Summer is just around the corner, and with it, plenty of options to enjoy fresh, healthy foods. From backyard barbecues to creating your own chilled desserts for a hot summer day, there are countless ways to relish the delicious foods of the warmer months. It’s the perfect time to get creative with your cooking skills!

Blueberry Picking
Get a group of friends or family together and head to the nearest fruit farm. Blueberries are a quintessential summer fruit. The exact harvesting time will vary depending on your location, but blueberries are typically best picked sometime between May and September.

Picking baskets of blueberries is not only a fun activity for the whole family, but you’ll have plenty of fruit to snack on. Plus, you can make blueberry jam for topping off whole-grain bread, a delicious (and vitamin-packed) combination.

Try Your Hand at Grilling
When we think of grilling, hotdogs and hamburgers are often the first thing that come to mind. But this season, why not expand your culinary skills? Grilling whole, stuffed fish is simple. The Food Network has this tasty recipe ready for salmon-lovers. With thyme, onions, and lemon, it’s hard to get healthier than this salmon recipe.

Barbecue season doesn’t mean that you have to forego vegetables. Soak some bamboo skewers in water for about half an hour. While they soak, cut up some of your favorite vegetables. Popular choices include white onions, button mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, and peppers. Skewer the vegetables and grill over medium heat until tender.

Take the Farmer’s Market Challenge
Spend a morning at your local farmer’s market. Do you have enough imagination to create an entire meal from food sold by local farmers? Easy options include a tossed salad using in-season vegetables like lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. You may also find homemade cheeses or honey for a sweet dressing.

Choosing ingredients from local farmers has numerous benefits. With less “travel time” involved with local produce, you can bet that the ingredients will be fresher and better quality, meaning they’ll taste extra delicious. You’ll also help supplement the community’s economy, not a multinational corporation’s.

Choose Smoothies Over Ice Cream
Tired of your standard ice cream choices? Try your hand at making smoothies with fruits. Smoothies are one of the easiest treats to make, and they typically have much less fat than ice cream. A good base recipe to use for your smoothies is ½ cup of vanilla yogurt, ¾ cup of ice, and ½ cup of milk.

You can choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options if you prefer, or even substitute them for dairy-free alternatives like soy or oat milk. Add a cup of fruit, depending on your preferences. You can try bananas, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, etc.

Enjoying the summer months doesn’t mean you have to just fill up on junk food. With a little creativity in the kitchen, you’ll likely be creating your own healthy recipes that keep you and your family happy and healthy this summer!