Memorial Day is just around the corner, marking the official start of summer. It's time to fire up the grill, gather around the picnic table, and enjoy long sun-filled days with family and friends. While many of our traditional picnic recipes have traditionally been centered on marinated meats and creamy potato salads, summer is a great time to try some lighter recipes. Check out these 4 Tips for a delicious, healthy summer plus your 10 Essential Recipes for the Ultimate Party
4 Tips for a Healthy Plant-Based Summer Party:
1) Grill for natural flavor:
The char of the grill adds natural, delicious flavor, without extra fat or calories. Use a grill basket or kabob skewers to prevent any veggies from falling through the grates. If it rains or you lack access to an outdoor grill, fire up the Broiler in your oven. Just like a grill, the broiler uses flames for super-high heat. The only difference between a grill and a broiler? The grill's flame is below and a broiler's flame is above.
2) Be wary of marinades:
Whether you buy a premade dressing or you make your own, marinades and sauces can be loaded with extra calories and fat from canola and safflower oils. Rather than a wet marinade loaded with oil, try a simple blend of Balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. This is the base for my Ultimate Portobello Mushroom Burgers, but you can also use this marinade on eggplant, tofu, and thick-sliced sweet onions.
3) Swap hummus for creamy dressings:
Potato salad and pasta salad might start with a healthy plant-based recipe calling for fresh vegetables, but then end up loaded with extra fat from heavy dressings. Often, these dressings are made from the same basic ingredients used for mayonnaise: egg yolks and oil. Instead, try swapping out with a fat-free, store-bought hummus. Wild Garden makes a great oil-free hummus that you can use as a sauce on your favorite potato salad.
Hummus already has a great consistency to smear onto veggie burgers for an egg-free mayo substitute. To use as a salad dressing, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of water, until you have a thinner consistency. Even with a store-bought hummus, I like adding my own twist with roasted garlic, fresh chives, or smoked paprika. You can make a big batch of your own favorite hummus and freeze in smaller portions. Try out any of these delicious, oil-free hummus and spread recipes:
4) Light, Fresh Dessert:
I can't tell you how many parties I've catered where guests have flipped out over grilled pineapple or freshly-cut watermelon. When the heat of the sun is shining down, a refreshing, light dessert can really hit the spot. Summer's sweet selection of fruit makes a quick Fruit Mock-tail Salad or just pick up a papaya and surprise everyone with some tropical flavors:
10 Recipes for the Ultimate Summer Party
Healthy, Plant-Based Vegetarian Feasting
Helpful Tools for Summer Cooking
About the Author:
Chef Katie Simmons
Katie is a Personal Chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. Outside of the kitchen, she is a Fitness Instructor for Equinox, with over 13 years experience in the fitness industry, and a blogger for Kuli Kuli Foods. For fun, she loves to travel, with her most recent travel involving 10 days of hiking in the Patagonia of Argentina and Chile.