By Shani Petroff
Summer is full swing, and so is the heat and outdoor activities — activities that often include food. Whether it’s eating lunch outside at work or heading to a BBQ, here are some of my favorite summer meals:
Summer Salads: This time of year, I prefer something light yet still filling. I find salads are the way to go. Sometimes when I’m in a rush and need something for work, I buy prepared ones. However, my wallet doesn’t love this option, so when I can, I try to re-create my favorites at home.
First I put all of the 0 SmartPoints® value food in the bowl for my base — i.e. lettuce and other vegetables — then it’s time to get creative.
A diner by me has an amazing salmon salad that I like to copy. First, I take my salad base (in this instance I use a huge batch of mixed greens and cucumbers), and toss in some strawberries and blueberries. Then comes a piece of salmon that I baked in the oven (I just cook it with some pepper until it’s done the way I like — 4 SmartPoints value for 3 oz), goat cheese (3 SmartPoints value for 1 oz), and sliced almonds (4 SmartPoints value for ¼ cup). I mix them all together and have a giant, delicious, filling salad for 11 SmartPoints value. I don’t even use dressing; the goat cheese and the berries wind up giving me enough taste that I don’t need it. (But a little balsamic vinegar is a nice touch if you like a little extra flavor — 1 SmartPoints value for 2 Tbsp).
Another store-bought salad I love involves the following: a 0 SmartPoints value base — mixed greens, red cabbage, cucumbers, red peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Then canned corn (1 SmartPoints value for ¼ cup, 2 SmartPoints value for ½ cup, depending on how much you prefer. If you have time to warm the corn up a little, it’s even better!), quinoa (3 SmartPoints value for ½ cup. This is also nice warm!), goat cheese (3 SmartPoints value for 1 oz), and sunflower seeds (roasted with some spices, i.e. paprika — 3 SmartPoints value for 2 Tbsp). Then mix it all together. Again with this salad, I find I don’t need dressing (the goat cheese and the corn do the trick for me). It’s about 11 SmartPoints value, but you can play around, take out the cheese, put in some chicken or some avocado, and see what suits you best!
These salads are also great options to bring to a picnic! (I also keep some extra vegetables (like cherry tomatoes) to snack on throughout the day.)
Summer Sides: If I’m at a picnic or BBQ, even with my yummy salad, or some grilled chicken (5 SmartPoints value for a 3-oz chicken breast with 2 Tbsp of BBQ sauce), a veggie burger (4 SmartPoints value depending on the brand), or a salmon burger (2 to 3 SmartPoints value depending on the brand), I still find myself wanting the standard sides — pasta and potato salad. Here’s the super-simplified way I do it — I just use fat-free Italian dressing!
I pour the dressing on a cup of pasta shells with some cut-up veggies, mix it together with a little salt and pepper, and I have an easy summer pasta salad: 5 SmartPoints value for 1 cup of pasta and 1 SmartPoints value for 2 Tbsp of dressing — but you can add and recalculate to your liking.
For the potato salad I do the same thing: about a cup of cooked potatoes (4 SmartPoints value), fat-free Italian dressing (to your liking, there is 1 SmartPoints value for 2 Tbsp of dressing), and a tiny bit of mayo (SmartPoints will vary depending on what kind you use and how much. My mother barely uses any, I tend to like a little more. One Tbsp of the regular is 3 SmartPoints value, while the fat-free kind is 1 SmartPoints value for the same amount. Then add a little salt and pepper to taste. And that’s it!
They’re easy, filling, yummy summer foods to help keep us on track!
What are your favorite summer recipes and tips? You can find me on Connect @shani!
Read more Shani Weighs In.