Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives

Summer time and the meal preparation is easy….

O.K., so those are not quite the lyrics to the song-but it’s true! It’s hot, we don’t want to turn on the oven at all, and the stove as little as possible. Here are some tips and recipes that might help you this summer.

Summer Eating

The warm months of summer offers us cooling foods with high water content for hydration such as peaches, melons, tomatoes and cucumbers, just to name a few.
Depending on where you live, choices can vary. In hotter climates spinach and cilantro might have already bolted, but in cooler climates they are at their peak. Don’t forget to season with fresh herbs whenever you can. Americans consume too much sodium and often times reach for the salt-shaker instead of other seasoning choices such as lemon juice or flavorful fresh herbs.

One simple fact to remember is the fresher the vegetable the more nutrition and enzymes it contains, so peak of season and local are best. It’s also important to consume raw veggies, as fragile enzymes, important for health, as well as the water-soluble vitamins B and C, can be diminished with cooking.

Peak of harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs for most parts of the country for mid-summer are:

Peaches and other stone fruit
Blackberries and other ‘brambles’
Watermelons and other melons

Summer squashes such as zucchini, patty pan and crookneck
Leafy Greens such as Chard and Kale
Many lettuces


Here are some ideas for peak of season produce. Print these recipes and take them to your local Farmer’s market or grocery store.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent certain types of cancer. Cilantro is a natural chealtor, which helps to remove heavy metals, and cucumbers contain vitamin C and are high in water content.

Be sure to use peak of season veggies for this delicious cold soup. Even if you don’t think you like gazpacho, do try this recipe. It will change your mind!
Serves 6

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 -1 jalapeno
1-2 large garlic clove

2 cups tomatoes, finely chopped
2/3 cup cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, or cilantro, finely chopped

Place the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
Pour in a bowl.

Finely chop the remaining ingredients and stir into the smooth ingredients. Serve.

Per Serving: 118 Calories; 9g Fat (67.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 169mg Sodium.


There is no gluten in brown rice, so this is a non-gluten (and delicious!) pizza crust. Also, brown rice is an intact-grain, always the best grain choice. Fresh herbs really do lend a lot of freshness and flavor. If you are a vegetarian simply leave out the ground turkey. For a complete protein, sprinkle some white beans on top of the marinara sauce; beans and rice together offer all the necessary amino acids to make a complete protein.

Zucchini Pizza
Serves 6

4 cups grated zucchini
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, or mozzarella, grated
2 eggs, beaten

1 pound ground turkey, optional
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or1 teaspoon dried
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Combine the grated zucchini, brown rice, jack cheese and the eggs. Press into a greased 15X11X1″ jelly roll pan. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in medium skillet, brown ground turkey with onion and herbs. Set aside.

Pour marinara over crust, sprinkle with turkey mixture and top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: 677 Calories; 32g Fat (42.6% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 187mg Cholesterol; 739mg Sodium.

Patty’s YouTube Video making this recipe

You are going to love this recipe. Be sure to use lots of raw veggie slices to scoop up this dip. It’s also good in whole-wheat pita bread with chopped fresh tomatoes and sprouts. Eggplants contain dietary fiber, potassium and antioxidants.

Baba Ghanoush
Serves 6

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Halve eggplants lengthwise and brush with olive oil. Set on grill, close cover and cook until flesh is soft (may also broil 6″ from burner.) Let eggplants cool. Scoop flesh into food processor. Discard peels. Add cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. While processing, add oil in a slow stream until it emulsifies. Correct seasonings. Garnish with the fresh herbs and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Per Serving: 111 Calories; 10g Fat (76.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 160mg Sodium.

This is such a simple and delicious recipe. Remember that it’s important to plan for your good health, so cook the brown rice on your day off, then chop up lots of seasonal fresh veggies, add to the cold rice, with beans of your choice, some fresh herbs and your favorite vinaigrette. Place on top of fresh greens and you’re set! Healthier already.

Health Nut Brown Rice Salad
Patty’s favorite rice is long grain brown basmati rice
Serves 8

3 cups long grain brown rice, cooked and cooled
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons parsley, washed, dried and minced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
½ cup celery, sliced
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons vinaigrette, or to taste

Place the cooked brown rice in a medium-size bowl. Toast the almonds and add to the brown rice with the seeds and shredded carrots. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss. Top with the minced parsley and serve.

Per Serving: 368 Calories; 12g Fat (28.0% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 14mg Sodium. .

Cooking brown rice
To cook 1 cup brown rice, in a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water, ½ teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a boil. Add the rice and stir. Bring back to a boil, cover and turn the heat to a simmer. Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook. Never stir the rice when it’s simmering or it will get gummy.



Beautiful mid-summer fruits really need nothing more that to be washed and eaten! Fruit salads are always delicious of course choke full of many colored fruits. Add to plain yogurt or cottage cheese if you like and even top with some fresh mint that you’ve minced for a fun flavor addition.

Try to consume 5-9 cups of vegetables each day with two-thirds of those being non-starchy vegetables and remember to eat from the rainbow; every colored fruit and veggie has varied antioxidants, so mix up those colors. During the full-harvest summer months, this is easy to do!


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