Right about now, our markets and farm stands are overflowing with late spring fruits and veggies. While our farmers make room for early summer crops, let’s take a look at what’s available now. Oh where to begin! From blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and melons to beans, leafy greens, squash, and early corn, even the pickiest of eaters are sure to fall in love with the abundance of June. It’s a nutritionist’s dream come true!
For me, the most prized of produce in this month’s crop is the peach. Fresh or cooked, it provides an amazing source of vitamins, A, B and C and is only about 40 calories a peach, I mean piece! Considering it’s peachy keen qualities, I did a little digging on this furry fruit. Come to find out, Americans aren’t the only ones who adore peaches. In fact, the peach originated in China and is a symbol of health, longevity and good luck.
And the Carolinas must be a pretty lucky with peaches pouring out of our soil. We’re even home to the World’s Largest Peach. And this peach not only brings good luck, it provides the entire town of Gaffney, South Carolina with fresh, clean drinking water. In 1975, The Town of Gaffney constructed their water tower to celebrate their most abundant agricultural product – the peach.
Now let’s talk about delicious and healthy recipes for those peaches. Here’s what I say – find a perfect picnic spot by visiting Wake County Parks and Rec site. Dig out your red checkered blanket and pack these healthy bites, all featuring NC Seasonal Sensation, the peach.
Peach Iced Tea
Adapted from epicurious.com
1 lemon, sliced
1 piece ginger (about 2 inches), peeled and smashed
1 quart boiling water
8 cups ice cubes
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and finely diced (or blend for a smooth consistency)
8 sprigs mint
1 peach for garnish, pitted and sliced
Place tea, lemon and ginger in a heatproof container and add boiling water. Let tea steep 7 to 8 minutes. Place 4 cups of ice in a pitcher and pour the tea over the ice. Mix diced peaches into the tea. Serve in glasses over remaining ice and garnish with mint and peach slices. Drizzle each glass with a little honey to sweeten.
Per Serving: 10 calories; 0g fat; 0mg sodium; 2g carbohydrates; 1g sugar
Peach, Mango and Avocado Salad
2 ripe peaches
1 ripe mango
½ avocado, lightly salted
1/3 lemon, juiced
½ jalapeno or Serrano pepper very thinly sliced
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Slice the mango, peaches and avocado in ½-inch pieces and add to a non-reactive bowl (stainless steel, glass or ceramic). Squeeze the lemon over the fruit and toss. Add the finely slice the jalapeno or Serrano pepper and chopped cilantro and toss again to combine.
Per Serving: 105 calories; 4g fat; 0.25g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 65mg sodium; 19g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 15g sugar; 2g protein
Peaches ‘n Crème Picnic Sandwiches
This sandwich features the intense flavors of roasted peaches and are delicious served cold or toasted grilled cheese style. For a hot, melty twist, brush each bread slice with olive oil and build your sandwich right in the skillet. Flip to toast both sides and serve!
8 slices multigrain bread
3 peaches, roasted and thinly sliced
4 oz triple crème cheese like brie (To cut fat and calories, use a low fat variety of brie)
1 cup arugula
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1/3 to ½ a lemon, juiced
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
½ tbs honey or sugar
Roasted peaches: Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. In a large bowl, toss the peach halves with lemon juice. Drizzle with honey or sugar and toss once again. Arrange halves cut-side up in a baking dish. Roast until the peaches are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. If the juices in the pan begin to burn, add a little water and cover the pan loosely with foil.
Sandwiches: Layer 1 oz of brie, roasted peach slices, mint, red onion, arugula between two slices of hearty multigrain bread. For the grilled version, omit the arugula and brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Toast on a hot skillet until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. For even more variety, add avocado or drizzle a balsamic vinegar reduction inside the sandwich.
Per serving: 350 calories; 12g fat; 5g saturated fat; 2g polyunsaturated fat; 28mg cholesterol; 475mg sodium; 65g carbohydrates; 6g fiber; 26g sugar; 11.5g protein
Tina Schwebach is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital.