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Easy Summer Meals + Treats

It’s summer, and I want to spend less time in the kitchen, but I still want delicious meals without sacrificing taste or nutrition. If you are busy, would like to spend less effort in the kitchen AND feel confident that you and your family are getting good nutrition and tasty meals, read on!

In my past posts, I’ve mentioned that we eat gluten, dairy and egg-free because of food sensitivities in our family, and over the past couple of years my learning curve has been greater as I have been creating a new repertoire of easy-to-make recipes.

Here are links to some of my favorite online ‘go-to’ recipes this summer, with a few nutritional tips thrown in just to boost your parent confidence on how well you’re nourishing yourself and your family. Enjoy!

Dairy-Free Creamsicles (GF, DF, vegan)

You won’t believe how easy and tasty this recipe is! You’ll love it, even if you can eat dairy. A colleague of mine posted it on facebook a few weeks ago, and we’ve made 2 batches already.

NOTE:  I used full fat Thai kitchen coconut milk, 2 Tablespoons (not 3) of honey or maple syrup, omitted the orange extract and put in 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla because we love it!

Coconut milk has amazing health benefits. According to David Wolfe, some of the benefits can be improved digestion and nutrient absorption, reduced symptoms of hypoglycemia, regulate and support health hormone production, supports immune system, and it’s a source of powerful antioxidants.

Also, because of the coconut milk fat, it is digested more slowly than a regular popsicle would be, satisfying hunger for longer and reducing the tendency for hypoglycemia.


Bean and Corn Salad (GF, DF, vegan)

This is one of my favorite go-to dinner recipes. (The authors of the website have also published cookbooks—I have their 3rd edition of Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family, and it is my absolute favorite family recipe book. It is chock-full of EASY, delicious healthy recipes—and incredible value at $25. The website has lots of good recipes too–I recommend checking it out!

I omit the hot spicy peppers, use 1 red bell pepper, and reduce the onions and cilantro to our taste. Also, it makes a lot, so you can reduce the black beans by 1-2 cups, OR it packs nicely into your lunch the next day. If you will have leftovers for more than a day, the tomatoes get a bit soft–you can omit them if that doesn’t appeal to you.

VARIATION:  I make this salad a lot, and it is equally tasty if you substitute:

–3 tablespoons (or more to taste) of apple cider vinegar for the lime juice, 1 teaspoon of Dijon or grainy mustard for the cumin, and curly parsley for the cilantro, and

–omit the tomatoes.

Pair this salad with grilled meat or burgers for a substantial meal, or with corn muffins (see below) or fresh bread for a light summer picnic.

Raw Broccoli Salad (GF, DF—and vegan and raw if you don’t put bacon in like I do!)

You know the broccoli salad that people bring to summer potluck barbecues that you used to eat before you ate dairy free? Here is a raw version of the same salad, using cashews to make the lovely creamy dressing that you used to make with yogurt and/or mayonnaise. I love this recipe, and if I have some bacon in the house, I add some crisp, crumbled bacon (which of course isn’t raw, but it is delicious!). Also, you can omit the shallots from the dressing if don’t have any—and in my opinion, you don’t sacrifice flavor.

If you don’t have a high-powered blender (like me), it helps to soak the cashews for 4-6 hours, drain and rinse before using. Cashews are my favorite substitute for dairy products when I’m making anything from salads to desserts to ‘cream’ for my coffee.

I serve this with grilled meat and roasted potatoes on the barbecue. Easy! But still feels decadent with the tasty salad.

NOTE:  The most inexpensive cashews I have found here in Victoria, BC, is For Good Measure in Cadboro Bay Village. You can buy the pieces (not halves) for $1.99 per 100gm.


Quick Raspberry Jam (cane sugar-free)

I used to make raspberry freezer jam in the summer, and now I often find I only have time to freeze the berries. However, even if you don’t have your own berries in your garden, purchase fresh berries in the summer, or frozen in the winter, and ‘Voila!’, instant delicious jam that tastes like the fresh berries! This tastes great on pancakes, toast, fresh muffins, or as a filling between a chocolate layer cake with a chocolate ganache topping. Yum!

¾ cup of frozen, thawed raspberries, or fresh berries

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, to taste

3 tsp. ground chia seeds

Blend ingredients with a hand blender in a tall cup. Start with 2 tablespoons of syrup or honey, and add more to taste as needed. Allow to stand for 5 minutes while it thickens. If you like it a bit thicker, just blend in more ground chia seeds, ½ tsp at a time, letting it sit for a few minutes after each addition, until you reach the desired thickness.

Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Note:  We live in a world where many of the foods we purchase contain sugar. While it feels daunting to try to eliminate refined sugar, any small steps you can take toward reducing your intake will benefit your health immensely. Refined sugar is not only implicated in many chronic inflammatory diseases that are often considered a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, when we consume it, “the body needs to tap into its stores of B vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, to be able to properly digest it” (Nourishing Meals, p. 413). Consuming lots of sugar can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, weight gain, hypoglycemia, poor concentration, erratic behavior, learning disabilities, among other things. On the other hand, natural sweeteners (such as maple syrup) “contain all of the vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals originally found in the plant they came from. They often digest slower than refined white sugar and actually have some nutritional value” ( Nourishing Meals, p. 413).

Our own experience with sugar and health is that when my husband, who has mild arthritis in his hands, first eliminated sugar from his diet about 2 years ago on the advice of a naturopath, within 4 days he went from hardly being able to bend his fingers at all, to almost making a closed fist—with a marked reduction in pain. We were all astounded!

Having said all of that, my experience is that it’s a challenge to eliminate sugar, and it’s important to use information like this to make mindful choices as best we can that fit with our own budget and values. And we can’t forget that many of the foods we eat evoke feelings of comfort, and fond memories of good times spent with family and friends—and those are important too! Making small changes as we gain knowledge can eventually make a big difference over time. And never let your inner critic berate you over your diet choices—be gentle with yourself, make a conscious decision about what feels good for you and your family today, and know that if more change is needed, you will know when the time is right.


Vegan Corn Muffins (GF, DF)

Okay, these aren’t quite as quick as the recipes above, but they probably took me about 30 minutes at most to mix, and then 25 minutes to bake. I made them the other night and we had them with the bean and corn salad for dinner, then had them with peanut butter and jam for breakfast the next morning. I found that heating the leftover muffins gently eliminated the dryness that sometimes occurs with leftover corn bread.


I hope you enjoy sharing these with family and friends over the summer months.

If you have any comments, or if you have some recipes for quick easy summer meals of your own you’d like to share, please post in the Comments Section below.

I’d love to hear from you (and I’m sure the rest of the readers would love any recipes you might share too!)

Have a great summer!





Segersten, Alissa, and Malterre, Tom. (2012). Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family.  Whole Life Press: United States of America.

Wolfe, David. (2009). Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, California.