Oh, those summer nights…lazy, long, and for me, snacky and light. I’d rather make an antipasto plate and have a nice glass of wine than cook. I’d rather eat late (after 7 pm) than stay on a schedule. It’s the struggle I face each summer–motivation to plan and cook a meal.
Last night I was ready to cook. We had Asian turkey burgers from Fearless Feeding on the grill, but instead of making them slider size, I made them into 4-5 ounce patties–still delicious! If you grill them, remember to oil your griddle! Turkey is very lean and will stick to the grill if not oiled…yup, learned that the hard way.
Are you like me and feeling less “on your game” with cooking and meals than usual? I’ve tapped guest blogger and pediatric dietitian, Jennifer Anderson to help us all with some new ideas for supper.
Just hearing the word “summer” brings visions of ocean waves, sand castles, pools, sprinklers, and of course coolers. With so much to do during the summer months, packing quick, healthy, fun-to-eat meals can be challenging. Typically, simple deli sandwiches and leftovers are over used and quite frankly become mundane. Don’t misunderstand me. Sandwiches and leftovers can be perfectly healthy, satisfying meals on the go anytime. However, putting a twist on these “typical” meals can give you and your children just the right amount of fun you need. As a result, your coolers will be packed with not only good-for-you foods, but fun-to-eat foods that are filling, nutritious, and simple to prepare.
So here it goes… The Top Ten suggestions for filling that summer cooler with some snappy and scrumptious summer suppers!
- Hummus – A fantastic tasting, alternative source of protein, hummus comes in a variety of flavors from lemon to garlic. There is a flavor to satisfy every taste bud. And what’s even better, hummus is so versatile. Try it with celery and carrot sticks, whole grain crackers or multigrain pretzels, whole wheat pita slices or whole grain tortillas. Adding a bit of crunch to this smooth texture food can fulfill the pickiest of eaters.
- Waffle Sandwich – Try spreading soybutter and a whole fruit spread between two high protein waffles. By simply changing the “bread,” what once was a boring meal can now become a fun meal.
- Cottage Cheese – This high protein dairy source is also a fantastic source of calcium, one of those “problem” minerals in the American diet. Try it spread on a lightly salted rice cake, use it for dipping pepper slices, or enjoy it on a whole grain English muffin. Adding some freshly cut up pineapple is quite tasty too!
- Yogurt Parfait – Layer your favorite fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi slices–the more color, typically the more nutrition) with plain, low fat Greek yogurt and crushed graham crackers. Add a tablespoon of Chia seeds for that Omega-3 punch and voila, you have a ready-to-go dinner that’s colorful and nutritious.
- Fruit and Vegetable Cheese Kabobs – Try skewering some cheese (mild cheddar or string cheese work well) on a wooden kabob stick with yellow and orange pepper slices, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. For fruit kabobs, in addition to your choice of cheese, try strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. Loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, and calcium, these kabobs are a nutrition hit.
- Cold Pasta Salad – Using a plastic tumbler with a lid, layer multigrain pasta, peas, diced low sodium ham, and finish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Shake and serve!
- Cheese Dog – Wrap a slice of low sodium deli turkey around string cheese. Place in a whole grain hot dog roll and you have yourself the ultimate substitute for a hot dog.
- Jerky – Packaged and ready to go, beef and turkey jerky are a great source of protein. Choose natural varieties without added nitrites/nitrates. Pair with whole grain mini bagels and some dried fruits for a complete no hassle dinner on the go.
- Refried Bean Wrap – Spread refried beans on a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle with reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, and sliced green peppers. Include a side container of fresh salsa and you have the perfect dipping companion.
- Pizza bites – Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Using refrigerated pizza dough, break off pieces large enough to fill each muffin cup. Bake for 4-5 minutes. Add sauce and shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese and bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. The finished product is a perfectly sized pizza bite that makes the grade for fun, quick, and healthy.
Of course adding sides like frozen grapes, edamame, mini pumpkin muffins, and the more obvious, fresh fruits and fresh cut veggies will round out your summer coolers. Be sure to include lots of water and some shelf-stable single-serve low fat milk as well.
What’s your favorite go-to, quick, healthy, summer supper?
Jennifer Anderson is a Registered Dietitian with nearly ten years of experience in the field of Pediatric Nutrition. With an enthusiasm for teaching children, Jennifer has developed many community and hospital based nutrition programs. She grounds her teachings in an engaging, fun atmosphere where children can learn to equate healthy eating with enjoyment. She loves sharing her excitement for healthy, exceptionally tasting foods while also supporting and promoting local farmers.
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: July 19, 2013
Updated on: February 13, 2016