These summer food tips are sponsored by Fresh From Florida as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed are my own.
Last weekend, my husband and I decided to have some friends over for an evening of summer food and outdoor entertaining. It was fun to spend time catching up after a busy school year. The teenagers were equally happy to have a reason to socialize with friends and eat loads of watermelon. If you are planning a summer party this year, I thought I’d share our Fresh From Florida party experience and give you a few entertaining tips that might help make the experience a memorable one.
Enjoy In Season Summer Produce
We love the variety of summer produce that is abundant right now in the grocery store. When looking for recipes, keep in mind which foods are in season right now. Corn and watermelon are popular summer produce items but also remember things like Fresh From Florida tomatoes, blueberries, bell peppers, mangoes, and even star fruit!
Check to see where your produce is being grown. Florida Farmers make it easy for everyone to eat fresh produce year-round. And look for the Fresh From Florida logo not only on produce but also on seafood!
Why is eating seasonally is important? Well, the longer produce sits on the shelves, the more nutrients and antioxidants they lose. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are a better choice for your health. Eating seasonally also supports local farmers, which is incredibly important!
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How Do You Choose the Best Produce?
Use your senses. Each type of produce will have certain giveaways when it comes to freshness and flavor. Look for bright colors without blemishes. Ask your local produce manager where the food came from. Local is better and fresher! Here are a few summer produce items and how to buy the freshest produce available:
- Watermelons If you buy a whole melon, it should be symmetrical with a smooth surface, pale green color and well-rounded ends.
- Strawberries They should have a fragrant aroma and should feel heavy for their size.
- Blueberries Look for firm, brightly colored blueberries.
- Bell peppers Look for smooth, heavy peppers. Shake one. If you hear seeds rattling around, the pepper is past its prime.
- Corn Look for corn with green, moist-looking husks. When you peel back the husks, the kernels should be plump.
We loved the corn we served at our outdoor get together. When cooking your corn on the cob, break the cobs in half before tossing them in the pot. That way, even people with smaller appetites can enjoy it!
I love that corn is so incredibly versatile. Turn it into corn chowder, a salad, or even a delicious corn salsa! What’s the best way to cook corn on the cob? Just drop the corn into a large pot filled with boiling salted water. Cover the pot and let the water return to a boil again. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. After about 5 minutes, remove your corn! Easy and delicious!
Staying hydrated in the heat of summer is important. We whipped up a batch of blueberry lemonade and served it in a decorative glass pitcher. Keep ice in a cooler next to your drink station and skip the disposable cups if at all possible.
Food Safety is Important
Some summer food tips can save your life and this is one of them. Make sure you don’t send your party goers home with a food born illness. Summer food safety is a big concern since temperatures are so warm. Here are a few food safety tips to keep in mind for outdoor entertaining this summer.
- Stay Clean. Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Separate Raw Food. When raw meat goes on the grill, don’t put it back on the same platter you brought it out on. Thoroughly wash any utensil, dish, or surface that has touched raw meat.
- Cook Food Thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it is at a safe temperature.
- Keep Cold Food Cold: Keep coolers out of direct sunlight and nestle bowls of summer salads in larger bowls of ice. Full coolers tend to stay cold longer. If your cooler has empty space, fill it with ice.
Think Light and Sweet for Summer Desserts
Light summer dessert include everything from slices of fresh watermelon to homemade popsicles. Skip the chocolate since it will melt easily in the summer heat. Think flavors like lemon and lime or add fresh whipped cream to a bowl of berries. Here are a few summer dessert recipes you may want to consider:
- Easy Peach Icecream Recipe Perfect for a Summer Dessert!
- Grilled Papaya Recipe and Tips for Grilling Fruit
- Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Popsicle Recipe
Summer Food Tips for Dieters
While I love indulging at summer parties, sometimes, you really need to watch what you eat. Cutting calories during outdoor entertaining can be challenging but it IS possible.
If you are a guest at someone else’s party, bring a low calorie dish you know you can eat. In addition, seek out the simple foods like fruit salads and vegetable trays. Light beers and cocktails are okay, however, stick to water rather than alcohol for fewer calories.
If you are the person MAKING the food for the party, simple swaps like yogurt for mayonnaise will help make your recipes lighter. Choose lean meats for the grill like fish or chicken. Beware of ‘See-Food Syndrome’ where you eat things just because they are there, not because you are hungry.
Sustainable Summer Party Tips
Inviting neighbors over for food is a wonderful way to enjoy the long summer days. Here are a few sustainable party tips to keep in mind while planning your outdoor party this summer.
- Grill more than meat: Try grilling homemade pizza, vegetable kabobs, and even a fruit based dessert.
- Skip the disposable items: Yes, washing dishes can be a lot of work but paper and plastic in the trash can is expensive and bad for the environment. We went with reusable plastic dishes and recycled paper napkins.
- Avoid single serving drinks: Beverages that come in disposable glass and plastic bottles result in a lot of waste. Invest in a large glass jug and fill it with homemade lemonade, iced tea or water with fresh fruit added.
- Choose LED bulbs to light up your yard: Spotlights, floodlights and other outdoor lighting options require a lot of energy. Replace those bulbs with energy saving LEDs for a smaller electric bill and a greener back yard party.
- Choose sustainable foods: Choose seasonable produce for your summer party. Corn on the cob, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other warm weather vegetables grow in Florida were a huge hit at our party.
- Use real linens: Your tablecloth doesn’t have to cost a fortune but finding a reusable one is better than throwing away cheap plastic.
Florida Produce Makes Summer Parties Delicious!
Remember to look for Florida produce for your next outdoor gathering! if you want more info about Fresh From Florida produce, you can head over to their summer produce recipe page or follow them on Instagram.
Have any other summer food tips to share?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.