Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Healthy Summer Recipes

Going for a picnic?
Summer is filled with so many picnics, barbecues, potlucks or outings with family and friends. All these events can lead to overeating and indulging in calorie-heavy pasta salads, unhealthy burgers and an overabundance of sweets.
While no one wants to give up their favorite summertime treats and favorites, there are some easy swaps anyone can try to make picnic and barbeque classics a bit healthier.

Turn your classic mayo-heavy potato salad into a lighter side, skip the burger and go for fun-to-assemble kabobs, use your grill for a sweet dessert and skip the sugary and syrupy fruit juices and enjoying fruit's natural flavor.

Here's some recipes to make a healthier summer for the whole family.

Traditional potato salads are made with heavy mayo, but one quick swap is switching up the dressing with something lighter that doesn't skimp on flavor. Swap out high-fat mayo for plain yogurt (try Greek yogurt for a wonderful, creamy texture that's also absolutely loaded with protein).

You can still use the same ingredients you use with your mayo recipe, just use the same amount of yogurt as you would mayo. The other upshot of this is that the salad won't be nearly as heavy tasting and will, instead, be more refreshing which is what we want to feel in the summer anyway!

Another way to make potato salad even healthier is to incorporate extra veggies into the mix. Choose the veggies you like, and it'll make this side salad feel more robust and you'll feel fuller after eating too.

Red potato and Dill salad
Healthy Red Potato and Dill Salad:
· 2½ pounds red potatoes, skin-­on, ¾ inch dice
· 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
· 2 green onions, thinly sliced
· 3½ tbsp. Dijon whole grain mustard
· 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
· Salt and pepper, to taste
· Handful of dill, chopped

1. Add potatoes and enough cold water to cover in a stockpot. Simmer on medium about 20 minutes (do NOT boil), until potatoes are fork ­tender. Drain.
2. Cool potatoes for 10 minutes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
3. In a large bowl, combine Greek yogurt, green onions, Dijon whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and dill. Stir to mix well.
4. Add the cooled potatoes to the yogurt mixture and toss until all potatoes are well coated. Pop in the fridge until ready to serve.

Time to swap your burgers for kabobs! A great way to still enjoy grilled flavor in a healthy way is to turn the main dish into kabobs. Fill with lean steak chunks, chicken, shrimp or even tofu. Add a variety of veggies and grill away.

For a group of people, you could even let people build their own kabob to customize it to their exact tastes. If you can't bear to part with the thought of burgers, you can find ways to make them leaner. Just because you're grilling, doesn't mean it's automatically healthier. Try choosing lean beef, leave the cheese off, top with extra veggies, and choose thin buns made with whole wheat. These simple swaps will still leave you with a delicious burger, but they all add up to making the classic burger just a bit healthier.

Grilled Chicken Fajita Kabobs
Grilled Chicken Fajita Kabobs:For the Fajita Marinade:
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
· 2 teaspoons chili powder
· 2 teaspoons cumin
· 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
· 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the Kabobs:
· 1 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
· 1 red onion, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
· 1 red pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
· 1 yellow pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
· 1 green pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
2. Place the chicken in Ziploc bag with the fajita marinade. Seal the bag and make sure all of the chicken pieces are well coated. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Thread marinated chicken, onion, and peppers onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.
4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Take advantage of summer fruits for dessert. With so many fruits in season, summer is a great opportunity to try new fruits or just enjoy them at their tastiest. While just having plain fruit for dessert in place of bars, cookies or pies is a great swap, if you want to make it a bit more interesting at a BBQ, you can try grilling it.

Grilled Pineapple
Grilled Pineapple:
· For the marinade:
· 2 tbsp dark honey
· 1 tsp olive oil
· 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
· 1 tsp ground cinnamon
· 1 ripe pineapple, cut into half inch slices

1. In a small bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, lime juice, and cinnamon and whisk to blend.
2. Set aside. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill. Lightly coat the grill rack with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the flame.
3. Lightly brush the pineapple with the marinade. Grill or broil, turning once and basting once or twice with the remaining marinade, until tender and golden, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
4. Serve warm.

Finally lose the sugar, not the sweetness! Summertime drinks like lemonade or fruit juices may quench your thirst, but they're often loaded with excess sugar and high in calories. One way to slim your drink down without losing the fruit flavor is to try a fruit-infused water. You can add whatever flavors you like best to your water like mint and cucumber, lemons and limes, watermelon, berries…the options are truly endless.

Fruit-infused WATER
Fruit-infused water
· Citrus combination: Lemons, limes
· Minty cool combination: mint leaves and cucumber
· Fruits: Watermelon, Pineapple, Oranges


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