Is it just me, or is anyone else desperately clinging to the last days of summer? In the past I’ve been really excited for fall. Like, really excited. I begin my hunt for pumpkin-flavored everything and start loading up my Pinterest boards with hearty soups and toasty drinks way before I should. But this year is different. I still find myself longing for fresh salads, beach days, and cocktails by the pool. The season seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye.
Alas, summer is on its way out and fall will be here before we know it. And, if you still have a garden full of fruits and vegetables, you’ll want to harvest them before the temperature dips too low. But don’t worry! You don’t have to eat them all right now. In fact, we’re going to show you how you can enjoy fruits and vegetables from your garden (or the farmers’ market) all winter long. Here are five ways to use up your summer produce and load your vegan meal plan with nutritious, plant-based foods for months to come.
- Craft a simple veggie stir-fry
What’s for dinner? A vegetable stir-fry, that’s what. Take your extra summer veggies and toss them in a pan with olive oil and your favorite spices for a fresh and healthy dinner that aligns with your vegan meal plan. Serve with cooked quinoa or brown rice and a plant-based protein of your choice. Perfection.
- Make a summer vegetable soup
Aside from prepping and chopping your ingredients, there’s not much else involved in making soup. Best of all, you can enjoy it tonight and months down the road. We suggest using your extra greens to make a batch of our Chickpea & Rice Soup with Kale. Freeze individual portions and reheat the leftovers in the middle of winter for a quick and easy meal.
- Whip up a healthy smoothie
If you have a ton of peaches you don’t know what to do with, try whipping up a giant batch of our Super Peach Smoothie. You can save the leftovers in mason jars and stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready for another smoothie, simply transfer a jar to the fridge and let it thaw overnight. It’ll be perfectly chilled and ready to drink in the morning.
- Make a zesty pasta sauce
If there’s one thing I turn to for comfort in the chilly winter months it’s a big bowl of pasta with vegan meatballs. Gather up all of the ripe tomatoes from your garden, grab a handful of fresh basil, and make a fresh, homemade pasta sauce you can freeze and use to make healthy meals in the future. I especially like this recipe for Thick & Chunky Tomato Sauce from Oh She Glows.
- Slice, dice, and freeze
If you’ve exhausted all of the options above and still have a bounty of produce from your garden or CSA box, there’s still hope for using them in your vegan meal plan. Spend an afternoon washing, drying, and slicing or dicing your favorite summer fruits and vegetables. Put them in individual freezer bags, remove as much air as possible, and label each with the contents and date. You can use them in stir-fries, soups, sauces, and smoothies for up to a year. Tip: When freezing vegetables, first blanch them in boiling water. Then quickly submerge them in ice water and dry thoroughly.