Lighten Up

By Lorin Peters – July 1, 2015
Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

Close your eyes. What foods come to mind when you think of summer? 

Grilled everything, fresh fruits, and sweet tea are just some of my season must-haves. Banana pudding and creamy potato salad are also part of the equation. The key to enjoying these indulgences is to find a way for healthy ingredients to represent those memory-lasting flavors. 

Recipes should be seen as a guide, not a rulebook. If you feel like substituting your favorite ingredient or adding a bit more flavor, go for it. Experimenting is what keeps you motivated in the kitchen.

Grilled Corn and Romesco

Serves 6
Romesco is one of my favorite sauces because of its versatility. (Romesco is a Spanish sauce made from a combination of nuts, roasted peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.) It can be used on almost everything. 
Some healthy benefits of this dish…
Peppers are packed full of nutrients like Vitamin C and carotenoids, and have anti-inflammatory properties. The spicier the pepper, the more capsaicin is present. (Capsaicin is known to boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite.) 
Nuts are rich in Omega 3’s, protein, and fiber to leave you feeling full and satisfied. 

What You Need: 
6 ears of corn, husks on
½ cup almonds, unsalted, dry roasted
½ cup cashews, unsalted, dry roasted
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into quarters
½ medium yellow onion, diced into large pieces
2 large red bell peppers, chopped into medium size pieces 
3 dried peppers, such as Ancho or New Mexico chiles, seeds removed
2 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped into quarters
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Half a lemon, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt 
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
¾ cup feta, crumbled

How To Make It 
1. Heat oven to broil.
2. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, add in chopped bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, and jalapeños. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place pan about 6 inches under broiler until a black char starts to form on skins of peppers. You can also grill the larger ingredients before cutting them instead of using a broiler. 
3. Reduce oven heat to 350. Place whole corn ears (husk and all) directly on rack of oven or grill, or place onto sheet tray. Cook for 30 minutes or until kernels are soft. 
4. Remove pan from oven and place on burner over medium heat.
5. Drizzle remaining olive oil on top. Add sliced garlic and crumbled, dried peppers into pan. Stir occasionally until dried peppers are soft and all vegetables are cooked through.
6. Place ingredients from pan into a large food processor, adding toasted nuts, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. Process until well blended, scraping sides occasionally.
7. Season with kosher salt to taste and pulse.
8. Peel back cornhusk, removing all silk. Spread 2 tablespoons of romesco sauce onto each ear of corn. Top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped cilantro.

Famous Potato Salad

Serves 8
Many people are terrified of potato salad when it comes to maintaining their figure, but you shouldn’t have to be so scared. 

Some healthy benefits of this dish…
Potatoes are rich in Vitamin C and B vitamins and are an excellent source of dietary fiber. 
Add grilled frisee lettuce—a great source of vitamins A and C—for a nice crunch to an otherwise soft salad. 
Charred red onion—an anti-inflammatory chock full of antioxidant properties—adds a smoky flavor and crunchy texture. 

What You Need 
3 pounds small Yukon potatoes 
6 heads frisee lettuce, ends removed, chopped into shorter pieces
2 red onions, thinly sliced and charred (if charring on a grill, slice after)
20 castelvetrano olives, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or substitute with red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon course black pepper

How To Make It
1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and season water with kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil until potatoes are cooked through. (You should be able to insert a fork easily.)
2. On a grill or in a cast iron pan, char frisee until most of lettuce is charred, but not burnt. Set aside. Repeat with red onion. (If charring on a grill, char onion before slicing.) Note: Do not add oil. It will just sauté and not char. 
3. In a large bowl, add champagne vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
4. Once potatoes are cooked through, drain and immediately add to the large bowl.
5. Using a fork or pastry cutter, smash potatoes until bite size pieces or smaller, stirring occasionally to incorporate vinaigrette.
6. Add frisee, red onion, and olives. Stir to combine.
7. Season with kosher salt to taste. Eat warm or chill in refrigerator.

Banana Pudding

Serves 6
Healthy banana pudding, you ask? Why yes, it’s true! 
Some healthy benefits of this dish…
This recipe uses coconut milk and dates in substitute of a typical pudding.
What You Need
3 cups organic, full fat coconut milk
3 large medjool dates, pitted (make sure dates are fresh and soft)
8 medium organic bananas (6 cut into quarters for blending, 2 sliced thin for garnish)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract (or scrape the inside of 1 vanilla bean)
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (or cinnamon) 
1 cup organic heavy cream 
4 tablespoons honey
1 box organic vanilla wafers (I use the Back to Nature brand)

How To Make It
1. Blend coconut milk and dates until well combined.
2. Add 6 quartered bananas and blend 
until smooth.
3. Chill mixture for at least an hour.
4. Whip heavy cream and honey together until soft peaks form. Chill until ready to use.
5. In trifle dish or individual ramekins, layer vanilla wafers with pudding, bananas, and whipped cream.

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