This is the time of year when you want to eat light and not heat up your kitchen by turning on the oven. Eating salads and smoothies is a great way to create nutritious meals that are simple to make but are also tasty and satisfying.
July is National Picnic Month, so the ideas and recipes in this article also make for ideal contributions to an outdoor spread at your favorite park or the backyard. There are some go-to sources that I rely on when I want to make a nice, yet unfussy salad or tasty smoothie. Sometimes I’ll make an “anything goes” recipe, which usually consists of me adding whatever I have on hand to add to the salad bowl or blender.
Today I made an anything goes salad for lunch. I took out a big bowl, cutting board and knife. I started by coarse cutting mixed greens, then I chopped cooked broccoli, then I cut corn kernels off the cobb, added sliced red onion, pitted kalamata olives went in next, chickpeas, crumbled feta, sliced up ham cold cuts, shredded carrots, and cucumber slices. To dress the salad, I kept it simple by using only two ingredients. I combined lemon infused olive oil and Braggs apple cider vinegar and tossed until combined.
The corn and broccoli were leftovers from other meals, the ham was for sandwiches, but I thought it would be nice in the salad. I always keep cans of beans in my pantry and usually make hummus with the chickpeas, but I also love them in salads too.
Using fruit and veggie leftovers and incorporating them into a bowl of greens is a great way to make sure that nothing goes bad in your crisper. There is also nothing wrong with combining leftover cooked veggies in the salad. It keeps you from wasting hard earned grocery money and you stretch your food budget when you do this.
One of my favorite go-to sources for recipes and inspiration is a YouTube channel, Abbe’s Golden Girls ‘n Guys. Abbe is a certified personal trainer who has made fitness and healthy eating her lifestyle for decades. She’s in her mid-60’s but looks like she’s in her 40’s. Her channel features delicious but easy to prepare recipes and workout tips. Abbe also has a home workout subscription of low-impact aerobics, balance and strength training exercises designed for people aged 50 and beyond. You can get all the details of the classes here.
Abbe’s most recent upload is her Mediterranean Summer Salad, and it is delicious. I chose to eat it as is and not add grilled chicken or fish to it, but that would be amazing too. It calls for 1 hothouse cucumber halved and sliced, 1 cup of diced fresh mozzarella cheese, 1 diced avocado, 1 cup of pitted black olives, ½ diced red onion, two tomatoes diced, add all the ingredients in a bowl and dress with vinaigrette or Italian dressing to taste.
I was invited to a 4th of July pool party and made the Mediterranean salad but added rotini pasta and that was a huge hit.
I love peanut butter and bananas, so Abbe’s creamy banana-peanut butter-spinach smoothie is one of my favorites. It is so filling that I can have one at breakfast and not be starving by lunchtime. To a blender, add 2 cups of fresh spinach, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter, ¼ cup fresh kale, 1 frozen peeled banana that is cut into 1-inch slices, and 1 tbsp chia seeds. The recipe says the chia seeds are optional, but it adds more depth and richness to the smoothie. Blend until smooth, pour and enjoy.
There are so many variations to this smoothie if you do not like almond milk, add any other type of plant-based or cow’s milk. Sometimes I make a smoothie with frozen bananas, Greek yogurt, honey, cocoa powder, milk, and ice cubes. I do this so often that I do not know the quantities, I just eyeball it. I also like adding a scoop of Garden of Life Green Superfood for more vitamins and minerals.
We are dealing with a heatwave across the country right now, so hopefully these recipes and ideas will keep you cool and feeling full at the same time. What are some of your favorite salads and smoothies? Put them in the comments below so we can all be inspired.