It�s beginning to look a lot like summer at the grocery store and farmers market. Fresh, local produce is available in abundance and the only problem is how to choose.

Start by picking fruits and vegetables in season. Getting produce soon after it�s been picked is one way to find good quality.

Although fruits and vegetables with good color, shape and size are usually of the best quality, produce doesn�t always have to look perfect to be good. Bananas, for example, have the most flavor when their yellow skin is lightly flecked with brown. Produce with deep color � especially dark green and orange � are usually richer in vitamins and minerals.

When picking produce, keep in mind that too soft usually means too ripe and that too hard can mean too under-ripe.

Summer fruits, such as peaches and melons, give off a strong flowery aroma when they are ripening properly. Avoid produce that is bruised, wilted or showing signs of decay. Such damage can affect not only flavor but also nutritional content.

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This is a good time of year to look for sweet, tender sugar snap peas to add color, texture and variety to meals. These very sweet peas are a cross between the English peas and snow peas. They are entirely edible, including the pod. They are usually served raw or only briefly cooked to retain their crispness.

Look for sugar snaps in plump pods with firm, smooth and crisp skin. Their color should be medium to dark-green, and the peas should be 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. Avoid peas with soft, limp pods or blemishes or those that are so big they almost burst from the pod.

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Minted Snap Peas with Peppers

Makes 5 cups, or 10 standard servings.

  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. snap peas, strings removed
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until hot.
  1. Add the red peppers, mint and garlic. Saut� for 3 minutes, or until the peppers are soft.
  2. Stir in the snap peas, broth and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, or just until the peas are tender.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
34 calories
Less than 1 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat)
4 g. carbohydrate
1 g. protein
1 g. dietary fiber
35 mg. sodium
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable