Healthy Summer Kitchen Must Haves

Your summer is poised for success if your kitchen is prepared, stocked and inviting. It is nearly impossible to make unhealthy choices if gorgeous summer produce is staring you in the face and your pantry is lined with basics to pull off meals and snacks you feel good about.

There is nothing better than local, seasonal and fresh, so make a point to visit farmer’s markets, fruit and vegetables stands and local garden shops for the best finds on produce, eggs, local fish and grass fed beef as well as high quality homemade breads, cereals and baked goods.

Once you’re stocked up with high quality ingredients, here are some top picks to set you up for a summer of successful eating.

Refrigerator staples

  • Fruit: if you’re like many of us, you’re more inclined to eat sliced fruit than whole.  Summer is the perfect time for stone fruits, like peaches, plums, apricots and cherries. Of course, hacking up a watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and sugar kissed melon means you have fruit to go with breakfast and snacks.
  • Leafy greens: early summer is the absolute best time for lettuces, spinach and delicate herbs, so buy pounds of it. Wash it well and spin it dry. Stored in the refrigerator with a damp paper towel, it will last several days (but you shouldn’t need it to). Add herbs to your eggs and lettuces to your salads and wraps. Leafy greens cook down, so plan for that by buying big!
  • Cold soups and salads: Whip out your blendtec and create gazpacho or cucumber soup as a refreshing snack or appetizer. Absolutely make a giant bean salad, cucumber salad or tomato salad as a side dish. You get a gold star if you portion these creations into grab and go containers!

The Summer Stocked Freezer

  • Shrimp: frozen cooked shrimp is a brilliant summer freezer item because it thaws in the refrigerator or in a bowl of room temperature water in no time. You can create an ovenless meal in minutes by featuring a shrimp cocktail, shrimp and that gazpacho above, shrimp salad served in an avocado or even a shrimp lettuce wrap. Delish.
  • Fabulous-cubes: you need less reminding to push fluids in the summer, but summertime is the perfect season to make exciting ice. Yes, you can certainly freeze green tea or coffee and sub them in your water, iced tea or iced coffee, but you can also freeze berries, lemons, lime, mango or fresh mint to add playfulness and yumminess to your seltzer, spritzer or spa water.
  • Novelties: summertime calls for refreshing indulgences. These healthful ones feel decadent and satisfying and can even offer brain freeze. Plus you’ll feel great about eating them: homemade frozen bananas dipped in a little dark chocolate, Lara’s banana-mash and inspired fruit pops.  If you don’t want to whip up your own treats, try Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit www.chloesfruit.com. These pops are made with only 3 ingredients and top my list for the best store-bought treat.

Pantry Party Perfection

  • Canned inspirations: thoughtful canned goods can inspire great summer salads and sides. Topping the list are canned garbanzo and black beans – just rinse well and pair with fresh herbs and chopped veggies to make a quick bean salad. You do need canned chunk light tuna to make a summer inspired nicoise salad and make use of the leftover roasted potatoes.  Finally, artichokes and hearts of palm canned in water are decadent and delicious with tons of fiber to keep you satisfied and lean.
  • Jars: it’s not cheating to stock up on your favorite salsa, bean dip or tapenade. As a matter of fact, it’s brilliant to have them ready to go. You’re left with slicing up some crudités, tossing them into a bowl and heading out to watch the sunset with a pre-dinner snack that keeps you on point.
  • Bags: a brilliant host always has a signature drink at the go, but you want to keep it healthful and flavorful. This year, be creative with fancy tea bags to create a gorgeous pitcher of iced tea that’s ready anytime. Add some fresh mint, a few slices of lemon, a handful of berries or some melon balls to make it as beautiful as it is healthful and delicious. (And don’t forget the fancy ice cubes from the freezer!)