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!
1. Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes
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 compltetely gluten-free and vegan.
2. Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread
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 for a protein boost.
3. Raspberry-Almond Muffin Tops
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.
4. Blueberry-Hazelnut Muesli
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.
5. Healthy Blackberry Muffins
Blueberry muffins are dime a dozen at any neighborhood bakery, but breakfast treats with blackberries are significantly harder to come by. The tart, juicy berries give these healthy muffins a nice burst of summer flavor.
6. Strawberry Breakfast Cookies
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.
7. Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
This oatmeal goes way beyond those instant oat packets. Bake up a batch of this hearty but wholesome oatmeal (flavored with blueberries, cinnamon, bananas, and vanilla) for a crowd, or just for a lazy weekend brunch.
8. Triple Berry Whole-Wheat Pancakes
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.
Photo: Amanda Skrip
9. Strawberry Salad with Pea Tendrils and Mint
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.
10. Arugula, Berry, and Goat Cheese Salad
Spicy arugula leaves, creamy goat cheese, and bright berries combine in this light, tasty lunch. Add a drizzle of tangy poppy seed dressing to boost the flavor.
11. Raspberry, Chicken, and Feta Salad with Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are positively loaded with healthy fatty acids and protein. Add a scoop to this flavorful salad for a muscle-building post-workout meal.
12. Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing
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!
13. Turkey, Avocado, and Strawberry Sandwich
Think of this sandwich as summer’s answer to the timeless BLT. Instead of bacon, swap in some turkey. No tomato here — just fresh strawberries. Sprouts replace the lettuce, and ripe chunks of avocado add a little something special.
14. Triple Berry Kale Salad
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.
15. PB&B&B Sandwich
Skip the sugary jelly and go fresh instead! Spread a thin layer peanut butter on both pieces of bread. On one side, add sliced bananas and on the other side, sliced strawberries. Put ‘em together and you have a fruity, hearty PB&B&B (peanut butter, banana, and berry) sandwich loaded with fresh summer taste.
16. Blackberry-Fennel Pizza
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.
18. Grilled Pork with Blackberry-Sage Sauce
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.
19. Chipotle-Raspberry Chicken
This spicy-sweet recipe calls for raspberry jam, but we think a bunch of ripe mashed-up berries would work just as well (whole also cutting back on the sugar). The light sauce perks up plain old chicken, making it ideal for a sunny weekday night.
20. Strawberry, Pistachio, and Goat Cheese Pizza
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.
21. Mango-Strawberry Black Bean Wraps
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.
22. Raspberry-Balsamic Chicken Meatballs
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.
23. Fish Tacos with Strawberry-Cucumber Salsa
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!).
24. Strawberry-Orange Sorbet
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.
25. Berry Crumble Bars
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.
26. Frozen Yogurt Ice Pops with Blackberries
It’s no surprise that we’re pretty obsessed with Greek yogurt around here. Break out the ice pop molds and whip up this tasty recipe that includes thick, protein-rich yogurt, berries, and honey.
27. Raspberry-Vanilla Coffee Cake
This light, melt-in-your-mouth yogurt cake (the recipe calls for non-dairy vanilla soy yogurt) is studded with a rich raspberry filling. A slice of this cake and a big glass of iced tea or coffee sounds like the perfect mid-summer afternoon snack.
28. Strawberry Chia Pudding
Chia seeds, aka Nature’s Secret Weapon, have the ability to expand to many times their size when soaked in liquid. They become thick, goopy, and generally pudding-like in consistency. This recipe has just three ingredients: strawberries, chia seeds, and your favorite sweetener.
29. Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
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!
30. Strawberry-Rhubarb Quinoa Crumble
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).
31. Dairy-Free Strawberry Smoothie Pops
This “dessert” is so darn healthy; it shouldn’t even count as a decadent after-dinner treat. The only ingredients are apple juice, strawberries, banana, apple, vanilla, and dairy-free yogurt.
32. DIY Fruit Snacks
Ahh, fruit snacks. Nothing sums up third 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.
33. Berry and Beet Smoothie
Strawberries and beets combine in this bright-red, antioxidant-rich drink. Orange juice, yogurt, and honey round out the short ingredient list.
34. Homemade Fruit Leather
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, an orange, and honey.
35. Dried Salt-and-Pepper Strawberries
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.
36. Frozen Yogurt Covered Strawberries
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.
37. Blackberry Banana Bliss Smoothie
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.
38. Strawberry-Pineapple Salsa
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.
39. Blackberry Gin Fizz
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.
40. Berry Sangria
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.
41. Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Popsicles
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.
42. Strawberry Ice Cubes
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.
43. Fresh Raspberry Lemonade
Almost nothing screams “summer” like a cool glass of lemonade, but this recipe kicks the classic recipe up a notch (or three). Fresh raspberries, orange juice, and sparkling water make this version anything but traditional.
44. Blueberry-Lime Margaritas
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.
45. Retro Raspberry Lime Gin Rickey
This drink is not kidding around about the fruit. Just four drinks contain 12 ounces of raspberries and zest and juice from two limes. Combine fruit and sugar into a simple syrup, and mix it with gin and sparkling water.
What’s your favorite berry recipe? Did we miss it? Tell us in the comments below or tweet the author @SophBreene.