Usually when a personal trainer, coach, or fitness expert starts talking about nutrition, our eyes glaze over as we conjure images in our mind of exhausting meal prep, weighing our food, and force feeding ourselves bland, ‘healthy food’. I myself have been guilty of droning on and on with clients about macros, carbohydrate periodization, and the pitfalls of fad diets. What I’ve come to find is that most people want a few simple ‘go to’s’ in the kitchen. Simple, tasty, healthy meal options that work for them and their families.
So, in the spirit of summer, I want to share with you my top 3 summertime healthy favorites: an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.
These dishes are light, packed with nutrients, AND taste delicious. And as an added bonus- they are EASY to make! So regardless of your current fitness regimen or training level, give one or more of these a shot and see how eating healthy makes you feel amazing.
Nothing lights up my summer taste buds like fresh tomatoes straight from the garden- or alternatively, straight from Trader Joe’s. A simple tomato-cucumber salad is a delicious way to get in some healthy vitamins, minerals, onti-oxidants, and fiber. It’s a light and simple side dish, but can be altered to make it a more hearty main dish. We eat a variation of this at least once a week!
To make the salad, simply chop into bite-sized pieces and combine the following ingredients in equal parts:
(to make a main dish)
I don’t get too caught up in how much of what goes in- you really can’t mess this one up. Super simple and easy to make. And even easier to eat. Chill this or eat it fresh- either way it’s delicious. My personal favorite is adding feta and corn to the salad. Mmmmmm!
I LOVE salmon. It’s one of the healthiest fish you can eat, loaded with proteins and healthy fats to help enable muscle recovery and brain function. Asparagus and mushrooms are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This dish is also versatile in how you cook it- you can bake it on a sheet in the oven (I use aluminum foil to divide two sides of the pan- one for the veggies and one for the salmon), on the grille (also using aluminum foil to wrap the salmon, lemon, and herbs, and mushrooms, with the asparagus roasting on the rack), or sautéed on the skillet.
This is what you’ll need:
I typically bake this, so I preheat the oven to 405 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, then place a touch of olive oil on the sheet, adding the salmon skin down. Then I combine fresh lemon juice, a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper, and dill, then pour mixture over the fish. Add more dill, salt and pepper, and/or thinly sliced lemon on top of filets if desired. 13-14 min in the oven is about perfect. I like to saute the veggies while the salmon is cooking. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, toss in asparagus and begin to cook (they take 5-10 min depending on the thickness and how firm you like your veggies). Season with salt, pepper, and a touch of lemon juice. Add in mushrooms with about 4 min left, then finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
To make this a heartier meal, I like to add mashed sweet potatoes (peel, chop, and boil 2-4 med-large sweet potatoes, then drain and add back into the pot. Add salt and pepper and/or cinnamon to taste. Add a pat of butter or coconut oil if desired and mash. For creamier potatoes, add a few tablespoons of greek yogurt, milk, or nut milk and whip with a hand mixer.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a sweet tooth. And this is perfect to both satisfy that sweet craving at the end of a meal, and still remain on track for our nutrition goals. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and peaches are a good source of both vitamin A and C. The walnuts in the crumble are packed with healthy fats and are a good source of LDL (the good cholesterol).
However, this IS a dessert so it can be ‘dressed up’ by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or ‘dressed down’ by adding a few tablespoons of full-fat plain greek yogurt to finish off the dish. You’ll need the following:
To make this summer masterpiece, slice the peaches (you can either leave the peel on or off- If i’ve got the time, I usually remove it) add to a hot skillet with a touch of lemon juice and a pat of coconut oil or butter. Stir as to not let the peaches burn or stick. As they begin to get tender (usually 5-7 min), add in the blueberries, careful not to crush them as you stir. Add in a touch of cinnamon. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
For the crumble top, combine oats, nuts, flour, 1-2 tbs of melted butter or oil, and honey/syrup/brown sugar, and 1-2 tsp of cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the top of the hot fruit mixture and put the entire cast-iron skillet into hot over and back 15-20 min or until the crumble is golden brown and fragrant. Serve with ice cream out of the oven for dessert or out of the fridge with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
So there you go. Three of my all-time summer favorites, packed with nutrients and loaded with taste. Even though summer is quickly coming to an end, you can enjoy these healthy, tasty dishes year-round, keeping you on track to nail your fitness (and waist-line) goals.