We all know it’s not smart to reach for a Twix when you’re tweaking out over impending deadlines. Or to retreat to a pint of Rocky Road because your life feels like one. But, what about in reverse? Is it OK if your favorite foods make you feel a certain way? I personally can’t help but associate various emotions with some of my favorite foods. Likely because I associate these foods with pleasant memories. But, I think it’s perfectly natural. Here, from little blue fruits to bigger blue scoops, a few, healthy summery foods that have the keys to my heart.

Blueberries make me sentimental

I can’t walk into Whole Foods without picking up 2 pints of blueberries. I mean, it’s 2 for $5. It’s not just a tasty, tart fruit I’m buying. With every handful, I’m getting a dose of sentimentality. Growing up in the Chicago ‘burbs, my family and I would vacation about an hour and a half north in South Haven, Michigan. The lakeside town is where my great-grandpa owned a farm and my grandma went to a little red school house. It’s known for its homemade ice cream (Sherman’s), lighthouses and fruit farms, many of which grow blueberries. When I was little, my parents took us to the “U Pick” blueberry farms, so we could wander the fields and well, pick our own. We’d come back to Chicagoland with crates of berries. (I have a feeling we didn’t pick all of them. Sneaky parents!) I miss South Haven, but I still inhale pints of blueberries all season long. Health bonus: Everyone knows blueberries are packed with antioxidants. They even make you smart!

Tzatziki chills me out

Tzatziki and pita (Photo via pinchmysalt.com)

If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know that the Windy City is home to a large Greek population. I grew up with a lot of Greek friends and often dined out on Greek fare. I’d dig into a chicken gyro at Mindy’s BBQ or sit down for dolmades and baklava at Greek Islands. But, to this day, my favorite Greek meze (appetizer) is tzatziki, made of strained Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, EVOO and lemon juice. It’s creamy, it’s cooling and it’s just plain delicious. Pair it with warmed pita or souvlaki chicken, and I’ll be in bliss. I mean, who needs ouzo anyway? Health bonuses: Greek yogurt is packed with filling protein and cucumbers are said to remove accumulated pockets of old waste material and chemical toxins. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and boosts immunity.

Blue moon ice creammmmm... (Photo via flickr.com/photos/lindsey_yeo)

Ice cream brings me joy

It just does. Second to chocolate, ice cream is the food that I would confess my undying love to. I’m especially partial to homemade, Mom and Pop-style ice cream. Maybe that’s because I remember eating scoops of drippy, delectable blue moon at Sherman’s (in South Haven) with my family. And key lime pie cones at Oink’s (in New Buffalo, MI) with my best friend. In Palos Park, friends and neighbors would stand in line at The Plush Horse for peppermint or peanut butter chocolate. My college friends and I would congregate for cookies and cream at J.P. Licks on Newbury Street. This past weekend, I begged Dan to go to Van Dyk’s in Ridgewood. I pouted, he caved. I had a cup of mint Oreo. With chocolate sprinkles. What can I say? Ice cream equals frozen happiness. Health bonus: A hefty dose of calcium, which helps control blood pressure, reduces the risk of colon cancer, puts a damper on PMS, and may lower the chances of developing kidney stones.

Sushi gets me excited

No, not in that way. Although, if it was made with oysters, I guess it could have a libidinous effect! I just love the colorful presentation of sashimi, sushi and maki. Even if it’s served sans fancy sushi boat, raw fish wrapped in seaweed and rice reminds me of evenings spent giggling with my little sister and friends. There’s so much anticipation involved in a sushi dinner. Is that spicy tuna going to burn my tongue off? How does sweet mango mix with fresh tuna and creamy avocado? If you’re lucky, the flavors dance together on your tongue. Health bonus: Salmon and tuna in rolls provide omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Wasabi could be anti-carcinogenic.

What summer foods make you warm and fuzzy?
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