Summertime Heart-Healthy Cooking Tips

With all of the ballgames, fairs, and vacations, the summer months fly by and sometimes healthy eating gets put on the backburner. However, just because you’re always on the move doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice your family’s nutrition. Here are some great quick tips to keep in mind:

Go Green means: Add about a cup of chopped fresh spinach or kale to any pasta, casserole, soup or salad. It’s a great way increase the amount of green leafy vegetables in your diet as well as add a source of folate to a meal. Fork your salad and then dip in low fat dressing that is on the side for a taste with fewer calories.

Add Zest and Zing using citrus zest from fresh lemons, limes and oranges or mince fresh herbs and hot peppers to create depth of flavor without added sodium.

Oven Roast or grill vegetables such as beets, carrots, squash, onions, bell peppers, eggplant or sweet potatoes to seal in the flavor and enhance the sweetness. Start by pre-heating the oven to 400° or fire up your grill. Cut veggies into similar sizes and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil per 1 cup of veggies and toss thoroughly to coat. Place on a baking sheet, stir every 20 minutes and bake until vegetables are tender and browned (about 45-60 minutes) or package in foil and place on grill. Serve them hot as a nutrient-packed accompaniment!

Be a Spice Connoisseur. Freshly-ground spices and herbs dramatically increase the flavor of any dish. Invest in a mini-grinder to grind your own, such as cumin, nutmeg and pepper.

Use Fruit for Added Flavor such as adding pineapple to pizza or a pork dish, mango in a stir fry, dried cranberries to a casserole or papaya in salads. They add flavor and nutrients without fat or sodium!

Fiberfull a meal by adding any kind of bean — chickpeas, black-eyed peas, pinto, black or kidney — to salads, casseroles, soups, vegetables, sandwiches and side dishes.

Milk it for all its worth by making salad dressings with low-fat plain yogurt, feta cheese and garlic or have yogurt fruit parfaits for dessert!

What tips do you have for our fellow readers as they tackle the last of the summer months? Please share them us, and enjoy!