Living in a colder climate, I find summer to be a wonderful time of year for delicious fresh food. The cost and availability of fresh produce is limited in the winter months and now is the time to enjoy what is in season. We get a variety of nutrients from different foods and changing with the seasons can help you to have variety in taste as well as nutrition throughout the year. Summer fruit options Let’s start with a list of some of the delicious summer fruits you may find at your local farmers market or at your grocer: Blackberries Boysenberries Blueberries Cantaloupe Cherries Mangos Nectarines Peaches Plums Pluots Raspberries Tomatoes Watermelon Selecting the best fresh fruit Buying these summer fruits in season will save you money at the store and offer delicious and nutritious food options. But you may find you struggle with choosing the best of each of the fruits. Here are some tips for choosing these fresh fruits at the store. Berries – Look for blackberries or boysenberries that are shiny and plump. For all berries look at the package, tip it upside down to look for signs of mushy fruit. Once berries start to deteriorate it will quickly spread to the other fruit and may ruin the entire package. When choosing cherries look for fruit free of blemishes. Blueberries are the berry that will be found with a dull/matte finish. Melons – All melons should feel heavy for their size. Cantaloupe will have a fragrant smell, but watermelon will not have a noticeable aroma. When gently pushing on the stem end of a cantaloupe it should have a slight give when it is ready to eat. Nectarines, Peaches, Plums and Pluots – Choose fruits that are heavy in size, have a sweet smell and are free of blemishes. When ripe they should have a slight give when you push gently on the fruit. Mangos – Look for fruit that gives slightly when gently pressed. The color may vary though darker green is most likely not yet ripe. Tomatoes – Look for fruit that is unblemished and red in color. Adding summer fruit to your diet Make it simple – chop up a variety of fruit for a mixed fruit salad or simply choose any of the fruits for a snack or for dessert. Prepare mango salsa for topping on fresh fish or chicken – peel and seed 1 mango and dice, mix with 1 chopped green onion, 2 TB fresh cilantro, 1 TB lemon juice and 1 TB lime juice. Add berries to pancakes, waffles or muffins. Snack on fruit kebabs with diced melon or other fruit you enjoy. Add protein such as diced cheese or meat to make it a more filling snack or a small meal. Mash ½ C blueberries and mix with 1 lb. hamburger for added moisture and nutrition to a hamburger patty. Slice tomatoes on a sandwich or in a salad. Add diced nectarines or peaches to a lettuce or pasta salad. Make a blackberry cobbler. Recipes often contain twice the sugar that is needed for a sweet dessert – cut the added sugar by 1/3 to ½. Prepare fresh fruit jam. Mash 1 lb. very ripe fruit (strawberries or other berries, plums, peaches or nectarines), add 2 TB chia seeds and 2 TB honey or maple syrup. Add it to plain Greek yogurt for a delicious breakfast or snack. Dice plums or pluots in cooked oatmeal, add cinnamon for a flavorful breakfast. If any of these foods have not been a part of your diet in the past, be adventurous and try something new. When choosing good quality, adequately ripe fruit you will find wonderful tastes to enjoy all summer long. Happy summer!