IN THE SUMMER, FAST FOOD OPTIONS CAN ALSO BE HEALTHY
STORY and photography BY Jennifer Cohen-Katz
I find myself counting down all year to the longest stretch of sunlight, the summer solstice. Longer days lend themselves to extra hours of fun while higher temperatures yield gorgeous fruits and vegetables from gardens and local farms. With all of that fresh produce within reach, the options for fast, easy and healthy summer meals are endless.
Vegetables contain an array of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals crucial for brain health, disease prevention and anti-aging. Summer herbs, which enhance seasonal produce, have been found to improve memory, help prevent cancer and relieve aches and pains.
Not only is summer produce light and hydrating, it is also quicker and easier to prepare than thick-skinned winter squashes and root vegetables. Often all that is required to make a bright-flavored summer dish is a little trim, a few minutes on the grill and a toss with lemon juice and olive oil. In fact, a drizzle of oil will help your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins abundant in fruits and veggies.
Howard County in the summertime is brimming with activities and events. In my family, it seems, we are always running out the door to get to camp, the outdoor pool or to bike the Columbia pathways. Maybe you and your family are planning a hike and picnic in a local park or heading out to listen to music or watch an outdoor movie at the Columbia Lakefront Summer Festival. I like to have a collection of mouthwatering grab-and-go treats to pop into a cooler so we can avoid the less-than-healthy options at concession stands.
Packing meals for warm weather adventures needn’t keep you cooped up in the kitchen for long. Focus on portable dishes that use plenty of fresh seasonal herbs, vegetables and fruit. Keep the ingredients raw and toss in a healthy plant oil-based dressing, or grill to bring flavor to a whole new level. You’ll have a light picnic meal packed and ready to tote with you in no time.