Here are a few ideas for summer eating:
- Keep your fridge stocked with cut up melons, berries, and greens. Eat alone or make a smoothie remembering to use 3 parts veggies to 1 part fruits and add the juice of half a lemon or lime to brighten the flavors. See my Recipes page for a great green smoothie recipe.
- Keep avocados, tomatoes and limes on hand for instant healthy guacamole. Spread it on sandwiches and wraps, toss it with blanched kale, or use it the old-fashioned way as a dip. Avocados are the most protein-dense fruit and lowest in sugar. Although high in calories and fat, they contain heart-healthy fats.
- Make or buy hummus - lots of protein and fiber fill you up. (See Recipes page)
- Keep preservative-free deli meats in fridge for quick sandwiches or roll-ups.
- Make pestos (see Recipes page) and toss with pasta or veggies, spread on sandwiches, or add champagne/rice vinegar to make a great salad dressing.
- Make your own popsicles! Kids love popsicles but store-bought is usually loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners and colors. I love the Zoku popsicle maker because you can whip up a batch in 10 minutes! (See Recipes page)
- With warm weather settling in, eat lighter foods that require little cooking. Cool foods actually cool you from the inside, so think salads, gazpacho, sushi rolls, sandwiches and wraps over longer cooking recipes like stews, hot soups, chilis and heavy meat dishes.
Need more inspiration? I enjoy having the Food Network on TV in the background while I'm doing housework, cooking or working on a project. I often see recipes which inspire me and get me out of my cooking rut. This weekend, I tried a citrus pesto by Giada which was divine. It used fresh basil, lemon and orange - all of which are plentiful in the summer. She used swordfish, but my grocery store didn't have it so I substituted tuna steaks. You could also use it with chicken or shrimp.
We had friends over for Memorial Day and I made pulled pork sliders. This recipe is an old favorite and serves a crowd or makes wonderful enchiladas with the leftovers. It comes from Martha Stewart. I added it to my Recipes page, so be sure to check it out.
I served the sliders with my own recipe for potato salad (see Recipes page). Even though I've never made potato salad before, one of our guests who happens to own his own restaurant told me it was the best potato salad he's ever eaten! I took a recipe I found online, changed up a few ingredients and added some of my own. That's what's great about cooking - you can take any recipe and make it your own.
Summer is also a great time to get your kids involved in cooking with you. I don't know a child who doesn't like to create things and play with their food. Even the youngest child can stir, roll dough and add ingredients to a recipe. Older kids love to use knives (with supervision, of course) and learn the basics of making an omelette, spaghetti, quesadillas, etc.
Get out of YOUR rut and try new recipes! Try to cook as many meals as possible - eating out is almost always more fattening, expensive and less natural than what you can prepare at home. Yes, drive thrus are easier and okay occasionally, but don't make it a habit. Your kids need to know how food impacts their health and if you're constantly eating fast food burgers and fried chicken tenders, how will they ever learn to eat veggies or care about the sodium and fat intake? We have to teach them those foods are okay in moderation, but the bulk of their diet needs to include fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts & seeds, and lean meats. Sorry, french fries and chicken nuggets don't count!