75 Ways to Start Your Summer Off Light

Get your summer started with these 75 tips for a healthy, happy season.

Give Ice Pops a Grown-Up Spin

Photo: Anna Williams

Healthy Tips for Summer

Start your summer off right with these healthful tips. From natural sun-protection to making the most of those seasonal veggies—our ideas for a light summer will help you prepare for fun in the sun all season long.

Beat the heat with our first summer tip: Give Ice Pops a Grown-Up Spin.

A grown-up ice pop, just in time for summer: It’s made from fresh melon, chile, and lime—both juice and rind. A bit of pectin helps keep all the ingredients incorporated evenly; without it, they tend to separate.

View Recipe: Watermelon-Jalapeño Ice Pops

Add Zing to Your Guacamole

Photo: Randy Mayor

Add Zing to Your Guacamole

A super simple preparation is ideal for perfectly ripe avocados—there’s no need for tomatoes or other complications. You just want the avocados’ richness to shine against the zip of lime and cilantro. To make the guacamole sing, we have a trick: Add a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce to deepen the avocados' flavor. Pretty soon you’ll be adding a dash of fish sauce to just about anything.

View Recipe: Guacamole with Fish Sauce

Pack a Cooler

Photo: Charles Masters & Randy Mayor

Pack a Cooler

Heading out on a road trip? With our Cooler Packing List you will bypass the seemingly convenient (but usually unhealthy) fast food joints in favor of home cooked and packed meals.

For general cooler packing, here are a few tips. Pack raw meats, fish, and produce sealed in plastic bags on the bottom. Next layer in produce, dairy, eggs, and perishable condiments. Save space by packing just what you think you’ll need. And remember to fill the cooler all the way up; the ice will melt faster if it’s full of room-temperature air.

If you store your cooler in a hot garage, bring it inside the night before so you can start with a cooled-off vessel. Use solid ice or reusable gel-filled ice packs on the bottom, pack food, then fill in the gaps with bags of cubed ice. Once it’s packed and ready, stow in the trunk, away from light, and put a blanket or sleeping bag around it for extra insulation.

Get the Kids in the Kitchen with Matisse

Get the Kids in the Kitchen with Matisse

Get your little summer vacationers up and moving in the kitchen with a little help from the food-savviest kid we know, Mattisse Reid. Once a week, have your pint-sized chefs take turns cooking up one of Matisse’s kid-friendly recipes. Family and friends can score the recipe for an added dose of fun. See what Matisse has been cooking.

Fix a Gorgeous Salad

Photo: Johnny Autry

Fix a Gorgeous Salad

Jazz up basic fresh veggies with a shave and a lemony dressing. Shaving carrots and zucchini into thin ribbons with a simple peeler or, if you have one, a mandoline transforms ho-hum texture and turns the plate into a bright gift of color. Fresh mint adds fragrance, and the dressing ties it all together with a zing.

View Recipe: Shaved Carrot and Zucchini Salad

Obtain Water from Pasta and Grains

Photo: Randy Mayor

Obtain Water from Pasta and Grains

Water plays a critical role in preparing grains and starches like pasta, couscous, rice, and hot cereals. When cooked in boiling water, their starch granules soak up water, causing them to swell and soften. This increases their fluid content as much as sixfold, transforming them from one of the driest foods to one of the wettest. For more healthy pasta ideas, check out MyPlate-Inspired Pasta.

View Recipe: Spring Linguine with Basil

Oil Up

Photo: Randy Mayor

Oil Up

This healthy fat contains essential fatty acids that help skin resist UV damage, found a Lancet Oncology study. EFAs are also part of the cell membranes that help hold in moisture. The body can't synthesize EFAs, so consume about 1 tablespoon of olive oil daily to keep skin supple. Choose the best olive oil with our Taste Test: Best Everyday Olive Oils.

Stay Hydrated

Stay Hydrated

Skin cells contain mostly water, and if you're dehydrated, skin can look and feel parched. While the “8 glasses a day” rule is no longer valid, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking when you're thirsty. For more ways to stay hydrated, check out these Fluid-Rich Foods.

Celebrate Summer's Bounty

Photo: Nigel Cox

Celebrate Summer's Bounty

For anyone who enjoys food and cooking, summer offers the finest ingredients—fresh, local produce from the garden, farmers' market, and grocery—to make any dish superlative. The key is to keep things simple and let the quality of seasonal ingredients shine through. It's so easy, enjoyable, and affordable to indulge your cravings for fresh fruits and vegetables this time of year. Check out our Complete Guide to Summer.

Get Smoother Skin

Get Smoother Skin

Gritty sugar and cooling cucumber work together in our Cucumber Natural Face Mask, giving you a smoother, fresher face.

Peel 1 cucumber and mash; place in a strainer to drain water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix well. Apply on your face and leave for 10 minutes, then wash with cold water.

 

Don’t Turn into a Tomato, Eat One

Photo: Nigel Cox

Don’t Turn into a Tomato, Eat One

Eating red may help save your skin from turning red. Volunteers who consumed 5 tablespoons of high-in-lycopene tomato paste daily for 3 months had nearly 25% more protection against sunburn in one study.

View Recipe: Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado

Drink Your Fruits

Photo: Jeff Kauck

Drink Your Fruits

Juices provide lots of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and flavor. Adults should eat 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit each day, according to the FDA. Each 8-ounce glass of Blackberry Limeade gets you well on your way, in a most delicious manner. This summer cooler is great to bring on a picnic or to serve at a backyard party. Don't miss out on these Summer Sippers.

View Recipe: Blackberry Limeade

Nix the FroYo Mix

Photo: Night and Day Images

Nix the FroYo Mix

Pull down the nozzle on four different flavor favorites (plain tart, pomegranate, blueberry, white peach) so you get a taste of everything and before you know it you’ve filled the smallest size self-serve cup to the top and crowned it with a generous swirl. End portion: probably 2 cups. Calories: 370. And sugar? You’ll be mainlining 20 teaspoons (85 grams) right down the old gullet.

Instead, stick with one flavor and get a variety of flavor and textures from our Monkey Business topping combination.

 

Learn How to Properly Grill Chicken

Learn How to Properly Grill Chicken

Charred skin and rare meat in the thickest part of the chicken breast? Perfectly grilled chicken—with crisp, browned skin and juicy, succulent meat—is relatively simple if you learn to manipulate the heat. Get grilling the right way with our Grilled Chicken Tips.

Keep Salads Simple

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Keep Salads Simple

"When I was growing up in Mexico City, my parents would throw wonderful ­summer barbecues," says Chef Medina (Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, New York City). "We would grill corn on the cob and mix in leftover beans from the weekend and make a delicious, simple corn and bean salad." This Latin-accented three-bean and corn salad is studded with guacamole components: Jalapeño, cilantro, white onion, lime, and avocado.

View Recipe: Pinto, Black, and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado

Go Nutty for Supple Skin

Photo: Oxmoor House

Go Nutty for Supple Skin

Walnuts are storehouses of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that's a key component of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple. A ½-ounce serving of walnuts provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of ALA. Get knowledgeable about nuts with our A-Z Guide to Nuts.

Have Kid-Friendly Snacks On Hand

Photo: Randy Mayor

Have Kid-Friendly Snacks On Hand

Between meals, most kids get hungry as wolves, and snacking is an important energy bridge. Snacking ought to be healthy, but it still needs to have the crunch, chew, and bright flavors of a real treat. Homemade snacks are great. But sometimes packaged snacks trump everything. We taste-tested our way to the best Kid-Friendly Snacks.

Get Peachy

Photo: Oxmoor House

Get Peachy

From cobblers to salad to ice cream to soup, fresh peaches are a delight this time of year. They’re decadently sweet making them the perfect choice for a sweet and satisfying snack or dessert. Start cooking with Our Favorite Peach Recipes.

Go Bananas for Berries

Photo: Nigel Cox

Go Bananas for Berries

Antioxidant-packed berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, contain some of the highest antioxidant levels of foods measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Berries add sweet tartness to muffins, smoothies, jams, and more. They're at their peak from late May through August.

View Recipe: Greek Yogurt with Warm Berry Sauce

Order Your Salad Chopped with Tomatoes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Order Your Salad Chopped with Tomatoes

The juice from the tomatoes moistens the salad, lessening the need for lots of salad dressing. Make sure to specify dressing on the side too, so you can control the amount that goes on.

View Recipe: Bell Pepper, Tomato, Cucumber, and Grilled Bread Salad

Revitalize with Romaine

Revitalize with Romaine

Just six leaves of romaine lettuce provide more than 100% of your daily value of vitamin A, which revitalizes skin by increasing cell turnover. Plus, the potassium in romaine gives skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation.

Follow the Rules of Safe Picnic Packing

Photo: Quentin Bacon

Follow the Rules of Safe Picnic Packing

Prep less than 1 day from picnic so food tastes fresh.

Transport on ice. Food should be chilled and packed in a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep them cold while they travel.

Heat just before taking. If you're bringing a baked dish, it can be cooked the day before. Reheat just before heading out; wrap the hot container in a towel, and tote carefully to the picnic.

Serve—then stow. Once folks have gone through the line and served themselves, put chilled dishes back in the cooler to keep them cold. Anyone who wants seconds can dig back into the cooler.

Use the two-hour/one-hour rule. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours (or one hour if it’s a hot day over 90 degrees).

Toss the leftovers. The food will have been handled a lot, and possibly will have been sitting out for a while.

For tasty picnic ideas, see our Portable 4th of July Menu.

Don't Forget to Count Meat, Poultry, Fish

Photo: Anna Williams

Don't Forget to Count Meat, Poultry, Fish

Cooking can make certain foods lose small amounts of fluid. Cooking meat, for example, causes it to lose 20 to 30 percent of its original water content. But because foods like meat, poultry, and fish are inherently rich in water, they still contribute to our overall water needs.

View Recipe: Grilled Char with Yukon Golds and Tomato–Red Onion Relish

Consume Fluid-Rich Foods

Photo: Randy Mayor

Consume Fluid-Rich Foods

For years, we've been told to drink eight glasses of water a day for optimal health. But food, often overlooked as a water source, can supply as much as 20 percent of the liquid you need―and far more if you choose fluid-rich fare. Incorporate recipes like our Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa to stay hydrated without toting that water bottle around all day. For more hydrating recipes, try our collection of Fluid-Rich Foods.

View Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

Stock up on Strawberries

Stock up on Strawberries

Did you know that in addition to being a delicious fruit, strawberries can also keep your skin looking gorgeous? The vitamin C in strawberries acts as an important building block of collagen—the underlying supporting structure of skin. Just 1 cup of strawberries contains over 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.  Check out these Strawberry Desserts.

Have a Drink with Each Meal

Photo: Randy Mayor

Have a Drink with Each Meal

Since sipping a beverage helps moisten and wash down food, eating encourages us to drink more. Food also provides minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that help our bodies hold on to water, so the liquids we consume are better retained than those we drink between meals.

View Recipe: Cucumber, Asian Pear, and Watermelon Salad with Ricotta Salata

Add More Fruits and Vegetables

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Add More Fruits and Vegetables

Soup, fruits, and vegetables are all more than 80 percent water, so adding more of these foods to your diet can contribute to your overall hydration. You can also count any beverage, including milk, juice, soda, and even coffee and tea (their diuretic role has been exaggerated).

View Recipe: Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Mustard Seed Dressing

Team Up with Mother Nature

Team Up with Mother Nature

Find a trail near you and rediscover the great outdoors. A 4 to 5 mile hike is a great start for beginners. Visit Trails.com to find nearby hiking trails.

Grill Your Veggies

Photo: Johnny Autry

Grill Your Veggies

Grill your favorite veggies for a tasty, healthy accompaniment to chicken, fish, steak, and more. Cranking up the grill to high heat delivers optimum charring that really makes the salad shine. No dressing required here other than a dash of olive oil.

View Recipe: Grilled Corn, Poblano, and Black Bean Salad

Do the Math in Margaritaville

Photo: Randy Mayor

Do the Math in Margaritaville

Looking to cool off with a chilly margarita? Opt for our take on the classic. When chip-and-salsa joints lean on the sugar to make tall, sweet drinks, it adds up fast in the glass.

Happy Hour Frozen Margarita vs. our Classic, on the Rocks
A regular happy hour frozen margarita is around 12 ounces and weighs in at 410 calories (56% coming from sugar). Our lightened version is 130 calories for a 6-ounce portion with just 14% coming from sugar.

The Cooking Light Margarita:
1 ounce premium or silver tequila, 1/2 ounce Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur, 1.5 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice. Shake with 3/4 cup ice; garnish with lime.

Instead of Tomato Salsa, Opt for Watermelon Salsa

Photo: Randy Mayor

Instead of Tomato Salsa, Opt for Watermelon Salsa

In addition to quenching thirst― watermelon is 92 percent water―it provides hefty doses of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and lycopene (a disease-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables). One cup of watermelon contains more of both lycopene and beta-carotene than a medium-sized tomato. Learn more with our All About Melons guide. 

Mix ¼ cup lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add 3 cups diced seeded melon (use any ripe melon or combination of melons you like), 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced. Toss gently to combine; cover and chill until ready to serve.

An Apple a Day

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

An Apple a Day

Quercetin, an antioxidant in the peel of many apple varieties, provides some protection from the "burning" UVB rays that can trigger skin cancer. For the biggest quercetin concentration, look for Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Monroe varieties. Don't miss out on Our Best Apple Recipes.

Grab a Glass of Green Tea

Grab a Glass of Green Tea

Tea is rich in antioxidants that decrease inflammation and protect cell membranes. Some studies have shown that tea may also reduce the damage of sunburns and overexposure to ultraviolet light. Green tea is especially rich in a compound known as EGCG which may acts as a "fountain of youth" of sorts for skin by reactivating dying skin cells.

Spice Up Corn on the Cob

Photo: Anna Williams

Spice Up Corn on the Cob

This recipe makes eating veggies taste like a treat. Just a little butter goes a long way when roasted jalapeño is also in the fold. Charring the pepper eases the heat, yielding a versatile, not-too-spicy butter.

View Recipe: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Roasted Jalapeño Butter

Rev Up your Morning with Water

Photo: David Muir/Masterfile

Rev Up your Morning with Water

Drink an 8-ounce glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning to rev up your metabolism. Your body is parched after 6 to 8 hours of sleep.

Open the Refrigerator, Close the Freezer

Photo: Caleb Chancey

Open the Refrigerator, Close the Freezer

For something cool and creamy look to the refrigerated case rather than the freezer case. But, just be sure to do your research before selecting your favorite dairy treat. See our Ultimate Guide to Yogurt for tips.

Grow Radishes

Photo: Caleb Chancey

Grow Radishes

Radishes are easy to grow and fast to sow. Some varieties are ready in less than a month, so they’re perfect for anyone whose attention span may not last long enough for slower-to-mature vegetables. For tips on how to make the most of these peppery and beautiful bulbs, see our Radish Growing Guide.

Prep Kid-Friendly Food in a Flash

Photo: Johnny Autry

Prep Kid-Friendly Food in a Flash

The kids are home for the summer and you need a meal, fast. What to do? Cook up one of our Superfast Kid-Friendly Recipes. We have kid-pleasing meals, snacks, and treats—all ready in just 20 minutes.

View Recipe: Cheesy Chicken Bagel Pizzas

Grill Potatoes for Potato Salad

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Grill Potatoes for Potato Salad

Forget the pot of water—this rustic potato salad gets you outside enjoying the sunshine as you grill up a delicious summer side dish. Grilling the vegetables brings unexpected smokiness to a familiar picnic staple.

View Recipe: Lemony Grilled Potato Salad

Take Two: Strawberry Sorbet vs. Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Photo: Randy Mayor

Take Two: Strawberry Sorbet vs. Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

With similar calorie profiles, both sorbet and frozen yogurt are smart choices for cool summer treats―especially when chosen in place of ice cream. Sorbet is a combination of fruit, water, and juice, making it naturally fat-free. Since it contains no dairy, sorbet is ideal for the lactose intolerant, but it lacks calcium and protein. A half-cup portion of nonfat frozen yogurt, made from dairy, provides four grams of satiating protein and 15 percent of your daily calcium requirement.

Strawberry Sorbet (1/2 cup)
121 calories
0 milligrams calcium
0 grams protein 

Strawberry Nonfat Frozen Yogurt (1/2 cup)
117 calories
150 milligrams calcium
4 grams protein

Instead of OJ, Reach for an Orange

Photo: Randy Mayor

Instead of OJ, Reach for an Orange

Skip the 12-ounce glass of orange juice. Eat a fresh orange instead—one cup of OJ has 24 grams of sugar, double the amount in an orange. Plus you’ll tack on an extra 3 grams of fiber, too, by eating whole fruit.

Make Your FroYo a Tropical Treat

Photo: John Autry

Make Your FroYo a Tropical Treat

This low-calorie topping will make you feel like you’ve jetted away to a tropical island. A small cup of frozen yogurt topped with this combo will keep your frozen treat under 300 calories:

2 tablespoons pineapple + 2 tablespoons mango + 1 tablespoon shredded coconut; 50 calories

See more Healthy Frozen Yogurt Toppings

Grab a Slice

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Grab a Slice

Perfect for backyard barbecues, picnics, and beach parties, watermelon’s at its best during late summer months. Grab a slice and chow down for a sweet and nutritious treat. Just be sure there are plenty of napkins nearby.

Keep Kids’ Snacks Portable

Photo: Randy Mayor

Keep Kids’ Snacks Portable

If your kids’ summer schedule is packed to the brim, a lot of snacks might have to be grab-and-go friendly. Our lightened Peach Turnovers are just the ticket. A rich, juicy filling and flaky crust keep this portable treat deliciously grease-free and picnic-ready.

View Recipe: Peach “Fried” Pie

Make the Farmers Market Fun for the Family

Make the Farmers Market Fun for the Family

If there is a local farmers' market nearby, support your community and pay them a visit. Get the whole family involved. Allow either yourself or a family member to choose a new item from the produce section and add it to your meal.

Keep the Kitchen Cool

Illustration: QuickHoney

Keep the Kitchen Cool

With the mercury rising, the last thing you want to do is come home to a hot kitchen. Enter in the no-cook miracle meal. We’re not talking about peeling off the plastic and waiting for the microwave to beep. We have homemade, fresh meals you can make without cranking up the oven or cooktop, and all can be ready in 30 minutes or less.

All start with smart supermarket choices—precooked eggs, canned or jarred tuna, rotisserie chickens, and steamed lump crabmeat. All these meals are also ideal for people who live in dorm rooms or other small spaces without full kitchens. For cool ideas see our lineup of No-Cook Meals.

Fear Not the Fire

Photo: John Autry

Fear Not the Fire

Throwing a few vegetables onto the barbie to complement a burger or a chop gives short shrift to the true power of char and flame. The natural sugars in vegetables are caramelized by the high heat and suffused by the smoke. Yes, they’re good right off the fire. But go even further: Make a gazpacho, grill stuffed jalapeños, or make a grilled Caesar salad. Learn How to Grill Vegetables.

View Recipe: Grilled Romaine with Creamy Herb Dressing

Stock Up on Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Stock Up on Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Stock the car with healthy snacks to combat those road trip munchies. This summer, millions of Americans will take to the roads. If you’re one of them, you may think that means hours with nothing to nosh on but convenience store staples like chips and cookies. Not anymore. While convenience stores still have their fair share of less-than-optimal eats, many now stock a surprising selection of fresh and healthy choices. Next time you stop to refuel, test drive these light snacks.

Give Your Burger a Sun-Dried Summer

Photo: Randy Mayor

Give Your Burger a Sun-Dried Summer

Load that burger up with a thick slice of cheddar, mayo, and ketchup, and you’ll soon have a calorie heavy hitter. Take a cue from the season and top your burger with a combination of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese—clocking in under 100 calories. Here's the equation:

2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes + 1/4 cup fresh spinach + 1 ounce goat cheese

Don't run out of ways to top your summer burgers. Check out more 100-Calorie Burger Toppings.

Be Portion Aware

Photo: Randy Mayor

Be Portion Aware

Being portion aware is easy when you use our 200-Calorie Tacos as your guide. Start with a warm 6-inch corn tortilla. Pick from our tasty topping combos to create a perfectly portioned 200-calorie taco. Healthy, delicious—you’ll want two. For seasonal flavors try Black  Bean Fiesta or Mahi & Mango.

Route Your Flight to a Healthy Hub

Photo: © PhotoAlto/Corbis

Route Your Flight to a Healthy Hub

Jetting off on summer vacation doesn’t mean your diet needs to fall to the wayside. With airlines skimping on in-flight food, airport terminals are ramping up offerings, ditching mundane choices in favor of high-end gourmet, fresh, and even organic selections. We perused the menu at 20 of the nation’s busiest airports to zero in on the ones making the biggest strides when it comes to delivering healthy options. Our top picks are airports you might be flying through this summer. Keep these food choices in mind during your travels. See where we’re jetting with The Best Healthy Airport Foods.

Make Your Own Ice Cream

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Make Your Own Ice Cream

Nothing can beat the creamy flavor of homemade ice cream. On a hot day, the anticipation of enjoying this creamy treat chilling away in the freezer might require a bit of courage, but we can guarantee that the wait is worth it.

Sweet lemon verbena is a calling card of the summer season, making our recipe for Lemon Verbena Ice Cream a surefire hit.

View Recipe: Lemon Verbena Ice Cream  

Give Your Quinoa a Summer Spin

Photo: Randy Mayor

Give Your Quinoa a Summer Spin

Make any one of our 250-Calorie Quinoa Recipes and keep it chilled in the refrigerator to have on hand for a light summer lunch. Our Mint for Summer quinoa recipe plays on the season’s flavors.

Instead of a Flour Tortilla, Reach for Corn Tortillas

Photo: Randy Mayor

Instead of a Flour Tortilla, Reach for Corn Tortillas

Turn burrito night into fajita night! Stuff the tasty fixings into 2 (6-inch) corn tortillas, rather than one (10-inch) flour tortilla. You’ll also save 450mg of sodium.

Take Two: Frozen Coffee Drink vs. Ice Cream

Take Two: Frozen Coffee Drink vs. Ice Cream

If you’re in need of a chilly treat, opt for ice cream over a frozen coffee drink. A half-cup serving of ice cream has 65 fewer calories than a typical medium-sized, frozen coffee drink made with whole milk. It also has more fat but less sodium and less than half the sugar. (Coffee drinks that have additional flavorings, like vanilla, are even sweeter and saltier.) With either pick, you'll have a good dose of calcium―about 10 percent of your recommended daily allowance. 

If ice cream's fat content gives you cold feet, choose a light version; the fat tally drops to four grams and the calories to 125. If the coffee drink is your preferred choice, try it with skim milk to knock off 30 calories and all the fat. 

 

Cut Back on Hidden Sodium

Photo: Randy Mayor

Cut Back on Hidden Sodium

Wondering where all the sodium is hidden? You’ll be surprised at the unlikely (and sometimes highly likely—looking at you, salty margarita) places we found the mg’s. One Cooking Light editor cut 6,999mg of sodium—that’s three day’s worth. Cutting sodium is easier than you might think, find out where to cut back.

Freeze a Classic Cocktail

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Freeze a Classic Cocktail

The classic cocktail provides relief from the heat of a Southern summer, so why not freeze and serve it for dessert? Mint-infused simple syrup and smoky-sweet bourbon combine in a slushy delight that's definitely not for kids.

View Recipe: Mint Julep Granita

Boost Your Salad

Photo: Randy Mayor

Boost Your Salad

A salad in a supporting role is always a safe choice, but what about when you want a plate of greens to take center stage? To that we say, double the greens and dressing, pick your favorite 100-Calorie Salad Booster, then add extra protein (see bulleted list below) for a super salad supper that clocks in under 400 calories.

  • Flank steak (3 ounces broiled): 375 calories
  • Chicken breast (3 ounces roasted): 360 calories
  • Shrimp (¼ pound grilled): 345 calories

Keep Your Scoops Light

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Keep Your Scoops Light

By law, a "light" scoop must sport half the fat or one-third less calories than its full-fat counterpart. But "light" is a relative term since regular ice creams start out all across the board when it comes to fat and calories. So we set parameters for the kind of frozen assets that make a "light" scoop skinny enough for a nightly summer treat.

Our scoop stats per ½ cup: 150 calories; 5 grams fat (3 grams saturated) and no partially hydrogenated oils; less than 4 teaspoons (17g) sugar

Check out the Best Light Scoops of Summer.

Color Your Palate

Photo: Jeff Kauck

Color Your Palate

In 1996, two scientists at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging found that the fruits and vegetables with the highest antioxidant activity levels were the most colorful. More than a decade later, research investigating the antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables continues to intrigue scientists. For a list of colorful, antioxidant-rich produce and garden-inspired recipes, check out our Vibrant Produce Picks.

Soothe Sensitive Skin

Soothe Sensitive Skin

For soft summer skin try our Oatmeal Face and Body Pack. No need to buy the latest beauty product on the shelves…you probably have what you need for this face remedy in your pantry.

Take 2 tablespoons oatmeal and 1 tablespoon baking soda and add water to make paste. Apply to face and all over the skin; rub gently and rinse.

Cook the Kids' Meal at Home

Cook the Kids' Meal at Home

Save money and feel good about mealtime by preparing some favorite dishes from typical kids’ restaurant menus and prepare them at home. So often kids’ meals pack more calories, fat, and sodium than our kids need. We’ve selected some typical dishes found on mainstream kids meals and put our spin on them—a healthy, delicious spin that is—so you can prepare them at home. See our Guide to Cooking the Kids Meal at Home.

Grow an Herb Garden

Grow an Herb Garden

Follow a few simple herb-growing tips and soon your garden will be overflowing with edible greenery. Basil, cilantro, mint, and rosemary are all warm-weather herbs that capture the flavor of the season. For tips to help you get started, see our Herb Gardening 101 guide.

Stock Up on the Season's Best Fruits and Veggies

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Stock Up on the Season's Best Fruits and Veggies

Melons, peaches, plums, eggplant, and zucchini (just to name a few) are in season now. With a bounty of the season’s produce and lots of fresh ways to use it, you’ll love every meal that you put together with summertime flavors. See our Summer Produce Guide for bright ideas.

Keep Your Energy Up

Keep Your Energy Up

If hot summer days leave you feeling sluggish, keep your engine revved by filling up on The Best Energy-Packed Whole Foods. Melons, walnuts, edamame, and Icelandic yogurt are just a few of our picks.

Quench Dry Skin

Quench Dry Skin

Try applying some of mother nature’s benefits to your beauty routine. We found some of our favorite fruits and veggies do the body good, from the inside out, like with this Banana Face Mask for dry skin.

Mash half of a ripe banana; combine banana with ½ cup of plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon of honey. Apply this pack on face and neck and leave for 10 minutes; rinse thoroughly. This natural pairing helps moisturize dry skin.

 

Fight Fat with Eggs

Fight Fat with Eggs

To combat cravings and control hunger all day, a protein-rich breakfast of eggs is key. A large egg provides 6 grams of protein and just 70 calories. If you’re really looking to cut back, an egg white has just 30 calories and 3.5 grams of protein and no fat.

New research found that dieters who eat more protein earlier in the day lost more weight, were less hungry, and were more satisfied with their diet. In another study, dieters who ate an egg breakfast instead of a bagel meal lost 65% more weight and belly fat. Try loading morning eggs with veggies like our Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Onions and Peppers.

Try the Flavors of the Season, Frozen

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Try the Flavors of the Season, Frozen

Boasting just 82 calories and a boatload of vitamin C, these double-decker popsicles feature a sweet-tart lemon layer topped with a minty watermelon layer. If you prefer one flavor over the other, double the amount of ingredients required for each layer and make single flavored pops.

View Recipe: Minted Watermelon and Lemon Ice Pops

Go Greek

Go Greek

Nonfat plain Greek yogurt is one of the most diet-friendly foods you can eat. Greek yogurt has twice as much satisfying protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt. One study reported that when dieters upped their protein by 15%, they ate up to 441 less calories per day.  Another study found that dieters who included 24 ounces of fat-free yogurt daily shed 81% more belly fat. Try your hand at creating your own toppings for Greek yogurt or try our Greek Yogurt with Warm Black and Blueberry Sauce.

Grab a Peach

Photo: John Autry

Grab a Peach

The state fruit of Georgia, peaches are in season from May to late September. To select, look for fruit that is firm, with a taut, unblemished skin, and no signs of bruising or wrinkles. If you smell peaches when you walk up to the stand, you know they are ripe.

This seasonal fruit shines, no matter how you prepare it. But, if you’re looking to quench your thirst at a summertime happy hour, our Sparkling Peach Sangria can’t be beat.

View Recipe: Sparkling Peach Sangria

Keep Pistachios on Hand

Keep Pistachios on Hand

In-shell pistachios are a good low-cal source of protein, with a filling 6 grams of protein per ounce and only 100 calories per 30-nut serving. Researchers at Eastern Illinois University reported that eating in-shell pistachios resulted in eating 41% less calories compared to those who ate shelled nuts. The logic is that the nuts’ shell helps to trick the brain into thinking that you’ve eaten more than you actually have. For a super satisfying snack that won’t weigh you down, keep a bag of these unshelled nuts handy.

Know the Kids' Menu

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Know the Kids' Menu

Tricky restaurant choices, finicky eaters, and the desire to provide healthy, nourishing food can make taking the kids out to eat a hassle. Before you head to your favorite eatery, check out our picks for better choices and some easy steps on how to lighten up those kid-favorites with our guide to The Best and Worst Kids' Menus.

Look for Seasonal Sales

Look for Seasonal Sales

On a budget? Check the weekly specials at your local grocery store and choose one of the items on special that week. The specials often reflect the abundance of certain seasonal produce.

Fight Fat with Green and Oolong Tea

Fight Fat with Green and Oolong Tea

Coffee is known to boost your metabolism but tea offers a double-whammy; the caffeine and unique catechins in tea help to rev up your metabolism and boost fat burning. Research shows that drinking tea will provide a slight boost to your metabolic rate and increase fat burning more effectively than if you had caffeine alone. Since tea is calorie-free and antioxidant-rich, choosing it instead of other sugary beverages will provide an extra diet advantage. For the best results, drink plain green or oolong tea several times a day. For a fresh summer green tea, try our Iced Mint Tea.

Eat to Hydrate

Photo: Jeff Kauck

Eat to Hydrate

If your water bottle travels with you everywhere, sip on this thought: Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Food can significantly affect your daily fluid needs. In fact, you can obtain much of the liquid you need from the food and beverages (other than water) you eat and drink every day. See more tips on How to Eat to Hydrate.

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