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story.lead_photo.caption Dr. Dianna Richardson of the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center in Jefferson City has served communities as a wellness practitioner for more than 20 years. Core to her practice has been the use of nutrition to enhance health and improve vitality.

Summer wouldn't be the same without peaches! Before our local peaches become available, supermarkets begin offering Georgia fresh peaches. This sweet fruit is available for 12 weeks ranging from mid-May to early August. A perfect combination of flavor and nutrition, peaches can be enjoyed in appetizers, desserts and everything in between.

Peaches contain many important nutrients. Vitamin A found in peaches has been linked to a reduced risk of some forms of cancer. Additionally, it is important to vision, growth, cell division, reproduction, bone health and immunity.

Likewise, the vitamin C found in peaches contributes to immunity. In addition, vitamin C plays an important role in collagen production in the body. Collagen is the support system for the skin, promoting wound healing and enhancing skin strength. The term "peachy complexion" comes from the nutrients vitamin A and C found in peaches leading to a healthier skin appearance and texture overall.

Peaches are also a good source of fiber. Fiber rich foods provide protection against colon cancer, assist against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As a bonus, peaches are one of the lowest-calorie fruits, with virtually no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

While not at the top of the list of potassium containing fruits, peaches do still provide nearly 7 percent of the daily recommended intake. Having adequate amounts of potassium in the diet helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and kidney stones.

The iron found within a peach is a vital component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout the body. Iron-rich foods are needed to avoid anemia. While peaches alone do not contain enough iron to avoid anemia, they combine well with other iron-rich foods. Since iron needs vitamin C for absorption, adding peaches to chicken dishes or spinach salads enhances the iron uptakes into the body.

One medium peach also contains 2 percent or more daily value of vitamins E and K, niacin, folate, choline, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper. Add to the conversation the anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties and peaches become far more than just a "sweet treat!"

Whether you choose peaches from the supermarket, farmers market or a roadside stand, here are a few tips. When selecting peaches, smell the fruit. The peach is a member of the rose family and should have a pleasingly sweet fragrance. Look for a creamy gold to yellow under color. The red or "blush" of a peach is an indication of variety, not ripeness. Don't squeeze peaches; they bruise easily. Place firm peaches on the counter for a day or two and they'll ripen. Promptly refrigerate ripe peaches and eat them within a week of purchase. Taking a few extra moments in selection and storage can provide the best taste bud experiences.

Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for over 30 years. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master's degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.

SKILLET PEACH CHICKEN

Makes: 4 servings

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided1

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1/3 cup sugar (coconut, beet or with brown sugar)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt divided

3 medium ripe peaches pitted and chopped

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 7 minutes per side, or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Do not clean out the skillet, but add another remaining olive oil. Add onion and rosemary; cook for 1 minute or until lightly golden, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the skillet as you stir. Add sugar, vinegar, mustard, teaspoon salt, and peaches; cook 12 minutes or until peaches are softened.

Return chicken to the skillet and heat just until warm, spooning sauce over the meat. Serve chicken thighs with peach sauce.

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