The sun is finally here! With all of the picnics, outings, and gatherings we all have during the summer, it can be difficult to make healthy meals. So, I decided to list some simple tips that I use during those busy times!
- Mix up dips, sauces, and spreads, like the herb pesto mayo, spinach pesto, and hummus, ahead of time and then freeze them in individual servings. I don’t always have the time to make a pesto or spread when I need it, and so by having small amounts frozen, I have the ability to grab them and go! Use an ice cube tray for the sauces you only need small amounts of at a time. Not only does this save time, but it also means less waste because you can freeze the spreads you don’t use right away!
- Add garlic to everything you make this summer! Dice it or crush it and add it in dips, dressings, and sauces. Spread it on chicken, put it in hummus, and add it to salads. Garlic is great for the immune system, so it will help keep you healthy!
- Drink lots of water. I mix sparkling water with lemon juice for a refreshing backyard drink that keeps me hydrated. Add a small amount of sucanat, coconut sugar, or stevia (you only need less than a ¼ teaspoon) to make a sweet lemonade.
- Eating lots of salads out on the deck? Try making my favourite! Lettuce, spinach, one grated carrot, 2 small chopped cucumbers, 1 chopped green onion, 1 diced tomato, a handful of unsweetened dried cherries, and a tablespoon of hemp seeds. Add sliced chicken or egg if desired. I have found a wonderful dressing that is clean and tastes great. It is called Little Creek Dressings and you can find them at most health food stores. My favorite is the cherry balsamic! Or, better yet, make your own! Dressings are often full of added sugars and salt. They often contain hydrogenated oils, bad fats, which are harmful to the body. Try using our creamy dill dressing as a salad dressing. Or, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to ½ squeezed lemon in a bowl, and add pepper to taste. This is a simple and light dressing. Check out our cookbook for our balsamic vinaigrette which is delicious on a chicken salad!
- If you are busy running around all summer and find it difficult to make it out to the fresh markets, buy frozen vegetables. Stock up and keep them in your freezer for those days when you just don’t have time to cut up the fresh stuff! I often cook up green peas and beans as a side dish for my dinner if I haven’t made it out to the farmer’s market!
- Bean salads, like our black bean and corn salad, are easy to make and don’t heat up the house with the oven! The beans in these salads provide the body with some protein, as well as fiber. They will help give you energy, and keep you feeling full longer. The dressing in this salad also contains cayenne, which can aid in weight loss.
- Finding it hard getting those veggies in? Try using hummus dips as a way to get you and the kids interested in eating veggies. I cut celery sticks, carrot sticks, cauliflower, and I slice up red and green bell peppers. I then serve them with hummus. You can easily make your own, or you can buy them at any grocery store. Look for hummus that only contains chickpeas (a source of calcium and magnesium), tahini (this is sesame seed paste), lemon, garlic, water or olive oil, and citric acid (a natural preservative). Ask any of my friends or family; I always bring the veggies and hummus to the backyard parties!
- I usually enjoy oatmeal or another warm breakfast in the morning, but sometimes you just don’t feel like something hot! I recently discovered my new favourite breakfast: puffed cereal with almond milk and sliced bananas. I use the Kashi 7 whole grain puffs as they are unsweetened and contain many different types of whole grains. I have found that I have loads of energy after eating this as a breakfast. I have also used unsweetened greek yogurt (very high in protein with a thick texture and a naturally sweet flavour) instead of the almond milk for a breakfast that is higher in protein and that is more filling!
- Jamie Oliver is an inspiration to all of us who are conscience about our health and what we are using to fuel our bodies. I came across a recipe on his website that reminded me of my childhood. My mom always made yogurt popsicles for us throughout the summer. Instead of always buying us sugar-filled popsicles, she would make her own and they would be there for us to grab when we wanted a treat. Jamie Oliver has a fantastic yogurt pops recipe on his website that I want to share with you! It is simple, and really yummy! Give it a try! It uses plain yogurt, frozen bananas, berries, and honey!
- For those chocolate cravings, give our chocolate puff bars recipe a try! It is in our cookbook, and it satisfies my chocolate cravings! Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar, I keep these in the fridge and freezer so I can grab a yummy and healthy treat! Give them a try!
What do you do to keep meals and snacks quick and easy for the summer?!