Before you know it, the long summer days begin fading into fall foliage. But before we start ordering up our favorite pumpkin-flavored items, we still have the last summer holiday to celebrate, with backyard BBQs and long weekend festivities. This year, give your Labor Day menu a whole grain makeover.

When you think of Labor Day, cookout classics like pasta salad or hamburgers and hotdogs probably come to mind. One of the easiest ways to get that serving of whole grains on the table is by substituting your typical hotdog or burger buns for a whole-grain alternative. There are countless options for whole grain buns in most grocery stores. You can make your decision easier by looking for a product with the Whole Grain Stamp, or by looking for the term “whole” in the ingredient list.

Summer salads are always a safe bet when it comes to feeding a crowd, and whole grains can play a role in almost any salad. Start with pasta salad, an eternal crowd pleaser. You can upgrade this BBQ staple by swapping out the regular refined pasta for a whole grain variety. Channel the flavors of summer with fresh grilled (or roasted) vegetables like in this recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen, or just substitute whole grain pasta into your own favorite recipe. You keep all the flavor of your tried-and-true formula with an added bonus in nutrition.

You could also choose to forgo the traditional pasta salad and try out a grain salad using quinoa, farro, or any other grain. This Summer Quinoa Salad uses both seasonal fruit and vegetables to create a sweet and savory dish. If you choose to throw together a more traditional salad, Cooking Classy has a beautiful recipe incorporating summer berries like blueberries and raspberries with quinoa. Not only is this salad stunning, but it bursts with juicy end-of-summer flavors.

To round out your whole grain-infused meal, there are numerous desserts featuring various whole grains to choose from. However, to maintain that late-summer feel throughout, a Peach and Berry Crisp made on the grill is the perfect treat. 100% whole grain and packed full of sweet summer fruit, this crisp is a perfect way to give a proper send-off to summer.

Do you have a favorite whole grain dish that guests can’t get enough of? Share it with us below, or share it with others on Instagram to participate in our Share the Goodness of Whole Grains contest-- by Harley Songin / Stamp Program Manager

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