Idea Enablers

22 August 2018

Summer Salads: Healthy Recipes to Help You Beat the Heat

Summer Salads: Healthy Recipes to Help You Beat the Heat

By Guest Writer: Makenna Downing

Healthy habits are an important part of daily life. Not only does healthy living combat dietary issues and provide our bodies with nutrition, but it also helps give us energy, allow us to be more successful in our work and activities, and generally improves our wellbeing. However, eating healthy salads does not have to be boring. Some of my favorite salads are light and refreshing while also filling me up. In fact, indulging in these hearty, nutrient-rich salads often have me craving them all summer long. I wanted to share some of my favorite Summer Salad recipes that are great for summer BBQs or even other seasonal events.

The Perfect Pasta Salad:

A few years ago, I was introduced to a fresh, modern version of a classic pasta salad. The salad is different than the traditional concept of pasta salad and is a healthier version full of vegetables, protein, and deliciousness. The recipe can be modified to fit dietary preferences, but this nutrient-packed pasta dish is sure to be a hit all summer long!

The Pasta Salad recipe that follows serves about 10 people:


1 box of Pasta (any shape) try Whole Wheat Pasta for a healthier version

1 can of Garbanzo Beans

1 Red Bell Pepper (diced)

1 Orange Bell Pepper (diced)

1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)

1 ½ c. of Red Onion (diced)

2 c. of Chicken Breast (cooked and diced)

¾ c. of Cilantro (chopped)

1 c. of Lime Juice (adjust to taste)

¾ c. of Olive Oil (adjust to taste)

1 pinch of Sea Salt (adjust to taste)

1 pinch of Cumin (adjust to taste)

Cook pasta until al dente. Remove from stove, strain, and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until cool. While pasta is cooling, dice the cooked chicken breast and cool. Next, dice peppers and onion. Finely chop cilantro. Remove pasta and chicken from the fridge. Add chicken, garbanzo beans, peppers, onion, and cilantro to the pasta. Stir until mixed. Add olive oil to salad mixture and stir until mixed. Add lime juice to salad, stir until mixed, then adjust taste with olive oil and lime juice accordingly. Finish with pinches of sea salt and cumin (adjusted to taste) for an added level of flavor. Stir salad until mixed. Let set and cool in refrigerator for one hour. Serve and enjoy!

This pasta salad is also great as leftovers! Store in the fridge and eat for up to a week after preparing it.

Berry Blissful:

There is this excellent restaurant that I like to visit when I am home from school called The Goat and Vine. They specialize in artisan sandwiches, gourmet flatbreads and pizzas, and delightful salads. Recently while having dinner and catching up with an old friend, I had one of their salads that was off-the-charts and perfect for summer. In this recipe, I combine sweet, tangy, and savory flavors on this take of the classic Goat & Vine salad.

Recipe serves 2


2-3 c. of Arugula

1-2 c. of fresh Spinach

¾ c. of Goat Cheese crumbles

1 c. of Strawberries (chopped)

½ c. of Raspberries

½ c. of Candied Pecans

1/3 c. of Pecans (plain)

¾ c. Green Onion (chopped)

1 c. Cherry Tomatoes (chopped)

Champagne Vinaigrette (add to taste)

Pinch of Black Pepper (add to taste)

*For a main dish, I also add 1-2 c. of Grilled Chicken Breast (chopped)

Wash the produce thoroughly and strain. Combine arugula and spinach into a salad bowl. Chop cherry tomatoes, green onions, and strawberries. Add cherry tomatoes and green onions to the salad bowl and mix. Wait to add chopped berries so the lettuces do not become soggy. Finely chop candied and plain pecans. Mix candied and plain pecans together in a small bowl and add to salad bowl. Mix ingredients. Add strawberries and raspberries to salad and mix. Add goat cheese crumbles and mix thoroughly. Finish off the salad with a light champagne vinaigrette and a pinch of pepper. Serve and enjoy! If serving this salad as a main dish with chicken, plate the salad, top it with the cooled and chopped grilled chicken breast, and serve.

Tip: if planning to have leftovers of this salad, refrain from adding dressing to the entire bowl and instead serve each portion with dressing so that the leftovers are not soggy the next day.

Healthy Hearty Salad:

This last salad that I am going to introduce you to is really a great salad for year round and served as an entrée. I created this recipe myself in order to combine some of my favorite healthy foods into one cohesive salad dish that is packed with protein and healthy nutrients. This salad is really great because it is easily adjustable to meet dietary preferences, and it can be added on to in order to enhance the flavor. This salad is definitely filling, so I would recommend eating this as a lunch entrée throughout the year.

This recipe serves 1


1 1/2 c. of Mixed Greens (or the lettuce of your choice)

½ c. of Spinach

½ c. of Kale

½ c. of Cucumber (chopped)

¼ c. of Green Onion (chopped)

¾ c. of Quinoa (cooked and cooled)

½ Sweet Potato (cooked and chopped)

1 Chicken Breast (grilled and chopped)

Balsamic Glaze

Olive Oil

*optional: add cheese or salad dressing of your choice

Wash and strain produce. Combine mixed greens, spinach, and kale into salad bowl. Boil quinoa until al dente or soft, strain, and cool. Halve a sweet potato and bake or boil until soft, then cool. Grill chicken breast and cool. Chop cucumber and green onion and add to salad. Add cooled quinoa and mix salad thoroughly. Add 1 tsp. of olive oil (or desired amount) to salad and mix. Chop sweet potato and add to salad. Chop grilled chicken breast and add to salad. Top with balsamic glaze. Serve and enjoy!

This is the simplest version of the salad, but sometimes I will decide to add ranch dressing or more vegetables or cheese, etc. It can really be customized to fit your tastes.

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