For Parents

Healthy food, healthy families

Summer menu: A meal fit for a cookout

Treat your family to a healthy, delicious summer menu. Preparing a nutritious meal shows your family how much you care, and it sets a good example for your children, too.

This menu is far from boring. In fact, it closely resembles a typical summer lunch you might have at a weekend barbecue. With a few tweaks, this meal is light on calories, easy on your budget and good enough for company.

We’ll start with the turkey burgers. Turkey is a light, heart-healthy meat that, when cooked correctly, is a tasty substitute for beef. Using turkey doesn’t mean you’re stuck with dry, puck-like patties. The key is using ingredients that add moisture to the meat. In the recipe below, we called for a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Don’t have olive oil? Try adding a beaten egg instead.

Once you add moisture, your next step is to add flavor. This is where you can get creative and use whatever you have on hand. A dash of Worcestershire sauce is great if you have it in your refrigerator, or Dijon mustard, my personal favorite. You can mince two cloves of garlic, or add garlic powder. Or if you like spicy food, use a few drops of hot sauce or a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper.

Serve the patties on whole-wheat buns and top with your favorite vegetables for a healthy main course. Or go low-carb and skip the bun altogether.

Corn on the cob is a classic summer side dish, but too often it’s slathered with butter. Instead, we have a lighter and more flavorful alternative – lime and chili powder. Trust us, you won’t believe how good it is.

Complete your meal with a simple salad. We know how easy it is for salads to quickly become very expensive. One reason for this is the abundance of ready-to-eat bags of salad mixes. These mixes are convenient, but unless they’re on sale, they’re usually expensive. Instead, opt for whole heads of lettuce such as romaine.

Remember, your salad is only as healthy as the dressing you pour over it. Unfortunately, most store-bought dressings are high in fat and calories, undoing all the good you’re doing in eating a salad. What many people don’t know is that making your own dressing is incredibly simple. Whisk together olive oil and an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice and you have the foundation of a great dressing. Or sometimes, I like to squeeze fresh lemon juice over my salad and sprinkle it with salt and pepper for quick and easy flavor.
Follow these recipes for a perfect summer meal.

Turkey Burgers
Corn on the cob with lime and chili powder
Salad with vinaigrette dressing

Turkey Burgers
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil or 1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 minced garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional) or 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cooking spray
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Your vegetable burger toppings, such as tomatoes, onions, lettuce, avocado

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl, mixing lightly either with clean hands or a fork. Be careful not to over-work the meat. Divide the meat into four equal portions and shape each portion into ½ inch thick patties.

To cook over the stove: Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat, allowing the skillet to heat for two to three minutes. Add the patties and allow them to cook for six minutes before carefully turning. Cook the patties for six more minutes or until golden brown.

To grill: Rub the grill grates with oil before heating. Heat the grill to medium-high heat and cook the patties on one side for six minutes before flipping and cooking for another six minutes.

Corn on the cob with lime and chili powder
Adapted from Martha Stewart
4 ears shucked corn
½ lime
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt

Grill the corn over high heat, turning every so often until the ears are charred in places and the corn is tender. This should take about 12 minutes.

Cut each ear into four pieces and place in a large bowl. Squeeze the lime over the corn, and sprinkle the pieces with chili powder and salt. Toss the pieces to coat and serve immediately.

Salad with vinaigrette dressing
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
Your favorite vegetables
½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar (or another vinegar you have on hand)
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 pinch brown sugar (if needed)
1 pinch salt
Pepper to taste

Place the lettuce and vegetables in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Taste and decide if it needs a little sweetness. If so, add a pinch of brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Wait to add the dressing to the salad until just before serving.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.