Easy summer meals: how to 'cook' without breaking a sweat

It's summertime, and the eating should be easy, says registered dietitian Marisa Moore.  She says, “Summertime is the best time to increase your healthy behavior, right?  Because there are so many fruits and vegetables that are in season.  They are cheaper, taste better and the nutrition is awesome.”
To find what's in-season, and locally-grown, check out your local farmer's market.  Moore says, “Right now, look for green beans. You can find lots of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, watermelon this season, but also sweet peas are available.”  Georgia peaches are also at their peak (and cheapest), and so are tomatoes and bell peppers.
And when it's this hot? A lot of us don't feel like cooking.   So, Moore says, "You want to get in and out of the kitchen without turning on a lot of heat." We asked her to show us two summer recipes with no sweat involved.
She started with a “fruity” tuna salad.   She gathers together the ingredients, then mixes them together: canned tuna, red onions, celery and, in this case, grapes, for a crunchy sweetness, and because she represents California grapes. Moore says, “Tuna is a great source of protein. You add the fruit for extra fiber and nutrition.”

Instead of mayonnaise, she uses olive oil and vinegar.  The result looks pretty tasty.  We move on to another salad. For this one, Moore uses a relatively-new ingredient to many Georgians: quinoa.  It's a South American cross-between a seed and a grain.  And in the last few years, quinoa has gained "superfood" status because it's packed with protein and fiber. 

 If you’re never tried it, Moore says, don’t be afraid to venture out a little.  She says, “Whenever you eat healthfully, a lot of times, you have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. And one of my favorites is quinoa.”
Using quinoa as her base, she adds red peppers, parsley, lemon, and beans for extra protein.  In five minutes, she’s done.  She’s made two delicious meals without ever breaking a sweat.
Here's a link to the Fruity Tuna Salad:


Summer Quinoa Salad

Serving Size: 8 servings

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from one fresh lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn (about 1 medium ear) 
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved                  
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced                  
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped                  
  • Any other summer vegetables you might have                   
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add pre-rinsed quinoa. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, just until the quinoa is tender. Once done, fluff with a fork and set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, peel and chop the vegetables.

Add the cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Pour in the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and stir just to combine. Add in the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and serve. This salad is perfect served at room temperature or cooled.