Tag Archives: side dishes

“Cool” Healthy Foods – Watermelon

This past weekend was a disaster. My daughter and her children came from California to visit me in Arizona. The frig was out when they arrived. A repairman FINALLY came and fixed that problem and one day later, my air conditioner went out – big problem in Arizona in August when the temperatures are 110+. It was miserable! My family had to stay with other family members – all very frustrating and disappointing.

The good news is there was a silver lining. I realized that recipes for “cool” healthy foods that can be served when it is really hot would be a fun thing to share with all of you.

Eating healthy should be the goal regardless of the weather.

As summer draws to a close, outside temperatures are still high, and you are overwhelmed with everything that must be done to get the kids back in school, the temptation to eat out or order in can be overwhelming. BUT . . . there are healthy options that require no cooking at all.

The next few posts will offer some nice suggestions to help you through the end of summer heat.

Watermelon – Nature’s Healthy, Sweet Treat

Summer is the time to enjoy some of nature’s most delicious foods – and watermelon is on the top of the list. When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, eating watermelon was part of summer fun – and I  love it just as much today as I did then. It is so sweet, juicy and refreshing.

Just the thought of a cold, juicy slice makes my mouth water, especially on a hot summer day. It is not only delicious, this colorful fruit brightens up any plate or table; and is very good for you.

The water content fills you up and acts as a natural cleanser for your body. I know the seeds can be a little annoying, but to me, it is worth the work of picking them out (or spitting them out…politely of course) for all the benefits you get from watermelon . . . and today, there are seedless watermelons.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating watermelon into your meals or using it as a healthy snack.

Let’s look at a few of my favorites

  1. Watermelon triangle snacks – a long time easy favorite. As soon as you get the watermelon home, slice some of it up into triangular pieces that are easy for little hands. Place the triangles into covered storage containers and keep them in the fridge for easy access. When healthy snacks are visible and accessible, family members will eat them up.  On the other hand, snacks that are out of sight or take a lot of work are generally ignored. Be sure to de-seed if you have smaller children who will be eating the snack.

    Image by Yvonne Brettnich
    Image by Yvonne Brettnich

  1. Watermelon makes a beautiful side dish on any table. Try this . . . lay the watermelon on its side and using zig-zag cuts, cut one-quarter of the melon off the top. This makes a decorative oblong or round “bowl” for serving. Then, cut one-quarter of the melon off the bottom to make a stable base. Set the “bowl” on a serving plate.

With a melon-baller, scoop out the fruit from all three pieces of the watermelon, removing the seeds as you go. Place the melon balls in a bowl as you scoop. When finished, scrape out any residual melon until the “bowl” is fairly clean and smooth. Return the melon balls to the watermelon bowl.

It is fun to add other melon balls from cantaloupe and honey dew for extra color and flavor. Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The top part of the watermelon can be used as a lid if transporting.

If you are feeling creative, you can cut shapes out of the watermelon like fish and cars. A great site to learn how to make shapes out of watermelon is the National Watermelon Promotion Board. (http://www.watermelon.org/Carvings)

  1. Watermelon is a wonderful breakfast food. Serve it cut up – alone or layered with banana slices, apples, oranges or other fruits of choice. Top with plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and granola for a tasty and healthy morning starter.
  1. Watermelon checkers are a fun appetizer. Cut an equal number of 1” squares of watermelon and your favorite cheese and build a checkerboard, alternating watermelon and cheese. Then, cut small circles of the watermelon and cheese to use as checkers. This is a fun creative appetizer to serve at a summer outing or family barbecue. The little ones will have fun helping you build the checkerboard.
  1. Watermelon “ice cream” cones – a fun and healthy summertime treat. Start with small cake cones; fill the bottom of each cone with a tablespoon of Philadelphia pineapple cream cheese (original cream cheese also works). Add a spoonful of dried Craisins over the cream cheese. Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of cold seedless watermelon over the Craisins, and top with sprinkles. You will have a healthy, delicious and adorable treat kids ask for again and again. Great for birthday parties, 4th of July or any hot summer night.
  1. Frosted watermelon – another fun treat for both kids and adults. With your favorite cookie cutters create cookie-like shapes from the watermelon. Frost with plain Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and sprinkled with granola. You can also use classic watermelon wedges instead of cookie shapes if you like things easy (as I do).

These ideas not only brighten any table, they also offer the added benefits of serving a delicious and healthy food. Watermelon is nature’s healthy, sweet treat. Serve it often.

Photo Credit: IMG_2639 via photopin (license)

Oven Roasted Asparagus – Recipe of the Day

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ba0615″]The Perfect Side Dish[/typography]

Oven Roasted Asparagus
Image by Mr T in DC

Oven roasted asparagus is one of the best ways to bring out the natural flavors of this wonderful vegetable. This quick and easy recipe makes a great weeknight side dish that pairs well with beef, chicken, pork or seafood. It also works very well in a number of white sauce pasta dishes.


  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, rinsed thoroughly and tough ends removed
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon zest (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over asparagus and toss to coat well.
  3. Arrange on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil in a single layer.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.
  5. Roast for 25 minutes or until crisp tender.
  6. Garnish with a little fresh lemon zest, if desired.

Note:  Can also be roasted on the outdoor grill if you desire.

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Greek Potato Salad – Busy Mom’s Series, Day 13

Greek Potato Salad[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#B01025″]Greek Potato Salad[/typography]

Greek Potato Salad is very different from traditional potato salad. It is a taste delight and always a refreshing change of pace.


  • 2 pounds medium red potatoes, with skins
  • 2 medium bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, cut into eighths
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ medium red onion, very thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • ½ cup whole kalamata or ripe olives
  • 1 package (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese (1 cup)

Lemon Dressing

  • ½ cup olive or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


  1. Cut potatoes across width into 1/8” slices.
  2. Place in a large bowl and wash in cold running water until water runs clear.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes, bring back to a boil, and cook until slices are barely soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.  (DO NOT OVER COOK)
  5. Drain in a colander
  6. Place the potatoes and the remaining salad ingredients except cheese into a large bowl.
  7. Add the dressing and toss gently.
  8. Serve the potato salad immediately or cover the bowl and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
  9. Sprinkle the cheese over the salad just before serving.

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Broccoli Bacon Salad, Busy Mom’s Series, Day 10

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#B01030″]Broccoli Bacon Salad[/typography]

Broccoli Bacon Salad
Image by Arsheffield

Broccoli Bacon Salad is a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. Serve as a hearty side dish with any grilled meat, or serve as a main course for lunch with warm French bread and butter.


  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 pound bacon (Substitute turkey or beef bacon if you prefer)
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups red grapes or 1 cup dried cranberries, cherries or golden raisins (Try each one to find your favorite)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds


  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Best Foods)
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper


  1. Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam just long enough to slightly pierce with a fork (DO NOT OVER COOK).
  2. Pour directly into a bowl with ice water to shock it.
  3. Immediately pour off the ice water and place the broccoli on paper towels to drain.
  4. Cook the bacon until it is very crisp.
  5.  Drain on paper towels and crumble it into small pieces.
  6. Drain the fat from the pan but do not wipe out the pan.
  7.  Add chopped onion and garlic to the pan and cook ~4 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
  8. Combine broccoli, bacon, onion and garlic in a large bowl and stir gently until combined.
  9. Add the grapes and sliced almonds – toss gently.
  10. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  11. Mix well with a wire whisk.
  12. Pour dressing over the salad, and stir gently to coat.
  13. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving.

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Fresh Corn Salad – Busy Mom Series, Day 2

Fresh Corn Salad


Fresh Corn Salad is light and refreshing. It is a wonderful side dish for any meal – steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, or even good for a light lunch if served by itself.


  • 6 ears of fresh corn – OR – 16 oz. package frozen corn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, washed, trimmed, and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s™ or Best Food™)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic vinegar
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and coarsely-ground pepper to taste



The Vegetables

  1. Packaged corn – thaw and drain and skip to “add the green pepper . . .”
  2. Fresh Corn – remove husks and silk
  3. Add a small amount of sugar to a large pot of water.
  4. Place corn in water and bring it to a boil – cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (Don’t overcook. Corn should be just heated through.)
  5. Drop the corn into a bowl of ice water to shock it and stop the cooking process.
  6. Let it stand in the ice water for ~4 minutes.
  7. Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife and place in a large bowl.
  8. Add the green pepper, onions and tomatoes – mix well – set in the refrigerator to chill

The Dressing

  1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, basil, garlic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper in a small bowl – mix well.
  2. Pour over corn mixture and toss gently to coat.
  3. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.


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