Healthy Food and Recipes for Your Heart, Mind, Body

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As the temperature edges upward, forget about turning on the stove. Enjoy nature’s bounty au naturale.

“To eat wonderful meals in the summertime, you don’t have to heat up the kitchen,” says Kathleen M. Zelman, LD, RD, MPH, director of nutrition at WebMD. “Summer is an invitation to eat healthier and lighter, and to enjoy the disease-fighting bounty that grows so abundantly this time of year. Stop by roadside stands. Start your own herb garden.”

Your barbeque is your best friend this time of year. Or use a grill pan for quick stovetop cooking. “I love my grill pan,” Zelman tells WebMD. “A grill pan has ridges, so food looks like it’s been on the grill. But you use it on top of the stove. It cooks food very quickly, just like a barbeque does.”

A summer food centerpiece is salmon, famous for its calcium. And, like other low-fat dairy foods, yogurt may also help you lose weight, research suggests. For a summertime snack or family breakfast, make a batch of smoothies.

“It’s really easy, and you don’t need a recipe,” says Zelman. “Smoothies are very personal, so you should try different combinations.”

Use any fruit juice and/or dairy (like plain nonfat yogurt or skim milk) for your “liquid.” Generally, you need a half-cup of each liquid, plus a handful of ice.

Bananas are a key ingredient in smoothies. Store ripe or overripe bananas in your freezer just for smoothies. Throw them in the blender frozen; they’ll make your smoothie very creamy.

Add another soft fruit: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or mangoes. Experiment!

Mango-Banana Yogurt Smoothie

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
Handful of ice
One frozen ripe banana
One chopped ripe mango

Blend until nearly smooth — and enjoy!

Another idea: Create a parfait by layering fresh fruit, low-fat vanilla yogurt, and granola. It’s great for a quick meal, snack, or dessert.

Pasta Salad

When cooked tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, the cancer-fighting potency of both is boosted even higher. You can easily combine both in a summery pasta salad.

Grilled veggies are also great in a pasta salad. Zelman’s favorite trick is to marinate (in oil & balsamic vinegar) sliced bell peppers, eggplant, and squash — then grill them.

Tomato-and-Broccoli Pasta Salad

Combine in a large salad bowl:

Grilled veggies: bell peppers, eggplant, squash
1 can stewed tomatoes (or fresh grape tomatoes)
Lightly steamed chopped broccoli
Shredded part-skim mozzarella or goat cheese

Toss with whole-wheat or quinoa pasta and your favorite light salad dressing.

Another idea: Make grilled veggies your entire meal. “Take a break from the typical burgers on the grill,” Zelman says. “Everyone once in awhile needs to load up on grilled veggies. A bunch of grilled veggies is a great way to enjoy meatless meals.”