Many of our favorite summer foods are far from healthy — hot dogs and s'mores around the campfire, barbecue and beer by the grill, burgers and nachos at the baseball park. Luckily, summer's long days and warm weather also mean a bounty of fresh vegetables and sweet, sun-ripened fruits are available.

 

Try out some of our healthy summer recipes and bring a nutritious taste of summer to that next backyard barbecue or weekend picnic.

 

Grilled eggplant sandwich

Instead of throwing burgers or steaks on the grill, why not pick up a few fresh eggplants from the local farmers market? Eggplants are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and this Italian-inspired veggie sandwich takes just 15 minutes to prepare. Read more: Grilled eggplant sandwich recipe

 

Sourdough panzanella with summer vegetables
Panzanella is a traditional Italian dish that uses up stale bread, so not only is this recipe healthy and delicious, but it's also a great way to avoid wasting old food. All the vegetables in this recipe are in season — yellow squash, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes — and can be found at your local farmer's market. Read more: Sourdough panzanella with summer vegetables recipe

 

Watercress salad with soy-glazed quail

Watercress has numerous health benefits: It's high in calcium, and it's an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese and carotenes. This Vietnamese dish features a tantalizing combination of caramelized sugar and a pungent sauce that's so good you won't even realize you're eating healthy. Read more: Watercress salad with soy-glazed quail recipe 

 

One-dish vegetarian entree

Chop up mushrooms and eggplant, turn on the grill, sprinkle on some seasoning, pour over soba noodles and — voila! — you have a flavorful, healthy meal in under an hour. This wholesome dish is satisfying without any meat, but you can also add grilled chicken for some lean protein. Read more: One-dish vegetarian entree recipe

 

Risotto-style summer heirloom farro

Here's another nutritious summer recipe that showcases the variety of vegetables in season: zucchini, onions, sweet corn and cherry tomatoes. Farro, a type of grain, is high in fiber and protein, so you'll have a satisfying meal even without the meat. Read more: Risotto-style summer heirloom farro recipe

 

Gingery peach crisp

Just because you want to eat healthy this summer doesn't mean you can't indulge a little — and this summery dessert is the perfect way. Pick up some fresh, local peaches for this recipe, and use a sugar substitute and whole wheat bread flour to make it a little healthier. After all, summer peaches are so juicy and sweet, they're a dessert unto themselves! Read more: Gingery peach crisp recipe

 

Have your own healthy summer recipe you'd like to share? Leave a note in the comments below.

 

MNN homepage photo: shalamov/iStockphoto

 

See also:

Summer dinner recipes

Summer recipes: A few fresh ideas

Easy summer recipes