5 Must-Have Produce Items

I’ve been writing these monthly produce guides for quite some time now, and I have to be honest with you—this month may very well be offering the best produce to date. This June, do your taste buds a favor by picking or purchasing these five produce items: basil, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.

I highly doubt that many people can truthfully say that this isn’t the star lineup of the produce world. I’m willing to bet that your favorite fruit is in there somewhere. Plus, isn’t basil everyone’s favorite herb? Italians, there’s no need to answer that one; we know.

With this produce, the possibilities are endless. Start off summer the yummiest way possible by making the most mouthwatering fruit salad imaginable. Then, I’d recommend heading outside for a perfectly light, scenic summertime dinner. Warning: Keep your eyes peeled for those pesky mosquitos!

1. Basil: My brother brought home basil plants last summer, but I accidentally killed one because I plucked off too many leaves. Oh, the sorrows of love. So, naturally, I’m on the lookout for another basil plant, but definitely not the Thai variety. In my opinion, it tastes quite different, and I’m not its biggest fan. In fact, I tend to pick it out of my Thai food. Anyway, if you’re wired correctly, when someone says “basil,” you should automatically picture vibrant green, luscious pesto. I make mine with basil (uh, duh), olive oil, walnuts (hey, they’re cheaper!), garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor, some jalapeno for a kick, and salt and pepper, of course. It goes great on just about anything, but my personal favorite preparations are: on a sandwich, in a wrap, and in a cold pasta salad that’s just right for summer. By the way, women should know that basil is rich in vitamin K, which may provide pain relief, during that time of the month.

2. Cherries: If you’re looking for your dose of fiber and vitamin C, look no further. Cherries are the answer; they’re good and good for you! What a fabulous way to stay in control of your weight. My mom’s friend just happens to live on an organic cherry farm, which is why I have pounds and pounds of fresh, sweet crimson cherries sitting on my kitchen counter right now. She told us that they’ll be ripe for the pickin’ for the next three weeks or so. It’s too bad that we live two hours away! Although, you should know that, if you’re going to eat cherries, now’s the time! At work, I’ve been snacking on them every day this week, but a girl can only eat so many cherries! Before they go bad, I’ll have to make cherry pie and/or preserves. Wish me luck!

3. Raspberries: Like many fruits, raspberries are full of nutrients. However, raspberries are unique because they have anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll eat inflammation-fighting raspberries, if they’re sitting right in front of me, but they’re definitely the least glamorous produce item on this glorious list. To me, raspberries are just sort of blah, bland, free of flavor, if you will (except for the ones my mom grows). A long time ago, my sister’s best friend, at the time, told me that her favorite fruit was raspberries. Needless to say, I wrote her off as crazy right then and there. However, I recently bought and ate a jar of organic seedless raspberry jam, and it wasn’t too shabby. I must say mixing raspberries into your yogurt is pretty delectable, too! For those who aren’t completely sold on eating raspberries as is, you can turn basically anything into a fabulous dessert or smoothie. Sorbet, perhaps? Raspberries, you’re good…just not great.

4. Strawberries: There are two kinds of strawberries in this world—the “eh, it’s clearly not strawberry season” strawberry and the “this is probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten” strawberry. Tip: When it’s not strawberry season, use frozen strawberries, an organic banana, and apple juice to make the best smoothie you’ll ever slurp. However, you guys, we’re in luck because it is strawberry season! That means you can eat those ruby red little fruits by the pound without tossing them with a pinch (okay, a large pinch) of organic sugar. I’m excited to eat strawberries on strawberries on strawberries, even if it means getting a bunch of tiny seeds stuck in my pearly whites. In addition to typically being amazing, strawberries may help to reduce high blood pressure, which is wonderful for the large population of Americans who suffer from hypertension.

5. Watermelon: These rather large fruits actually contain potassium, which, like strawberries, may provide blood pressure relief. Potassium also helps to maintain your electrolytes. So, juicy watermelons really do hydrate you! Ever since I was little, this has been my favorite fruit (the seedless kind, of course). Seeds only truly belonged in the watermelon taffy from my childhood because those were edible, and made of pure sugar. My mom and I even tried growing watermelons one year, but the ants ruined everything. You really can’t beat a perfectly ripened, succulent, sweet watermelon. Watching my mom cut a crisp, yet juicy watermelon into easy-to-eat chunks was always an exciting sight to see. This summer, try to remember that no BBQ is complete without some watermelon. Kids who don’t have sticky watermelon juice running down their chins and to their elbows just aren’t having enough fun.