While taking time to prepare meals is always a challenge for families — summer adds a whole new dimension to it. With longer days and fun-filled activities, parents need healthy and light meals that can be prepared in a snap or earlier in the day.
So I asked some fellow bloggers for their favorite quick and healthy summer meals. And I got some good ones that can be used each day of the week — and all year long.
Baked sweet potato topped with eggs scrambled with spinach, garlic, and olive oil.
Let’s face it, no one feels like cooking on Monday. This meal from nutritionist Kait Fortunato, can be made in a snap. Cook sweet potatoes in the microwave and spinach (fresh or frozen) in garlic and olive oil, then add the eggs and scramble.
Black Bean Burgers
Dietitian Leah Kaufman sent over this easy black bean burger recipe that can be made in no time. Perfect for a no-fuss Tuesday dinner. Serve with fruit salad and veggie toppings to round it out.
-1 can of black beans
-1 egg white
-1/4 white onion
-Dash of Cumin, Salt and Pepper
-1 oz cheddar cheese (low fat optional)
-1/4 cup bread crumbs
Throw half of the can in the blender and blend till it becomes a paste. Mash the other half with a fork. Mix together with 1 egg white, 1/4 cup chopped white onion, sprinkle on cumin, salt and pepper then mix in the cheese. Make a small ball and pat down into a burger. Sprinkle on bread crumbs to both sides (a very thin layer is all it takes!). Place in pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes each side. A good indicator for me was when the cheese melted. Want more food ideas, follow Leah Kaufman on twitter
Grilled Butterfly Chicken:
Time to fire up the grill! This one comes from dietitian Jill Castle at The Nourished Child. She marinates the chicken at lunchtime and uses the butterfly technique with the chicken to assure a quick cook time on the grill (or the indoor grill).
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup of honey
Butterfly the 4 chicken breasts and place in a ziploc bag (earlier in the day); pour the marinade over the chicken. Refrigerate until ready to grill. Grill on a medium-hot grill 3-5 minutes per side or until done. Place on a platter.
Meanwhile, shuck and break the corn cobs in half; place in a pot with 2-3” of water. Cover with lid and cook on high to steam for about 8-10 minutes.
Slice tomatoes and watermelon and place on separate platters. Place all items on table and serve!
Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes, Spinach, and Beans
Here’s a recipe from Elizabeth Ward’s book MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better. It’s quick and delicious and vegetarian, but can also be made with shredded leftover cooked chicken. Top with crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean flair.
Makes 4 servings
-8 ounces whole-wheat ziti pasta
-8 pieces sundried tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
-¼ cup hot or boiling water
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-10 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 10 cups packed leaves)
-1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak tomatoes in ¼ cup hot or boiling water for about 5 minutes. Do not discard fluid. In a 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add half the spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from pan and reserve. Repeat with remaining spinach. Add first batch of spinach back to the pan. Add tomatoes and their soaking liquid and the beans. Toss to combine well. Add warm pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Serve.
Pizza on the Grill
This is dietitian Sally Kuzemchak’s favorite summer meal. Don’t miss her adventures in feeding at Real Mom Nutrition.
It’s much easier than it sounds—the dough doesn’t fall through the grates, trust me!—and the crust becomes crispy and smoky like it never would in the oven. You can use store-bought dough, though I like to set my bread machine to make a batch (I provide a recipe here). It can be fancy or simple, depending on the ingredients you have on hand. Serve it with a bagged salad and dinner is done—without turning your oven on or shelling out for (less healthy) pizza delivery.
-6 chicken breasts
-1 cup of ranch dressing
-2 cups of Pepperidge Farms stuffing (I substituted Panko crumbs)
-6 slices of bacon
Preheat oven to 375. Marinate chicken breasts in ranch dressing. Dip the ranch coated chicken breasts in the stuffing mixture and cover completely. Arrange the chicken in a glass-baking dish. Top each chicken breast with one slice of uncooked bacon. Bake for 45 minutes.
-1/2 lettuce leaves separated and ribs removed and slicked in half
-1 grated carrot
-1 diced cucumber
-2 diced mangos
-1 diced red pepper
-1/4 cup minced basil
-25-36 medium shrimp shelled
-12 (8 inch) round Rice Paper (can be found in ethnic aisles at store)
-1 large bowl filled with warm water
-1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
-2 tsp. minced basil
-1 lime juiced
-2 Tbs. minced garlic
-1 Tbs. sugar
-2 Tsp soy sauce
1. Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl. Set aside to infuse flavors.
2. Cook shrimp in boiling water until they turn opaque, which may take 1-2 minutes. Take them out of the boiling water and immediately place them into cold water to stop the cooking process. When it is cool, devein each shrimp.
3. Mix grated carrots, cucumber, mango and red pepper and minced basil together in a bowl.
4. Take one rice paper sheet and soak in warm water for couple of seconds. You will want to make sure that it absorbs the water, but not for too long. In a few seconds, you will see that it is pliable and flexible. Keep the sheet flat and place onto a plate.
5. Take one lettuce leaf and place it in the middle of the rice paper, and bring halfway towards you. Leave a 2 inch border on the bottom of the rice paper round. Next, take a couple scoops of the mango-vegetable mixture and place it on top of the lettuce. Then, place two or three shrimp halves upon the vegetable mixture.
6. Take the left and right sides of the rice paper and bring it towards the center. Holding these sides down, take the side of the rice paper closest to you and bring it up over the filling. Make sure that these are secure enough to hold the filling , but not too tight to tear. Continue rolling the filling away from your body until you have the perfect spring roll.
What’s your favorite summer meal?