The sweet potatoes are my favorite addition to this dish. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

Did you know July is National Picnic Month? Well, it is. There’s a month and a day for everything these days. As much as I roll my eyes and sometimes scoff at these random food holidays, I also secretly love them. Let’s be honest, if I can use a food holiday as an excuse to indulge in something, I’ll do it. I’ve written about food holidays such as National Margarita Day and National Taco Day on my blog. Despite the idea of food holidays being considered obnoxious, I think it can be a great marketing tool for folks in the food industry. Like I said, any excuse I can use to overindulge in something, I’m there.

Now back to National Picnic Month. I love picnics, but I haven’t been on one in a while. I love laying out a comfy blanket and pondering all the snacks and drinks we’ll nosh on while basking in the sunlight. But I do feel like whomever came up with the idea of National Picnic Month probably didn’t live in the South. Having a picnic in the month of July almost seems like a death wish, but I didn’t make the rules. For those of you who like to picnic in July, I've rounded up four dishes that can easily be transported to a fun picnic. These side dishes are versatile and can accompany anything—not to mention they all look nice.

Garlic-marinated zucchini
This side dish can be served at room temperature and is packed with lots of flavor. It’s garlicky and a little tangy from the red wine vinegar—the flavor combination is perfect. I will warn you, though, the garlic is pretty strong, so you may want to adjust your kissing plans after this dish.

Garlic-marinated zucchini is a perfect side dish for a picnic. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

Strawberry salsa
I love salsa, and who says salsa has to only be made with tomatoes? Fresh fruit salsas are just as enjoyable as traditional salsas are, and they look gorgeous. The bonus with this salsa is that it’s only five ingredients; it’ll take no time to whip up before your picnic.

Maple balsamic veggies
I was just having a conversation with someone recently about the deliciousness of roasted vegetables. There’s something about roasting a large batch of fresh veggies that really brings out their flavors. Roasted vegetables are great for a picnic because they set well and look nice.

Add extra flavor to your fruit salads with thyme-infused honey. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

Fruit salad with thyme-infused honey
A bowl of colorful fruit looks nice on any picnic blanket. This recipe is perfect because you can really throw it together at the last minute. Fruit is great on its own, but once you add the simple thyme-infused honey, it turns a boring fruit salad into something a bit more elegant.

Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at [email protected] or by following her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.