Memo­r­ial Day and week­end are focused on cel­e­bra­tion and remem­brance for those who’ve made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice. We honor those who’ve died while serv­ing this great nation.

Invari­ably, the week­end also ends up being the unof­fi­cial start of sum­mer. Vaca­tion travel, pic­nics, camp­ing, bar­be­cues and patio par­ties bring fam­i­lies and friends together.

Lucky for us all then that with warm weather trend­ing, sum­mer berries are com­ing into peak play. Cal­i­for­nia grow­ing regions are now har­vest­ing sen­sa­tional blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, boy­sen­ber­ries and black­ber­ries.

Multi-​dimensional, berries add that burst of color and fla­vor zing, just where expected. Plan­ning for break­fast, smooth­ies, sal­ads or sum­mer desserts? Berries are a knock­out for pre­sen­ta­tion and get an A+ for taste.

Straw­ber­ries always seem to top the list for favorite fruits. Blue­ber­ries are inch­ing up with kids and those adults who like to power up with super foods.

The antiox­i­dants in berries just seem to be an added bonus. We eat them because we love them. The fact that they are a health­ier alter­na­tive to other pos­si­ble warm weather treats makes them all the more desirable.

Hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties are rather incom­plete with­out berries. The sym­phony of col­ors and bright per­fec­tion of each small bite elic­its summer’s delight.

End­less recipe pos­si­bil­i­ties can be found of those sweet/​tart, juicy mouth bites. Pair the reds and blues with other delec­table ingre­di­ents.

Cob­blers, pies, crum­bles– scones, par­faits, fruit kabobs all con­tribute to a very berry themed hol­i­day week.

When the other indul­gences might lean toward burg­ers, dogs, chips and the like, bal­ance out the plate with berries and other fresh fruits. Water­melon springs to mind for any hot sum­mer day.

Sum­mer cel­e­bra­tions rely on keep­ing things relaxed and casual. Vari­ety berries are easy to work with, ver­sa­tile and make a big splash at pool par­ties and potlucks.

Mix and match or let berries fly solo. Dress up cool­ers and cock­tail glasses with these gems, fresh or frozen in ice cubes.

Spend­ing more time out­doors for events and activ­i­ties lifts our spir­its and invig­o­rates the senses. Look for ways to incor­po­rate those patri­otic col­ors and dis­tinc­tive berry choices in menus fit for healthy Americans.