Beginner’s guide to eating summer produce

After the wonderful reaction to my last post, Beginner’s guide to fruits and veggies I’m excited to share more content along the same lines. I love to hear feedback, reactions, and requests so please don’t be afraid to honestly share with me!

As always, thanks for reading and supporting.


Summer in Kentucky has always been my favorite time of the year for eating. Why? Because of the abundance of farm fresh produce that makes it easy and delicious to eat tons of fruits and veggies. This is the perfect time of year to start your transition into a healthy, heavily plant centered diet. From the Hardin Co. Farmer’s Market (open Wed. & Sat.), to local produce stands such as Phil’s (located off N. Mulberry Street) it’s easy to find local, farm fresh produce.


Here are my tips for “Beginner’s Guide to Eating Summer Produce:”


  • Support your local farmers! The more demand we create, the better it is for our local farmers who work hard to make sure we have access to fresh, local, REAL food. Visit the farmer’s market & local produce stands as much as possible. You’ll also find this to be more affordable (typically) in the summer than buying produce at the supermarket.


  • Start with what you like: If you already know you love sweet onions and zucchini but other vegetables scare you, just start with buying those onions and zucchini on your first trip to the market. Healthy eating isn’t meant to feel overwhelming or super expensive. So, don’t feel pressured to buy one of every piece of produce you can see if you know it will most likely go to waste. Start with the veggies you do like and try to incorporate them somehow into every meal you eat.


  • Try 1-3 new veggies/fruits per week: Guess what? It’s okay not to like the taste of something. BUT, it’s not okay to declare, “Gross! Eww!” when before you even try. Sometimes we must expose our tastebuds to a food several times before we realize we like it. I suggest trying 1-3 new types of produce each week. You may discover a new favorite food! Simply browse through the farmer’s market, produce stand, or grocery until you find something that catches your eye. The color, the touch, and the smell should all be appealing. Not sure how to fix it? The Internet is full of recipes or simply contact me! I’ve been helping a friend of mine transform her diet. We picked up a beautiful eggplant from a local farmer and she was open to trying it. I fixed it for her (recipe at the end of this post) and she surprised the both of us when she loved the taste.


  • Center your meal around the garden goodness: My parents make the plant based diet look so simple, delicious, & easy in their home. In the summer, they stay stocked up on an abundance of fresh produce & center their lunches & dinners around the delicious corn, tomatoes, peppers, & onions. For lunches they enjoy something like tomato sandwiches with a bowl of beans. They love to eat on fruit through the day. For dinner they pile a bowl/plate high with a base of rice, potatoes, or even quinoa, then add a serving of fresh beans and top with all the garden goodness. Pictures & recipes at the end of the post.


  • There are no rules! I believe that NO fruits or vegetables should be off limits. I’ve had several people ask me, “Well can I have that fruit or veggie? Which ones are bad for me?” Answer: NONE. How come the average person isn’t scared to eat fast food, greasy pizzas, & fake ingredients in processed food yet many are afraid of the most natural foods on the planet? We must change our mindsets. Vegetables and fruits are to be eaten in unlimited quantities… as much as your heart desires. If you like them raw eat them raw. If you prefer steamed or roasted…do that! However, don’t fry them because you are taking something so perfect on it’s own and turning it into a harmful substance for the body.


  • Forget about portions: This sounds crazy. What I mean by this is we need to stop putting portion sizes of perfect produce. I believe that even if you eat meat & dairy, the majority of your meal needs to come from whole plant foods. Let potatoes, grains, beans, or fruits give you the bulk of the CALORIES & CARBS that you NEEED for fuel. Then, eat as much as you can/desire of the lower calories vegetables, fruits & leafy greens which are “free foods.” This means they are so calorie dilute, your body essentially burns more calories chewing and breaking them down than it will hold onto. If you are eating a plant centered diet you HAVE to eat larger portions than on a typical American diet. Otherwise, your body won’t be fueled up with energy to thrive. Our bodies are designed to run on glucose. Whole foods carbs (meaning not processed junk) are wonderful for your body. We need carbohydrates to operate, heal & thrive. Even diabetics benefit from a carb heavy low fat plant based diet. Read more here.


  • Juice, juice baby. Can’t get yourself into leafy greens, celery, cucumber, beets? Try juicing them. You can purchase good quality juicers online for as little as $40. If you have honestly tried yet have issues with texture or taste, consider juicing your green vegetables and drinking them. If they taste too green/grassy try juicing them with 1 apple and a lemon. Green juice is deliciously fresh and energizing!


  • Salads, slaws, & salsas… One of my favorite ways to turn summer produce into a showstopping masterpiece is by making a salad, slaw, or salsa. My dad is literally the master of this. I crave his fresh cucumber salads, tangy red cabbage slaws, & fresh pico de gallo that makes the perfect topping for a crispy piece of romaine. These three things are perfect for sharing, bringing to a cookout & enjoying with others. Some people will enjoy a slaw besides a piece of meat or as a burger topping. Others will use it as a topping to a giant green salad. Same with cucumber salads and fresh salsas. They are super versatile!


  • Pack a punch with flavor: My family LOVES spices, heat, & condiments. You would be surprised how much something like sriracha, Korean chili paste, brown mustard, or horseradish can transform your meal. My brother says that kimchi & sauerkraut are some of his favorite ways to add a flavor punch to plant based meals. My parents love the addition of fresh horseradish to their salads. Personally I love adding ground mustard seed to my salads for another depth of flavor.


  • Fruit is nature’s fast food: Eating delicious summer fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, berries, cherries, peaches, apricots, etc. is the easiest way to enjoy summer produce. Why? Because fruit is the most natural fast food on the planet. Fruit doesn’t need to be cooked, or seasoned, or changed in any way in order to be enjoyed. Yes, some fruits you’ll need to chop or peel prior to eating but fruit is just so darn simple. I’ve been living off melons many days this summer…literally just eating melon through the day. On Tuesday I was on “melon island” for most of the day & enjoyed nearly 2 watermelons by myself!

Ready for some easy recipes today? Let’s get to fixin’ 🙂


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These are examples of the type of dinners my parents have been enjoying this summer!

Top: tomato sandwich beside a bowl of rice, Puerto Rican style beans, fresh corn, steamed broccoli, pickled green tomato, & avocado.

Bottom: I believe there is a bed of potato & beans on the bottom, layered on lettuce, farm fresh tomatoes, corn, banana pepper, huge stalk of green onion, red sweet pepper, pickled green tomato, & salt/pepper.

So fresh, beautiful, nourishing & satisfying!!


Easy Tomato Sandwich

  1. Slice a large tomato into thick slices. Slice onion and lettuce.
  2. Place on a bun with pickles, a little salt & pepper.
  3. Eat! My dad likes it best with a bowl of homemade white northern beans.

Optional: Feel free to add in some sweet pepper, jalapeno,  cucumber mustard, avocado, or some hummus to act like a mayo-type dressing.


My Mango Pico

  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, diced
  • 5-6 radishes, diced
  • 5-6 tomatoes, diced
  • 1-2 fresh mango cut into cubes (could substitute with peach or pineapple)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Optional: 1-2 fresh jalapenos, diced (de-seed if you don’t like the heat)
  • Seasoning options: garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, chili powder

Mix everything together & let marinade in the fridge at least 2 hours. Stays fresh for about 8 days in the fridge & gets more flavorful with time. My father in law loves to eat it with chips & as a side to his meal. It is also a great topping to rice, potatoes, sandwiches, or on top of other veggies. I personally top my green salad with it as a dressing or make romaine chip boats!



Daddy’s cucumber pico (one of many versions he makes)

  • 2-3 chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 diced cucumber
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • handful of fresh cilantro, diced
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • dash of fresh garlic
  • squirt of honey (or some sweetner)
  • salt
  1. Mix everything together and let it marinade in the fridge to gather flavor.
  2. Variations: many times my dad adds vinegar for a tang, sriracha/jalapeno or hot sauce for heat, radishes for more crunch, etc. It’s hard to get a recipe from him because he uses anything on hand!


Tangy Red Cabbage Slaw (another Jim Chaney recipe)

  • 1 head of red cabbage (or green), very finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sweetner (maple syrup, agave, sugar)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of brown mustard
  • Salt, pepper, chili seasoning to taste
  • Sriracha, jalapeno, hot sauce to taste
  • Optional: if you want the slaw to turn out creamier use mashed up avocado rather than mayo! Also feel free to add in other veggies like diced cucumber and pepper.
  1. Mix everything together. Let it marinade in the fridge at least 2 hours, best to make a day ahead. Continues to get better with time.
  2. Makes an awesome side dish, salad topping, or snack!


Basic Cucumber Salad

  • 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar
  • Salt, pepper, fresh dill or parsley
 1. Mix everything together. Allow it to marinade in the fridge at least 2 hours. Enjoy!
2. Variations: add in fresh tomato, raw corn, avocado.

Crisp cubed eggplant 

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Cut eggplant into cubes the size of croutons. Peel the skin if you have texture issues.
  2. Toss with just enough broth to get them moist.
  3. Spread flat onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes or until brown and a little crisp on top.
  5. Enjoy as a snack, salad topping, or side dish.

Summer quinoa salad

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa 
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Diced green onion
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Optional additions: chopped jalapeño, soy sauce, juice from an orange, mashed avocado
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Let in sit in the fridge to gather flavor. Serve as a cold salad.
    Want more? Check out these delicious recipes from all over the web. Single lay click on the blue hyperlinks to see more.

Grilled veggie taco bowl

Balsamic 3 bean salad 

Curried veggies with coconut rice

Strawberry tabouli 

Zoodles with avocado sauce

So, no matter your current diet philosophy, weight, health, or eating habits… eating MORE fresh fruits & veggies will undoubtedly benefit your body. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the goodness of God’s garden.
Happy eating, friends!

Share how you’re enjoying the produce of summer with me using #swbsummereats 😊

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