The weather is warming up and many meals are moving outside to be grilled or eaten at a picnic table. It’s an exciting time of year as we’re able to enjoy more time outdoors. The warmer temperatures also mean that family comes over for barbecues or drinks on the porch. While these are all great things to look forward to, entertaining more often can also mean added stress. So, instead of stressing over what to cook, try out some of SWISCO staff’s favorite recipes and enjoy your time with family and friends guilt-free!
Salads with Substance (Casey)
Salads are a great start to any meal, especially as the weather starts to warm up and a lot of greens can be found in the garden. Although a salad certainly isn’t everyone’s first choice to start a meal, I’ve found a few salads that are the perfect balance of healthy without tasting boring. The important part is making sure that any salad has substance and texture added to it. I’ve found two go-to salad recipes that accomplish this goal well.
A cranberry pecan salad can be made with sweet honey mustard dressing or a vinaigrette to add some tang to offset the sweetness of the cranberries and pecans. One of the recipes for this salad that I found also calls for feta cheese, which will accomplish the same thing while catering to cheese lovers in general. Kale is also a good option for this light salad recipe, but any leafy greens are bound to be a hit.
A heartier salad option would be an avocado ranch salad. Adding avocado to a salad, whether it be as a garnish or dressing, will make it more filling and give a creamy texture to offset the crunch that most greens provide. Adding a zest like chipotle seasoning also makes an appetizer that sets the bar high for the rest of the meal.
One of the best things about starting with a salad is that it’s customizable. If you have a picky group coming over for dinner, you could even lay out all of the elements separately and have your guests pick and choose what they add to their plates.
Brussels Sprout Tacos (Kathleen)
Admittedly, I’ve been chasing the dragon in search of the perfect Brussels sprouts tacos after experiencing some of the tastiest I’ve ever had at Philadelphia’s Pistola’s Del Sur a few weeks ago. So far, the closest I’ve come to satisfying this craving is Bon Appétit’s Brussels Sprouts Taco recipe. It’s quick and healthy, and therefore deserves a permanent spot in my line-up for weeknight dinners when I’m on the go. With a couple of tweaks, this recipe can be made in record-breaking time.
To spend less time in the kitchen and for the sake of repurposing, make the vinaigrette ahead of time and use the leftovers on salads, roasted veggies or grain bowls. I also suggest not to bother pulling out the food processor just to make your own peanut butter. A good quality, natural peanut butter with Aleppo pepper turns out just as good. And for one more corner to cut, roast the Brussels in the oven instead of pan-frying – it’ll be healthier, too!
Chicken Fajitas (Bob)
Spring is a great time to incorporate more healthy dishes with fresh vegetables that many people can pull from their garden. One of my go-to spring foods is chicken fajitas. The great thing about them is that there customizable to fit anyone’s tastes and can be made on the grill on nice, sunny days or in the oven when the rain keeps us inside. It’s a reasonably healthy dish that you can make it a number of different ways, so what’s not to like? It also has that street-food sort of feel people like at outdoor parties or family barbecues.
I normally include lots of green and red pepper, onion and diced chicken to this recipe. Mixing taco seasoning and olive oil is the easiest way to flavor the dish but you can also add individual seasonings and Adobo for a more authentic taste.
Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (Kathleen)
My cooking style involves a lot of modification and guesstimating ingredients, so I’m sure you can gather that the careful science of baking isn’t my strong suit. When looking for dessert recipes I gravitate toward ones with wholesome ingredients and vegan substitutions. Which is exactly how I stumbled on recipes by Philadelphia-based Erin Lives Whole. Each of her recipes is made with quality, whole food ingredients and she always offers options to make the recipe vegan, yet still delicious!
If I could describe spring with a flavor, it would be lemon. And Erin’s Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins makes lemon the star of the show. Naturally sweetened with tons of fresh lemon and maple syrup, you can barely feel guilty eating these – even for a quick breakfast or late night snack.
Water Ice (Casey)
Homemade water ice is a staple from most childhood memories for anyone who grew up in the Northeast. Growing up right outside of Philadelphia, there is a Rita’s water ice stand on almost every corner. For anyone that might be unfamiliar, water ice is a less solid and more flavorful cousin to shaved ice. Pairing water ice with ice cream makes a gelati, my personal favorite frozen treat.
Luckily, there is a way to make this amazing dessert at home for anyone who doesn’t have to walk outside and buy one on a hot day. It’s also incredibly easy for anyone with an ice cream maker. You’ll just need water, lemon, and your favorite flavoring. As you might assume, you’ll also need a hefty amount of sugar. Mix it all up, let it cool in the fridge and put it in the ice cream maker. Instead of ice cream, you’ll wind up with a delicious and dairy free alternative for dessert!