Summer is now in full force, and the heat is definitely on! As the mercury continues to rise, it's not a bad idea to rethink your eating choices, as hot weather and heavy foods often don't go well together. Plus the markets are bursting with fresh produce! So if you're ready to lighten your meals up during the summer, below are some healthy and fresh ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
1. Fruit and yogurt parfait - You can construct your parfait with layers of low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt along with slices of strawberries, blueberries and bananas, and then top it off with a handful of honey-roasted granola.
2. Berry, banana and kale smoothie - Thoroughly blend a generous handful of kale, about two cups of frozen mixed berries, a sliced banana and about a cup of almond milk in a blender, and you'll have a mixture of super foods that will provide you with powerful antioxidants and important nutrients.
3. Mango and tofu smoothie - If you've had a hard time warming up to the idea of eating tofu, this delicious smoothie will provide you with an easy introduction to this unique food. Use about 7 ounces (roughly half of a package) of tofu, along with 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 and 1/2 cups of frozen mango slices, about 3 tablespoons of wildflower honey or agave nectar, and then 1/2 cup of ice cubes. Puree all of the above ingredients in a blender until they're nice and smooth, and serve cold.
1. Watermelon and feta cheese salad - For a nice, cool and refreshing lunch treat, chop up some watermelons (red and yellow for added aesthetic appeal) as well as 1/4 cup of peeled and chopped cucumber, and put them both in a chilled bowl. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of feta cheese on top, and then top with a quick squeeze of lime juice and some chopped mint.
2. Turkey spinach wraps - This is a slight twist on the classic turkey wrap where you use a spinach tortilla instead of a regular white flour tortilla. Spread some herbed cream cheese on the spinach tortilla, and then add sliced tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, thinly sliced turkey and avocado in a relatively flat manner (try not to make a pile of ingredients). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roll it up into the traditional wrap shape.
3. Hummus and veggie sandwich - Spread some hummus on slices of wheat bread, and then add a layer of greens such as mild lettuce or baby spinach leaves. Add a few thin slices of cucumber (sliced lengthwise), thinly sliced tomatoes, some shredded carrots, about 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a couple of pinches of ground cumin. This sandwich is not only packed with flavor, but it also provides you with an ample supply of protein and important antioxidants.
1. Roasted Summer Veggie Pasta - Cook 3/4 pound of spaghetti noodles according to the directions on the package, but make sure to reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water for later. While your noodles are cooking, cut a medium-sized eggplant, a medium-sized onion and a yellow bell pepper into 1-inch pieces.
Heat your oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and spread out the veggies on a baking sheet. Now add about 8 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the veggie mix and toss. Roast the veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes (rotating halfway through), or until they're golden brown.
Drain the noodles and put them back in the pot with the reserved cooking water, add the vegetables into the pot and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes. Thoroughly toss the mixture while cooking, then sprinkle some oregano on top.
2. Grilled fish and veggies - If you're looking to lay off the red meat over the summer but you still have the itch to do some grilling, you can always grill fish such as salmon, tuna, snapper or mahi mahi. Also try seasoning and grilling some accompanying vegetables such as zucchini, squash, onions, tomatoes, or eggplant, all of which are soft veggies, which tend to work better on the grill. Just remember to save them for last, since they do cook quicker.
3. Grilled chicken and vegetable kebabs - Fire up some lean chicken breast on the grill, and then skewer your grilled chicken strips on a kebab with an assortment of flavorful veggies such as fingerling potatoes, red bell peppers, squash, zucchini and okra. You can season these components with any number of ingredients including horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, parsley or Dijon mustard.
The main idea behind each of these recipes is to keep your food choices light and simple. Just stick with lean meats as well as fresh fruits and vegetables for your summer dishes - the possibilities are endless!