than crispy, crunchy and juicy beans, squash, broccoli and the fragrance of basil and mint,” she says.
Ariella notes that summer-fresh vegetables provide unfiltered nutrition, healing, happiness, and deliciousness. She says that her clients’ interest in vegetables seems to peak in summer, when their thoughts turn to fitness and healthier options that require no cooking.
“Fresh, vibrant foods are some of the best to help reduce inflammation. After all, when we eat unhealthy fatty foods, such as dairy, meat, fast food, sugars, and fried foods all year long our bodies need an opportunity to detox. These unhealthy foods include trans fats bad cholesterol that lead to inflammation, anxiety, and contain high amounts of sodium.”
Ariella, who in 2007 earned an Associate of Applied Arts in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Seattle, adds that one of the biggest issues she sees with summer eating is weight gain caused by quick but unhealthy snacks. But replacing quick cool-me-down food like ice cream with healthy fruit and vegetables can help to keep weight in check.
“Water is amazing—it hydrates and rejuvenates. And fruit and vegetables contain high levels of water, so when we eat them, we’re nourishing our bodies and re-hydrating ourselves all at the same time. In summer, remember that fried, fatty, sugar is making your body work in overdrive. [Use water, vegetables, and fruit] to detox, purify and remove unhealthy elements in your body.”
Some vegetables and fruit are at their most nutritious when warmed—tomatoes and asparagus are examples. But others are at their nutritional peak when fresh and uncooked.
“Beets, broccoli, kale, and cabbage are at their full nutritional capacity when eating [uncooked]. When creating meals for clients [new to] fresh vegetables into their meal routine, I like to introduce them to fresh vegetables in the form of fun, fresh salads including shredded beets, julienne cabbage, shredded broccoli, and fresh beans with an orange tomato vinaigrette.”
Ariella adds that part of the “joy of salads” is the ability to experiment with a variety of healthy ingredients that are crispy, crunchy, sweet, tart, and tangy. “While I love fresh mushrooms, I enjoy creating sauces to drizzle over them. If you are not quite that adventurous in the beginning, grilling mushrooms before eating them fuels your body with potassium.”
“My favorite way to eat vegetables is fresh,” says Ariella. “I love the crispy, crunchy, sweetness of vegetables. They bring happiness to my life by exciting all of my senses. I love to hear the crispness when I bite into a bell pepper, I absolutely adore the vibrant colors of vegetables, I am excited by the smell of vegetables like an onion or garlic.”
When creating her own recipes, she recalls food tours that excite and inspire her creativity. “[It’s wonderful going on a food tour where I get to touch persimmons, cauliflower, onions, eggplant and spinach. It’s such a euphoric and truly comforting experience.”
Ariella’s Favorite Dressing/Marinade:
Puree pineapple, olive oil, parsley and rice vinegar. Use as a dip, a sauce, base, for dressing and marinade for fresh artichoke…oh my yum!
Ariella’s Summer Kale Salad:
- ½ c walnut oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ onion, chopped small and fine
- 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
- ¼ c rice vinegar
- ½ c mushrooms
- 1 c yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 c jicama, julienned
- 1 tsp brown sugar
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