I’m trying to make healthier choices, and making wise food choices is the hardest thing for me. I actually enjoy exercise, but I LOVE FOOD. I love to EAT. I think approaching food from a deprivation mindset is a sad way of living. Truett Cathy (the founder of Chick-fil-A) said, “Food is essential to life; therefore, make it good!” I couldn’t agree more! I try to eat low-carb/paleo/ keto meals.
These days my family is enjoying summer meals and lots of delicious produce. Isn’t it great to eat seasonally? Every winter I make tons of soups and roasts, but when summer roles around, I’m all about the grill and fresh produce! We want to eat lighter foods that don’t require too much of a time investment- that way we have more time to linger on the screened porch! Here are three easy, healthy, delicious meals that our entire family really enjoys!
Recipe #1: Chili-Rubbed Chicken
I love dry rubs on meat because, unlike marinades, dry rubs don’t require me to think ahead too much. Last night I literally got our meat out of the freezer an hour before mealtime and just ran hot water on it in order to thaw it.
So, here’s the deal: I’m a pretty fluid cook. Recipes aren’t really my thing, and I don’t really care about exact measurements. That being said, I’m certain that you’ll get my drift and be able to get great results.
Here’s what you do:
- Make the spice mix. The exact proportions aren’t important. I guesstimate that I used 1/4 cup sea salt, 1/4 c. chili powder, and maybe 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning. Mix this together.
- Prepare chicken. I like to remove the skin and cut the chicken breasts in half (so they cook faster on the grill).
- Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Make sure you get it allllllll over; you will be so, so sad if you miss a spot! Get the sides, front, back…. everywhere!
- Cook it. I love the grill, but last night I ran out of gas (poor me), so I baked the chicken (about 375 degrees for 1 hour or until no pink in the middle). This chicken is AMAZING both ways- grill or oven- you pick!
Benefit of cooking in the oven: you get lots of gooey, crusty, spicy baked-onto-the-pan bits.
*My kids & I may or may not have voraciously scraped EVERY.LAST.BIT off the pan and stuffed our gooey spatula into our happy mouths.** Don’t judge: you would, too!
NOW: EAT and ENJOY! This stuff goes FAST, so I like to make a double batch.
Recipe #2: Zucchini Boats
My husband and I love our summer garden, but sometimes the kids aren’t as excited about what our garden produces. They love planting it and watching it grow, but eating from it isn’t exactly their fave. This recipe changed all that! For many years, my daughter had a full-fledged WAR with SQUASH, but MIRACLES DO HAPPEN– PRAISE!!!- she LOVES this meal! And it’s easy peasy!
- You can use squash or zucchini. I think eggplant would work too, but I haven’t tried that one… yet!
- Cut the vegetables in half lengthwise.
- Scrape out the middles/ seedy area. Now you have “boats!”
- Rub the insides with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.
- Make a meaty spaghetti sauce. FYI: if you’re eating low carb, be careful about spaghetti sauce. It can contain lots of hidden sugar!Read your labels! I like to add extra Italian Seasoning & garlic to make the sauce really flavorful!
- Spoon the meaty sauce into the “boats!”
- Sprinkle whatever cheese you like on top.
- Bake it at about 400 degrees for maybe 30 minutes.
BONUS: If you have a garden overflowing in squash or zucchini, this recipe uses up a lot of veggies! No more piles of produce taking up valuable kitchen counter space!
Recipe #3: Creamy Lemon-Berry Whipped Dessert
I told you before that I HATE food deprivation, and that extends to desserts. Last night I let my kids have some ice cream w/ berries, and I didn’t want to miss out on the fun OR make an unhealthy choice. I want to be healthy AND eat dessert. And it’s totally possible. TOTES.
Lemon-Berry is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It makes me HAPPY, and I think you’ll like it, too! Here’s watcha do:
- Get some heavy whipping cream. (I LOVE real whipped cream, and if you haven’t made it, you’re missing out on a REAL pleasure!) You decide the amount. This can be made as a single serving or for larger amounts. Actually, I tend not to make singl servings; instead, even if I’m just making it for myself, I’ll make two servings so that I can save some for later. Anyway, when it comes to amounts, just eyeball it. For a smaller amount I use maybe 1/3 cup heavy cream. For my family I’d use maybe 2 cups.
- Dump however much whipping cream you want into your mixing bowl. Now whip that thing on HIGH. In a short while you’ll see that it gets thick and creamy.
- Add some cream cheese. For just me, I use maybe 1/4 bar of cream cheese, but if I was making this for my family, I’d use a full bar. Mix it all up together. Whip it lake you’re crazy from delicious yumminess (Cue music: she’s a maniac, maniac, I sure know! And she’s cooking like she’s never cooked before….!)
- Add lemon flavoring to taste. I had lemon oil on hand (like what’s used to make hard candy), but you could also use lemon extract.
- Add sweetener to taste. I’m using Trim Healthy Mama’s Gentle Sweet, but use whatever you want.
- Put in a dish & top with berries.
Last night I packed up our dinner & we headed to a local park for a picnic, hike, and time in the creek. Goooood food and gooooood times! Live life like ya mean it!
I hope that you’re enjoying your summer! Eat good food, party with your friends and family, and soak up the sun!