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In the middle of summer, markets are positively bursting with fresh vegetables, greens, and (best of all) berries. Berries are pretty much nature’s candy. Plus, they’re loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which boost the immune system and promote eye health among many other benefits.

Eating a handful straight from the carton (after washing, of course) has its merits, but here are a few more ambitious ideas to spark kitchen creativity. Berries are at their best for just a few short weeks each summer; so don’t wait! Grab a few containers (or better yet, pick your own) and give these healthy recipes a go!

Breakfast

Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes
Photo: A Dash of Compassion

This mile-high stack of pancakes with dairy-free coconut cream and strawberries makes quite the show-stopping breakfast. Plus, the pancakes are made with buckwheat flour and non-dairy milk so the whole dish is completely gluten-free and vegan.

Somewhere between coffee cake, banana bread, and blueberry pound cake, this healthy loaf is a great way to start the morning. Whole-wheat flour, applesauce, bananas, pecans, and plenty of fresh blueberries make it super wholesome. Top with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt.

This Seinfeld-worthy recipe proves that the top really is the best part of the muffin. These honey-sweetened soft muffins are not too sweet and make a hearty breakfast when topped with a schmear of nut butter.

Muesli, a classic Swiss breakfast cereal, is like granola’s healthier cousin. It’s kind of crunchy, kind of chewy, nutty, and not too sweet. This version, loaded with hazelnuts, blueberries, and coconut, is perfect with skim milk or yogurt.

Cookies for breakfast sound like something straight out of a third-grader’s fantasy, but these morning treats are actually low in sugar and high in fiber. They’re gluten-free, vegan, and use plenty of whole grains and fresh fruit.

This oatmeal goes way beyond those instant oat packets. Bake up a batch of this hearty but wholesome meal (flavored with blueberries, cinnamon, bananas, and vanilla) for a lazy weekend brunch.

Can’t decided whether to whip up blueberry, raspberry, or strawberry pancakes? Toss them all together with some whole-wheat flour and almond extract, and call it a day.

Lunch

Arugula, Berry, and Goat Cheese Salad
Photo: The Perfect Pantry

Spicy arugula leaves, creamy goat cheese, and bright berries combine in this light, tasty lunch. A drizzle of tangy poppy seed dressing guarantees all your tastes are covered.

This crunchy salad highlights some of the season’s best flavors: bright mint, fresh pea tendrils, and juicy, sweet strawberries. Add a few crumbles of goat cheese and some sunflower seeds for protein and healthy fat.

Hemp seeds are loaded with healthy fatty acids and even have some protein. Add a scoop to this flavorful salad rather than using croutons, which offer pretty much zero nutritional value.

This recipe provides more guidelines than hard and fast rules. Although the actual instructions recommend mixing quinoa with blueberries and mangoes, we think chickpeas, nuts, jicama, carrots, and strawberries would also taste amazing. Let the experimenting begin!

Think of this sandwich as summer’s answer to the timeless BLT. Instead of bacon, swap in some turkey; fresh strawberries stand in for tomatoes; sprouts replace the lettuce; and ripe chunks of avocado add a little something special.

This berry-loaded dish is another perfect lunch collected straight from the farmers' market. The salad features fresh cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries on a bed of fresh kale. Add avocado slices, toasted almonds, and a drizzle of strawberry vinaigrette to really boost the summery flavor.

Dinner

Blackberry Fennel Pizza
Photo: Scaling Back Blog

We know—berries on a savory pizza sounds strange. But it works. Sliced fennel, hazelnuts, and plenty of tangy cheese keep this pie firmly in the “dinner” category. Make it even healthier by subbing in whole-wheat pizza dough.

Sweet, sticky, and flavorful, these ribs definitely deserve a place at your next barbecue. Sage, thyme, onion, and garlic help balance out the sweet blueberry flavor.

Few foods taste as yummy together as pork and fruit. Make the most of summer berry season by pairing simple grilled meat with a fresh blackberry-infused sauce.

This spicy-sweet recipe calls for raspberry jam, but we think a bunch of ripe mashed-up berries would work just as well (while also cutting back on the sugar). The light sauce perks up plain old chicken, making it ideal for a sunny weekday night.

Fruit pizza strikes again! This version, featuring strawberries, pistachios, watercress, and goat cheese, is super-sophisticated and surprisingly easy to make. Pro tip: Start with a premade whole-wheat crust (or just pre-mixed dough) to speed the cooking process.

No meat, no problem! This vegan recipe is not lacking for flavor or protein. If meat-lovers are coming over for dinner, add a bit of roasted chicken or pork to the mix.

Anyone who’s ever been to Swedish furniture store IKEA knows that meatballs and fruit jam are a surprisingly delicious combination. Get the experience at home with these healthy chicken meatballs with raspberry sauce.

What’s not to love about a taco filled with tilapia, strawberry-cucumber salsa, and avocado? Serve with plenty of hot sauce and maybe a berry margarita (check out the recipes below!).

Dessert

Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
Photo: Kitchen Corners

There’s no such thing as too many fro-yo recipes. This beautiful purple variety is loaded with rich, sour blackberries, and Greek yogurt. Serve with extra berries on top!

These delicious, fruity bars are the portable version of a classic berry cobbler. They’re not too sweet and, best of all, totally vegan and easy to make gluten-free.

It’s no surprise that we’re pretty obsessed with Greek yogurt. Break out the ice pop molds and whip up this tasty recipe that includes thick, protein-rich yogurt, berries, and honey.

Hot, sticky summer nights are a great excuse to whip up a batch of something cold and sweet. This tasty sorbet has just four ingredients: strawberries, water, an orange, and a bit of sugar.

Chia seeds have the ability to expand to many times their size when soaked in liquid. They become thick, goopy, and generally pudding-like in consistency. To top it off, this recipe has just three ingredients: strawberries, chia seeds, and your favorite sweetener.

A dash of pumpkin pie spice, bourbon, and orange zest are original additions to the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination. The quinoa crumble on top makes this dish gluten-free, too. We highly recommend serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (dairy-free or otherwise).

This “dessert” is so darn healthy it shouldn’t even count as a decadent after-dinner treat. The only ingredients are apple juice, strawberries, a banana, an apple, vanilla, and dairy-free yogurt.

Snacks

Frozen Yogurt-Covered Strawberries
Photo: Living Rich With Coupons

Dip halved strawberries in yogurt, (Greek, regular, flavored, and plain all work fine) place on a cookie sheet, and freeze until solid. This easy snack is also delicious with raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries.

Ahh, fruit snacks. Nothing sums up second grade like sitting in the backseat of a station wagon and eating a packet of gummies on the way to a piano lesson. Take a trip down memory lane with these homemade—and healthier—strawberry gelatin snacks.

Strawberries and beets combine in this bright-red, antioxidant-rich drink. Orange juice and almond milk round out the short ingredient list.

Remember fruit leathers? They’re basically the slightly-more-healthy, less neon-colored version of childhood classics like Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot. This homemade version is made with spinach, carrots, strawberries, orange, and honey.

It’s shockingly easy to make dried fruit at home, which is good to know at the height of summer, when produce is at its peak. Slice berries, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and bake at a low temperature for a few hours.

For a quick snack or cool breakfast on the go, look no further than this tangy, antioxidant-rich smoothie. Blend together blackberries, a banana, milk (dairy or non-dairy), vanilla, and a dash of your favorite sweetener.

Once again, the sweet-and-spicy combination proves why it’s such a winner. This yummy salsa combines strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno pepper, and plenty of lime juice. Pair it with tortilla chips or use it as a sauce for grilled meat or veggies.

Drinks

Blueberry-Lime Margaritas
Photo: Heather Christo

Whip up a batch of these fresh, colorful drinks for an outdoor party or barbecue. They look super fancy but contain just four ingredients: blueberry simple syrup, Grand Marnier, tequila, and lime juice.

Is there anything more summery-sounding than the combination of fresh blackberry puree, lime juice, basil, club soda, and plenty of gin? Didn’t think so.

Get fancy this season with a pitcher of homemade, berry-loaded sangria. This Spanish drink usually features wine, fruit, triple sec, and club soda. Play with the proportions until you find your favorite combination of fruit, mixers, and alcohol.

Any icy treat combining fresh fruit and booze gets an (adults-only!) A+ in our book. Mix together pureed strawberries, peach simple syrup, tonic water, and vodka, and then pour the mixture into ice pop molds. Let them freeze for a few hours, or until solid.

Fun ice cubes make any drink (alcoholic or not) a bit more fun. Grab a big pile of washed strawberries and divide in half. Chop one half into bite-sized pieces, and mash the other half. Combine the two piles. Plop a scoop of the strawberry mixture into each ice cube slot, cover with water, and freeze until solid. Add them to any drink for a berry-infused beverage.

Almost nothing screams “summer” like a cool glass of lemonade, but this recipe kicks the classic recipe up a notch (or three) with fresh raspberries, orange juice, and sparkling water.

This drink is not kidding around about the fruit. Each drink contains three ounces of raspberries and zest and juice from half a lime. Combine fruit and sugar into a simple syrup, and mix it with gin and sparkling water.

Originally published July 2013. Updated June 2015.

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