A Beginner’s Guide to Fresh Summer Produce

When you’ve decided to embark on a new journey of healthy living, which is a necessary course of action when you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or even pre-diabetes, it can be a minefield of mixed messages.

Deciphering confusing food labels and interpreting the conflicting advice by so-called experts and media, can make choosing the right foods a challenge.

According to our resident Dietitian Kate Save, those who are new to a balanced and healthy diet, often get stuck when it comes to portion sizes and choosing the right snacks.

According to Kate, choosing packaged, gluten-free foods thinking they are healthier, when often they’re actually high in fat and sugar, is a common mistake.

“It’s also difficult to find healthy choices when eating away from home,” says Kate.

One simple way to make sure the bulk of your diet is healthy is to choose plenty of fresh produce – and there’s no better time than summer, for delicious healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Summer is a great time for looking at produce, given that most of us feel like eating fresh cold fruits and salads when the weather is warmer – plus it gives us a ‘lighter’ feeling too,” says Kate.

“Most vegetables come into season in summer and autumn as well as all of the sweeter fruits too.”

Kate also notes that if fresh produce makes up the majority of your diet, then it’s much easier to keep on track.

“Fresh produce provides all of the essential nutrients for good health and the dietary fibre helps in increasing satiety or fullness.”

Vegetables available in Australia in Summer:

  • Asparagus
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • tomato
  • lettuce
  • beans
  • cauliflower
  • cucumber
  • zucchini
  • turnips
  • sweetcorn
  • spring onions
  • chilli
  • spinach
  • mushrooms
  • eggplant
  • sprouts
  • snow peas
  • beetroot
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • capsicum.

And cucumber has the added benefit of increasing hydration due to being 95% water!

Fruits available in Australia in Summer:

  • stone fruits like apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums
  • to berries like strawberries, blackberries and blueberries

Not to mention summer classics like pineapple, rich in vitamin C, B1 and B6, and mango, which contains 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and Vitamin A for a healthy glow

Of course, if you have Type 2 diabetes or even pre-diabetes, there are some things to keep in mind.

“Ensure to portion-control fruit and do not eat a whole bag of grapes or stone fruit all at once, even though they’re so sweet and delicious,” says Kate.

“The carbohydrate load may increase blood sugars. But consuming 1-3 pieces of fruit over the day, depending on your activity levels, in equivalent portions to the size of a small apple will be unlikely to have negative effects on blood sugar levels.”

Kate also suggests eating fruits in their whole form rather than juicing to avoid losing natural fibre. Juicing also concentrates the fruit sugars making them have a larger and quicker effect on increasing blood sugar levels.

When it comes to salads though, there’s no need to hold back. Focus on salads with a variety of colours and steer clear of sugary salad dressings from the grocery store.

“All salads are low in calories, fat and carbs, with cucumber and celery at 15 calories and 16 calories per 100g raw respectively.

“Therefore, eat these in abundance and team up with healthy homemade dips such as hummus or tzatziki.”

If you’re not accustomed to lots of fresh produce, there are simple ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet when you’re just getting started.

Throw some fresh berries into a bowl of yoghurt, or add fresh mango to chicken salads along with leafy greens and pine nuts.

“Fresh smoothies are a great way to combine fruit and vegetables and also include all the dietary fibre unlike juices,” says Kate.

“Plus the sweetness of the fruit masks the flavour of the vegetable.”

According to Kate, the secret to a great ‘Green smoothie’ is to use frozen fruit, which also allows you to save fruit that is getting overripe from the garbage too.

“Simply peel, chop and freeze in snap-lock bags or ice-cream containers, then add some extra ice cubes for a cold and smooth refreshing beverage.”

Tasty, easy and nutritious!

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