With summer fruits and vegetables on the way to area farm stands and supermarkets, we can start to think about meals beyond the stick-to-your-ribs pastas and beans and slow-cooker stews that have been our staples over the past couple of social-distanced months. (Raise your hand if you’re kind of sick of ground turkey tacos!)
The covers are coming off of the grills and there are certainly some hot dogs, hamburgers and more than one ice cream cone to come. To balance out the delicious but no-so-healthy warm-weather choices we’ll indulge in, we have a few suggestions for some lighter options that we enjoy.
Pizza on the grill is always a crowd pleaser!
No need to use your rationed all-purpose flour. You can buy fresh or frozen dough at the grocery store or support your favorite local pizza parlor. Try whole wheat or herb options, too. With the grill on medium and a bit of oil brushed on to prevent sticking, you can make the most delicious, crisp, individual-sized flatbread style pies. Cook through until lightly brown on both sides before topping with whatever you have in your refrigerator: parmesan, fresh herbs and veggies, mushrooms, leftover barbecued chicken, smoked salmon, etc. Just keep in mind, the more vitamin- and mineral-dense items topping the base, the better.
Summer salads transport.
For many reasons, we still may not be traveling far this year, but we can trick our palates into thinking we’ve gone abroad. Take advantage of the season’s variety of bright leafy greens and fill your plate with them. (Triple wash in cold water and dry well for maximum safety and crunch.) Then make it interesting. Add crisp steamed green beans, sliced hard-boiled egg, steamed baby potatoes and canned tuna and – voila – you’re in the south of France. Or top with sliced fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, chopped basil and – presto – you’re on the Isle of Capri.
Peaches, nectarines and pineapple sweeten up your barbecues.
They grill up beautifully, add vitamins and fiber, and complement lean grilled protein like skinless, boneless chicken breasts or salmon fillets. Simply make thick slices (the center ones will be rings), brush with a bit of oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, to bring out the sweetness. Let cook on high for a couple of minutes on each side. If you want to get fancy, drizzle a tiny bit of maple syrup or balsamic vinegar just before serving.
Try at least one all-plant meal per week.
Experiment by grilling, roasting or steaming vegetables you’ve never had. Add sautéed chopped garlic, shallot or ginger. Mix in some raw salad favorites like red pepper, shredded carrot or tomatoes. Sprinkle with toasted nuts or seeds or chickpeas for protein. Finally, serve over a high-fiber grain like faro (Trader Joe’s makes a quick-cook version that’s great) or quinoa, or with multi-colored roasted potatoes or baked sweet potato.