Many foodies will attest there’s nothing more delicious than homegrown vegetables and fruits straight from your garden. Enjoying your bountiful backyard harvest will boost your vitamin and mineral intake and help you maintain a well-balanced, nutritious diet — which is especially important for gut health as you age. If you’re looking for new ways to serve your fresh produce, try these yummy recipes that feature common vegetables, herbs and fruits you can find in your backyard garden.

Fresh fruit frenzy

Fresh fruit is packed with fiber, flavor and various vitamins and minerals.

  1. You can serve a fruit medley in a large bowl or blend whatever garden fruits you have into a delicious beverage — like this fruit salad smoothie.
  2. For a sweet breakfast treat, top your toast or English muffin with homemade raspberry jam.

Sublime salads

Salads using garden-fresh ingredients are simply the best.

  1. Crunchy lemon-pesto garden salad is a contest-winning recipe that features fresh yellow summer squash, mini cucumbers, peas and green onions. Pesto and tangy lemon zest add flavor, and crumbled, thick-sliced bacon bits provide a crunchy topper. This salad is light and easy to prepare.
  2. For a classic garden salad that pairs well with soup, try the ultimate garden salad. Toss your homegrown mixed greens with garden-fresh cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes and avocado. Blend crumbled feta cheese into the mix and drizzle with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. To add protein, top with grilled chicken, eggs or bacon.
  3. If your backyard is bursting with juicy berries, you’ll love this super easy mixed berry fruit salad featuring fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Toss them in a homemade honey poppy seed dressing and garnish with fresh mint leaves if you have them.

Savory soups

A hot bowl of soup is especially satisfying on a chilly, blustery day and can be comforting if you are sick. Soup that’s full of ingredients plucked out of your garden is arguably more flavorful. Depending on what you put in it, classic vegetable soup is loaded with essential nutrients. You can also tweak different recipes to include your crops for each season.

  1. World-renowned chef, best-selling author, and TV personality Alton Brown’s Garden Vegetable Soup recipe contains garden-favorite veggies like leeks, carrots, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes and corn. Fresh parsley, minced garlic, kosher salt and black pepper add flavor.
  2. Broccoli cheddar soup is another popular variety. This 30-minute broccoli cheddar soup boasts a delicious blend of broccoli, carrots, onions, and cheddar cheese. If you like Panera’s version, you must try this quick, easy recipe.
  3. Taste of Home offers a twist on chicken soup that features fresh dill and garlic, carrots, onions, peas and fresh baby spinach. The delicious, low-cal dill chicken soup also contains whole wheat orzo pasta and shredded rotisserie chicken.
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Delectable main dishes

You might not realize the number of palate-pleasing main dishes you can create with home garden ingredients.

  1. This garden vegetable pie features fresh zucchini, summer squash, and is covered in cheese — it’s a must-taste! This recipe also calls for tomatoes, sweet onions, and fresh basil leaves. A bonus: using pre-baked pie crust cuts down on the prep time.
  2. Lasagna is classic comfort food, and you won’t even miss the meat in many vegetable lasagna recipes. As with soups, feel free to adjust this easy and tasty pasta bake to include any fresh vegetables you have on hand. The best vegetable lasagna uses diced bell peppers, zucchini, carrots and spinach. To save prep time, use no-boil lasagna noodles. Swap or add mushrooms, chopped eggplant, summer squash, kale and roasted red peppers if you wish.
  3. Finally, veggie pizza is a versatile food that you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a late-night snack. You can whip up this grilled vegetable pizza, which makes the flavor pop and keeps your kitchen clean. This recipe includes eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pesto and fresh basil — but use whatever toppings you like best.

These are just a few garden-based recipes for you to try. Your favorite family cookbooks, cooking websites and blogs, and social media cooking groups can turn up a lot more.

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