Long-Awaited Summer

June 4, 2013 in Blog Recipes, Cooking & Baking Hints, Health, Mediterranean by Joyce Bunderson

The markings on the thermometer have begun to rise, but that’s not what’s really telling me that summer is here. It started with a Memorial Day picnic and it has continued since then with gatherings for graduations, a farewell, a birthday party, a baptism, a ‘welcome home,’ and a ‘nice that you’re here in town.’  All of our events include eating and I realize that the eating will continue throughout the summer.

Cookouts don’t have to be limited to those calorie-dense summer items such as chips and fatty dips, hot dogs, burgers and mayonnaise-laden potato salad. You can include summer event days in your strategy to fill up on nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods; reducing your family’s and your own increased intake of fat, sugar and salt because of the summer foods. Today I thought that I’d share some ideas for you to consider when designing your cookout or social gathering menus. I realize that some of the ideas are not new; but all it takes for some of us is just a little memory nudge to stimulate creative menu design. The following are some little nudges I hope you will enjoy:

  • Try skewered vegetables for the grill, brushed with a little oil and sprinkled with chopped herbs and a dash of black pepper or even dried crumbled herbs. These tasty goodies are not only delightful and delicious, but a great way to add low-calorie veggies to your menu. Some veggies to consider are: mushrooms, colorful bell peppers, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, thin slices of yams, cherry tomatoes, onions, and eggplant slices. If you have a vegetable grill basket, use it and save the skewering time.
  • Try substituting non-fat Greek yogurt for some or all of the mayonnaise in fruit, pasta and potato salads and slaws. You can save about 80 calories for each and every tablespoon that you substitute. That really adds up. Yesterday, I made Waldorf salad with Greek yogurt dressing. Everyone was enjoying it, including the children – some came back a couple times. I made the following recipe times eight:

¼ cup non-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups chopped apple (One large crisp Pink Lady, makes two cups)

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup halved grapes

1/2 cup broken toasted pecans (Walnuts are traditional and are also delicious.)

Mix the first 5 ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.  Some people serve their Waldorf salad on lettuce leaves, but we just had it plain.

  • You may think that I’m crazy, but Blendtec sent out a great recipe for Spinach Ice Cream.  I didn’t have many of the ingredients; but their recipe stimulated the creative juices. I made a really yummy bright green ice cream that could be used as a non-dessert it’s so healthy. Try Blendtec’s recipe or my Green Ice Cream variation:

¾ cup non-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons non-fat milk

2 tablespoons no-calorie natural sweetener (you can use honey or sugar)

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup dried milk powder

2 tablespoons avocado

3 cups packed baby spinach

3 ½ cups ice cubes

I put all the ingredients in my Blendtec in the order listed and blended until smooth. You don’t need to tell your green veggie-avoiding ice cream aficionados all the ingredients. It tastes wonderful, and if they ever learn what’s in it, they may just modify their green-veggie avoidance habits.

  • Don’t forget platters of fruit or fruit salads in the options for your summer gatherings. Fruit is so refreshing. Some to consider include: Watermelon (of course); all the other melons; cherries; strawberries and other berries; stoned fruits like apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines; grapes; kiwis; oranges; pineapple and bananas and apples dabbed with a little lemon juice.
  • Our daughter-in-law Lori sent a recipe for Cool Beans Salad, which I took to a birthday party. There were lots of compliments and no mayo. Here’s her recipe:


3 cups brown rice, cooked

15 ounces kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

1.5 cups frozen corn, defrosted

4 medium green onions, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 cups red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


In a large bowl, combine rice, kidney beans, black beans, corn, onions, bell pepper, and cilantro. Mix well. In another bowl, stir together olive oil, limejuice, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Pour dressing over the top of the rice and beans. Stir well to coat.  Serve cold.

As always, we learn that Good Health Can Be Yummy in each and every season of the year. Best wishes in your creative pursuits of healthy nutrition during the summer months.