Someone near and dear to me told me recently that maybe I should lay off that second doughnut and consider some healthier choices for my overall dining plan.

Now I will not throw this person under the bus for his insensitive comments or name any names (my eldest son Sam) because I know he has my best interests at heart and wants me to be strong and healthy for when he needs me to watch his grandchildren someday as he gallivants across Europe vacationing and living large.

OK, son, you are right. Game on.

In my early days as a high school wrestler and soccer player, I could just run an extra 10 miles to allow for a crazy splurge. But now in my 50s, this is no longer the case.

We dined out at one of our favorite spots yesterday and the waitress was shocked that I actually opted for the grilled salmon salad over a bed of spinach instead of one of their amazing burgers. Baby steps. Thankfully, all of our area chef-driven restaurants have very healthy options for you to choose from. Making healthy choices in summer is easy and will help you build a solid habit heading into the cold months if you stick to your guns. You may even shed a few pounds while improving your overall health and how you feel.

It is the beginning of summer, after all, with fresh choices abound. Farmers markets with fresh everything. Lettuce, turnips, onions, mushrooms, blueberries coming in season, the last few weeks of fresh Ohio strawberries and, of course, corn, zucchini and tomatoes right around the corner. More fruit, less carbs. More lean meat, less fatty meats.

For breakfast, consider a nice bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries and strawberries added to it, as well as some chopped walnuts.

Sam says, "Hey, add some bananas, too." He’s right. Drizzle with a little fresh local honey if you want. Be careful, though, the more items you add, the less healthy it gets.

For lunch, consider a nice salad with grilled chicken or salmon or a Salad Nicoise, lightly dressed with olive oil and vinaigrette type dressing and fruit or chopped nuts added for some crunch, texture and added protein. Personally, I would eat these nice salad meals out because restaurants do them very well and you won’t be constantly shopping for all the fresh veggies needed to do them right. Add an egg, hard boiled, to your salad, as it is really low in fat and high in protein. Slivered almonds are also a great salad addition. Fresh berries, yes! Avocado, oh yeah!

Dinner is the meal where you can make or break your healthy day. After all, getting off to a healthy start on a bright sunny summer day seems easy. The world is fresh and full of optimism. Lunch is also easy as a light lunch just makes you feel better in the summer. Dinner, though, this is “the end of the day, soothe your mind and body after a long day at work, relax and treat yourself time” where the wheels can easily fall off the healthy eating bus. Plan ahead, have the right ingredients on hand and you will succeed.

Grilling is still the best summer option. Keep meats simple and portions smaller. Skinless chicken, lean beef like a sirloin cut, done up in simple kabobs, salmon or halibut for seafood options and shrimp skewers are all great and healthy. Scallops and lean pork are also good.

Keep seasonings simple with Himalayan pink salt, ground pepper, freshly chopped garlic and herbs like rosemary, thyme and cilantro. Coat with small amounts of olive oil and you’ll be on the right track. Hit the meats or seafood with some heat from fresh hot peppers and a dash of fresh squeezed lime juice to continue with that summer feel. Add lots of fresh grilled veggies, whatever looks good at your local farm stand or farmers market. Onions and mushrooms are my go-to veggies along with bell peppers. Beets, though, are an interesting alternative and very good for you. Try grilling some seasoned bok choy for the healthy "wow" factor. Finish the plate with fresh herbs and chives for a healthy touch and great plate appeal. Throw some grilled corn in,; just skip the butter.

For dessert, try grilling some pineapple or watermelon. Chef Ryan Marino at Corkscrew Saloon taught me how to grill watermelon a few years back and it is quite good.

Happy summer!

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