- Food and Cooking
12 Refreshing Summer Recipes
Healthy light ingredients
Summer at last!
So, Summer came and with it holidays, Sun, sea, friends, days lazying about by the pool, starry skies at night,... If you were hidden indoors with a cup of hot chocolate, or tea, or coffee, or whatever it is that kept you warm in Winter, those days are over.
The dark coats and thick wool jumpers were tucked in the back of the closet and replaced for lighter pieces of clothing made of cotton and viscose in brighter colors: coral, yellow, white, turquoise blue, lime green, lilac, salmon pink, fuchsia,... Trees and flowers are full of color and light and the longer days full of Sun make your spirit happy.
With the Sun comes the heat and the last thing that you want to do after a hot day or in the middle of one is have scorching sizzling food. It's time for salads, cold soups, smoothies, watermelon, juicy tomatoes,... The less cooked involved in making food, the better; nobody wants to spend a hot afternoon or evening in front of a hot pan.
Here are 12 of the best Summer healthy recipes to wet your appetite. This will give you the energy boost that you need to get through the day without leaving you feeling bloated.
1. Chilled Sweet Red Pepper and Beetroot Soup Recipe
Beetroot soup? Really?
This cold soup really looks spectacular. The dark red color comes from mixing red peppers and beetroot and the flavor is not too strong. If you're serving it as a starter, it will be enough for 6 people as instructed in the recipe, but you can make a full meal out of it and serve just 4. It's a lovely soup to have outdoors in a hot day, under the shade, of course.
The dish is suitable for vegetarians (make sure that you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock) and, though the recipe asks for goat's cheese, it can easily be replaced with ricotta cheese, hence making this soup a good choice for those on a diet.
Though beetroot and pepper sounds like an odd combination, this was definitely a winner and a cold soup I will be having again this Summer.
2. Tart Cherry Tabbouleh Recipe
Gluten free tabbouleh with millet
Bulgur or cous-cous is very popular in the North of Africa and the Middle East. It is used instead of rice in starters such as salads but also as side orders or even as main dishes. There are many variations with different ingredients. This one uses millet instead of bulgur because it's gluten free, but if you can't find millet, you can use bulgur instead (just make sure you follow the special instructions for bulgur at the end of the recipe).
It is lovely food to take outdoors for a picnic, have it on the beach or as a Summer Festival treat. The mint gives it a lovely flavor and goes very well with the cucumber and it's suitable for vegetarians.
3. Chilli Crab with Fennel & Parsley Salad Recipe
This is a delicious recipe which involves no cooking whatsoever. Though you might be tempted to use crab sticks instead of real crab meat as it would be cheaper, please don't. You would completely ruin the dish, not to mention, it wouldn't qualify as a healthy dish (crab sticks are processed food made with starch and pulverized white fish which might not even contain crab). If you can't find fresh crab meat and you need to use canned, just make sure that it contains the least amount of additives possible.
Though we had this at home, this dish would be great as a packed lunch to be eaten out in the park or somewhere nice outdoors. To do that, just bring the ingredients in a container and the dressing in a separate container; when you're ready to eat your food, just add the dressing to it.
4. Avocado, Artichoke & Bush Tomato Chutney Toasts Recipe
Bruschetta by any other name...
These lovely toasts are what the Italians call bruschette (bruschetta in plural), which comes from the Italian word "brusciare", meaning "to burn", which is exactly what this recipe does to the bread. Though there are many different versions of bruschette, tomatoes seem to be in most of them; it's something to do with the combination of the sweetness and acidity of the tomato, which is complemented so well by the crispiness and the sour taste of the bread.
If you're concerned about the amount of sugar in this recipe, you can reduce it to half or, if you don't mind the acidity of the tomatoes, you can remove the sugar altogether, which your health will thank you for. Also, instead of using 1/3 cup of olive oil (80 ml), you can use just 1/4 cup (60 ml) with no difference in the taste of the dish. Always use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, dressing,... and anything else really. Just use mild flavor olive oil for cooking. Avoid refined olive oils as they are one of your health's worst enemies. With these changes you will have the peace of mine that you are giving a healthy but delicious treat to your loved ones.
5. Grilled Shrimp with Mango Lime and Radish Salsa Recipe
What is it about mango and shrimp? On paper, they don't sound like a great pairing. Mango is very sweet and creamy and shrimp is a fish, salty and, if overcooked, it can turn a bit rubbery, which is not that pleasant. That's what it is so important not to cook the shrimp for more than the 5 minutes the recipe asks for, if you do, you'll end up with hard shrimp. Well cooked shrimp should be very soft, and it should nearly melt in your mouth.
This dish is easy to make and it is very satisfying, with the right amount of sweet and sour, it brings, to me, the best taste of Summer. It will satisfy both adults and children alike. It's definitely a winner.
6. Jamie Oliver's Tomato Carpaccio Recipe
The nearly naked tomato
Jamie Oliver had to be on this list. He has been promoting healthy food for years now, and stands out from other British and American cooks or chefs thanks to his informal approach to it. He is passionate about Italian food and he likes throwing things that work together, not worrying excessively about food amounts (unless it's baking, where measurements need to be exact). He makes cooking his dishes look so easy, and his enthusiasm is really infectious.
This recipe is scrumptious (that sounds very British). It is a variation, or a take rather, on the Italian Caprese salad, which is made with sliced tomatoes, topped with mozzarella and basil leaves. The interesting change here is the addition of the raspberries and the raspberries vinegar, which add a lovely touch of sweetness, completely changing the flavor of the classic Caprese salad.
7. Martha Stewart's Golden Gazpacho Recipe
This gazpacho is golden
Oh, gazpacho! There is no list of refreshing Summer recipes that calls itself healthy without this Spanish cold soup. Originally from the hot Andalusian region of Spain where temperatures in the Summer can reach the 44 degrees Celsius (that's 112 Fahrenheit) it was a mixture of vegetables served with stale bread (very popular food among poor people).
Nowadays, gazpacho can be eaten in some of the best restaurants around the world, not just in Spain. There are many versions of it: milder in flavor (without cucumber) or the traditional Spanish one with strong flavor (with cucumber). Martha's Stewart gives us yet a different version with the addition of the yellow squash, which creates a very light color and a nice sweet flavor with the touch of the carrot juice.
8. Sorghum Salad with Radish and Roasted Asparagus Recipe
Spring into Summer
Though this recipe is using Spring produce, it is still a great salad for the Summer since you can find the ingredients easily. I like the writer of the blog's approach, who picks up whichever seasonal best ingredients are available and then planning meals for the week around those ingredients. It's a very sustainable way of cooking. If you grow your own vegetables, you might even have some of the ingredients already in your garden.
If you can't find Sorghum, you can use any other similar grain. You can even use small lentils as they are lighter than chickpeas or beans and will add a good amount of protein without excessive calories.
9. Grilled Halloumi and Peaches with Dukkah Recipe
With cheese, please
Reading the blog where this recipe comes from really transports you to the beach, where the original recipe was cooked and where you could prepare this if you are by the sea. It smells of lazy Summer days and lovely afternoons spent in the Sun.
For the Dukkah, you can make so many different combinations, instead of hazelnuts, you can use pistachios, almonds or walnuts, even peanuts or cashews (though the last two ingredients will add up calories quickly). If you're concerned about the dressing, make sure you use honey instead of mapple syrup, and don't use a lot of it. Enjoy!
10. Farro & Broccolini Salad Recipe
This salad is very versatile and can be made in many different ways and variations. If you don't have feta cheese you can substitute it with goat's cheese (just be mindful of this change if you're counting calories, as goat's cheese is fattier than feta). You can use ricotta cheese instead but it won't be as flavorful as feta. If you can't find farro, which is a whole grain, you can use quinoa in its place. Also, if broccolini is hard to come by, just use regular broccoli and slice it up as instructed in the recipe.
Put this in a take away container, take a towel or picnic blanket with you and go out. You'll be glad you did!
11. Beet Slaw Recipe
This dish uses beetroot, just like the article's opener, but in this case, we are making a salad. It is amazing how the same ingredient can taste differently depending on its texture. In that sense, beetroot is like avocado, it can be turned into a spread, blended into a smoothie, chopped up in pieces... This one is a slaw that you can put together in no time. It's extremely easy to make and it requires no cooking. It is suitable for vegetarians.
Another dish that makes a great packed lunch to take to work and eat at the office or outdoors.
12. Rainbow Popsicles Recipe
Dessert at last
This lovely fruit dessert is using nothing but seasonal produce. There is absolutely no sugar added and it is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. If you are dieting, just make sure you use the lighter option as sweetener (see the end of the recipe for details on this).
This is the perfect dessert for fruit lovers who like to finish their meals with a sweet treat but who don't want to add fat to their meals. It is cooling and it does count towards your 5 fruit and veggies daily servings. And if you have kids, they will love this dessert and they could even help making it. What else can you ask from a healthy fruit dessert? Happy eating!