Ask a group of people to name a fruit most associated with summer and the most frequent answer will probably be some form of melon. It’s hard to picture a summertime picnic without juicy wedges of watermelon as a refreshing treat on the menu. Part of the popularity is that melons come into season during the peak of summer. Another reason they’re so favored is their sweet flavor and high water content–perfect to help stay hydrated during the dog days of summer.
While melons are a wonderful sweet treat, don’t underestimate their nutrition value. These fruits are an excellent source of both Vitamins A and C, while being fat, cholesterol and sodium free. There are several different kinds of melons, but the three varieties that are most frequently found (and consumed) across the U.S. are the honeydew melon, cantaloupe and watermelon. All three melons should be kept uncut at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator once cut.
I know fresh melon is a great snack alone or added to a fruit salad, but there are some really creative ways you can use these fruits as well. I’ve gathered a few recipes to show you how versatile melons can be and how you can leverage their sweet flavor in recipes with spicy/savory ingredients to create an interesting combination.
Honeydew Cucumber Salad is a great side dish for any picnic or summer dinner. Light and refreshing is how I would describe this recipe, which combines the melon, cucumber, red onion and fresh dill. You’ll also make a dressing from olive oil, lemon juice and honey to coat the fruit and veggies.
Photo courtesy of Frugal Coupon Living
If you’re looking for the perfect elegant appetizer, look no further than these Melon, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sticks. They are beautifully presented and delicious. Oh, and simple to make! You’ll arrange balls of cantaloupe (use a melon baller to scoop out the melon), thin pieces of prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil on skewers. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and you’ve got a wonderful appetizer.
Photo courtesy of Running to the Kitchen
Watermelon, Strawberry and Tomatillo Salad is another great side dish that uses in season produce so that the sweet and savory flavors highlight one another. It’s packed with healthy ingredients–watermelon, strawberries, tomatillos, mint leaves and shallots. The dressing is simply olive oil and balsamic vinegar. An added bonus with this recipe is that it only takes 10 minutes to prepare!
Photo courtesy of Pickled Plum
Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, has a a few more watermelon recipes for you …including watermelon popsicles, using watermelon in salads and even how to grill this sweet fruit. Have fun experimenting and I’ll return next week with some great ideas for your next pool party.
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During the summer season, most of us are going to a barbeque, picnic or pool party at some point. Menu choices most commonly involve grilling and the side dishes usually include the traditional potato salad, macaroni salad and cole slaw. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t mind a good potato salad every now and then, but there are some draw backs to the old fashioned recipe. First of all, it’s loaded with fat and calories. Plus, if you’re enjoying your party outdoors, be very careful as it’s mayo-based and you must take extra care to ensure it stays at a safe temperature (which is not always easy to do during those hot summer days). While the traditional can be a good thing, this is a case where you can improve upon something good and make it better. I’ve collected some fresh recipes that take a lighter approach to these summer favorites and even add in a few extra twists that will surprise you.
Potato and Green Bean Salad uses a base of olive oil, lemon juice and whole grain mustard as its dressing, so you’ll fret a little less about it spoiling than the mayo-based version. The addition of sliced red onion and chopped thyme leaves add even more flavor to this wonderful dish. I also love that you’ll use in-season green beans, making it even healthier!
Photo courtesy of What 2 Cook
5-Ingredient Pasta Salad is a great alternative to basic macaroni salad. This recipe calls for whole wheat pasta (you can use penne or rotini), arugula, basil pesto (pre-made or make it yourself if you prefer), a jar of roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella. Refrigerate and keep cool (even though this does not have mayonnaise, you’ll still want to be careful if serving outdoors due to the cheese in the dish).
Photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven
Once you make Apple and Poppyseed Cole Slaw you’ll never go back to the traditional recipe again. This recipe combines green and red cabbage, carrot and Granny Smith apple with a tangy dressing made from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, poppy seeds and just a bit of mayonnaise. It’s light and refreshing with plenty of crunchy veggies!
Photo courtesy of Damn Delicious
Corn on the Cob is another popular summertime side dish, so Chili Lime Sweet Corn Salad is sure to be a hit at your next gathering. This recipe is simple, relying on the sweet flavor of the fresh corn, enhanced with some butter, lime juice, chili powder, cilantro and crumbled queso fresco (soft Mexican cheese).
Photo courtesy of Lovely Little Kitchen
Enjoy these lighter options for side salads at your next summer outing and I’ll return next week with some ideas for summer melons.
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The heat is on and who doesn’t love to cool down with a sweet treat? But before you reach for the standard ice cream cone or sundae, I’ve got some healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your sweet tooth.
I love this first recipe for Frozen Yogurt Bark. First, because it’s such a great snack option–you can break off these frozen pieces and munch on them. Second, it’s packed with good things–Greek yogurt, honey, cranberries, raisins, coconut and strawberries. You could also add some nuts in there if you choose. Third, it’s so delicious! You’ll make this recipe over and over and I’ll bet your kids will love it.
Photo courtesy of My Fussy Eater
Popsicles are a summertime favorite, but this recipe takes them to the next level. Fresh-Fruit Popsicles incorporate chunks of ripe, in-season fruit into the frozen treat. Use peaches, kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or any summer fruit along with 100 percent white grape juice to hold the fruit together. Pour into popsicles molds and freeze solid so that you have beautiful ice pops your family will enjoy.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Klein
Frozen fruit has always been a terrific and healthy way to cool down. This recipe for Chocolate Drizzled Frozen Fruit Skewers adds some extra sweetness to this idea without adding too many additional calories. It’s really the perfect balance. Again, you’ll use in-season fruit such as cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries, and add in some banana, grapes and pineapple. Freeze the fruit for at least 2 hours before adding the chocolate drizzle.
Photo courtesy of Carlsbad Cravings
Try these recipes the next time a heat wave rolls through to help keep you cool. I’ll be back next week with some new ideas for picnic salads (think lower calorie).
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Eggplant is one of my favorite summer veggies. Eggplant is a member of the “nightshade” or potato family, which also includes tomatoes and hot peppers. While dark purple is the most common color of eggplant, you can also find white, striped or green shades. These veggies are low in calories, fat free and often used as a substitute for meat in many dishes. They are also a good source of fiber.
Eggplant is a delicious veggie, but unfortunately, most folks don’t think past the typical “eggplant parmesan” recipe. Eggplant can be prepared in so many ways–grilled, stuffed, baked and broiled. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has their Top 10 Ways to enjoy eggplant and I’ll bet you never thought of using slices of eggplant as the basis for a pizza. There’s also a great recipe for Baba Ganoush, a savory spread made from eggplant, herbs and spices that you’ll enjoy on pita chips. I’ve also collected a few other interesting recipes.
Simple and delicious is how I would describe this recipe for Balsamic Grilled Eggplant. In addition, you’ll only use four ingredients–eggplant, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of Italian seasoning. An added bonus is a serving of this dish is only 67 calories!
Photo courtesy of The Nutrition Twins
Imam Bayildi or stuffed eggplant is a popular Turkish dish and is filled with an interesting combination of ingredients that include onion, garlic, bell pepper, pine nuts, feta cheese, lemon, parsley, sugar and cinnamon.
Photo courtesy of Not Quite Nigella
Ratatouille is a popular French dish featuring summer vegetables, including eggplant, simmered together with herbs. It can be served as a side dish or over pasta as an entrée.
Photo courtesy of Real Simple
Finally, for those who love their eggplant parmesan, here is a healthier alternative–Grilled Eggplant Rollatini. Many of the traditional eggplant rollatini recipes still use the frying method for the eggplant slices, so I like that this version has you throw the slices on the grill for 5 minutes per side.
Photo courtesy of Culinary Ginger
I hope you’ll explore these different eggplant options this summer or share with us some of your own favorites. I’ll be back next week with some no-guilt frozen desserts that can help to keep you cool during those hot summer days.
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