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Our Favorite Healthy Summer Recipes

In the spirit of summer, the Institute has put together a list of some of our favorite foods to enjoy in the warm-weather. These recipes are good for a picnic, campout, bonfire, or really any activity that involves spending time outdoors and eating delicious food with friends and family. Whether you are planning the main event, offered to bring a side dish, or just want to surprise your friends with a yummy treat, we’ve got you covered. All of these recipes are vegetarian, because eating more plants and less meat can improve health and help combat climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is how we envision the perfect summer day. First, find a store or farmers' market near you to buy local and organic ingredients. Second, follow the directions in the recipes below. Lastly, invite your friends over for a backyard gathering or a picnic in a local park and enjoy!

Appetizer: Cheese

Ask anyone at the Institute, we love cheese. You can’t go wrong with Cowgirl Creamery, especially since they have a cheese named after Mt. Tam.

Main: Tuscan Summer Vegetable Stew (Gurguglione di Elba)

This stew is an easy way to celebrate the flavors of summer, and anything can be replaced with local farmers' market finds!

Side: Charred Corn Salad with Quick Pickles and Lime Dressing

This side dish is perfect for a warm summer BBQ.

Photo credit: Food52

Side: Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

It’s the perfect light dish for a warm day.

Ingredients:
- 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed (or balled if you’re feeling extra fancy)
- 15-20 mint leaves, torn to confetti
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 tbsp (or more) Balsamic vinegar to taste

Directions:
1. In a big bowl, toss watermelon, ¼ cup feta, and mint leaves together. Make sure the mint is evenly distributed throughout the watermelon pieces.
2. Pour balsamic vinegar over salad and toss again.
3. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup feta on top of salad.
4. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Dessert: Banana S’mores

A (mildly) healthy, and completely delicious dessert that’s perfect for a summer campout or enjoying in your own backyard.

Ingredients:
- Banana(s)
- Chocolate chips
- Mini marshmallows
- Peanut butter

Directions:
1. Take 1 banana and make an incision down the middle the long-ways.
2. Stuff the banana with one or more of the following: chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and peanut butter.
3. Wrap it in tin foil, put it on a grill above a campfire for about 5 minutes, remove carefully and EAT!

Beverage: Fresh-squeezed Healthy Lemonade

Who doesn’t love fresh lemonade? An easier, yet still tasty and refreshing alternative to lemonade is lemon or cucumber-infused water, or any fruit-infused water for that matter.

Photo credit: Healthful Pursuit

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