Finally some hot days to enjoy the weather the great outdoors, and easy recipes that do not take up too much time. Who wants to sit in a hot kitchen laboring over elaborate meals when all the kids want is to grab a bite and run! With produce at their peak this time of year, take advantage and load up on nature’s bounty. Delicious fruits and vegetables abound at farmers' markets and in your local grocery. Besides being low in calories, produce is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Save the oranges and apples for fall, and load up on fresh berries, melons, a variety of greens, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, pea pods, and all the super-nutritious and low-calorie as well as delicious ripe fruits of all kinds..
Salads are the most popular on hot summer days. Many salads can be converted into a whole meal, when adding some protein such as feta/any cheese, fish, poultry or nuts. There are so many varieties of salad out there something for every taste and palate.
Here are some smart ways to spruce up your salads and add variety to your dishes!
- Add fruit to salad greens. Consider adding fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, or grapes. Or toss in some dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, and golden raisins.
- Avocados, olives, and toasted nuts add a whole new taste dimension, not to mention some heart-healthy oils. Cooked whole grains such as hard wheat berries, quinoa, and bulgur add fiber. Beans or chickpeas add protein and fiber.
- Choose from a variety of tasty greens: some are sweeter, like Boston, green and red leaf Romaine, Napa lettuce, and bok choy while others have a nutty or bitter taste, like endive, radicchio, arugula, watercress, dandelion and spinach. Mix the tastes and textures and even throw in a few herbs like dill or cilantro so that each bite surprises your taste buds.
- Pull your salad together with dressing. Choose a ginger dressing for Chinese chicken over a mix of crisp romaine and watercress. Try lime-cilantro vinaigrette for that steak, black bean, and avocado salad. You can make your own healthy vinaigrettes by infusing vinegars with some of your favorite herbs…and you can turn high-fat creamy dressings into healthier vinaigrettes. You'll have a salad you'll be proud to serve to your family and guests!
Here are a few salad recipes that are tasty, healthy and easy to make. Be brave and try incorporating any veggies you have at hand into any vegetable salad.
This colorful salsa comes together in a snap with avocado, fresh corn and ripe tomatoes. Delicious served with tortilla chips or any other cracker or just as a topping over your favorite green lettuce. Salads are refreshing and healthy as they are full of unsaturated fats and other healthy nutrients.
- 2 avocados diced
- 1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro/basil
- Lime juice, to taste
- Salt, to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle lime juice and dressing over the salad and spoon into 4 individual bowls adding some crackers for dipping.
Preparation time 10 min
Fresh Corn Salad
- 5 ears of corn, shucked
- ½ cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
- 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp garlic fresh chopped /powder
- 1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves or Romaine lettuce
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. Alternatively you can just shuck the fresh corn and use it raw.
Toss the raw or blanched kernels into a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh Romaine/ basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Corn and bean Salad
I like to cook various beans when I have the time available and then freeze them in one pound containers, so I have them available for any recipe that calls for beans. The ingredients of this salad make it a full protein and a meal onto itself! Perfect for a quick meal!
- 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
- ½ lb/ 250 gr. Black beans, cooked, drained (or 19 fl oz/ 540 mL can)
- 1 cup chick peas cooked and drained
- 4 corns shucked from cob
- 1 red pepper cut in strips
- 1 yellow pepper cut in strips
- 1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing i.e. 3 Tbs. lemon juice , 3 Tbs. oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
- 1 cup broken tortilla chips
COOK beans for two hours or until tender, adding salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste. For a quick fix canned beans can be used.
PLACE lettuce on serving platter or in bottom of glass serving bowl.
COVER with layers of bean, corn and red pepper.
DRIZZLE with dressing; sprinkle with chips.
Optional: Add feta cheese if serving with a dairy meal.
Cooking time for beans- two hours
Assembly 15 minutes
Chinese Coleslaw with Peanut Dressing
Summer is a great time to experiment with the various lettuces available this glorious season. My family favors Napa lettuce above all others.
It is easy to check; incidentally I have yet to find a bug on it! It’s sweet flavor lends itself to any salad!.
- 1 chilled head of green cabbage, outer leaves removed
- A wedge of purple cabbage, for color
- 4 Napa leaves
- ½ red onion sliced thinly
- ½ bunch Basil leaves washed and checked
- A handful of dry roasted unsalted peanuts
- 1/3 cup smooth unsalted organic roasted peanut butter
- 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from one big lime
- 1 Tbs coconut milk, as needed
- 1-2 tsp agave nectar/sugar to taste
- A pinch of ginger, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
Cut the cabbage in thirds; chop off the core section; and shred the wedges into thin strips. You can do this by hand with a large sharp chef knife or a grater/shredder. Toss into a colander. Shred some purple cabbage, for color. Add it to the green cabbage. Rinse in cold water and pat dry. Dump the cabbage into a salad bowl.
Roughly cut off most of the Basil stems and add the cilantro into the bowl. Add sliced red onions Toss to distribute.
Make your dressing (I use a large glass measuring cup to whisk my salad dressings). Combine the peanut butter, olive oil, lime juice, and coconut milk and whisk till smooth. Add the agave, a little ginger, and sea salt, to taste.
If the dressing needs to be a little thinner, add more coconut milk or lime juice, a tablespoon at a time. Taste test to balance the creamy, salty and tart flavors.
Pour the dressing onto the slaw and toss lightly until well coated. Cover and chill until serving.
Total Servings: 6
Dairy Frozen Fruit Pops
The most common treat for the kids during the summer are freeze pops that are commonly colored and sugar laden and downright bad for them especially since they are having so many a day!. These fruit pops are simple to create and will be a much better and healthier option for your children
STYLING IMOGENE ABADY PHOTOGRAPHY NICKY RYAN
To make cone moulds, tear off 8 pieces of baking paper, each 15cm wide. Fold into cone shapes, making sure the pointed ends are closed, to prevent leakage. Secure with scotch tape in a few places. Sit cones in glasses for support. The fruit pops are made by blending, in a food processor or blender, the diced flesh of the fruit of your choice with vanilla yoghurt, to make a thick, smooth mixture. Each combination makes 2-3 cones. Feel free to double or triple the recipe and put them into ice pop molds available in dollar store outlets. We blended a ½ cup of yoghurt with, from left:
- 2 peeled, chopped bananas and 2 Tbs honey;
- 1 pint of rinsed and hulled strawberries and ½ cup of apple juice;
- 1 peeled and diced kiwi fruit and the flesh of a ¼ piece of honeydew melon.
Pour the mixture into the cones. Freeze until semi frozen, push a popsickle stick into pops and freeze overnight.
Watermelon ice pops
What can be better and healthier for everyone than real fruit on a stick? Kids will love the taste of these popsicle and you can dish them out freely knowing they are so healthy!
- 2 cups seedless watermelon chunks
- 5 Tbs lime juice, or to taste
- 1 Tbs honey/agave nectar, or to taste
- Popsicle mould
Blend all the ingredients together until completely smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Strain through a sieve and pour into popsicle molds; insert handles. Freeze 5 hours or until set, preferably overnight.
To serve, run the molds quickly under warm water for 15 seconds and then gently twist the stick to release. Serve immediately. Remember the golden rule: lick, don't chew!
Enjoy a glorious and healthy summer!