Summer can be rough on diets right when they matter most, with all the parties, family gathering, grilling and calorie-heavy drinks. When planning out full meals, party-time snacks, or just a quick lunch, here are several ingredients to help you maintain your diet plans while still enjoying some of the tastiest summer foods.
Chicken is the white meat of preference for summer get-togethers: It has less fat, fewer calories, and a healthier impact than beef, steak, hamburger mixes, and other types of red meats.
So break out the chicken sandwiches instead of the hamburgers, and start experimenting with unique grill options like chicken kebab (also great with mushrooms, peppers, and other health options). Chicken meals also work well with popular fresh summer ingredients like basil, beans, and peppers.
If chicken dishes are not your style or you want to branch out, seafood is another great summer option. If you live close to a shore, look into local shellfish options like crab and lobster, which can provide a great (if messy) party meal and comes with low calorie costs compared to red meat.
For best results, avoid layering on the butter and stick with steamed or boiled options with light cocktail sauce. Grilled fish are also a great way to experiment with summer herbs and fresh farmer’s market corn dishes, and shrimp are always a fun, easy option.
Summer dishes play host to a number of fresh fruits, but few are as healthy or diet-friendly as blueberries. They are freely available, relatively inexpensive, and low-calorie even for a fruit. They are also filled with antioxidants.
Blueberries are versatile as an ingredient, but tend to work best as a slimming party snack or an inventive alternative to desserts with the additional of cream or yogurt. You can also experiment with blueberries in salads.
4. Pan-Friendly Vegetables:
Summer is one of the best seasons for stir-fry, so stir it up by using plenty of vegetables in your frying pan and wok experiments (vegetables on the grill work well, too). Summer sweet peas in the shell are a classic option, while fresh beans and leeks are more inventive options.
Bok choy, scallions, celery, and bell peppers are also possibilities. Steam or boil carrots for a side dish. Not only will light olive or vegetable oils keep these stirfry options healthy, but the heat will help unlock make the more nutritious elements of the vegetables, like carotenoids, easier for the body to break down.
While pestos are not a single ingredient, the widespread availability of their contents in summertime and their low-calorie qualities compared to other dips makes them a very attractive option for summer snacks and foods.
Basil pesto is a traditional favorite, but experiments with sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, leeks, and local summer favorites can also make excellent home-prep options. Go easy on the cheese and rich on thyme, garlic, and olive oil to make the healthiest pestos, then enjoy with chips or flatbreads.
6. Romaine Hearts:
Romaine hearts are a perfect summer ingredient for both easy snacks and sit-down summer meals. Think of Roman hearts as a source for lettuce-based wraps or little pocket salads, and fill them with ingredients like rice, chicken, those stir-fried veggies, or other tasty ingredients.
Make them easy to dip in a pesto or ranch sauce for more taste. Try to avoid calorie-heavy cream cheese, however – stick with a simple sliver of cheddar or dusting of parmesan in your filling.
Regina Donelson is a professional blogger that enjoys providing readers with advice on cooking, recipes and dishes. She writes for Just a Pinch, the best place to find French onion soup recipes, glazed ham recipes and everything in between.
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