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Aspen, CO 81611

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Diet & Nutrition

Cooking in Season: Healthy Summer Recipes with Fresh Produce

Fresh summer produce – whether it’s a side dish, snack or the main course – and the vibrant colors and flavors of seasonal ingredients define summer-time cooking, meal planning and discovery. It’s an excellent time of year to ditch the big box grocery store aisles and head to a nearby farmers’ market for some locally grown goodness. Eating locally sourced ingredients benefits you in many ways – your food is fresher, more flavorful and doesn’t have to be trucked hundreds of miles to get to you. Additionally, you’re supporting local farmers and producers, which is an excellent way to build community as well as bolster your summer salad game. 

This time of year offers the perfect opportunity to reset your healthy palate, establishing dietary choices that not only leave you craving more, but also contribute to your long-term health and wellness. If you’re hankering for a crisp, fresh salad or some seasonal summer produce recipes, look no further. The expert dietitians at Aspen Valley Hospital have you covered with these flavorful, healthy summer options. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these fruits and veggies are in season during the summer months, depending on your climate. Chat with your local farmers or farm stand owners about their summer bounty!

What's in Season During the Summer

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Herbs
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Lemons
  • Lima Beans
  • Limes
  • Mangos
  • Okra
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Snap Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Peas
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

High-Altitude Adjustments for Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce

If you’re cooking at a high altitude, you may need to make some adjustments to grilled recipes. Here are a few tips for grilling at high altitudes:

  1. Adjust the grilling time. Due to lower atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes, food tends to cook faster. Keep a close eye on the food while grilling and reduce the cooking time slightly. Check for doneness by using a fork.
  2. Increase the seasoning. At higher altitudes, flavors can be slightly muted. Consider increasing the amount of salt, pepper and other seasonings to enhance the taste.
  3. Adjust sauce consistency. If a sauce or dressing seems too thick at high altitudes, you can add a little more liquid to thin it out to your desired consistency.
  4. Keep an eye on the heat. Grilling at higher altitudes can be trickier due to the lower oxygen levels. Adjust the grill temperature and cooking time accordingly to ensure the food cooks evenly without burning.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and specific adjustments may vary based on your exact altitude. It’s always a good idea to experiment and adjust the recipe to suit your taste and the specific conditions of your location. For a comprehensive guide to cooking at high-altitude, download our guide The Pressure’s On – Baking and Cooking at High-Altitude.

Easy Summer Salads and Appetizers

Tee up the perfect backyard BBQ with some fresh caprese skewers. Then complement your main course with grilled Palisade peach and burrata salad or watermelon feta salad. 

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce

Caprese Skewers with Crispy Polenta

This simple yet tasty recipe melds the tangy flavors of sun-ripe cherry tomatoes and farmers’ market-fresh basil leaves with creamy mozzarella and crispy polenta finished with a pesto drizzle.


  • 1 cup instant or prepared polenta
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 24 small mozzarella balls
  • 24 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wooden skewers


  1. Prepare the polenta: Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Gradually whisk in the polenta and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
  4. Pour the polenta onto a greased baking sheet and spread evenly in a 1/2-inch thick layer.
  5. Allow the polenta to firm up, about 30 minutes. Note: If you’re in a hurry, use prepared polenta.
  6. Once the polenta is firm, cut it into small squares or circles around 1-1/2 inches big.
  7. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  8. Add the polenta to the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  9. Assemble the skewers: Take a wooden skewer and thread on a cherry tomato, then a basil leaf, a mozzarella ball, and a square of polenta.
  10. Repeat until you have assembled all the skewers. Place the skewers on a serving platter.
  11. Prepare the pesto drizzle: In a small bowl, combine the pesto with a splash of olive oil and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Just before serving, drizzle the pesto over the caprese skewers.
  13. Garnish with additional basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Note: Refrigerate prepared skewers for a few hours if you prefer them chilled.

Watermelon Feta Salad

Nothing tastes like summer more than chilled watermelon. And this simple recipe lets you take its hydrating benefits into a light and refreshing meal or side dish. The combination of juicy watermelon, creamy feta cheese and fresh fragrant herbs creates a burst of flavors that are complemented by the vibrant and zesty notes of lemon.


  • 4 cups diced and chilled watermelon
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the diced watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, chopped fresh parsley, mint and basil.
  2. Toss gently to mix the ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well combined.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
  5. Drizzle the lemon olive oil dressing over the watermelon, feta and herb mixture.
  6. Add the lemon zest and gently toss the salad to ensure all the ingredients are coated evenly.
  7. Transfer the salad to a serving platter or individual plates.
  8. Garnish with a few extra sprigs of fresh herbs for presentation.

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce grilled peaches and burrata salad

Grilled Palisade Peach and Burrata Salad

Sweet, juicy peaches straight from Palisade, Colorado, are a statewide favorite. Make the most of the luscious flesh of peaches by grilling them. Combine with soft, salty burrata and crunchy almonds for a subtle side that packs a punch.


  • 4 peaches, halved and pitted
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 heads of burrata cheese, torn into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper


  1. Grill the peaches: Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Brush each peach half with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Grill peach halves for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly charred and softened.
  4. Remove from grill and drizzle honey and balsamic over each peach half.
  5. Assemble the salad: Place burrata on a plate and arrange grilled peaches on top.
  6. Then, sprinkle sesame seeds, chives and toasted almonds over the peaches and burrata.
  7. Drizzle with additional olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Healthy Summer Main Dishes

Get ready for everyone to have a new favorite summer dish when you whip up these recipes with fresh, local summer produce! Try the grilled trout with tomatillo vinaigrette or lemon herb grilled chicken for an impressive take on grillables. Or, go full veggie with some black bean and corn salad or a variety of plant-based grill options

Grilled Trout with Tomatillo Vinaigrette

Summertime in the Roaring Fork Valley is peak season for trout. You’ll find brown, rainbow and brook trout as well as Colorado’s native cutthroat trout. Have a look at your local farmers’ market or butcher for the catch of the day.


Tomatillo Vinaigrette

  • 4 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Trout

  • 4 whole trout, cleaned and gutted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh lime wedges, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. To prepare the tomatillo vinaigrette, place the tomatillos, jalapeno pepper, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  3. Rinse the trout under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Brush both sides of the trout with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the trout on the preheated grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the fish and altitude, so keep an eye on it.
  5. Once the trout is cooked, remove it from the grill and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle the tomatillo vinaigrette over the grilled trout.
  6. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce grilled lemon and herb chicken

Lemon Grilled Chicken with Summer Herbs

Lemon zest and juice add a bright note to fresh summer herbs in this classic dish. Grilling the chicken deepens the flavor, adding a rich, smoky essence. This dish pairs well with grilled asparagus, a fresh salad, or your favorite summer side dishes.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Slice a couple of rounds from the middle of each lemon, then zest and juice.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. This will be the marinade for the chicken.
  3. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure it is evenly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.
  4. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off. Reserve the marinade for basting.
  6. Place the chicken breasts on the preheated grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Baste the chicken occasionally with the reserved marinade while grilling.
  7. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
  8. Serve the lemon herb grilled chicken with a garnish of fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or thyme. You can also squeeze some additional lemon juice over the chicken for an extra burst of flavor.

Black Bean and Corn Salad with Pozole Dressing Over Quinoa

Rich in both protein and fiber, black beans are a delicious way to prepare a hearty meal. Pozole dressing adds an Aztec twist on this savory, nutrient-dense salad.

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups grilled fresh corn kernels
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pozole Dressing:

  • 1 cup cooked pozole (hominy)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked black beans, corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, chopped red onion, jalapeno, cherry tomatoes and fresh cilantro.
  2. In a separate bowl, prepare the pozole dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the cooked pozole, olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and well combined.
  3. Pour the pozole dressing over the salad ingredients and toss gently to coat. Adjust the salt and pepper according to taste.
  4. Squeeze the juice of the limes over the salad and toss again.
  5. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  7. Place 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa on the plate or bowl.
  8. Add the black bean and corn salad with pozole on top.
  9. Garnish with avocado slices, lime wedges, Cotija cheese and tortilla chips if desired.

Keep up with all of the nourishing mind and body content from Aspen Valley Hospital!

Side Dishes with Summer Produce

Grilled corn on the cob with chili lime butter? Tomato and avocado salad? Grilled veggie kabobs? Yes, yes and yes. The season’s freshest ingredients complete any meal in a notably memorable way. 

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce grilled corn with chili lime butter

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Lime Butter

While corn is delicious in a variety of salads and salsas, there’s still nothing like fresh grilled corn on the cob in summer. Pair with chili lime butter for a fresh take on a summertime favorite.


  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Juice from ½ of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, chili powder, lime juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Then, place the corn on the preheated grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly charred and tender.
  5. Once grilled through, remove the corn from the grill. Drizzle with the chili lime butter and eat immediately.

Tomato and Avocado Salad

Bright, acidic tomatoes pop beautifully against mellow avocado. A simple lemony dressing lets the seasonal ingredients shine in this uncomplicated side dish.

  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes and avocados.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the tomato and avocado mixture, and toss until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Serve the salad immediately. Enjoy!

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce grilled vegetable kebabs

Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

Kebabs are a simple, crowd-pleasing summer dish. Easy to eat, easy to serve, and easy to clean up. Best of all, you can use any seasonal ingredients you have on hand. For a fun twist, add pineapple, watermelon or peach slices to your kebab.


  • 1 zucchini, cut into slices
  • 1 summer squash, cut into slices
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, sweet potato, red pepper, red onion and cherry tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Toss until the vegetables are evenly coated.
  4. Skewer the vegetables on metal or wooden kebob sticks. Note: If using wooden kebab sticks, be sure to soak them in water while preparing the veggies.
  5. Grill the kebabs for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the vegetables are cooked and lightly charred.
  6. Serve the kebabs hot. Enjoy!

Easy Summer Dessert Recipes

From first bite to last, infusing your summer cooking with farm-fresh favorites is easy. Top off a perfect evening with some grilled pineapple with coconut whipped cream (surprise – it’s vegan!). Or make everyone at the table happy with a serving of mango sorbet or mixed berry crumble. When summer produce is on the menu, the hits just keep on coming. 

Grilled Pineapple with Coconut Whipped Cream

Sweet, acidic pineapple finds new depth on the grill. Paired with a coconut whipped cream, this tropical, vegan dessert will be a hit with even the pickiest eaters.


  • 1 large pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Cut the pineapple into 1-inch thick slices.
  3. Place the pineapple slices on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until char marks appear and the pineapple is tender.
  4. Remove the can from the refrigerator and scoop out 2 tablespoons of the solidified cream from the top of the can.
  5. Place the coconut cream in a bowl and add the honey and vanilla.
  6. Whip the mixture using a mixer until it forms soft peaks.
  7. Serve the grilled pineapple slices with the coconut whipped cream. Enjoy!

Healthy Recipes with Summer Produce mixed berry crisp

Mixed Berry Crumble

If you’re looking to expand from the grill, try this delightful mixed berry crumble. Plump juicy berries combine with warm cinnamon. Top with a generous scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.


Crumble Topping

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup instant oats
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter


  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Oil an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish by spraying with cooking spray or spreading softened butter evenly on all sides.
  3. Prepare the crumble: Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl, whisking well.
  4. Then, drizzle the melted butter over the top, then whisk gently again until it has a crumbly texture.
  5. Prepare the filling: In a different, larger bowl, combine berries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch, salt and cinnamon.
  6. Pour the berry mixture into your baking dish, spreading evenly.
  7. Scatter the crumble over the top of the berries, evening out where necessary.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes (the berries should be bubbling through the crumble!).
  9. Let cool for a few minutes, then devour!

Mango Sorbet

Plump, juicy mango is decadent enough on its own to be a sweet and satisfying dessert. The bite of just a pinch of Tajin elevates this sorbet (without making it spicy).

Note: If you’re using a Ninja Creami ice cream maker, you’ll want to prepare this recipe the day before.


  • 4 large ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Dash of Tajin spice (optional)


  1. Place mango cubes into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, Tajin if using, and water, and heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the sugar syrup to the mango puree and blend again until combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Once the sorbet has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  6. Enjoy!


With long, lingering days just around the corner, now is the perfect time to source fun, new summer recipes that make the most of your local bounty. Need some inspiration? Check out these AVH Dietitian Demos for tips, tricks and the types of dishes you’ll quickly add to your weekly rotation.