With the first week of summer officially underway, it’s certain that this summer will be unique. While the memories will be different, we can still take some time to enjoy what summer has to offer – long days, hot weather, and summertime eats. These nutrient-packed recipe ideas can be enjoyed at a socially distanced backyard BBQ or a quarantine picnic.

Crazy Coleslaw Recipe Ideas

Think outside the traditional coleslaw box and add color and flavor to your coleslaw. Try not only traditional green cabbage, but also red cabbage, lots of shredded carrots, and sliced red onion. Here are some other ways to mix things up:

  • Julienne your broccoli stalks and save them for coleslaw
  • Shave Brussels sprouts in the food processor
  • Shred kale for some crunch
  • Feeling adventurous? Do a little of each!

For a tangy dressing alternative, mix equal parts olive oil mayonnaise with equal parts plain Greek yogurt. Whisk-in apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs like cilantro, dill or parsley.

Kitchen Hack: After shredding your veggies, sprinkle with salt and let stand while you make the dressing. The salt draws out liquid from the veggies, leaving them wilted and a perfect consistency for coleslaw.

Burger with the Fixins’

Burgers are a classic BBQ favorite. To bump up the bun, think whole grains or crunchy lettuce. When it comes to the patty, mix-in black beans or lentils for added fiber and B vitamins. Or, stir in a chopped avocado, cumin, and cilantro to any ground meat before grilling. These will give you some healthy fats and fiber, and your burger will come out juicy.

Aiming for more veggies? Top your burger with these:

  • Spicy arugula
  • Fresh sliced tomatoes
  • Homemade coleslaw shown above
  • A simple pickled onion made with sliced onions marinated in any vinegar, salt and pepper

If you like a sweet and salty combo, try grilling pineapple slices sprinkled with cayenne or top your burgers with a peach salsa. To make a quick fruit salsa, chop up one ripe peach, one handful of cilantro, one juicy tomato, and a quarter of a red onion. Add jalapeño and salt/pepper to taste.

Frozen Treats Recipe Ideas

For a fresh and satisfying dessert, layer vanilla yogurt with fruit chunks in Popsicle molds (flat Popsicle molds work best for this). Or, blend greens, overripe fruit, and unsweetened almond milk and freeze into Popsicle molds. For a homemade twist on a fudge bar, blend frozen banana, unsweetened cocoa, one date, and peanut butter. Then freeze.

Want a similar flavor with less work?

  1. Slice bananas into coins.
  2. Spread on peanut butter and a dark chocolate chip.
  3. Cover with another banana coin.
  4. Freeze and enjoy!

You can also slice watermelon into long slices, add a stick to the end, then freeze the slices. Don’t forget that frozen grapes or blueberries make a great snack after a hot walk!

For another frozen treat, freeze fresh mint or other herbs into ice cube trays and add to sparkling or tap water. Orange, cucumber, pineapple or watermelon chunks can add color and flavor to any water or iced tea.

Pasta Salad Recipe ideas

Pasta is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Add noodles to any green salad to round out the meal with some energy-packed carbs. Or, to make a pasta salad into a nutrient-packed side dish (or even a whole picnic lunch), add lots of veggies and protein.

Great veggies for a cold pasta salad:

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green pepper
  • Black olives
  • Red onion
  • Chopped broccoli

Grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash also elevate this summer side, especially with a sprinkle of Parmesan or feta cheese. Fresh, colorful greens like arugula or massaged kale can add bulk and color too to your pasta salad, too.

Kitchen Hack: Never massaged kale before? Use a flavorful oil like olive or avocado oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and sea salt on chopped kale. Then dig in, massaging the salt into the kale as you go. Letting the oil and vinegar marinate on the kale helps soften it even more. If you’re new to kale, roast the massaged kale at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes to enjoy a salty, crunchy “kale chip.”

Great filling proteins to balance out pasta salad:

  • Edamame
  • Black beans
  • Chick peas
  • Lentils
  • Diced chicken
  • Cheese

With this summer shaping up to go at a slower pace, there’s plenty of time to be adventurous in the kitchen. Don’t forget to pack a picnic basket or simply take your summer recipes into the backyard for a refreshing change of scenery!

Headshot of author: Melissa MajumdarAbout the Author:
Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, is a registered dietitian and the bariatric surgery coordinator at Emory University Hospital Midtown. She is a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and spends her free time running and cooking with her two kids and husband. Their favorites recipes from above? The kale chips and peach salsa!