Well, it isn’t over yet, but I have started to prepare a list of goodbyes for my favorite foods and food experiences of the summer. #5 The summer cocktail .  My lighter beverage choice of the summer, a beer created by New Belgium Beers, Skinny Dip, is a great tasting “light” beer. Although it is full in body, it only weighs in at 114 calories per 12-ounce serving.  The hops have a hint of lime, making this beer a  refreshing drink for the summer season.  On the heavier side, I managed to perfect my margarita on the rocks.  To the traditional ingredients of lime juice, tequila, and triple sec, I add a splash of ginger ale and Mexican beer. #4 Grilling out. Although my dad wanted to get us a grill in October for our wedding gift, PJ and I couldn’t let the summer pass by without cooking outdoors, so we bought our first grill, The Blue Ember. My favorite recipe we tried was the grilled pork chop stuffed with plum wrapped proscioitto from Cooking Light Magazine. #3 Fresh Gatherings Cafe soups and salads. The Nutrition and Dietetics Department’s cafe, Fresh Gatherings, makes their garden-fresh vegetable soups from scratch.  All foods in the cafeteria are prepared by our own creative and talented chefs. The Missouri Heirloom Roasted Tomato Soup and Vegetarian Cream of Missouri Beets with Heirloom Garlic Soup are two of my favorites. #2 Pizza on the patio . Pi , a new restaurant in the loop across from the Pageant serves up a San Francisco recipe raved for its cornmeal-style pizza crust. I cannot bring leftovers home, because they don’t get left alone long enough…the pizza is some of the best I have had in Saint Louis. Katie’s Pizzeria across from Schnucks on Clayton Road and Big Bend has an amazing squash blossom pizza. Their chopped salad with cannellini beans, shaved fennel, pine nuts and lemon balsamic dressing is the perfect summer salad. #1 Watermelon . I love the first bite of watermelon. It tells you everything. Did I pick out a winner this time? There are millions of opinions on how to pick a ripe watermelon, but I typically give it the ol thump to hear if it sounds “hollow”, I take a look at its belly (the part of the melon that was in contact with the ground) and a yellow belly means it is more ripe than a white belly, finally, I take a look at the stem, if it is too green, it might have been picked too early. I have found several tasty watermelon recipes, like the watermelon salad which mixes diced watermelon, torn mint and feta cheese, grilled watermelon and prawns , frozen watermelon balls that add pizazz to a summer cocktail, but my preferred way is the easiest:  slice, eat, and spit (seeds of course). We still have time to enjoy the foods of summer. Check out your farmer’s markets to support those who work the hardest to make sure your summer meals are the freshest and best (:

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.