Summer brings a seasonal abundance of delicious new foods. Marina Chaparro, MPH, RDN, LD, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says summer is the perfect time to introduce new fresh fruits and vegetables to the entire family.
Try these four summer produce superstars.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries provide vitamin C and antioxidants that can give kids' immune systems and overall health a good boost. They're also a good source of fiber — with raspberries leading the way at 8 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving.
Looking for a new way to eat summer berries? "Berries are the perfect finger foods for kids, easy to eat and make little to no mess," says Chaparro. "Instead of serving fruit juice, try mixing berries with seltzer water and fresh mint to make your own berry ice cubes – they taste great contain no added sugars."
Do your kids resist fruits and vegetables? Chaparro says to give the lush, buttery taste of avocados a shot. "Avocados are such a versatile food,” she says. "You can add them to tacos, as a spread with grilled cheese sandwiches or with some eggs and fruit in the morning. They contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat as well as fiber, vitamin E, potassium and vitamin C."
Technically a fruit, tomatoes provide fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important vitamins and minerals. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, their naturally high water content makes tomatoes a hydrating choice for hot days. Slice tomatoes and serve with a little olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Add them to sandwiches. Or, chop them up and toss them into salads and pasta dishes. Another fun idea: Have your kids help you make fresh salsa.
Nothing says summer like a fresh slice of watermelon. This summer favorite is easy to eat and tastes great. With one of the highest water contents of any food, it's great for keeping kids hydrated on scorching days. It's also packed with vitamin C and lycopene. Watch out for seeds, which could be a potential choking hazard in young children.
Serve watermelon wedges for dessert or cut into cubes and mix into a fruit salad. Try putting watermelon chunks in the blender with ice, lime juice and honey for a refreshing slushy drink kids will love.