Summer is the perfect time for outdoor entertaining! There are so many opportunities to enjoy people’s company and eat delicious food together. With extended daylight hours and what seems like a more relaxed schedule, we seem to have many more porch nights that extend late into the evening. With all these enjoyable life moments I can definitely find myself a bit more anxious about eating well. I know that I do not feel my best the next day if I overdo it on excessive snack foods, bread, desserts, and alcoholic beverages. These things are delicious in the moment but they can leave me bloated and lethargic the next day. Yet, I do want to always enjoy moments with my friends and family and I don’t want to stress about what I am eating. I have come up with some tips that can help relieve some of the anxiety around food choices when entertaining.
1. I really think that appetizers are my favorite part of the meal. Many times, they end up becoming my entire meal. Apps can be calorie dense and a bit heavy on fats so I have a few favorites that I enjoy serving that are a bit on the lighter side but super nutrient dense. Guacamole, fresh salsa, and chips are my first go to. I love Siete chips which are made from cassava and coconut flour which doesn’t elevate your blood sugar like corn tortilla chips. I am also really enjoying plantain chips which are very low on the glycemic index. My second “go to” is hummus and veggies. I have a really good sundried tomato recipe that is delicious and perfect when topped with chopped fresh basil. For a larger crowd, I might make a charcuterie platter which doesn’t just have to be meats and cheeses. I add fruits and nuts, some artichoke and goat cheese dip and peach chutney as well with whole grain crackers.
2. Secondly, while snacking, instead of a sugary cocktail, enjoy a mocktail so that you can save your alcohol consumption for wine with dinner. If you start drinking too early it may be difficult to stop if it ends up being a long evening. This is always the struggle. I have some great mocktail recipes on the website and I drink them regularly during the week so I can save my special celebrations for the weekend. My favorite is The Blackberry, Lime and Basil Mocktail. It will not disappoint!!
3. When it comes to the main meal, I choose a clean protein which is healthy and leaves you feeling really satisfied! Summer get-togethers often center around the grill, which is actually my favorite way to cook. I love making a really good marinated grilled chicken or skirt steak which can easily be made into a taco or top a delicious summer salad.
4. To accompany protein, I always make a huge salad. Raw food is so important for you but it also replenishes much-needed fluids in your body when it is hot. Also, you can have a huge plate of salad which is super satisfying and save room for a small dessert!!! My favorite salad for summer is my Broccoli Salad and also one of my many variations of coleslaw. Both are super easy to make, full of fiber and filling. I also like a Southwestern Black Bean Salad full of fresh corn, tomatoes, and cilantro which is a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats. If you prefer a pasta salad, try a whole grain version of your favorite pasta. My favorite is Brown Rice Fusilli and I add in lots of raw summer veggies and top with a little white balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper, and some chopped, fresh herbs. Super simple, filling and really healthy!!! If you are attending a cookout, bring one of these salads so that you have a healthy dish to accompany what your host might be serving.
5. Lastly, be picky about dessert!!! Honestly, I am not much of a dessert person but I do love to honor someone’s hard work when they have gone through so much trouble to make a special after dinner treat. Make it small and have a few bites. It is not worth sabotaging a really great healthy meal with a huge piece of cake. If this is your favorite part of the dinner experience then really enjoy each bite and when that dessert stops tasting as amazing as the first bite then stop. Ask for a “to go” bag and enjoy it again another time.
Tim and I love to entertain in the summer and I am always finding new ways to use the bountiful summer produce. I don’t think anyone has left our home disappointed but hopefully fully loved and with special memories of our time spent together… and feeling great!!