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8 Healthy Summer Foods to Add to Your Diet

This article is a chance to “pat ourselves on the back” for the healthy things we are already eating or drinking. Plus it is a chance to learn more about the reasons we recommend these to everyone for cancer prevention. Enjoy the summer!

Beth Beckett and Mary Beth Peiffer
  Oncology Dietitians, Community Cancer Center

Find out why the summer foods you love so much are so good for you.

It’s summer—that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. I love that there’s an abundance of fresh, delicious and healthy choices. Better yet: many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits. Here are some of my favorites and why they’re a particularly good choice in the summer.



Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable. It also helps keep your body cool (by sweating) during hot summer months. The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it, too: in addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). Another boon? Research shows that eating foods that are full of water helps keep you satisfied on fewer calories. (Interestingly enough, drinking water alongside foods doesn’t have the same effect.)

Star-Spangled Fruit Kebabs

“Cutting naturally red and white fruits into star shapes to pair on skewers with blueberries makes a fun, patriotic fruit dessert you can feel good about eating and serving to your kids. This red, white and blue fruit “salad” will be a hit at summer barbecues, especially for the Fourth of July.”


  • 3 large apples
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1½ pounds watermelon
  • 72 blueberries (about ¾ cup)


  • Stand each apple vertically on a cutting board. Cut two ½-inch-thick slices on either side of the core. Discard the slice with the core. Use a 3-inch star cookie cutter to cut out 12 stars from the apple slices (save scraps for another use, see Tip). Place the apple stars in a shallow dish and add orange juice; soak for 10 minutes (this will help keep the apples from browning).
  • Meanwhile, cut watermelon into ½-inch-thick slices; use the cookie cutter to cut 24 watermelon stars (save scraps for another use, see Tip).
  • Alternate 2 watermelon stars, 1 apple star and 6 blueberries on each of 12 skewers.

To make ahead: Refrigerate kebabs for up to 2 hours.

Equipment: Twelve 10-or 12-inch wood or metal skewers, 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter

Tip: Don’t throw away the fruit scraps after cutting out the stars! Use the extra pieces to make fruit salad, a smoothie or even applesauce.

  • Serving size: 1 skewer
  • Per serving: 52 calories; 0 g fat(0 g sat); 2 g fiber; 14 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 4 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 10 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 361 IU vitamin A; 9 mg vitamin C; 8 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 1 mg sodium; 134 mg potassium

Recipe By: Carolyn Casner  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2019


cornNothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. And did you know that two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays? It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 (though much of the damage occurs decades earlier).

Garlic Butter Campfire Corn

Recipe By: Hilary Meyer “This flavorful corn couldn’t be easier to prepare. Just cover the ears of corn in a quick garlic-and-chive-flavored butter and wrap in foil and they’re ready to throw on the grill at home or over coals at the campsite.”


  • 4 medium ears corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  • Combine butter, garlic, chives, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the flavored butter over the corn. Wrap each piece of corn with heavy-duty foil. Pack in a cooler until ready to use. Prepare a campfire and let it burn down to the coals. Cook the corn in the foil 4 to 6 inches above the coals, turning occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before carefully unwrapping.
  • To make ahead: Store the wrapped corn in a refrigerator or cold cooler for up to 1 day.
  • Serving size: 1 ear of corn
  • Per serving: 143 calories; 7 g fat(4 g sat); 2 g fiber; 20 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 46 mcg folate; 15 mg cholesterol; 6 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 500 IU vitamin A; 9 mg vitamin C; 11 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 131 mg sodium; 297 mg potassium



tomatoThere’s no question that sunscreen should be your first line of defense against the blazing summer sun. But eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection: consuming more lycopene—the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red—may protect your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or drank about 1 2/3 cups of carrot juice daily), in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks. Supplements, however, weren’t as effective: in the same study, those who received a lycopene supplement or synthetic lycopene weren’t significantly protected against sunburn.

Herbed Tomato Gratin

Recipe By: Hilary Meyer “Vegetable gratin recipes often have a crunchy breadcrumb or crouton topping. But summer tomatoes are too gorgeous to hide, so we tucked crusty cubes of bread underneath them instead. Plus, the bread soaks up all the juicy tomato goodness. If you can’t find marjoram, fresh basil or oregano makes a good substitute.”


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups crusty whole-grain bread cubes ( ½-inch cubes)
  • ⅓ cup evaporated skim milk
  • ½ cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 pounds medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan (or similar-size 3-quart baking dish) with cooking spray.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the bread to a large bowl. Gently stir in evaporated milk, ¼ cup cheese, marjoram, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in the baking dish. Layer tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup cheese.
  • Bake the gratin until golden and crispy on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Garnish with marjoram, if desired.

Serving size: 1 cup

  • Per serving: 241 calories; 12 g fat(4 g sat); 5 g fiber; 26 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 58 mcg folate; 15 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 3 g added sugars; 1,577 IU vitamin A; 24 mg vitamin C; 73 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 388 mg sodium; 519 mg potassium



blueberriesFresh blueberries straight from the berry patch are a special treat! Turns out the antioxidants in them may help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise, according to recent research out of New Zealand.



Berry-Almond Smoothie Bowl


  • ⅔ cup frozen raspberries
  • ½ cup
  •  frozen sliced banana
  • ½ cup plain fat-free dairy milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 5 tablespoons sliced almonds, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes


  • Blend raspberries, banana, milk, 3 tablespoons almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla in a blender until very smooth.
  • Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top with blueberries, the remaining 2 tablespoons almonds and coconut.
  • Serving size: 1⅓ cups
  • Per serving: 360 calories; 19 g fat(3 g sat); 14 g fiber; 46 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 52 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 358 IU vitamin A; 36 mg vitamin C; 341 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 89 mg sodium; 736 mg potassium



cherryThis summer enjoy both the sweet and tart varieties. Drinking tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s sleep and reduce post-workout pain. But did you know that compounds in tart cherries may also help you slim down and get leaner? The anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage. Not to be outdone, sweet cherries are loaded with potassium, a natural blood-pressure reducer. Plus, sweet cherries are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer.

Cherry-Berry Oatmeal Smoothies

Recipe By: Diabetic Living Magazine “Add some oatmeal to give your fruity smoothie even more staying power—this quick breakfast will fuel your morning.”


  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • ½ cup light
  • almond milk or fat-free milk
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, partially thawed
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted dark sweet cherries, partially thawed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup small ice cubes


  • In a medium bowl combine water and oats. Microwave 1 minute. Stir in ¼ cup of the milk. Microwave 30 to 50 seconds more or until oats is very tender. Cool 5 minutes.
  • In a blender combine oat mixture, the remaining ¼ cup milk, and the next four ingredients (through honey). Cover and blend until smooth, scraping container as needed. Add ice cubes; cover and blend until smooth. If desired, top each serving with additional fruit.
  • Tips: This recipe easily doubles to make 6 servings.

Serving size: 1⅓ cups

  • Per serving: 360 calories; 19 g fat(3 g sat); 14 g fiber; 46 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 52 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 358 IU vitamin A; 36 mg vitamin C; 341 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 89 mg sodium; 736 mg potassium


Iced Coffee

iced coffeeAn iced pick-me-up is a great way to start your summer mornings. Better yet: drinking a single cup of coffee daily may lower your risk of developing skin cancer. In one study of more than 93,000 women, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. And the more they drank—up to about 6 cups or so per day—the lower their risk. Decaf didn’t seem to offer the same protection.

Recipe By: Carolyn Casner “Save some money and make your own cold brew at home. This coffee recipe is so easy—plus you can make a double batch to have plenty on hand for an instant pick-me-up. Be sure to use coarsely ground coffee beans for cold brew. Finely ground coffee can make it cloudy.”


  • Place ground beans in a large glass container with a lid. Slowly pour water over the grounds, making sure all the grounds are moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Pour the brewed coffee through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a clean glass container. Press on the coffee grounds to extract as much liquid as possible. Serve over ice.
  • To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Serving size: 1 cup

  • Per serving: 2 calories; 0 g fat(0 sat); 0 fiber; 0 carbohydrates; 0 g protein; 4 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 0 sugars; 0 g added sugars; 0 vitamin A; 0 vitamin C; 4 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 4 mg sodium; 109 mg potassium



raspberriesRaspberries are a great source of fiber—some of it soluble in the form of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber—and a study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more fiber may help prevent weight gain or even promote weight loss. Over the course of a two-year study, researchers found that when study participants boosted their fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories, they lost about 4 1/2 pounds. Try it for yourself. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, aim to increase your fiber by 16 grams.

Muesli with Raspberries 

Recipe By: Breana Killeen “Unlike granola, muesli isn’t baked with sweeteners or oil. Make your own or find your favorite brand in most supermarkets—we like Bob’s Red Mill.”


  • ⅓ cup muesli
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • ¾ cup low-fat milk


  • Top muesli with raspberries and serve with milk.

Serving size: about 1¾ cups

  • Per serving: 287 calories; 7 g fat(1 g sat); 13 g fiber; 52 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 13 mcg folate; 9 mg cholesterol; 21 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 399 IU vitamin A; 32 mg vitamin C; 286 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 82 mg sodium; 460 mg potassium


Iced Tea

iced teaSure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety—black, green, oolong, white or herbal—maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, “add a little lemon juice,” recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon—or lime, or orange—help preserve the flavonoids.

By: Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

Peach Iced Tea

From:, May 2018

This refreshing tea gets a subtle hint of sweetness and fruity peach flavor from muddled peaches and fresh mint leaves. If you can’t find fresh peaches, thawed frozen peaches will work too, with a slightly more subtle flavor.

Original recipe yields 10 servings

  • 2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into chunks
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 6 black tea bags
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • Ice for serving

Place peaches and mint in the bottom of a large heatproof and shatterproof pitcher. Muddle (mash) with a wooden spoon until the peaches are pulpy and broken down. Hang tea bags in the pitcher and pour in boiling water. Let steep for at least 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Refrigerate the tea until cold. Fill glasses generously with ice. Strain the tea and pour over the ice. Garnish with mint if desired.

To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1¼ cups

Per serving: 14 calories; 0 g fat(0 g sat); 1 g fiber; 3 g carbohydrates; 0 g protein; 6 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 283 IU vitamin A; 3 mg vitamin C; 15 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 6 mg sodium; 94 mg potassium

Source: EatingWell


Anti-Cancer Recipes