Summer Meal Ideas to Keep You Cool and Light On Your Feet

Need some meal ideas for keeping both the kitchen and yourself cool?

Prepare salads as side dishes and main courses using a variety of vegetables, legumes, and whole grains for staying power. As a nutrition expert, I like canned vegetables because they are cost effective and easy for moms who are looking for more nutritious options without spending too much time or money. Good news: if you rinse canned vegetables it reduces about 70 percent of the sodium. Garbanzo and black beans are packed with protein and can be enjoyed with a side salad or lunch entrée.  Try this Tex-Mex Salad recipe.

For summer leafy green based salads, choose arugula and toss with boiled shrimp, orange segments, provolone cheese wedges, toasted pine nuts and citrus vinaigrette. For satisfying and light pasta based salads, use whole grain pasta, and add half pasta, half vegetables. Dress lightly with vinaigrette. For an Italian twist, combine spiral whole grain pasta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery, white beans, Parmesan cheese, olives and Italian vinaigrette.

Need ideas for fresh summer dipping?

Go skinny-dipping this summer, but make it count. When choosing chips, be sure to read the label and look for simple ingredients and those made with whole grains. Use them as a vehicle for extra nutrition and pair them with nutritious dips made with fruits and vegetables, like this Mango Salsa Chutney recipe.

Or try an avocado hummus by mashing two avocados with a fork and stir in one container of prepared garlic hummus. Sprinkle with diced tomatoes and toasted sliced almonds. Serve with tortilla chips made with whole grains and sliced cucumbers.

Want to use fresh summer fruits in new ways?

Take advantage of this summer’s bounty of fresh fruits by pairing them with cheese for dessert, a snack, or light lunch. Try combining blue cheese and Parmesan with fresh figs and walnuts. Combine brie with strawberries and toasted walnut bread.

Try cheddar with cherries, cashews, and sliced molasses bread.

Or try your hand at making chocolate dipped figs and sprinkle with flaked sea salt or chopped pistachios.

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