FEATURE — During the lazy days of summer, it can be hard to find motivation to cook. Research shows us that home-cooked meals are healthier and less expensive than dining out. Plus, eating at home gives you the benefits that family mealtime can bring.
Learning easy ways to prepare summer veggies can help you get dinner on the table in a hurry, and keep it healthy. Here are four easy ways to prepare summer veggies:
Preparing veggies raw is almost a no-brainer. All it takes is a little washing, peeling and chopping. Veggies with dip, smoothies and salads are all great ways to enjoy raw veggies.
When you bring vegetables home from your local farmers market or grocery store, take a few minutes to prepare them. Wash, peel, chop and place in the refrigerator. When you’re ready, they’re ready!
Take it a step further and prepare a yummy vegetable dip or salad dressing. When it’s time to eat, you’ll already be one step into a healthy meal.
You can give vegetables extra flavor with a quick marinade. Prepare the veggies early in the day, and they will be full of flavor by dinnertime.
A marinade recipe can be adjusted for the flavors you enjoy. Play around with recipes until you get it just right. To get started, try 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Place about 3 cups of chopped veggies in a bowl. Drizzle the marinade over top, and mix well. Let the veggies marinate for at least 30 minutes to soak up the flavor.
If you have an outdoor grill, grilling veggies is a great way to beat the heat during hot summer months. Cooking times may vary a bit, but the steps are basically the same for any vegetable. You can cook the veggies right on the grill, place them on top of a piece of aluminum foil, or slide them onto a kabob stick.
It is a good idea to brush veggies with oil before you cook them. Marinades also work great when grilling vegetables. Click here for more information on grilling and here for a marinated barbecued vegetable recipe. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, use a skillet on your stovetop instead.
Don’t count out the microwave when it comes to preparing summer veggies. Use the microwave to keep your kitchen cool and your meal healthy.
For best results, chop veggies so they are about the same size to help them cook evenly. If you end up with veggies that are different sizes, put the bigger pieces on the outside and the smaller pieces in the middle of a microwave-safe dish. If cooking vegetables in the microwave is new to you, click here to learn the steps.
Click here for more tips, and different ways to cook veggies.
Take some time to visit your local farmers market this week to shop for summer veggies. Check out our “create amazing veggies” recipes for ideas on what to cook. One of my favorite vegetable recipes is black bean and corn salsa.
You are likely to find many of the ingredients at the farmers market. Eat it as a traditional salsa, rolled up in a tortilla or on top of grilled chicken or steak. Enjoy!
Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.
This article originally appeared July 19, 2019 on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.
Copyright © CreateBetterHealth.org, all rights reserved.