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Tasty Tips and Snack Safety for the Summer

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Ashley Lovetere, Lee Health Registered Dietitian


summertime nutrition graphic

Summertime in Southwest Florida may feel like all year, but now that kids are out of school, season is over and locals can enjoy the perks of living in Florida. Here are some tasty tips to keep us well fed and safe during our summertime adventures.

Foods to bring on your next beach or boating trip

When preparing for a day at the beach or on the water, think about packing fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables you can snack on throughout the day. In Southwest Florida, mangoes, watermelons, guava, lynches, passion fruit, peanuts, avocados, and mushrooms are in season throughout July.

Try packing a variety of produce with some fun dips on the side or make a fruit salad like a watermelon feta mint salad (see recipe in this issue of Healthy News). If you plan to be out longer, you might want to pack a more substantial meal. It’s easier to keep foods cold than hot when under the summer sun. Try a pasta salad like grilled corn and avocado pasta salad or veggie pinwheels (see recipe in this issue of Healthy News).

Don’t forget the water! Lots and lots of it. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning at its best. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a sip of cold water on a hot day! Read this to learn how much water your body needs throughout the day.

Food safety

Remember food safety while enjoying meals outdoors. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Remember to keep “hot foods hot, cold foods cold.”

Prevent food from reaching the temperature danger zone of 40°F-135°F. Once you've served the meal, it shouldn’t sit out for longer than two hours or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F. If it does, discard it.

Tips for keeping cold foods cold

  • Cold perishable food should be kept below 40°F.
  • Meats, poultry and seafood can be packed frozen.
  • Keep perishable items separate from drinks to limit their exposure to warm temperatures when replenishing drinks.
  • Reusable freezer packs that lay flat are great for packing a cooler. Consider having frozen grapes as an extra “freezer pack.”
  • If you are having a buffet-style picnic, place the serving tray directly on a deep tray filled with ice. Replenish when the ice melts.

Tips for keeping hot foods hot

  • Hot foods should be kept above 136°F.
  • Store in temperature-safe dishes with the lid on to maintain the heat.
  • Try to ensure all your guests are ready to eat when the hot food is ready to serve.
  • If using a grill, move cooked food to the side of the grill rack where there is less direct heat to keep food hot. 

Two tasty summer recipes

Watermelon Feta Mint Salad

watermelon salad image

Serves: 6


3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

4 cups diced watermelon

1 ½ cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup rough chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 ½ cup arugula


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and diced red onion
  2. Add the diced watermelon, blueberries, mint, and feta cheese.
  3. Add arugula to bowl upon serving.

Grilled Corn Avocado Pasta Salad

corn salad image

Serves 6


8oz rotini (or other short-cut pasta)

2 ears sweet corn, shucked

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, chopped

1/4 small red onion, minced

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

For the chili-lime dressing:

6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

1 Tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon chili powder


  1. Add ingredients for chili-lime dressing into a jar with a tight-fitting lid or bowl then shake or whisk to combine.
  2. Combine pasta, corn, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, and basil in a large bowl then drizzle on desired amount of dressing.
  3. Season salad with additional salt and pepper then toss to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one hour before serving

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