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Healthy Summer Q&A with Dole's Melanie Marcus

Healthy Summer Q&A with Dole's Melanie Marcus

Since Dole’s mission is to make the world a healthier place, we sat down with our own Melanie Marcus, Chef and Registered Dietitian, to talk summer produce. As the Nutrition and Health Communications Manager for Dole, Melanie is our resident healthy-eating expert and helped inspire the development of recipes found in the Dole recipe center and trend reels on Instagram! 


DNN: What are some tips to planning – and loving – a healthier summer menu featuring fresh fruits and vegetables?


MM: Having a wide range of fruit and vegetables on hand is a great way to add excitement to your meals. Since no single dish can offer all the necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber needed for a healthy diet, I suggest including a variety of produce in your diet to enhance both taste and nutritional value. Choosing a variety of colorful produce AKA “eating the rainbow” ensures that you're getting a wide range of nutrients. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables of different colors into your meals. For example, red peppers, yellow squash, and purple eggplant.


DNN: What are the best fruits and vegetables to put on the backyard grill?


MM: Pineapple is a classic choice and tastes amazing when grilled, bringing out its natural sweetness. Watermelon is another refreshing option that has a smoky flavor when grilled. And don't forget about our favorite banana!  When warmed on the grill, their natural sugars caramelize. The custardy texture and extra-sweet flavor is so decadent and delicious, you’ll forget how healthy it is.


DNN: Do you have a summer eating routine?


MM: I have a pretty simple mealtime formula that pays off with big taste and nutrition dividends: lots of fruit with smoothies or protein shakes, a big salad for lunch, a piece of fresh fruit with nuts as an afternoon snack, and lean protein with lots of vegetables for dinner. Basically, half of each meal is made up of fruits and vegetables.  Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice dessert – when I’m in the mood for a sweet treat, I leverage natural sweetness from banana in recipes like Banana Nice Cream which is a family favorite. 


DNN: If a Dole Nutrition News reader is planning the ultimate healthy-eating summer party, what would you recommend?


MM: Party food is notorious for being fried, crunchy and unhealthy, but Dole is out to prove that it is possible to serve healthy options that your guests will love. From dips to snacks to appetizers to full-course meals, we can show you that fruits and vegetables can serve as the basis for an amazing party menu. Check out Dole’s Party Ideas Board on Pinterest for some delicious ideas, or our Summertime Flavor Board for inventive ways to bring nutrition to your backyard, beach or camping BBQ.


DNN: Any other summer eating, meal-planning or entertaining advice you want to offer?


MM: Summertime is a great opportunity to incorporate more fresh, seasonal produce into more than just meals – think beverages such as mocktails and iced tea too. And when it comes to entertaining, keep it simple yet satisfying with easy-to-prepare dishes like grilled meats and veggies, refreshing salads, and fruit-filled desserts to let the flavors of the season shine!


Published August 1, 2023

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