If you’re planning a barbecue, fresh produce makes delicious and healthy choices a breeze no matter if you’re the host or a guest.
Healthy hors d'oeuvres
Try making a grilled veggie tray and utilise vegetables such as versatile sweet potatoes or bright eggplant slices, and make dips from a variety of vegetable combinations.
Why don't you try using the hottest leafy green at the market - kale - in a dip? Guests will rave about the combination of veggie chips paired with a kale pesto.
Salads with a twist
Salad is a quick and easy side to serve at a get-together. The beauty of salads is they are truly blank canvases with a multitude of tasty combinations. There is little-to-no cooking involved, plus salads are the ideal way to enjoy produce from your very own garden or your local farmers market.
Begin with a foundation of in-season greens, like spinach or Swiss chard or a lettuce variety such as romaine or watercress. From there, look to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to pepper your dish with nutritional goodness. To top it off, brighten the flavors with a drizzle of oil and a squeeze or two from a fresh lemon, or impress guests with your own vinaigrette.
Another great addition to a meal, and one that includes lots of vegetables that guests will appreciate, is a chilled soup. Especially good for hot and humid days, heat is not required when whipping up these types of concoctions - only a high-performance blender and a bit of chopping. Try an interesting, seasonal combination like watermelon gazpacho or a refreshing, cold cucumber-dill soup.
The grill is widely recognized as the star of the show at any summer picnic. Stepping away from the kitchen and cooking outside seems to make everything taste better. It may be standard to serve hamburgers and hot dogs, but nearly all vegetables and fruits can be grilled - even dark, leafy greens. Use clean, oiled racks to keep food from sticking and aim to fill at least half with fresh produce.
Grilling veggie kebabs filled with bell peppers and onions or fresh ears of corn will bring out their natural flavors. Take it a step further and try incorporating marinades and dry rubs, which are not only for meats. And, don’t forget to grill some pineapple for dessert.
Whether entertaining for family or friends, a fun evening of games, music and activities will pair well with healthier cookout fare - all ingredients for the perfect summer evening spent outdoors.