Summer is just about gone - the first official day of autumn is Wednesday, September 22nd.
I always feel a little sad this time of year as I bid a bittersweet goodbye to the season. Is it the heat I'll miss? Well, no, not really. Especially not this year. The lazy days at the pool? Nope - I'm not that big into lazy days or water.
Summer is my all-time favorite season because of one word: fruit.
I love fresh, summer, seasonal fruits - peaches, berries, apricots, cantaloupe and watermelon, in particular. I savor their taste and aroma. You know what I mean if you've ever been stopped dead in your tracks by the heady fragrance of a perfectly ripe peach, or have been led by your nose to buy a sugary-sweet cantaloupe. There's really nothing quite like it.
And I know you can find all of these fruits pretty much any time of year now, thanks to worldwide distribution. But I like buying seasonal for the freshest taste - for me, blueberries from Chile in December just don't taste quite the same as Texas-ripe blueberries at the peak of their season in June.
So as summer fades away, allow me to pay tribute to a few of my favorite fruits - which also happen to be nutrient superstars, as you'll see. And let me know what your favorites are - or what you may be looking forward to in the fall (juicy, ripe pears anyone?).
My kids adore strawberries. And that's great, because one tiny cup contains over 100% of our daily vitamin C needs - essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, as well as healing cuts and scrapes.
Just one cup of raspberries contains as much fiber as three slices of whole wheat bread - meeting 1/3 of your daily fiber needs. Raspberries are also a good source of vitamin K, essential for bone health.
Their beautiful blue color comes from an antioxidant called anthocyanin - believed to help keep your immune system working in peak form, reducing your risk for several diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Their season is short - just a few weeks in early summer. But don't miss it. By eating just three apricots, you'll be getting 75% of your daily requirement for vitamin A, a key nutrient for healthy vision.
Lucky for us, Texas had a bumper crop this year. And they were awesomely good. Not only is a perfectly ripe peach sublime, but it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene - the antioxidant that gives the peach its golden glow and keeps your vision healthy. Plus, peaches have a high water content, helping with weight control by keeping you feeling fuller, longer.
Yes, a tomato is technically a fruit. And the rich red color comes from the antioxidant lycopene, which aides in reducing heart disease and cancer risks. Eat them raw with a little healthy fat like olive oil or cooked up in a sauce to fully take advantage of lycopene's benefits.
On a hot day, watermelon can't be beat. And these babies are 92% water, so they are super low in calories, yet fill you up. And just like tomatoes, the red color is the result of lycopene - and lots of it. One cup of watermelon contains twice the lycopene as a fresh tomato (and only 40 calories to boot).
CantaloupeKids love super-sweet cantaloupe (or "lopey" as my son calls it). Eating just a quarter of a melon (about a cup) gives kids all the vitamins A and C they need in a day. And it provides as much potassium as one banana, a key nutrient for healthy blood pressure.