It’s summer …

Time to break out the lawn chairs, invite a few friends over to share a good meal and watch the kids catch lightning bugs as the afternoon slowly fades to dusk.

The last thing you need on these warm days is food that weighs you down and stops you from enjoying the summer activities you looked forward to all winter.

Traditionally, we break out the melons, ambrosias and cooking light side-salads to go with our barbecues. All that is all well and good…

But, talk about heavy!

Burgers, steaks, and hot dogs are okay, but we cannot live on slaw, honeydew and grilled meat alone.

Today, I have some great ideas for huge summer flavor that you’ll get from a lighter healthy fare…

Best of all, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to prepare these easy eats. The great taste is the only “gourmet” thing about them!

First, I want to give you some grilling ideas that are on the lighter cooking side, but just as satisfying as the heavy meat platters generally associated with summertime backyard gatherings.

Instead of big clunky beef burgers, try grilling up some fresh salmon burgers. You can find them in most grocery stores or fresh seafood markets. Even Whole Foods has gourmet salmon patties all seasoned and prepared fresh for you. All you do is throw them on the grill and enjoy.

Slide them onto a bun and you can serve them with the typical burger accompaniments – lettuce, tomato, onion or whatever you like. Slather them with fresh salsa or a little lemon and dill mayo for a refreshing, delicious and healthy summer sandwich.

For a lighter, yet thick and juicy meat substitute on those warm, sunny days, marinate portobello mushroom caps overnight in a little olive oil, organic apple cider vinegar, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Grill to enjoy taste and satisfaction!

For a creative, and tasty side dish, try fire-roasting some corn on the grill – husks and all. Cut a little slit length-wise in the husks (about 4 times all around) so the grill flavor moves into the corn. Remove off the flames when you have a nice char on the husks – they should be brown but not burnt to a crisp. After cooling, peel off the husks and remove the corn from the cob. Mix up a dressing with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, saffron, a little sea salt and pepper to taste. Then fold in the corn, some chopped tomatoes, green bell pepper and onions. Put in the fridge overnight and serve cold. This fire roasted corn salad goes great with almost any summer chicken dish.

Those are just a couple ideas that will keep your summer flavor fresh and tasty. Now, onto the light cooking recipes.

Want meat without all the bread and heaviness? I suggest kabobs.

Crisp Vegetable Pork Kabobs

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork sliced into medallions (can substitute chicken if desired)
  • 2 small to medium zucchinis cut length-wise, then width-wise with skin on
  • 2 medium yellow squashes cut length-wise, then width-wise with skin on
  • 1 large yellow pepper, cut into small squares
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into small squares
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 9. 1 ½ cup balsamic vinegar

Preparation:

  1. In 2 separate containers mix ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, and ¾ cup balsamic vinegar into each. Add ¼ cup garlic and ¼ cup cilantro to both containers. Put cut vegetables in one and pork or chicken in the other.  Mix thoroughly to evenly coat the meat and vegetables.
  2. Cover tightly and put in the fridge for a day, or better yet, two days!
  3. Remove containers when ready and set up a work station with 6 skewers, your containers, and begin alternating meat and vegetables on the skewers. Save the marinade.
  4. Fire up the grill and season with canola cooking spray or carefully pat on some extra virgin olive oil with a paper towel and tongs.
  5. Carefully arrange the skewers on the grates and turn heat to low. Close cover. With a spoon, drizzle remaining marinade on skewers but be careful of possible flare-ups. This is optional but it does make a difference in taste.
  6. Cook each skewer evenly until the temperature of the meat is about 165 degrees.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite side salad and fresh fruit.

Serves 6

Try to have at least one all veggie meal a week. It’s healthy, light cooking and you won’t be missing out on flavor.

Easy Veggie Pita-Wiches

Ingredients

  • 4 whole pitas
  • 8 12 inch squared pieces of tin foil
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli florets
  • 1/2 head cauliflower cut into half-dollar sized bites
  • 1 12 ounce can sliced black olives
  • 3 – 4 sliced plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/4 head shredded red cabbage
  • Asian sesame or orange dressing
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine all the vegetables in a container and mix together
  2. Add salt and pepper and lightly drizzle with Asian dressing
  3. Mix thoroughly and set aside
  4. Turn on grill or heat oven to 325
  5. Cut each pita in half
  6. Begin stuffing veggies evenly into pita halves
  7. Wrap each pita in tin foil
  8. Place in oven or in closed grill on low until sandwiches are warm (about 7 minutes on one side and 5 on the other (can also be served cold)
  9. Serve with macaroni salad and additional dressing on the side

Serves 8

There you have it…delicious, healthy summer eats that won’t weigh you down and are packed with flavor.

Remember, grilled meat is great but when you mix it up, you demonstrate to your family and guests that multi-dimensional backyard meals own summer with light cooking and huge summer flavor.

What Do You Think?

Give these recipes a try and leave your rating in the comment section below.

Got a better “healthy recipe” for summer that you wish to share? Post it below.

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