When I think of summer food, I think of vegetables.
There is no better time to eat healthy than in the summer. Summertime food is for fruit smoothies, grilled meats and fresh vegetables.
Two of my favorite vegetables I usually only eat in the summer: zucchini and squash. These two similar foods pair well together and can be a flavorful addition to a tender grilled chicken or a juicy steak.
One of the best places to explore during the summer is the farmer’s market. The Bloomington Community Farmer’s Market is open on Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons and offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. If you think of vegetables as something your mom told you to eat when you were young and growing, think again.
While meat usually gets the most attention at meals, it’s easy to make veggies the main act. With veggies, you can spice them up by adding herbs like basil and bay leaves or ethnic flavors like prepared curry paste. You can boil or roast them, each variation adding a different layer.
Another option is to mix fruits and vegetables. Usually these two food groups are kept separate, ostracized from each other like freshmen and seniors.
But it’s only tradition that keeps fruits and vegetables from occupying the same plate. One of the most interesting things I’ve seen at a restaurant is when a bartender at a London pub added strawberries to my Diet Coke.
“Oh,” I thought to myself. “This is what happens when people experiment.”
But the biggest summer food is also a personal favorite: the salad.
If food had a school, the salad would be the biggest nerd. It’s the appetizer, the dish that staves off your hunger before the main course.
But sometimes, the salad can be the meal. Add enough ingredients and your basic starter salad can be transformed into a filling meal even big enough for leftovers.
For people who don’t like to eat so-called “rabbit food,” adding meat can take away that stigma.
A fresh salad tastes fresh, healthy and light. And when it’s hot and humid, you can sit in the shade and munch on something that makes you feel better, unlike that $1 value hamburger from McDonald’s.
Grilled chicken salad:
- Spinach (you can use lettuce, but spinach is healthier)
- Grape tomatoes
- Green onions
- Chicken breasts
- Cheddar cheese
- Dressing (I like bleu cheese or honey mustard)
1. Cut chicken into one-inch pieces.
2. Grill chicken (I would use a George Foreman, but any grill would do. You can even sauté or roast it)
3. Wash all vegetables
4. Dry the spinach with paper towels
5. Peel and cut cucumbers into half-inch chunks
6. Chop green onions into small pieces
7. Grate cheddar cheese (unless already grated0
8. Add spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, chicken breasts and cheddar cheese in a large mixing bowl.
9. Mix in half a tablespoon of dressing per person