Here in Appalachia, we had a heavy winter. All season long, I wrote healthy living tips for Juice Plus+ while fat snowflakes piled up outside my window. And, we were watching snow fall in late spring. By that time, those snowflakes are less awe-inspiring and more ugh-inducing.
Since it's legit summer in states that don't have four seasons packed into one week, I'll speak as if I'm where you are. As days get longer and the breeze gets softer, you'll notice your thoughts too begin a new journey. You start looking for ways to refresh your daily life. And we wouldn't be Juice Plus+ if we didn't suggest you turn your thoughts to your daily intake of foods packed with nutrients. It's time to set your healthy eating intentions for summer.
Eat with your eyes
When it comes to food, as the temperature warms up, your menu cools down. You want your summer meals to be fresh, light, bright, and clean. While the aphorism "We eat with our eyes first" rings true, taste isn't the only other sense that comes into play. Why not capture the reawakening of this new season through all five senses?
What better way to start your summer meal planning than by growing your own veggies. If you aren't already working on your garden, there's still time. If you don't have time for tilling or don't have yard space to begin with, vertical gardening is the answer. With nutrients, water, and sunlight—no soil needed—you can produce a harvest that will be the envy of your social media followers. (A beautiful bounty deserves to be shown off, after all.) Check out Tower Garden to find out how it works.
No matter how you get your veggies, what matters most is getting them. In this article, I'll take you through five fresh, healthy recipes based on each of the five senses.
Crunchy summer salad
You know it's fresh when you can hear it crunch. This recipe is a great fit for a workweek jar lunch or a weeknight dinner side. It's crispy and salty too. It's the potato chip of salads.
This is a flexible, easy recipe. Spring and summer offer endless vegetable combinations, so as long as it's crunchy and in season, it's fair game to toss into this salad. This version uses cucumber (two), snap peas (about two cups), corn (two ears), and green onions (two). Slice the cucumbers into 1/4th-inch slices; then halve them if the cucumbers are large. Cut the corn off the cob and chop the bulb and the greens of the onions. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, about 2 tablespoons each, and season with salt and pepper.
This salad is a great accompaniment for grilled fish, chicken, or tofu.
Bright morning smoothie bowl
Feast your eyes on the day ahead with a bright smoothie bowl starring mango and watercress. Pack in added protein, fiber, and nutrients with Complete by Juice Plus+ French vanilla shake powder.
- 1 small frozen banana
- ¼ cup pineapple, fresh or frozen
- 1 scoop French vanilla Complete
- 4 T nut milk, plus more if needed
- Handful of watercress, or to taste
- 1/2 cup diced mango plus nuts, nut butter, cacao nibs, or shredded coconut for topping
Blend first five ingredients until well combined. Top with mango and your choice of additional toppings.
Basil and red pepper bruschetta
This one's more assembly guide than recipe. It's inspired by one of my favorite smells from childhood, peppers frying in the pan. Obviously we want to kick up the health factor, so that method is out and roasting is in. Here, the smell factor comes from fresh-picked basil.
If you've never roasted your own red peppers, it's pretty simple (recipe here). If you're not up for it, you can also buy them in jars. The toast is the foundation here, so choose something hearty and crusty, preferably whole grain. You can also substitute gluten-free bread, although it might be harder to achieve the necessary bulk to hold up to the toppings.
Here's how you do it: Brush your bread with olive or avocado oil, and toast lightly. In the meantime, slice the pepper into long slices and then halve those. Toss in a bowl with julienned basil, minced fresh garlic, olive or avocado oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Pile onto toast, inhale, and enjoy!
Sunday brunch spring rolls
The name says it all. Spring rolls are your go-to finger food for the season ahead. Packed with healthy, fresh veggies, they have a zingy sauce that'll keep you dipping all day.
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce (Note: Soy Sauce is made with wheat, so it will not be gluten-free. Most Tamari sauces are. I recommend Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.)
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes, or more to taste
- 4 ounces bean thread noodles (cellophane or transparent noodles)
- 12 rice paper rounds
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup cucumber, cut into matchstick-size pieces
- 1 cup carrot, cut into matchstick-size pieces
- 12 small green or red lettuce leaves
- Fresh cilantro to taste
*Optional: narrowly sliced cooked tofu
- Dipping Sauce
- Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill. Can be made one day ahead.
Put noodles in a large bowl. Pour enough hot water over to cover; let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool; drain and set aside.
Fill a pie plate with warm water. Working with 1 rice paper round at a time, soak rice paper in water, turning occasionally, until just pliable but not limp, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a work surface. Top with some leaves of each herb, then cucumber, carrot, and tofu if using. Arrange a small handful of noodles over. Place 1 lettuce leaf over, torn or folded to fit. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, then fold in ends and roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a platter. Repeat to make 11 more rolls. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and refrigerate.
To serve, cut rolls in half in a diagonalon diagonal. Arrange on the plate with bowl of sauce in the middle.
Cauli tacos with tangy romesco
You've arrived at the most-awaited sense: taste. These cauliflower tacos promise to deliver big flavor.
This recipe will be a hit for even dedicated meat lovers. Roasted cauliflower gives loads of texture, while the sauce takes taste over the top. Top these tacos with a squeeze of lime and your favorites, like cilantro, avocado, or pepitas. Homemade salsa is also a great topper (corn for savory, mango for sweet).
- 2 small heads cauliflower (chopped into bite-sized pieces // smaller pieces roast more quickly!)
- 2-4 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil (if avoiding oil, omit or sub with water)
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 small-medium cloves garlic (skin on)
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
- 1-2 medium cloves raw garlic (peeled)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium lime, juiced (~3 Tbsp)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup (plus more to taste)
- 1-2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more for spicier sauce)
- 12-15 tortillas (organic corn or grain free)
- Lime wedges
- Fresh cilantro (optional)
- Thinly sliced red cabbage (optional)
- Pepitas (optional)
- Sliced avocado (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F and add cauliflower to 2 large baking sheets. Add oil, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine and roast on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
To a separate baking sheet, add raw almonds and the 4 unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast on the center rack for 10-12 minutes, checking at the 8-minute mark. If the almonds are dark brown and cracking, remove from the oven to avoid burning, but continue cooking garlic until light golden brown and slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside.
While cauliflower finishes roasting, add drained, fire-roasted tomatoes to a high-speed blender along with almonds, roasted garlic (peeled), raw garlic (peeled), oil (or water), lime juice, paprika, cumin, salt, maple syrup, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave or in the oven directly on the still-warm oven racks until pliable. Then add 1-2 T romesco sauce and a generous portion of cauliflower. Squeeze lime over the filling and garnish with cilantro, cabbage, pepitas, or homemade salsa.
Best when fresh. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (or 1 month in the freezer) and the cauliflower in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat cauliflower in a 350-degree F oven until warm.
*Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker.