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July 6, 2010 > Fruits and Vegetables are Great for Grilling

Fruits and Vegetables are Great for Grilling

Summer Farmers' Markets Make Eating Right Easier

Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh, healthy eating. The Tri-City area has a number of farmers' markets that offer an array of fruits and vegetables, and the warm weather makes grilling easy.

"We don't always think about grilling fruits and vegetables, but it's a great way to prepare them," said Lorie Roffelsen, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "They are so easy to grill. You can toss vegetables with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Grilled fruits and vegetables are a great way to add some color and flavor to your summertime meals. Grilling brings out the flavor."

Farmers' markets are an excellent place to find fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Corn, eggplant, summer squash and bell peppers are all in season and perfect for grilling. Except for the corn, which can go right on the grill, the vegetables should be cut into pieces about a half-inch thick.

"You can put them directly on the grill or in a basket that goes on top of the grill," she said. "Baskets are also good for fragile proteins like fish. That way it won't fall through the slats on the grill."

Grilled vegetables make a delicious side dish for grilled meats. To keep it healthier, Roffelsen recommends eating a larger portion of vegetables than protein and grilling fish and lean meats such as chicken.

"If you do grill red meat, try to choose leaner cuts or trim off the excess fat before cooking," she said. "That helps reduce your saturated fat intake, and it also helps to reduce the fat that drips on the coals."

According to Roffelsen, cancer-causing mutagens can form on the meat as the result of cooking over high heat and flare-ups that happen when fat drips on the coals. Mutagens can also form on fish, chicken and pork.

"Marinade that has an acid base like vinegar or orange juice tends to protect the meat," she said. "Add some fresh herbs and you can create a delicious marinade."

When marinating meats, always keep them in the refrigerator to prevent harmful bacteria from growing, and never add uncooked marinade to cooked meat or poultry, she added.

For dessert, think about serving one of the many fruits that are in season this time of year like melons, berries and stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines.

"Summer fruits are delicious and readily available," Roffelsen said. "The Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association has a website ( that lists the local farmers' markets, and includes a chart of what's in season and recipes. There are a number of delicious dessert recipes using seasonal fruits that could be a nice treat on a warm summer night."

July is National Blueberry Month

Blueberries are so tasty and nutritious, they deserve their own month! In July 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided that the blueberry was worthy of having its own month of celebration, and July seemed like the perfect choice because that is when they are at the height of their harvest.

"The nutritional value of blueberries cannot be beat by any other fruit or vegetable," says Maggie Villagomez, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which have been scientifically proven to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. They are also excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, folic acid, and fiber."

All month long, Washington Hospital's Food and Nutrition Services will be displaying the blueberry in its best light, offering many different breakfast, lunch/dinner, dessert and drink options (all healthy!) that will remind us why this blue fruit is so majestic. During the summer, Washington Hospital is also offering a "Patio Market" featuring fresh, locally grown produce. The market will take place every other Thursday throughout the summer from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the cafeteria patio.

Summer Recipe: Grilled Ginger Peaches with Raspberries
2 cups raspberries, 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract; divided
1/4 cup butter, melted; 2 tablespoons brown sugar; 1 teaspoon ground ginger; 4 ripe fresh peaches, halved and pitted; 1 pint vanilla ice cream

Gently toss the raspberries with sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to serve. Mix butter, brown sugar, ginger and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla in a large bowl. Add peach halves; toss gently to coat well. Fold the edges of a piece of heavy duty foil to form a shallow baking pan. Place on the grill over medium heat. Arrange peaches, cut-side down, on foil. Grill peaches about 6 to 8 minutes or until browned and caramelized around edges, turning once.

To serve, place 2 peach halves on each dessert plate. Top each with ice cream or frozen yogurt and raspberry mixture. Serve immediately.

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