With summer on the way, we can look forward to grilling outside, fresh corn on the cob, popsicles, and late nights playing outside! When grilling out for dinner, choosing the meat to throw on the grill typically isn’t a struggle… but coming up with a side dish (other than a bag of potato chips) can be.
Here are a few simple summer sides that are staples in our house. Most of them are even healthy and your kids can help make them… which increases the chances of your kiddos eating them:)
When my oldest daughter Jordan was in grade school, her best friend’s mom called me saying “my daughter says she will only eat salad at Jordan’s house! What is this salad you are making?” So, I passed the recipe on years ago in hopes of cultivating young salad eaters across Northwest Ohio:) So here’s to summer, new salad eaters, and keeping dinner simple and healthy!
The below recipes will feed my family of five. Basically five adults because my kids are 19, 16, and 14:) You can double the recipes if you are taking a side to a gathering or have a larger group you are feeding!
Spinach Strawberry Salad
Slice up approximately half of a container of strawberries.
Buying organic strawberries is best because it is ranked number one on the dirty dozen list! This is a great list to help you choose the most important foods to buy organic.
Thinly slice 1/3 of red onion to add a little zip to this salad! This is of course optional.
How to make candied pecans:
This is a very simple way to make candied pecans but you must watch the skillet closely because the sugar can quickly burn. In a small skillet add sugar, sea salt, and pecans. Turn heat to medium and let it heat for a few minutes. Stirring often to check if the sugar is melting. Once the sugar begins to melt turn the heat to medium-low to prevent burning. Continue to stir until the pecans are coated. This process can take up to 10-15 minutes. Then remove from the heat. Pour the pecans onto a piece of parchment paper and let cool. Then break apart the candied pecans for a yummy salad topping. (you can also buy these candied pecans and just open the bag:)
Open your baby spinach and put the spinach in a large salad bowl. Like strawberries, I try to purchase organic spinach because regular spinach is sprayed with many harsh pesticides. Spinach is ranked second on the dirty dozen list. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the spinach. We use the entire container but you do you! Arrange the sliced strawberries in a spiral pattern over the spinach. This is a step you have kids help with:) Add the sliced onion if desired and finally top with candied pecans.
Right before serving toss with Garlic Expressions salad dressing.
This locally made dressing (made in Perrysburg, OH) takes this salad to another level!!! It is so good:)
Greek Quinoa Salad
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package. Let cool completely. You can speed up the cooling process by setting in the fridge or even cook your quinoa the night before and refrigerate overnight.
Quinoa is a great vegan source of protein and considered a superfood!
Wash and prep your fresh veggies. You want the veggies to be bite-sized. Invest in a few kid-safe knives and let your little ones (or big ones) chop for you! Tomatoes are also found on the dirty dozen list for 2020 so buy organic if you can. If your family doesn’t enjoy any of the vegetables just omit them!
Juice your lemons making sure to remove any seeds from the juice. You want approximately 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Wish the olive oil into the lemon juice until blended. I like lots of dressing and extra lemon juice so you can juice additional lemons to make the dressing to your liking. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Combine the cooled quinoa, chopped veggies, feta cheese, and lemon vinegarette together in a large serving bowl. If you don’t enjoy feta you could omit the cheese or add your family’s favorite cheese.
This salad will keep for up to a week in the fridge and makes a great side. You can add grilled chicken to it for a complete meal as well.
Coleslaw with Apple Cider Vinegarette
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
First, wash and then chop your cabbage into thin slices. I end up running my knife through it a few time to create thin “shredded” style cabbage.
Cabbage is listed as one of the “clean 15” so it is not as necessary to purchase organic.
Thinly slice an onion and combine with the cabbage.
Whisk together the apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Using organic apple cider vinegar makes this coleslaw coated with health benefits! Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Let your kiddos combine and whisk the ingredients for the dressing!
Toss the cabbage and onions in the dressing to coat. You want the cabbage generously coated with the dressing so if you need more just whisk up some more.
Let the coleslaw marinate for at least 20 minutes to absorb the dressing. This coleslaw will keep well refrigerated and increases in flavor as it marinates.
Asparagus (enough for your family)
Olive Olive or cooking spray of your choice
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
This one is super simple! Wash and trim your asparagus. I like to trim off the bottom of the stems where it can be tough. Asparagus is also listed as one of the “clean 15“!
Toss or spray asparagus with oil just enough to lightly coat.
Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Layout a piece of aluminum foil and place the asparagus in a single layer. Fold over the foil to create a pouch to place on the grill.
Grill the asparagus in the foil pouch for approximately 15 minutes. More or less time depending on if you prefer your asparagus tender-crisp or softer.