Summer is already in full swing and people are taking advantage of the warm weather at the beach, the park, street festivals, baseball games and in our own backyards. Just because it’s grilling season doesn’t mean you have to overload on the burgers, brats and beers however. Here’s a collection of recipes for entrees, salads and desserts to try out this summer as healthy alternatives:

 

1.   Vietnamese Chicken, Avocado + Lemongrass Spring Roll Salad with Hoisin Crackers.

This recipe is essentially a spring roll broken down into salad form; meaning no time spent trying to perfect your rolling skills. This is a very DIY recipe that allows you to recreate some Vietnamese flavor in your own kitchen. The homemade hoisin crackers and peanut butter dressing alone should impress your guests (or just yourself!)

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2.  Japanese Sunshine Salad with Carrot + Ginger Dressing

A salad consisting of a colorful array of fruits and veggies that make it almost too pretty to eat…almost! The carrot/ginger dressing is just as good as any served at an authentic Japanese restaurant – creamy, sweet and tangy. This recipe is great by itself, but you could serve it alongside any protein – it pairs very well with salmon. You could also throw in some avocado and edamame to add a little more green to the salad.

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3.  Tempeh Black Bean Vegan Taco Salad

Tempeh is a tofu alternative that originates in Indonesia. It’s a traditional soy bean product that is high in both protein and fiber. Throw in some black beans, avocado, lettuce, salsa and the rest of your favorite garnishes and you have a vegan spin on you taco favorite. To double down on the vegan experience you can also top your salad with some cashew sour cream. You’re gonna want to plan for some prep time but I assure you, it’s worth the wait!

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4.  Honeycrisp Salad With Crispy Sage And Maple Vinaigrette

Full disclosure: this salad may not be a lot to look at, but seeing is not always believing; the taste will have you sold. The blend of honeycrisp apples, feta cheese and maple syrup takes a couple different breakfast favorites and combines them into one delectable starter. To add a little bit more breakfast to the equation you could top with honeycrisp salad with slices of bacon.

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5.  Roast Beef & Cheese Cucumber “Sandwiches”

Here’s a quick and easy appetizer to serve your guests that is also healthy and kind of adorable. As far as recipes go I don’t think it gets any simpler than “slice cucumbers, cheese, deli meat and combine.” It’s a mini sandwich without the carbs and you could add some flair to it by sticking it with a toothpick or the ever-inspiring “sword pick.”

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6.  Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Garlic

Sometimes it’s reassuring to get exactly what you expect; and this side is just that. After you cook the bacon to your personal bacon standards, all you need to do is roast all of the ingredients together at 375F for 20 minutes. As the old saying goes: “everything’s better with bacon.” Peppering in some grated parmesan cheese gives an extra layer of flavor to this dish.

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7.  Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

This is a classic shrimp fried rice recipe with a touch of “sweet and sour” for another level of flavor. If you want to impress your dinner guests with a little presentation and showiness, then may I present to you a serving dish in the form of a hollowed-out pineapple. While this finishing touch isn’t necessary to make the meal, it looks pretty darn cool, right? This is a great and simple dish that brings the sweet and spicy together for an excellent taste.

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8.  Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs

Here’s a summer recipe where you can put your grill to good use. This is a super simple meal/side that only requires a few hours for the chicken to marinate and your competence at operating a grill. Lemon juice is a great source of flavor but its zest is what makes the chicken pop. The kabobs are great by themselves but taste even better with some tzatsiki sauce.

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9.  Spinach Quesadillas

Growing up a lot of us had a stigma of spinach – maybe based on the canned variety that Popeye ate. Either way, now spinach is an excellent addition to any given recipe. Like the Tempeh Black Bean Vegan Taco Salad, this is another meatless alternative to a classic Mexican meal. What makes this recipe stand out is its ricotta cheese, successfully thickening the quesadilla. Heat the spinach until its wilted to make it extra crispy.

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10.  Baked Chickpea Burgers

No grill, no meat, no problem. Baked chickpea burgers are a quick and easy meal to make for family and friends that is actually healthy. This Middle-Eastern-inspired recipe is best accompanied by tzatsiki sauce and tabbouleh. With a variety of great flavors, this meatless meal can be made in less than 30 minutes. Who says fast food can’t be healthy?

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11.  Grilled Mahimahi with Peach and Pink Grapefruit Relish

This is another great summer recipe you can use as an excuse to light up the old grill. The sweet flavor of the mahimahi is enhanced by the tangy and tart relish. To give the dish a little bit of a kick you can add some chopped jalapeno to the relish and some lime juice to the fish while it’s cooking. This dish pairs well with white rice and steamed peas.

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12.  Filet Mignon with Roquefort and Red Leaf

There is a whole bunch of flavors at work in this recipe: garlic, rosemary, honey, shallots, onions, balsamic vinegar; it’s almost too much (but it’s not.) To save yourself some prep time you can dice your potatoes a day before and make the majority of the salad while the potatoes and steaks are cooking. Keep an eye on that grill though; you don’t want the filets to lose their succulent flavor!

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13.  Grilled Salmon with Sherry Vinegar-Honey Glaze and Spicy Tomato Relish

Salmon is a lean source of protein that gives your brain the omega-3 fats that you might be neglecting. Grilling the salmon is the simplest part of this recipe – most of your time spent preparing this meal will be preparing the sweet and spicy relish that accompanies the salmon. In fact you could make the spicy tomato relish a day ahead of time to prepare.

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14.  Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers

It always makes me feel healthier when the meat that I eat is covered in vegetables. Zucchini, red bell peppers and spinach make for a colorful dish – fun fact: the more variety of color on your plate less you eat! The recipe calls for bulgur wheat, but that can be replaced with cracked wheat or quinoa. Similarly, the ground beef in the recipe can be swapped out for any ground meat, or no meat at all!

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15.  Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacks

As you know by now, the grill isn’t just for meats; here’s another vegetarian option for your grill. Topping grilled eggplant with fresh mozzarella, tomato and balsamic vinegar makes for an appetizing take on bruschetta without the extra carbs of bread. The eggplant can be prepped and refrigerated a day before so all you have to do is top the slices with the remaining ingredients. If you’ve cooked with pesto then you already know how the sauce makes every dish that much better. Che bella!

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16.  Frozen Chocolate Bananas

Ok, time to throw in a little bit of a cheat: frozen chocolate bananas! This is a fun dessert with lots of room for creativity: sprinkles, nuts…you name it! This is a recipe you can make for your kids or just for yourself – it only takes about an hour to make. It might not be the healthiest thing on the list, but it’s better than ice cream!

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17.  Awesome Healthy Orange Smoothies

Smoothies are a great supplement to your workout that taste great too. They are a great source of vitamin C and fiber and promote general bone strength. With a wide array of smoothie shops across the country, it should come as no surprise that there are a variety of different recipes and formulas. These recipes will give you a brand new spin on the orange smoothie and might inspire a concoction of your own.

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18.  Pineapple & pink grapefruit with Mint Sugar

The name says it all for this one – a nice contrast of tart, tangy and sweet. The recipe calls for a full pineapple and grapefruit but you could easily adjust that by picking up cored pineapple or pre-cut pineapple/grapefruit pieces from the store. You could try this basic recipe with all sorts of different fruits to see what your favorite combinations are!

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19.  Simple Baked Apples

This is a great option for any time of the day: breakfast, side dish or dessert. With its blend of spices, apples and nuts this recipe is like apple pie with the calories cut in half. To preserve the moisture of this delectable little snack, cover the apples in foil before baking them – you’ll save yourself some time on cleanup too!

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20.  Anabolic Kiwi-Lime Popsicles

Here’s a dessert option that is sweet, refreshing and healthy. Store bough popsicles are all juice concentrate, sugar and high fructose corn syrup – these homemade popsicles are an alternative that your body will thank you for later. This is a great snack that will prep your muscles for a workout or soothe a sore throat.

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Summer is already in full swing and people are taking advantage of the warm weather at the beach, the park, street festivals, baseball games and in our own backyards. Just because it’s grilling season doesn’t mean you have to overload on the burgers, brats and beers however. Here’s a collection of recipes for entrees, salads and desserts to try out this summer as healthy alternatives.