Your Ultimate Guide To The Perfect (Healthy) Summer Spread
As we gear up for the Fourth of July we are dreaming of patios, BBQs and celebrating with friends. But mostly, we’re thinking of all of the yummy foods and flavors of the summer. If you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or trying to come up with the perfect dish to bring to a potluck, we’ve got you covered. We’ve teamed up with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and healthy living food blogger Katie Shields, MS, RD of Honestly Nourished to share effortlessly healthy (and oh-so pretty) seasonal recipes each week during the month of July. Follow along throughout the month for our five-part series with Katie, so you can try something new each week!
Ah, summer! It’s my favorite time of year for many reasons—flip flops, bonfires, stone fruit, beach hair—but nothing gets me quite as excited about summer as grilling does. I love grilling because it’s quick, uncomplicated, healthy, and usually involves very little cleanup (always a win). I’m kicking off the Athleta’s Ultimate Guide to a Perfect (Healthy) Summer Spread with my favorite laid-back, crowd-pleasing, good-for-you starters in anticipation of the Fourth of July. These appetizers all feature seasonal produce and are nutrient-rich, full of fiber and healthy fats, as well as low in sugar. Whether you’re hosting a summer shindig or are simply looking for effortlessly healthy snacks to have on hand, these summery recipes are sure to be a hit.
RED, WHITE & BLUE SKEWERS
Serves 6-8, two per person | Prep time: 5 minutes
Patriotic fruit kabobs that are just as cute as they are healthy. Fresh berries are rich in antioxidants and the coconut is full of medium-chain fatty acids including lauric acid, which has potent antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. You can serve them pre-skewered or let guests make their own.
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 quart fresh strawberries
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
For the fruit skewers:
- Gently wash fresh berries. Remove strawberry leaves. Peel bananas and slice into 1-inch chunks. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on banana chunks to prevent browning. Roll bananas in finely shredded coconut until well coated.
- Take wooden skewers and spear in patriotic color order—red, white, blue. Repeat until skewer is full.
- Plate skewers on a serving tray and garnish with fresh mint leaves. For picky friends, place extra berries and banana chunks in bowls with a few empty kabob sticks and a few bowls of loose fruit so they can build their own.
CHARRED RED PEPPER HUMMUS
Serves 10 | Prep time: 10-15 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes
Garbanzo beans (a.k.a chickpeas) belong to the legume family and are one of the most nutritious due to their high calcium, phosphorus, and potassium content. They are also high in vitamin C, and B vitamins. Adding in a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast takes this basic roasted red pepper hummus next level in that is adds heaps of nutrients (zinc, selenium, B vitamins), is a complete protein, and also lends a nutty, cheesy flavor to whatever it is in. Try it!
2 roasted red bell peppers, skinned, deseeded, and sliced into strips
1 tbs finely diced garlic
3 cups cooked chickpeas; 1 1/2 16-ounce cans (if using canned chickpeas look for BPA-free cans)
1/4 cup diced yellow onions
1 lemon, juiced (or to taste)
3 tbsp tahini
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divide by half, reserving 2 tbs for drizzling on top of hummus before serving)
1/8 tsp cumin
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish
2 medium cucumber, sliced
2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
4 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 orange, yellow, and green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Preheat grill to medium high. Place washed red bell peppers directly on open grill turning every five minutes or so until blackened and soft, about 20 minutes total.
- Once peppers are cool to the touch, cut off stem and scrape out seeds. Gently pull off charred outer skin and discard. If you like a smokier flavor, leave a bit of the charred skin on the peppers. Cut into strips and set aside.
- Take grilled red bell peppers, chickpeas, garlic, and onions and pulse in food processor until well combined.
- Add 2 tbs olive oil, tahini, salt and pepper, cumin, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes and process until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer hummus to a bowl, drizzle top with additional 1-2 tbs olive oil, and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt (or any coarse salt). Add fresh chopped parsley for garnish and serve with fresh cut vegetables.
What are your go-to recipes for Fourth of July? Anything we should try out? Share in the comments below. And be sure to follow along throughout July for more yummy recipes from Katie.
Photos by: Jonathan Massmann