Healthy, Delicious, and Easy Summer Eating

\"\"School\’s out (or will be soon) and bathing suit time is here. Who wants to be indoors cooking? Not me. Probably not you. Fast food may have a bad name, but the truth is that healthy eating can be quick and tasty. Here are a few food ideas that will appeal to all ages and which are simple for anyone to prepare.

Stock the freezer with several types of veggie burger. Serve them on a whole-wheat roll, accompanied with relish, tomatoes, barbecue sauce, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce.

Taco salad
Toss together greens, such as chopped romaine or other lettuce; chopped tomato; chopped red, white or green onion; rinsed, canned black beans; defrosted corn; and some cubes of avocado. Dress the salad with a little olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Serve with a handful of tortilla chips.

Nori rolls and edamame
Supermarkets stock a variety of nori rolls (including vegetarian) and edamame (baby soybeans, usually marinated) in their deli sections. These are also available as takeout items from Japanese restaurants. The combination makes an excellent grab-and-go dinner or fare for the beach.

Orange banana whirl
For a refreshing energy booster, place a banana and one and two-third cups of orange juice in a blender and process until smooth and creamy. If you’d like, include a touch of vanilla and use calcium-fortified juice.

Garden of plenty salad (aka Five day salad)
Makes 20 cups
Would you or your family members eat more salad if it were ready-made? A good trick is to assemble a huge salad each week. It’s then ready when you are. Removing excess moisture makes the salad last longer, so use a salad spinner or shake or pat the lettuce leaves dry. Mix it in a large container, such as a metal bowl with a 14-inch diameter. Store in one or two large, well-sealed containers (such as Tupperware) and it will keep for four or five days. For freshness, do not include red pepper in your stored salad; add it just before serving. Serve the salad with a favourite dressing.

5 large leaves kale
5 large leaves romaine lettuce
5 leaves Napa (Chinese) cabbage
1/4 head red cabbage
1 large stalk broccoli
1/2 small head cauliflower
3 – 4 carrots
1 sweet red pepper (optional)

Remove stem from kale and chop matchstick thin. Tear or cut lettuce into bite-size pieces. Cut Napa cabbage leaves in half lengthwise and slice into 1/4-inch strips. Slice red cabbage into thin slices. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size florets. Broccoli stems may be peeled and diced. Slice carrots and cut red pepper into 1/4-inch strips. Toss all in bowl.
Nutritional analysis per two-cup serving: Calories: 47. Protein: 3 g. Carbohydrate: 10 g. Fat: 0.4 g. Dietary Fibre: 3 g. Sodium: 33 mg.
Percent calories from: Protein: 21%. Fat: 7%. Carbohydrate: 72%.

Red lentil soup
Makes about eight cups
This soup is simple and scrumptious. Red lentils take far less time to cook than green, grey or brown lentils and provide an extremely low-fat source of protein. A serving provides about as much protein as a two and a half ounce burger patty or chicken leg. Instead of cumin, you might like to season the soup to taste with Patak’s Mild Curry Paste, which is available at regular supermarkets and Asian stores.

7 cups water
2 1/2 cups dried red lentils
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 to 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper

Combine water, lentils and onion in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until the lentils have disintegrated, about 30 to 60 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, cumin (or Patak’s Curry Paste), salt and pepper.

Nutritional analysis per cup: Calories: 199. Protein: 14 g. Carbohydrate: 36 g. Fat: 0.1 g. Dietary fibre: 9 g. Sodium: 26 mg.
Percent calories from: Protein: 28%. Fat: 0%. Carbohydrate: 72%.

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and author based in Langley, BC. After being in writer’s hibernation for the last six months, she resumes offering consultations in mid-May.             604-882-6782      .

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