3 Healthy, Lazy Dinner Ideas For Hot Summer Nights
These days, it’s just too easy to spend our summer nights curled up on the couch in front of the TV with some greasy takeout food, but the combo of scorching Houston heat and deep fried deliciousness isn’t having the best effect on our energy levels. Need a little inspiration for simple, healthy dinners that won’t give you a carbohydrate hangover? Take a look through your garden to try these three quick and healthy dinner ideas!
Garden Tomato Bruschetta
Once our tomato plants are ready for harvest, we’re often left scrambling to use them all up in time! If you’re in search of some dinner ideas to make use of all those fresh garden tomatoes, you’ve got to make yourself some bruschetta. It’s even better if you’ve got your own garden basil, onions, or garlic to add to the mix!
Flavorful cherry tomatoes are the best option for bruschetta, but if you’ve got some larger, firm tomatoes that are particularly flavorful and aren’t too mild, those will work just as well if you chop them into tiny, salsa-sized chunks. Take a big handful of fresh basil, mince it into small strips, and add that to the tomatoes.
Next, chop some sweet onion, like Vidalia, into very small pieces. Some folks don’t really like the powerful flavor of raw onion, and others love it, so add however much you prefer. Sprinkle in some salt, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and set aside.
To make the dressing, mince up a few cloves of garlic into very tiny pieces, and then fry them up in olive oil until they just start to turn brown. Remove it from the heat, pour it onto your tomato mixture, stir it up, and refrigerate it for at least half an hour. That’s it!
The best thing about bruschetta is you can keep it in the fridge for several days, and you can use it to jazz up so many dinners, lunches, or even breakfasts. Of course, the classic bruschetta on top of crostini or garlic toast with a sprinkle of parmesan always hits the spot, but you can also use your bruschetta mixture to toss on top of baked chicken breasts, BBQ hamburgers, or scrambled eggs. It’s fresh, raw, heavy on the veggies, and packed with Vitamin A and other nutrients like lycopene. So, this healthy Italian comfort food, unlike spaghetti, won’t end in regretti.
Zucchini Noodle Pasta
Now, if you’re a bit of a pasta addict (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) then you absolutely need to try making zucchini noodles. Whoever came up with the idea of turning vegetables into noodles deserves a Nobel prize. Zucchini noodles are the perfect low-carb alternative to wheat pasta, and they don’t even need to be cooked! Cooking them will make them too soft, so to keep it al dente, just toss them into some warm sauce when you’re ready to eat.
There are all sorts of different veggie spiralizers on the market—some are large, hand crank devices that are super easy to use, but take up a bit of space. Others are much smaller handheld models, and they take a little while longer to twist up, but the time passes quickly when you’re twisting and jamming out to our playlist!
For a fresh, healthy, alternative recipe to the traditional bolognese spaghetti, here’s an idea: instead of using ground beef, you can use vegetarian ground round. This vegetable protein meat alternative has a texture that’s nearly identical to ground beef, and doesn’t need very much time to cook at all. Simply sprinkle it into your tomato sauce, add the usual seasonings, and you’re good to go!
Slow Cooker Greek Style Stew
We love slow cooker meal ideas, because you can just throw a bunch of stuff into the pot before you head to work, forget about it for 8 hours, and then dinner is ready when you need it! This Greek-style stew is an awesome way to use up a wide assortment of different garden veggies all at once, including:
- Bell Peppers
Whatever you’ve got on hand that would work in a stew, simply chop it up and throw it in the pot. Add a pound of extra lean ground beef, some low sodium beef stock, a few bay leaves, lots of freshly chopped oregano, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Now, the secret ingredient to give it that Mediterranean taste is… (drumroll please)… a pinch of cinnamon! You might be surprised, but cinnamon brings an incredible aroma to this hearty stew, and complements the flavors beautifully. When your stew is done, you can eat it on it’s own, dunk some fresh bakery buns in it, or serve it with a dollop of sour cream. Remember to remove the bay leaves after cooking—they’re too tough and sharp to eat!
Simple, healthy dinners give us more quality time to spend with loved ones, so we can share some laughs and keep the wine flowing instead of cooking over a hot stove and scrambling to clean a hundred dishes. We hope you enjoy these easy summer dinner ideas for family dinners and late night entertaining!