A Summertime Menu

Living in New York City means that opportunities for grilling and dining al fresco in the comfort of your own home are rare if not non-existent. So, when traveling home to the Northern Kentucky area over a gloriously sunny weekend in June, I took full advantage and enjoyed a meal that included all of the above, local produce, and great company of family.

I can’t take credit for the recipes that constructed this meal, but the combination of entree, side dish, and salad were perfection and I felt it was a summertime menu worth sharing. Sometimes the hardest part is picking out two or three recipes that go together for a meal, so I hope I’ve helped do some of the meal planning for you, allowing you to enjoy a warm summer night.

A Summertime Menu

Entree: Spice Salmon Kebabs from Bon Appetit. While we didn’t find the double skewer trick very helpful, these kebabs were packed with bright, yet spicy flavors. A grill is a non-negotiable for nailing the smoky salmon notes. Plus, the nutrition can’t be beat- lean, filling protein, and healthy, skin-glowing fats, dressed up with natural seasonings.

Side: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen. My mother was blessed with a bounty of tomatoes from a friend’s garden, so these bright red beauties needed to be shown off! I had made these tomatoes once before for myself thinking Mr. CN would not be into them, but I was happy that this simplistic side was now enjoyed by my him and even my tomato-averse father. This makes for a grain-centric side dish that is also very veggie-forward.

Salad: Mama Nutritious’ Special Salad from her own genius brain. My mom is always asked to bring her salads to family get togethers. They must be elevated and complex, right? No! She simply grabs  various greens (arugula, mesclun, and pea shoots shown here) and a mixture of toppings (cranberries, feta, and maracona almonds in this one), tossing it all together in a bowl with a dressing of EVOO, lemon juice, usually dijon, garlic, and s&p that she shakes up in a mason jar. Voila! Getting in your veggies is all about preparing them in ways that please your own taste buds- if you don’t enjoy the selections or flavors you’ll be hard pressed to include them in your daily diet.

What are your favorite summer meals?

Egg White Oats

If you can’t already tell from my Insta feed, let me make it known that I’m a pretty big fan of breakfast. To be a cliche, it really is the most important meal of the day for me and I just don’t feel right without it. It’s even become the meal I enjoy planning for most because it’s all for me- husband’s taste buds be damned! I can prepare an egg fritatta with swiss chard, a cauliflower (!) smoothie , avo toast, or any variety of oats I want, and enjoy it with my morning coffee before Mr. CN even gets out of bed.


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Caramelized Fennel Pasta

Do you have a back pocket pasta recipe? You know, one that’s easy to pull off for a weeknight dinner when your meal planning efforts fail, but pleases everyone in your house? With the arrival of spring and carbo-loading for the half marathon in full effect, I may have just discovered my new favorite back pocket pasta recipe featuring caramelized fennel, tender spinach, bright lemon zest, and creamy goat cheese.

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Energy Bars and Bites

One of the most common food woes I hear from patients, friends, and family is about finding healthy snacks. You’re likely looking for something quick and easy that will give you energy to avoid an afternoon slump. For many people, that’s some form of snack bar- it’s individually packaged, can be healthy-ish, and doesn’t totally break the bank. Now, there are quite a few bars out there that I do love, but so many of of them are full of processed sugars, contain gut-busting indigestible fibers, and often end up being more of a meal bar than a snack.

I love KIND bars. Healthy, transparent and RD approved!

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A Savory “Pie” for Pi Day

Today is March 14th, so math nerds, rejoice- it’s 3.14 or Pi Day! I’m celebrating today, not because I am a math nerd (I actually HATED math as kid), but because it’s also a snow day here in NYC and I’m spending the day in the kitchen whipping up some yummy recipes.

While I may not be very fond of math, I am very, very fond of pie. Of the sweet variety, I would have to say some of my favorites are strawberry rhubarb, peach, or blueberry, but I will certainly not turn down a chocolate mousse or peanut butter pie! However, seeing as it’s just me and my husband, and we don’t feel like scarffing down a whole sweet pie by ourselves (sadly, I don’t think it’s in the half marathon training meal plan either), I made a savory “pie” today in the form of a Swiss Chard and Leek Frittata.

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Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas

Lately I’ve been challening myself to eat a mostly plant-based diet after reading the fascinating work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell in The China Study. While I am by no means a vegan and could absolutely NOT live without eggs, cheese, or yogurt, I do get bored of the same ol’ chicken breast, turkey burgers, and seafood dinners, so I am challenging myself- or rather, enjoying experimenting- with adding more beans and legumes in my meals.

These Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas were a quick and easy product of my forray into a plant-based diet, and lucky for me, the whole batch was all mine to enjoy (who else is living with a no bean eater?).

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Better Breakfasts with Steel Cut Oats

My readers and patients alike have frequently heard me talk about quick and easy meal ideas, especially breakfasts. After all, breakfast really is found to be one of the most important meals of the day as it is associated with reduced risk of overweight and obesity (Szajewska & Ruszczynski 2010); better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which is especially critical for individuals with type II diabetes (Versteeg et al 2015); and improved satiety that leads to less overconsumption at subsequent meals (de Castro J 2007).

For the most part, I am a fan of breakfasts that require minimal effort during the week- Siggi’s yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts, hard boiled eggs over homemade bread, or a mason jar of delicious overnight oats. Lately, however, I have fallen in love with steel cut oats.

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Spicy Miso Honey Kabocha Squash

I have found my forever squash. Some people love butternut, others love acorn, and some don’t discriminate between fall gourds, but I have fallen in love with kabocha squash and declare it my forever squash. Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for butternut and love a good spaghetti squash to replace noodles, but there is something about the easiness of not needing to peel a kabocha, the quickness in which it cooks, and the versatility of its uses that has made me fall in love with it.

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Pass the Pumpkin, Please!

The Hawaii Diaries Part II can wait because I have some breaking news- IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON!!

But first, I have a confession- I’ve never used canned pumpkin before. As a lover of whole foods and scratch cooking, the only times I’ve ever had pumpkin puree in my kitchen was after scooping seeds, roasting, more scooping, and mashing pumpkin flesh from a whole pumpkin. Why buy canned when I can just as easily make it myself? Admitedly, I sometimes even scoffed at the “canned pumpkin in everything” crazies that would come out in full force every October, not fully understanding their obsession with super orange pumpkin puree.

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