During the summer, it's easy to let healthy eating slide off your priority list. Who can resist the food at parties and barbecues, not to mention all of those ice cream cones?
Not all the perks of summer are bad for your diet, though. Vegetables like yellow squash and tomatoes are at their peak at this time of year.
Try pairing summer veggies with whole wheat pasta. Vegetables are low in fat and high in nutrients, while whole wheat pasta offers more fiber and protein than white flour noodles.
These three recipes can help you start to concentrate on healthy eating once again, while taking advantage of the summer harvest. All three dishes are also easy to prepare, so as an added benefit, you'll be spending less time in the hot kitchen.
Whole Wheat Ravioli
with Garlic Sauteed Vegetables
1 package (9 ounces) Buitoni Refrigerated Whole Wheat Four Cheese Ravioli, prepared according to package directions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1⁄2 pound fresh green beans
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced
1⁄2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1⁄2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
Heat oil and garlic in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green beans, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add squash and tomatoes; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Toss in pasta; cook for 3 minutes or until pasta is warm. Sprinkle with cheese.
Source: Nestle USA (www.nestleusa.com)
Bow Tie Garden Medley
1 10-ounce package of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie pasta
1 pound zucchini, cut lengthwise then into 1⁄2-inch slices
1 pound yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise, then into 1⁄2-inch slices
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1⁄4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse. Cover and keep warm.
In a large nonstick skillet, saute zucchini, summer squash and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes. Add lemon pepper, chives, basil and tomatoes. Simmer 3 minutes or until heated through. Serve vegetables on hot pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese.
Source: Hodgson Mill (www.hodgsonmill.com)
Italian Sausage Pasta
2 links Italian chicken or turkey sausage, cut into small bits
2 cups mixed chopped vegetables such as red peppers, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, broccoli or garlic
1 cup cleaned chopped spinach
1 jar unsweetened spaghetti sauce
8 ounces whole wheat spiral pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Fill a large sauce pan with water and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package. Brown sausage bits in a non-stick skillet until cooked through and golden outside. Chop the vegetables and saute in a little olive oil until tender-crisp. Add the spinach, spaghetti sauce and sausage to the vegetables and warm until spinach wilts. Drain pasta and combine with vegetable-sausage mix. Top with cheese, if desired.
Makes four servings.
Note: Chicken, beans or shrimp can be substituted for sausage in this dish.
Source: Whole Grains Council (www.wholegrainscouncil.org)