If you have fresh fruits and veggies already in your fridge it makes preparing healthy meals and snacks that much easier. I always have carrots, celery, and bell peppers (whatever color is cheapest.) I have at least three types of fruits as well: bananas, strawberries, and whatever I found on sale or in season. Combining these basics with other items is a good foundation for healthy eating.
Fruit Salad Isn't Just for Picnics!
Who says a simple fruit salad has to get dressed up and go somewhere? Make some for your family! It takes just a few minutes to make a fruit salad. Simply chop whatever fruit you have on hand into a large bowl. A common mix in my house: strawberries, black or blueberries, pineapple, bananas, melons, mangoes, apples, orange or grapefruit. I’ve been known to throw in a handful of unsweetened, shredded coconut as well. I chop as much fruit as possible and use my largest Tupperware to store.
The secret: Boil ½ cup of water with ½ cup of sugar, honey, or even agave nectar, for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced to about ⅓ cup. Cool a little bit. Squeeze in half a lime or some lemon juice. Toss your LARGE bowl of fruit with the syrup. This step is optional, but it does keep the fruits from browning, brings out the flavor of the salad, and helps it keep longer in the fridge.
Eat fruit salad for lunch along with whole wheat toast smeared with some peanut butter. Kid friendly and happy.
I’ll let you in on my mom’s Swiss secret for a summer time supper, bircher muesli! This is different than the raw oat recipe that is a breakfast tradition.
2 cups of rolled oats
1 32oz container of yogurt - your favorite flavor (lemon, strawberry, vanilla are all nice)
Chopped fruits - whatever you have
Chopped nuts - whatever you like
Optional: Honey to taste, flax seed, dashes of cinnamon
Cook two cups of whole rolled oats with a pinch of salt--you want it to be relatively thick after cooking, so don’t use too much water. Cool slightly. Chop any fruits you have around: grapes, strawberries, bananas, apples, even raisins! In a large bowl mix yogurt into cooked oats. Add fruit and any chopped nuts. Stir. Ladle into bowls. Maybe serve with a little Parmesan garlic bread if you feel like it. Keeps nicely in the fridge for several days.
For the bircher muesli pictured above, please visit Coles Recipes.
I can stretch one 5lb rotisserie chicken into at least three meals for the four of us:
Night One: roasted chicken with carrots, celery sticks, green salad, and if it’s not too hot, a starch like orzo pasta cooked in chicken broth with fresh herbs
Night Two: Chicken tacos on corn tortillas with bell peppers, leftover shredded green salad from night one. Toss shredded chicken with lime juice and chili powder before serving.
Night Three: Big salad with a little shredded chicken, cheese hunks if you’re into that sort of thing, and assorted veggies or fruits (like steamed and cooled green beans, cucumbers, more bell peppers, or even berries and almonds) whatever your family will tolerate.
Ever tried a salad nicoise? It's so delicious, I can't help but share.
Boiled quartered new potatoes, steamed green beans, hardboiled eggs, tomatoes, nicoise olives (can use any type you actually like,) romaine lettuce, and tuna fish--yes, canned is fine! Serve with a mustardy vinagrette (even better if you squeeze a little anchovy paste into the dressing, and you don't have to tell a soul.) The potatoes make this salad more substantial so nobody has to feel deprived. Tip: steam the veggies and cool in advance for faster prep.
Fast Summertime Snack Ideas For Kids:
1. Classic ants on logs (celery, peanut butter, raisins)
2. Whole wheat crackers spread with peanut butter (or a soft cheese) made into “sandwiches” with apple slices
3. Mini-quesadillas from corn tortillas and a little shredded cheese, microwave for 20 seconds, serve with grapes
4. Corn tortillas, sprinkle with shredded cheese and broil until crispy (same ingredients, different prep.) Serve with mini carrots
5. Fast pizza: Flour tortillas, brush with EVOO, a little shredded Fontina cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes, broiled until crispy, garnish with a bit of shredded basil
6. Bananas sliced into rounds, spread with a little peanut butter and press into sandwiches.
7. Homemade tzatziki sauce with a slice of pita bread and cucumbers or other fresh veggies to dip
8. Apples and cheese
9. Make Larabars and keep on hand for fast snacks. Here’s an index of recipes. Bonus: because you’re making your own you can make gluten or nut free as needed. (I like this one with dates, nuts, and apricots.)
10. Frozen fruit that you’ve cut up. Kids love grapes, sliced peaches, berries, anything that you’ve frozen.
What are you favorite fast summertime snack or meal ideas? Let's hear 'em!