Heating up your summer menus

Heating up your summer menus

July’s rising temperatures get me so excited by the endless possibilities for healthy cooking. Below is a compilation of some classic summer comfort foods — but with my own personal twist. Many of the fresh vegetables I use below can be substituted with what’s in stock at your local grocery store or farmers’ market, so feel free to dive in and get creative.

Chicken-Cabbage Crunch Salad (Meat)

This meal was inspired by coleslaw and grew into a much more comprehensive dish. It’s loaded with texture and can be enjoyed as a side or a complete meal. I highly recommend making the first two steps 24 hours in advance to maximize the flavors.

*Shortcut: You can use a bag of pre-mixed coleslaw to substitute the shredded cabbage and carrots

    ½    cup low-fat mayonnaise

    2    tablespoons white sugar

    1½    tablespoons lemon juice

    1    tablespoon apple cider vinegar

    2    teaspoons. yellow mustard

    6    cups of shredded cabbage

        (green and red)

    1    cup of shredded carrots

    ½    teaspoon salt

    ½    teaspoon pepper

    1    cup golden raisins

    2    medium green gala apples, chopped

    1    3-ounce package of ramen noodles

        (without the spice packet)

   2 cups of plain grilled chicken,


Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients until creamy, about 1½ minutes.  Add the cabbage and carrots and fold with a spatula until combined. Next add the salt, pepper and raisins and continue tossing until everything is well combined. Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Just prior to serving, add the chopped apples, ramen noodles and chicken; and once again, stir or toss with a spatula to combine. Let the dish stand for 10 minutes before plating.

>> Serves 8

Homemade Chipotle

Sweet Potato Chips (Pareve)

These delicious chips are baked — not fried — and are a healthier option than the store-bought version. The chipotle pepper adds a kick, while the brown sugar brings out the potato’s natural sweetness. This is the perfect side dish or appetizer when entertaining because it’s easy to prepare and affordable for feeding the masses. This recipe makes a large batch, and leftovers store well in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

    4    medium sweet potatoes

    2    tablespoons brown sugar

    1    tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

    1    tablespoon salt

    2    teaspoon pepper

    3    tablespoons coconut oil

Directions: Peel the sweet potatoes. Bring a medium saucepan to boil over high heat and cook the potatoes for 3-5 minutes — no more. Drain water and let cool for 20 minutes. (This step can be done overnight or in advance.) Slice the potatoes into ¼-inch circles. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the potatoes to the mixture and lightly fold until incorporated. Lay slices in a single layer on several cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip disks and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Edges should be browned but not burnt. Let chips cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. We serve this dish with both ketchup and honey-mustard as dipping sauces.

>> Serves 8-10

Grilled Mahi Mahi

with Corn Pico de Gallo


This is an absolutely refreshing dish — filled with protein — that we enjoy during the summer months. We usually serve it with a few warm tortillas and make into fish tacos.

*Shortcut: For the corn, if you can’t cook in advance, wrap in a wet paper towel and place in the microwave for 2 minutes per ear.

For the fish:

   1½-2 pounds fresh mahi mahi

    2    tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

   Juice of 1 fresh lemon

    2    teaspoons salt

    1    teapsoon pepper

For the pico de gallo:

    4    ears fresh sweet corn; cooked

        or grilled

    ½    cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in


    ½    red onion, peeled and diced

    ½    small jalapeño, cut and finely


   Juice of 1 large lime

    2    tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    2    teaspoons agave nectar

    2    tablespoons fresh cilantro;                 chopped

    3    teaspoons sea salt

    2    teaspoons fresh ground pepper

Directions for the fish: Preheat oven or grill to 375 degrees (medium/high heat). Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until incorporated and pour evenly on top of the fish. Slice the remaining lemon and set aside.

Using a foil pan (with holes in the bottom if grilling), place the fish and lemon slices evenly and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender.

Directions for the pico de gallo: Slice the corn off the cobs and place into a large mixing bowl. Add tomatoes, onion and jalapeño and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until fully incorporated. Slice the remaining lime and set aside for later.  Combine the veggies and the olive oil mixture together. Let sit and marinate for at least 20 minutes. Slice the fish into individual portions and top with pico de gallo. Garnish with a slice of lime.

>> Serves 4-5

Grilled Rosemary Chicken (Meat)

This recipe is a go-to in our house because it’s almost effortless to prepare but packs quite a lot of flavor into each bite. We enjoy cooking this dish early in the week and eating it in different variations for several meals. It’s great on its own, over a salad  or chopped up on a sandwich.


    ¼    cup plus 2 tablespoons

        of olive oil

    ¼    cup sherry vinegar

    2    tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    1    tablespoon sea salt

    2    teaspoons fresh ground pepper

Other Ingredients:

    1    tablespoon olive oil

    3    small shallots, diced

   8-ounce boneless, skinless

        chicken breast

    2    tablespoons (or a few sprigs)

        fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Separate evenly into 2-gallon-sized plastic bags and add the chicken. Zip shut and shake around to spread the marinade all over the chicken. Preheat the oven or grill to 425 degrees. In a small skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Let it heat for 2 minutes before adding the diced shallots. Cook for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned and easily pierced with a fork. Place the chicken, shallots and rosemary in a 9-inch-by-13-inch oven-safe dish if making indoors. If making on the grill, use a foil pan and puncture a few holes in the bottom. Cook in the oven for 25-35 minutes or on the grill for a half-hour. Pierce with a paring knife; if juices run clear, chicken is ready to serve.

>> Serves 6-8

Taylor Orlin, who works as an account executive for the Jewish Exponent, is a lifelong foodie. She has spent years developing and modifying recipes to adapt for specific dietary needs, including her own Crohn’s disease. She also believes in instilling healthy eating habits at a young age.

This piece first ran in the Jewish Exponent.