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Visiting the farmers' market on the weekend is a summer ritual for a lot of people. The scene provides the freshest grocery shopping with entertainment, snacks, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and quality time together with your crew. Other altruistic benefits include supporting the local economy and reducing the carbon footprint of your food. What’s not to love?

The booths stocked high with homemade cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies the size of your face, pints of artisan ice cream, and maybe even a food truck with a deep fried chicken and biscuit—yeah, that stuff won’t love you back. Maybe treat yourself, but it’s clear which items you should be stocking up on.

Most of the foods there are healthy and nutritious, but some actually promote weight loss. “The obvious jewels in the crown of any farmers' market are the fruits and veggies, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook some of the other treasures within,” said Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., author of Read It Before You Eat It and nutrition and health influencer from New York. We talked with a couple of registered dietitians who offered up a few unexpected farmers' market finds that can keep your journey on the scale a productive one.

Nut Butters
These are a real gem if you can find them. Fresh nut butters like Taub-Dix’s favorite—almond—can be an ally in your weight-loss efforts. They satisfy a craving, which keeps you from reaching for the real junk. More impressive, they’re loaded with healthy fats and protein that satisfy and satiate, so you aren’t left feeling hungry again quickly. Our favorite pairings are almond butter with apple slices and carrot sticks, or smeared across a killer piece of whole-grain toast.

French Green Beans (Haricots Verts)
“Everyone knows that French women don’t get fat,” says Mary Hartley, R.D. Beans provide a mere 44 calories per cup, making them a side dish you can always fill up on. Haricots verts also deliver a load of vitamin K, manganese, selenium, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients needed for good bone formation. Add them to this Easy Leftover Solution: Kitchen Sink Fried Rice.

Anaheim Chilies (a Mild Variety of Chili Pepper)
“All chili peppers contain capsaicin and other compounds that make the body burn calories to produce heat for about 20 minutes after they are eaten,” explains Hartley. She notes that some evidence exists that chilies may lower blood fat levels and curtail fat buildup. Grill or roast these and add to summer soups, guacamole, or salsa.

Casaba Melons and Crenshaw Melons
“Because melons are naturally sweet, they can meet your need for sweet food without empty calories,” Hartley says. These melons are abundant in nutrients, but not in calories, so snack away. Look for casaba melons to have smooth skin, and a Crenshaw to taste like a cross between a casaba and a cantaloupe. Hartley eats them right out of hand, pureed in a smoothie, or with yogurt. We’d add them to our Melon Ball Gazpacho Soup.

Sour Cherries
Always looking for new workout recovery foods? We found a cherry of a deal! “Research has shown that sour cherries ease muscle pain after a workout. A quick recovery makes it easier to keep up with your exercise regimen,” notes Hartley. Which means you can keep at the fitness side of your weight-loss regimen. Sour cherry is a common name for Montmorency tart cherries. They pair well over pork, in chicken salad, or added to cereals, green salads, and mixed with whole grains. They’d certainly liven up this Toasted Farro Salad with Almonds and Preserved Lemon.

Fresh-Baked Whole-Grain Breads
Don’t avoid grains for weight loss; Taub-Dix says you should embrace them. She explains that whole grains are satiating, so they fill you up and keep hunger at bay. Additionally, a good whole grain promotes digestion, heart health, and can even manage diabetes. Breads at the farmers market have the added bonus of using little to no preservatives and other unseemly additives found in grocery store bread. Simple sandwiches with the nut butters, French toast, or even baked up to make a crispy crouton on salads are some easy ways to enjoy this find.

By Brandi Koskie for DietsInReview.com

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