If you need an excuse to get outside and indulge in tasty summer food and treats, July is the official month to celebrate picnics, grilling and ice cream. With warm, sunny weather across the country, it’s no surprise July garnered the titles of National Picnic Month, National Grilling Month and National Ice Cream Month, to name just a few.
National Picnic Month
It’s an ideal time of year to slow down and enjoy some delicious food, fresh air, nature and beautiful scenery.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- Find a scenic spot for a picnic – a park with plenty of shade, a beach, or a spot along a river or in the mountains, depending on where you live.
- Fill a cooler with some of your favorite foods and bring along a blanket to spread on the ground. Find an assortment of picnic recipes here.
- Load up on cold drinks, napkins, plates and utensils.
- Bring along some entertainment – Frisbee, badminton, croquet or bocce ball, cards or board games.
National Grilling Month
Embrace the start of summer and fire up the barbecue! Not only does it give you a chance to cook outside, but you also can reap health benefits from grilling your food.
Grilled foods often are healthier than foods cooked on the stove or in the oven, because fewer vitamins and minerals are lost when food is grilled compared to baking or frying. While the four foods grilled most often in the U.S. are hamburgers, steak, hot dogs and chicken, here are a few healthy grilling options to also consider:
- Choose lean meats such as ground beef, skinless chicken, or opt for fish or tofu.
- Instead of using marinade or oil to flavor the meat, try a dry or low-sodium seasoning.
- Vegetables, including corn on the cob, zucchini, asparagus or sweet potatoes, are a delicious side-dish option.
National Ice Cream Month
We all scream for ice cream! And there’s no better time to cool off with a bowl, cup or cone filled with your favorite flavor than July, which is dedicated to appreciating ice cream.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July (July 16 this year) National Ice Cream Day to promote the economic well-being of the U.S. dairy industry.
Early presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, had a fondness for ice cream, and Dolly Madison even served it at the second inaugural ball. For a while, ice cream was just an occasional treat, mainly for the rich. But that all changed after hand-crank ice cream maker was patented in 1843, followed by the first ice cream factory in 1851. The invention of mechanical refrigeration kept large amounts of ice cream cool, paving the way for the public to enjoy the frozen treat.
Reagan’s proclamation more than 30 years ago called on Americans to pay tribute to ice cream with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Most of us are happy to oblige.