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10 delicious summer meal ideas to stay healthy and fresh

May 22, 2024
9 minutes
Healthy Eating
Healthy habits

The warm breezes of summer are just around the corner, and it's time to update your roster of healthy summer meal ideas! Choosing produce-heavy meals reaps myriad benefits in the summer. With fruits and veggies at peak freshness, there's no better time to enjoy all that nature has to offer when it comes to produce. In addition to high levels of nutrients, summer fruits and veggies are often high in water, which can make it easier to stay hydrated in high temperatures.

Here, we'll take a look at healthy, fresh meal ideas that will keep you enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

This veggie-packed summer salad recipe from Cookie and Kate is a perfect way to load up on nutrients and flavor without spending hours in the kitchen.

You'll need:

  • ⅓ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (or 1 cup cooked quinoa)
  • 1 small eggplant (about ¾ pound), diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small yellow squash (or another zucchini), diced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ cup halved grape tomatoes (quarter any larger tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • For garnish: crumbled feta, optional


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Divide the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash between the two baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss. Add a little more if necessary; you want enough to lightly coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the veggies are softened and beginning to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set the roasted vegetables aside to cool.

3. To cook the quinoa, combine the uncooked quinoa with ⅔ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.

4. To toast the pine nuts, cook them in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they turn lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Citrus-marinated grilled chicken

In this recipe from Epicurious, the flavors of garlic, shallots, and fresh lemon and lime juice meld to create a brightly flavored, protein-packed dinner.

You'll need:

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1½ lb.)


1. Whisk 2 large shallots, finely chopped, 4 garlic cloves, finely grated, ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, 1 tsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl to combine. Set ⅓ cup marinade aside.

2. Arrange 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1½ lb.) in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour remaining marinade over chicken and turn to coat. Cover dish and chill, turning chicken halfway through, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

3. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into dish; discard marinade in dish. Grill chicken, turning halfway through, until cooked through and blackened grill marks appear, 10–14 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5–10 minutes before slicing.

4. Serve chicken with reserved marinade spooned over.

Creamy Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup

Craving the comfort of soup, but struggling to enjoy anything warm when the temperature keeps creeping up? This soup recipe from It's a Veg World After All will cool you off and fill you up with healthy monounsaturated fats.

You'll need:

  • 1 large cucumber peeled and chopped into a few pieces
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeno trimmed and deseeded
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro use ¼ cup for more flavor
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple for serving
  • ½ cup chopped cucumber for serving


1. Combine the cucumber, avocado flesh, jalapeno, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, and ½ cup water in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.

2. Chill the soup for at least an hour (preferably 2 or more) in the fridge before serving. Serve with chopped pineapple and cucumber.

Watermelon, feta, and mint salad

The combination of watermelon and feta can be surprising, but trust us – you'll want to give it a try. This recipe from Serious Eats combines perfectly ripe summer watermelon with the saltiness of crumbled feta and the brightness of mint to keep you coming back for more.

You'll need:

  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1 small or 1/4 large), rind removed, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds/1 kg chunks after rind is discarded)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 (2-inch) strips zest, removed with a sharp vegetable peeler
  • 1/4 cup (10g) roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Up to 4 ounces (1 quart) arugula leaves (optional; see notes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces (110g) feta cheese (see notes)


1. Place watermelon chunks in a large bowl. Finely chop lemon zest. Add lemon juice and half of zest to bowl with watermelon. Add mint, oil, and arugula (if using) and toss until watermelon is evenly dressed. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. (The cheese will add saltiness, so go light on the salt at this stage.)

2. Transfer salad to a wide, shallow bowl or a large plate and spread out evenly. Crumble feta over the top. Sprinkle with remaining lemon zest. Drizzle with more olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Pesto zucchini noodles with cherry tomatoes

Close your eyes while you're enjoying this pasta alternative recipe from Eating European–you just might be able to convince yourself that you're relaxing in your Italian villa while enjoying the sights and sounds of your vineyard.

You'll need:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 2 tablespoons of store-bought pesto 
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1 tablespoon shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Using a spiral vegetable cutter create thin ribbons from zucchinis

2. Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet

3. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute

4. Add pesto

5. Add zucchinis, season with salt, pepper and mix well

6. Cook for 2 minutes

7. Remove from the heat and shave some Parmesan on top. Serve immediately.

Tropical smoothie bowl

With in-season fresh fruit, you'll get a super-charged bowl of nutrients that prepares you to sail through the morning with this recipe from Simple Green Smoothies. For an extra boost, click the link below to get a recipe for homemade protein powder that will help keep you full until lunch.

You’ll need:

  • 1 orange peeled
  • 1 ½ cups strawberries frozen
  • ½ cup mango frozen
  • ¼ cup water optional
  • 1 serving homemade protein powder (optional)

Topping options: 

  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • coconut flakes
  • strawberries
  • kiwi
  • granola


1. Place orange in blender followed by the frozen strawberries and mango.

2. Blend, stopping to scrape down sides, until smooth. Feel free to add water to help it blend, yet you want it to be thick. The texture should be similar to soft serve ice cream.

3. Transfer to a bowl and top with desired toppings.

Mediterranean chickpea salad

This perfectly fresh summer salad from Downshiftology with Lisa Bryan offers savory feta, a punchy lemon vinaigrette, and the crisp crunch of cucumber, bell peppers, and red onions.

You'll need:

For salad:

  • 2 (15-ounce cans) chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup red onion diced
  • 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley

For dressing:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon honey, or maple syrup
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1. Toss all of the salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add dressing ingredients to small bowl, whisk until combined.

2. Pour the lemon vinaigrette over the salad and give it a gentle stir until well combined.

Grilled fish tacos with mango salsa

There's nothing that says summer like grilled fish with a kick of citrus and jalapeno – we're sure that this recipe from Sweet Tea and Thyme will become a regular in your summer dinner rotation.

You'll Need:

For salsa: 

  • 2 cups ripe mango small diced
  • 3 roma tomatoes deseeded and small diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper deseeded and small diced
  • 1 small red onion small diced
  • ½ cup cilantro finely chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼-½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste

For spice blend:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For tacos: 

  • 3 lean white fish filets like cod, mahi-mahi, snapper, or halibut
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Corn Tortillas for serving


1. Mix together mango salsa ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Set aside. This can be made a day ahead.

2. Mix spice blend ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.

3. Cover the white fish in vegetable oil with a pastry brush, then generously season the filets with the spice blend on all sides.

4. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (you can also do this on a grill pan on the stove top).

5. Use a heat-safe silicone brush to cover the clean grill grates with a high heat oil (more vegetable oil works here) and carefully place the fish onto the grill. Cook on each side for 4 minutes, flipping once. Set aside

6. Warm the tortillas on the grill or a plancha on the grill for 45 seconds on each side, remove to a tortilla warmer or plate and cover the tortillas with a damp paper towel.

7. Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes before gently using a fork to break them apart into big chunks. Pour lime juice over the fish.

8. Serve on the grilled tortillas with mango salsa and other toppings.

Caprese stuffed portobello mushrooms

Mushrooms have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer, protect brain health, and support a healthy immune system – what's not to love? In this recipe from Cafe Delites, you'll enjoy mushrooms infused with rich garlic butter, fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and a decadent balsamic glaze.

You'll need:

Garlic butter:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley


  • 5-6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, washed and dried thoroughly with a paper towel
  • 5-6 fresh mozzarella cheese balls, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup grape, (or cherry) tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • fresh basil, shredded to garnish

Balsamic Glaze: (or you can use store-bought)

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)

Berry and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette

This stunning salad looks gorgeous, tastes fantastic, and is the perfect choice for entertaining. We recommend following the Allrecipes recommendation to top your salad with roasted nuts for an extra crunch!

You'll need:

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • ½ cup raw pecans
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


1. Combine spinach, strawberries, Gorgonzola cheese, and pecans in a large bowl.

2. Stir together balsamic vinegar and honey in a medium bowl; slowly stream in olive oil while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle dressing over spinach mixture just before serving.

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