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July 25, 2019 / Amy Height

12 Light Summer Meals That are Easy to Make

Woman in an orange shirt holding vegetable skewers next to a grill outside.

It’s summer: the days are longer, the temperatures higher, and the foods you’re craving are a little different than the ones you want in the dead of winter. Summer’s uptick in heat might come with a quick downshift in your motivation to spend time in the kitchen; after all, you have some quality hours of sunshine to take advantage of!

The perfect summer meal has three key components: a combination of satisfying and refreshing ingredients; a recipe that is easy to make (and doesn’t require you to turn on the oven); and a dish that is portable and shareable for an outdoor gathering with friends and family.

If you are looking for light eats to make for yourself or an event, here are some of our favorite recipes to fuel your summer adventures.

Summer Salads

Salads are a classic summertime meal, and they are the perfect side or main dish in warm weather. With a mix of raw and cooked ingredients, these clean eating staples are great for lunch or dinner.

Caprese Pasta Salad

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Caprese salad is a great vegetarian-friendly option that has just a few simple ingredients: sliced tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic. If you’re catering for a crowd, this caprese pasta salad takes only 15 minutes to prepare and packs great for a picnic.

Grilled Thai Beef Salad

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You’ll feel like a true professional chef (and impress your dinner companions) with this grilled Thai beef salad. The fresh herbs make all the difference.

Buckwheat Soba Noodle and Red Cabbage Salad

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This inventive soba noodle salad provides a filling (but not overwhelming) complement to any meal. Adjust the amount of sauce and amp up the nutrients by adding your favorite shredded veggies.

Grilled Entrees

Fire up the grill and cook up some of your favorite ingredients in a way you can’t always have in the winter. We love that grilling is friendly to plant-based eaters and omnivores alike; so don an apron and head outdoors to cook up these summertime favorites.

Portobello Burger with Pesto, Provolone, and Peppers

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Instead of heavy beef burgers, make these juicy portobello and pesto burgers. They’re a little lighter and packed with flavor.

Salmon with Apple-Walnut Crust and Roasted Broccolini

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Recreate the feeling of being on a beach vacation by grilling this delicious salmon with a smokey spice rub.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken Kebabs and Broccoli Salad

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Line up some lean meat and veggie cubes on a wooden skewer and your dinner just got exponentially more fun! Try these paleo-friendly chicken kebabs made from scratch with buttermilk, allspice, paprika, and a broccoli salad on the side.

Light Summer Meals for Entertaining a Crowd

If you’re looking for inspiration for entertaining a larger group of people, consider these light and nourishing summer dinners that are sure to impress.

Tacos For All!

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Outdoor dining begs for tacos, so try these grilled shrimp and caesar tacos or shredded pork and pineapple tacos.

Lobster Two Ways

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Recreate your favorite childhood trips to the ocean with a healthier, light lobster rolls for your next summertime gathering. Looking for lobster sans bread? This gluten-free lobster quinoa salad with corn is the perfect substitution.

Healthy No-Bake Desserts

A summertime meal isn’t complete without dessert! These desserts pack up great in a food storage container to-go; and they don't require an oven to make, so you can stay cool in the kitchen.

Strawberry Coconut Blondie Balls

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Fuel your warm-weather adventures with these easy, not-too-sweet strawberry coconut blondie balls.

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Not all cookies have to be baked, and these gluten-free cookie dough bars are proof that no-bake cookies can be just as delicious as their cooked cousins.

The Takeaway

When it comes to eating clean and clean eating plans, summertime might just be the best season for it. A plethora of in-season ingredients can help the warmest months be some of the most delicious. PlateJoy can help you plan your summertime meals with a wide variety of custom meal plans that are perfect for every preference – and tons of ideas that involve little or no cooking. Check out some simple ideas for healthy meal planning and get inspired by more of our favorite shareable recipes.

Amy Height
Holistic Nutritionist @ From the Ground Up Wellness

Amy Height is the founder of From the Ground Up Wellness, a holistic nutrition practice where she specializes in plant-based nutrition and helping her clients combat food addiction. She completed her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she received her certification in the Health Coach Training Program. She is a triathlete and CrossFitter with a passion for all things outdoors. By night, Amy stage manages Broadway musicals and she frequently travels North America seeking out the best vegan restaurants and the best run courses. Follow her on Instagram or check out her blog for recipe and wellness ideas.


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