Nothing beats the taste of a perfectly ripe, juicy peach. Extra points if the juice drips down your chin. And who doesn’t love to go berry picking in June and July? Admit it, you probably sneak a berry or two as you pick. You may even have a basil plant sitting in your window, waiting for you to pluck a leaf or two for your salad.

Summer is just around the corner and you can tell due to the fragrant smell of fresh fruits and veggies. Filled with juicy stone fruits, plump tomatoes, sweet basil, fresh zucchini and piles of brightly colored berries, consider the grocery store or farmers market your go-to place for meal-time inspiration.

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Check out these fabulous recipes for the next time you find yourself in the produce aisle. Never again will you wonder what to do with all that extra summer produce because you’ll have the perfect recipe in mind!

Peaches & Nectarines

Plump and juicy, these delicious stone fruits smell like perfume and taste like heaven in the summer. Filled with vitamins A, C, E, and B3, peaches and nectarines pack a nutritional punch with each bite. To incorporate more of these orange jewels into your diet, try this Fig, Peach, and Chia Smoothie to kickstart your day. Or if you’re looking more towards dinner, a Bangkok Black Rice Salad with Fresh Peach would satisfy your whole family. And with all the natural sweetness of of peaches, it just makes sense to put them in a dessert. Try layering them at the bottom of your brownie pan following this Upside Down Peach Brownie recipe.

Tomatoes 

Nothing beats a juicy, red tomato plucked fresh from the vine. Even the most die-hard, anti-produce people can’t resist the summer tomato’s succulence. Did you know that tomatoes are filled with “heart disease and cancer fighting” lycopene, the antioxidant that gives them their red hue? Tomatoes just got even more delicious!

Instead of throwing into your salad for the millionth time, mix things up with these Spinach, Tomato, and Cheddar Mini-Quiches with Lemon Cashew Cream. You could also fry up these green tomatoes and drizzle them with this red pepper aioli.  Or if you want to impress the guests with a simple and delicious recipe, present them with a Focaccia with Roma Tomatoes and Onion.

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Basil

A delicate, summertime herb, basil is fragrant and subtly sweet, and adds bursts of flavor to everything it touches. To top it off, there are loads of health benefits to be reaped from basil, such as fighting inflammation or preventing chronic diseases. Basil is also a good source of  “vitamin K, iron, calcium, vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium.”

So now that you know how fabulous basil is for your health, it’s time to incorporate it into your diet. Of course you could make a pesto (and you should!), but the possibilities for basil are endless. Why not make this Stir-Fried Thai Basil with Tofu and Eggplant when you’re craving some takeout? Or bring this Creamy Green Avocado Basil Dip to your next backyard barbecue. Everyone will be asking for your recipe!

Zucchini

Zucchini has a mild, sweet flavor and adds vitamins C and B6, potassium and manganese to your dish. “Manganese is essential for normal skeletal and connective tissue development.”  Moral of the story? Eat your zucchini! And what better way to eat it than in these Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream for a warm, summer night meal? Or if you want something quick, cooling raw, try this 5 Minute Basil Pesto Raw Zucchini Pasta recipe. You’ll get tons of nutrients with minimal effort. Of course, what’s any meal with out dessert? Zucchini isn’t just for zucchini bread anymore. Toss a small zucchini into these Individual Chocolate Espresso Cakes and prepare to be wowed.

Berries

Berries are some of the most luscious and longed-for fruits around. Maybe the steep price of out-of-season berries makes us want them even more! Take advantage of the summer’s berry abundance and fill your grocery cart with as many berries as your heart desires.

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According to Dr. Fuhrman, “Blueberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanins that have been linked to prevention — and even reversal — of age related mental decline and anti-cancer effects.” If you favor another type of berry, don’t fret. Dr. Fuhrman says that all sorts of berries should be incorporated into our diets and that we should have at least some type of berry every day.

Make this Peach and Raspberry Tart with Raw Mascarpone and then hide it from your friends and family so you can have it all to yourself. Or you could share it. This Raw Cherry Berry Chocolate Cheesecake would be fabulous on the 4th of July with all the vibrant red and blues. And, of course, berries aren’t exclusively meant for dessert. Try this Minty Zucchini n’ Strawberry Chilled Soup next time the weather spikes too high.

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These are just a few of the many recipes out there. With fresh, flavorful produce, the possibilities are truly endless.

What’s your favorite summer produce? And what do you like to do with it?

Image source: North Charleston/Flickr

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