Many Northeast Floridians havepatronized at least one of the threeNative Sun Natural Foods Marketsby now, strolling between the shelves and bins stocked with an amazing selection of local produce, organic products and top-of-the-line healthful items, from vitamins to freshly made grab-and-go deli delights. And that’s the spot I’d like to delve into deeper, to give you the 411 on one of the easiest ways to get the good stuff. 

All three Native Sun shops — Mandarin, Baymeadows and Jax Beach — have a prepared food section and juice bar, and hot and cold cases replete with everything your stomach desires. Let it be your new go-to for summer picnics, snacks, and dinners.

Because the Jax Beach Native Sun hosted our most recent Bite Club, I’ll show them a little love — they make it so easy to feel good about on-the-go food choices. That location, the local chain’s newest, has comfy booths, a deli, a juice bar, and a grab-and-go case with a variety of prepared foods. There’s even have a beer case so, technically, you can shop while enjoying a cold one. There are even handy cupholders right there on your cart. Really.

Head chef Eric said the hot bar changes weekly and the cold bar items are seasonal (both are $9.99 per pound per item). There are cold bar specials every month, so once you decide your favorites, stock up — I suggest you go for the $7.99 per pound Wednesday special.

Summer’s here, and all I want are dishes to cool my internal temperature, so the Native Sun cold case is my go-to. Usually, dishes like shrimp salad and chicken salad are hit-or-miss for me, but Native Sun’s versions are not what Aunt Marge made for Sunday lunch. Native Sun goes easy on the mayo and blends plenty of fresh ingredients which you can actually taste. You’ll want seconds. I was very impressed with the large chunks of perfectly cooked Mayport shrimp, enhanced by fresh dill, onion and red pepper in the shrimp salad. The chicken salad has a nice celery crunch, and every few forkfuls, you’ll find a plump, delicious raisin — a winning touch of sweetness.

The Stir No Fry and the Rajham are my top two out-of-the-box options. I’d never had anything like Rajham, which owes its hearty flavor and texture to chopped-up cashews, red pepper, and onion. The Stir No Fry is a lot of fun; it’s all the veggies you’d usually find in a stir-fry dish, but cool and crunchy in a salad, with mild ginger dressing.

You can feel good about whatever you choose at Native Sun, because the prepared foods meet the same high-quality standards as the products on the shelves. In fact, all the hot and cold case items are made with products sold in-store. It’s a win-win. Whether you’ve planned a perfect day at the beach or just dashed in for a quick bite, let the NSNFM pros do the creating — and relax.