Summer is one of the best seasons for picking ingredients from your garden to use in all your meals and it's absolutely free! Whether you choose to make a healthy breakfast, satisfying lunch, or light summer time dinner, your garden is the place to go for the best ingredients. If you don’t grow anything, then consider starting so you can enjoy fabulously fresh produce in your summer meals. You’ll love heading outside to pick the absolute freshest ingredients possible and love knowing you grew them all by yourself. The best part about these ingredients from your garden is they’re easy to grow and maintain and they pair well with a variety of other flavors and ingredients.
Cucumbers taste best straight off the vine so they’re one of the best ingredients from your garden to use in your meals - not to mention free of that waxy coating of pesticides the store bought varieties often contain. Cucumbers are a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and the mineral silica which helps keep your hair, skin, and nails in top shape. You can use them in salads, juices, smoothies, or just as a tasty snack with some hummus, salsa, or Greek yogurt dip.
Tomatoes taste best during the summer season when they’re at their peak and are one of the easiest plants to grow in a variety of locations. Tomatoes prefer a lot of sun but also require proper drainage, so I’d suggest planting them on a trellis for best results. They contain a great dose of lycopene, an antioxidant for your heart and they also offer a nice dose of vitamin C. The best part about growing tomatoes is you can use them in summer foods like salads and salsa or to make tomato sauce and pasta sauce to can up for the winter.
Basil is an incredibly easy herb to grow and you can even grow it inside your house too. Just be sure to place it in a window with lots of light if you choose to go that route. Basil adds a lot of flavor to sauces, salads, fish and chicken entrees, and even smoothies believe it or not. You can also use it to make an herbal infused water to keep you cool from the summer heat. Basil is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C, chlorophyll, and it’s thought to be a potent anti-viral agent to keep your immune system healthy too.
Whether you’re a fan of red, green, yellow, or orange, all peppers are a fantastic ingredient from your garden because they’re flavorful, high in nutrients, and low in calories. Peppers contain Vitamin C, fiber, and phytochemicals which are antioxidants that protect your body from disease and can also help enhance your skin. Peppers go great in salsas, salads, tacos, omelets, grilled on top of burgers, eaten raw as a snack, or mixed into homemade sauces like marinara.
Another go-to herb that adds flair to summer meals is parsley, an herb to love for its fresh flavor and high dose of chlorophyll. Parsley is incredibly cleansing to the body and high in vitamin C. It’s also easy to grow in a large pot or even on a window sill inside your home. Use a sprig here and there in salsas, salads, juices, smoothies, sauces, omelets, to season fish and chicken, or to just use as a nice garnish like restaurants do.
If you love Italian food (as most of us do) then oregano is a must-have herb to choose from your garden. Oregano is high in antioxidants and just a couple leaves add huge amounts of flavor to most any dish. I like using oregano with fish, but you can also pair it with chicken, beef, or even turkey if you like. If you’re vegan, it also tastes incredible with some chickpeas and tomato sauce for a vegan version of spaghetti.
Blueberry bushes are one of the best plants to have around during the summer when they in season. Whether you use them for oatmeal, smoothies, homemade pie or cobbler, to top your yogurt with, or just to eat as a snack, blueberries make an amazing ingredient in a variety of meals. They’re also high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and best of all, they're low in sugar so they keep your blood sugar running smoothly.
I'm sure we all have our own favorite list of ingredients for summer meals, so I'd love to hear yours or hear what foods you love to grow at home in your garden. Do you have a garden and if so, what’s your favorite ingredient to use in your summer meals?