Summer is my favorite time of the year. There are many reasons for this, but one of the leading reasons is because I can get garden fresh produce and fruits to compliment the nutritious diet dishes that I prepare and consume. The fresh flavor & health benefits of these in season foods can make any dish, even a diet dish, taste better than ever!
Another great benefit to preparing your summer diet dishes in a tasty and healthy way, is the ability to get outdoors and grill your foods. Not only does grilling add a wonderful flavor to your foods, but it is a healthy low fat way to prepare them as well. So if you are watching your diet, outdoor grilling is the way to go.
Chicken and Cheese Veggie Ranch Wrap: (Serves 2)
2 Large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry.
2 Large lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry.
4 Thickly sliced tomato slices. (be sure to wash tomato before slicing)
10 Thin to medium thickness, onion slices. (rinse onion after peeling)
1/2 Green Pepper, washed de-seeded and sliced into thin strips.
1/4 Cup reduced fat shredded cheese of your choice.
4 Tablespoons low or reduced fat ranch dressing.
Non stick olive oil cooking spray.
Heavy Duty aluminum foil
Seasonings of your choice. (I like the Monterey Chicken Seasoning & Garlic powder.)
Preheat your grill on high.
Prepare your chicken and all vegetables as directed above.
Apply the seasonings of your choice to both sides of each chicken breast. Set aside.
Take a large sheet of aluminum foil. Set it shiny side up on your counter or other work surface. Take the non stick cooking spray, and coat the aluminum foil with it. Now you will layer your vegetables as follows: (When layering, be sure to leave enough room around the edges free, in order to close the foil into a pouch before cooking.) Start with the pepper slices in the bottom of your foil. Next add the onion. If you wish to add more varieties of vegetables, you can, but be sure they are on top of the onion layer and below the tomato layer. Once you have all of your vegetables, except the tomato in place, lightly spray the top of the vegetables with non stick cooking spray, then sprinkle on the seasonings of your choice. Top off with the tomato slices. Close your foil in a manner that allows it to become a “packet”. Keep the packet tomato side up at all times.
Put your prepared chicken breasts and your foil veggie packet on the grill. Turn the grill down to low. Close the lid. Turn the chicken breasts over after 4 minutes. At this time also rotate your foil packet (do not turn over or flip, just rotate). Continue grilling until chicken is cooked through, being careful not to over cook it. Remove Chicken and your vegetable packet from the grill. Allow the chicken to cool somewhat then slice into long strips.
Take your 2 large prepared lettuce leafs. Place your sliced chicken in the center of each leaf. Top with your grilled vegetables, the cheese and 2 tablespoons of ranch dressing per leaf. Wrap lettuce leaf around filling and enjoy!
*For a more tender and juicy chicken breast, you may wish to pound and brine it. You can learn how to do this here: http://bbq.about.com/cs/chicken/a/aa063001a.htm
Cool & Refreshing Summer Salad: (Serves 4)
Ingredients Needed: (Garden fresh vegetables recommended when possible)
2 Medium tomato’s
1 Large cucumber (peel if desired)
6 Fresh green onions (Chives)
1 Large green pepper
1 Bunch fresh broccoli (and / or cauliflower)
1 Medium zucchini (peel if desired)
6 to 8 Medium mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 cup reduced fat Italian dressing.
1 Small garlic clove.
Salt and pepper.
Wash all vegetables thoroughly with cool water. Prepare garlic clove by using a garlic press, or chopping into very small pieces. Slice the cucumber in half length wise, then hold both halves together, and cut into medium thickness slices. Do the same with the zucchini. Slice each mushroom into 6 slices. Chop the remaining vegetables as desired. Put all vegetables and your minced garlic into a large serving bowl. Add desired amount of dressing, salt and pepper. Stir, blending all ingredients well. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes. Serve.