A few days back, we took to Instagram and asked you to share your best healthy desserts of the summer by using the hashtag #FoodNetworkFaves. And my — oh, my — did you deliver. Our feed was studded with fruity treats, home-baked confections and more good-for-you sweets that prove this summer was the sweetest yet. Here are some of our favorites.
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The thing we love most about zucchini is that it refuses to be labeled. In a culinary context, this firm summer squash is treated as a vegetable, often prepared as a savory main or side dish. But botanically, zucchini is classified as a fruit — and more specifically as a type of berry — which perhaps explains why you’ll find this fiber-packed jack-of-all-trades in sweet breads and pastries too. Few other vegetables can boast the same level of versatility. Luckily for us, the prime season is long — it begins in June and peaks in late August, so make sure you squeeze in a trip to the farmers market before the month is over. Whether it’s lightly seasoned and grilled until smoky or grated into fine shreds to be hidden in baked goods, there’s no boundary this hearty summer squash can’t conquer. See for yourself with these 10 in-season zucchini recipes for casserole, zucchini bread and more.
Zucchini “Hash Browns” and Eggs
Diced zucchini stands in for potatoes in this hearty breakfast hash from Food Network Kitchen. When sauteed, the zucchini takes on the same fork-tender quality as pan-fried potatoes, but without the heavy dose of starch.
There’s no denying that slow-cooked meats doused in barbecue sauce have a way of tugging at our heartstrings. It’s simply too difficult to resist the beckoning aroma of juicy ribs, pulled pork and smoked brisket wafting through the air. But the love turns sour when suddenly we find said meats tugging at the seams of our clothes. The solution? Don’t resist it. You don’t need to, because with a few simple modifications, you can turn your barbecue favorites into lean and wholesome meals. Besides, these are the final weeks of summer; we should be enjoying as many outdoor feasts as we can. Follow these five simple tips for preparing mouthwatering barbecue with the same bold flavors you’re used to, but with less sugar and fat.
1. Go lean.
When shopping for your barbecue, choosing a cut of meat with less fat doesn’t automatically equal less flavor. Exhibit A: Food Network Kitchen’s Pulled Pork (pictured at top) simmered in a tangy vinegar-molasses sauce. Although the fatty shoulder is the most-common cut used in a classic pulled pork recipe, the lean tenderloin yields a sandwich that’s just as succulent.
When we’re talking about dessert, gooey treats fresh from the oven tend to steal all the thunder. But in August, no one can dispute the fact that dessert is a dish best served cold. Plus, if you’re entertaining a health-conscious crowd, it’s much easier to put a healthy spin on a chilled dessert (like lemon ice) than a double-decker cake smothered in buttercream. Savor the end of summer with these lighter sweets, from pudding and pops to parfaits and pies.
Banana Cream Pie (pictured at top)
Velvety vanilla pudding and sliced bananas in a light graham cracker crust make for a special dessert with only 215 calories per serving. Spoon the prepared pudding into the crust just before serving, then top the pie with some fresh whipped cream for a decorative touch.
Canned tomatoes and jarred sauces are key to surviving winter. But as long as summer’s here, we should make the most of this ruby-red treat in its purest form by consuming our tomatoes fresh, the same day of purchase (or shortly thereafter). Whether you’re converting sweet cherry tomatoes into chunky gazpacho or juicy heirlooms into a hearty salad, this versatile fruit is the winning ingredient in many a summer dish. When choosing tomatoes, look for smooth, bright, blemish-free skin. And remember: A ripe tomato should be fragrant and yield slightly to pressure. Whether you get them from the grocery store, the farmers market or your own garden, these healthy recipes will inspire you to use summer’s essential fruit in everything from soups to salads, and even homemade jam.
Crustless Caprese Quiche (pictured at top)
Food Network Kitchen offers a mealworthy riff on the classic caprese salad in the form of this creamy quiche. Forgoing the crust will not only cut back on preparation time but also save significant calories. Before baking, adorn the top with thinly sliced plum tomatoes for an eye-catching dish.
When it’s too hot to fathom cooking, it’s easy to fall back on unhealthy packaged foods or takeout. But with the right recipes in your warm-weather arsenal, you can still enjoy homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and sweets. As we enter the hottest days of summer, now’s a good time to take stock of what you’ll need at the store to get you through some no-cook meals. Pull off your next summer gathering without ever turning on your oven with these top no-cook recipes from Food Network chefs.
Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho
If you’re considering preparing soup any time soon, a no-cook option like gazpacho is the way to go. Here, the mild, slightly sweet flavor of watermelon makes a surprisingly wonderful addition to this cool dish.
We can all agree that watermelon deserves a place in the fruit salad bowl. But have you ever considered it a possible ingredient in salsa, soup or sangria? If not, now’s the time to start experimenting, as the sweet, crisp fruit is at its peak of seasonal freshness. Make your next summer menu pretty in pink with these good-for-you recipes featuring summer’s quintessential melon.
There’s nothing like a fresh batch of pesto to imbue pasta, meats and steamed vegetables with bright, herbaceous flavor. Most people are familiar with the classic pesto, a pureed mix of basil, pine nuts, crushed garlic and cheese (usually Parmesan) moistened with a splash of olive oil. But these ingredients, though delicious, can be pricey and difficult to find. The good news is, there are other ways to prepare this zesty sauce from scratch, in less time and with less money spent at the store. If it’s green and a vegetable, chances are you can turn it into pesto. So if your potted basil didn’t fare as well as you’d hoped this summer, never fear: Broccoli, arugula and other greens make great substitutes. Here are five easy takes on the classic pesto to invigorate your favorite summer dishes.
Think twice before you reach for that tiki drink. When you consider that one standard shot (1 1/2 fluid ounces) of 80-proof vodka, rum or gin contains roughly 100 calories, you’re likely throwing back more calories than you bargained for on a typical night out, especially if you’re combining a few of these with sugary mixers. One way to take control of your caloric intake is to skip the bar all together and mix your drinks at home. For a lighter version of your favorite cocktail, start by measuring out the hard stuff. Choose 100 percent juice or use fresh fruits and herbs to flavor your drink in place of overly sweetened bottled mixers. And remember: Size matters. Keep the calorie count under control by pouring your cocktails into 8-ounce glasses, or smaller. Whether you prefer clear vodka or dark rum, here are a few classic cocktail recipes, slimmed down for your next summer party.
As far as cocktails go, mint juleps are far from the worst. Bobby Flay sticks to the classic combination of bourbon whiskey, mint, sugar and shaved ice when preparing his old-fashioned Mint Julep (pictured at top).
This Independence Day, in the spirit of our nation’s founders, Americans everywhere will be making choices — choices between burgers and hot dogs, iced tea and lemonade, or potato salad and pasta salad. Whether or not you strongly prefer one dish to the other, one item is ubiquitous come dessert time, when Americans everywhere will be savoring ice-cold treats. These five tips will help you prepare healthier ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and more, whether served in a cup, on a stick, atop cake or pie, or in an old-fashioned cone. You definitely won’t want to miss any of these classic recipes and flavors when celebrating the nation’s birthday.