When summer produce reaches its prime, we’re all about packing it all together in a bowl and calling it dinner. This naturally generates a meal that’s simple, healthy, and never fails to be full of flavor. Ratatouille is the classic definition of that.
A traditional French dish, ratatouille consists of vegetables stewed together so that their flavors meld. It’s generally composed of zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, onions and peppers, all items that meet together around the same month of the year in the garden. For today’s Meatless Monday version, our LifeVester Grace at FoodFitnessFreshAir calls upon one other summer veggie to add to that mix – corn – for a mildly sweet and crunchy topping.
As Grace says:
“When veggies are fresh and local, you really needn’t do much to them but put them together and let their flavors swim free. Ready in 45 minutes or less (depending on your grain choice), this recipe lends itself well to a weeknight meal that’ll leave you feeling great. Pair with a side of protein, or sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top and call it a meal.”
Gather up some veggies, choose a whole grain to pair with them, and then head on over to Grace’s blog for the recipe and get cooking!
Zucchini grows faster than your appetite does after an intense summer workout – and come August, there’s plenty of it. Gardener or not, now is the prime time to sneak this vitamin A filled veggie onto your dinner plate, and with it’s noodle-making abilities, it’ll be easy to do so.
Containing a mere 33 calories per medium zuke, the summer squash makes for the perfect pasta swap. Alas, a solution that lets you send a pile of pasta high onto your plate without feeling weighed down afterwards. All you need is a cheap julienne peeler and a few minutes of time. From our Meatless Monday columnist and food blogger Grace:
“You should find the julienne peeler rather easy to use. Simply place your zucchini on a flat surface, and slide its blade from one end to the other. Repeat until you get down to the end.”
With any leftover zucchini scraps from the process, Grace places those right into the blender with the avocado cream that tops this recipe. It lends a bit of decadence to this light and fresh, summer-in-a-bowl recipe. As Grace says:
“With a bowl full of the whole summer garden – sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs – this is a good place to start the zucchini noodle marathon that’s bound to follow. Here, you get a whole bunch of fresh ingredients to keep things light, but also a richness from the avocado that pulls it all together. For presentation purposes, keep it all separate like pictured [above]. But you’ll definitely want to give everything a good mixing with your fork before diving in.”
Head on over to FoodFitnessFreshAir for the recipe, and get ready for a Meatless Monday pasta party that’ll make you feel fresh.
Here on the East Coast, there is a small window where cucumber season meets tomato season. In those few weeks, us East Coasters rejoice in veggie heaven. The two were meant to mingle, table-side, with a fine bottle of olive oil and vinegar.
Together, the duo brings more than just the joys of Christmas colors to a white bowl. They also present a slew of vitamins and nutrients. In fact, tomatoes are one of the healthiest veggies (or fruit, by the technical definition) you can bring to your table, and we can attribute much of this to the noteworthy nutrient explained below.
- Loaded in lycopene: Tomatoes can thank lycopene for their beautiful red color, and we can thank lycopene for the cancer-fighting benefits it brings to our body. Lycopene is an antioxidant that lends yellow, red, and orange vegetables/fruits their colors, and has shown in studies to lower the risk of certain types of cancer (especially prostate, lung, and stomach cancers). As Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, explains, “The shape of the lycopene molecule makes it very effective in being able to quench free radicals. We don’t really understand it entirely yet, but lycopene may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not.”
Packed with vitamin C and containing 95% water, cucumbers are a LifeVest summer favorite. Thinly sliced with some onions, and a splash of oil and vinegar, and they easily become a refreshing side that won’t weigh down the rest of your meal. Make that same plate a snack, and it won’t weigh you down either.
Luckily, cukes run rampant in gardens this time of year, so there’s plenty of them to both snack on and lighten up pasta recipes like this. Here, their crispness compliments creamy, roasted eggplant that gets tossed with an Asian sesame sauce over soba.
Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour, which gives it a nutty flavor and also boosts it with protein. Lower in calories than traditional pasta, we love it as a way to add some variety to pasta night, especially when working with Asian flavors. Be sure to look for “100% buckwheat” on the package to get the most nutritional benefits. We recommend Eden, our go-to brand.
Between hot dogs on the grill, beer in the cooler, and chips on the picnic table, we all know how easy it can be to take in excess calories at those summer BBQs. But how about shedding a few extra calories instead? That can be easy too, and just as social as clinking glasses with your neighbor next door. With the 10 lawn games below, we guarantee you’ll fit in a few laughs while sizzling away some calories. Do an energetic victory dance once you win, and you’ll burn even more. And probably add another laugh to your day, too.
So as August kicks off this weekend, forget spending summer sitting around stagnate in lawn chairs. Invite a few friends over or meet at the park. And whether you want to become a croquet champ or you’re more of a frisbee fan, let the games begin.
Oh, and if you’re ready to play with the big boys, we also recommend considering this.
10 summer lawn games that burn an easy 150+ calories
Watermelons are synonymous with summer.
Like the first jump into a lake or pool, the fruit creates a cool, crisp and refreshing experience for the hottest of days. And since it’s made up of 92% water, that experience is a light and hydrating one, too.
These latter traits are ones ice cream just can’t match. Hence why when it comes to choosing between watermelon juice vs. sticky vanilla dripping down our hands, 9 times out of 10 you’ll find us reaching for the melon. That little bicep workout we get from doing so is just an added benefit. (The average melon is 20 pounds, 14 of those pounds being sweet, juicy deliciousness.)
Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping watermelon your summer snack of choice, below are 3 other reasons to chow down. Click here to keep reading…
Summertime – the livin’ is easy, and so is cultivating that slightly sweat-drenched look. This time of year, step outside and it often doesn’t take more than a few blocks till you end up in your own perspiration party. The best way to celebrate? Hydration, hydration, hydration – in a form that’ll get your taste buds movin’. (And maybe some deodorant, too.)
Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly, and thus staying hydrated is crucial to your health. (Approx. 60% of your body weight is water!) However, the solution isn’t reaching for a sugar-loaded soda or juice. If you really want to cheers to your health, H20 is the way to go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up your cup with a little extra jazz. Get ready to cue those party tunes – we’ve got 5 flavor infusions that’ll bring a guilt-free party to your H20.