A great way to fill up and keep cool in the summer is to make salad meals. Take advantage of the great summer produce—lettuces and other greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, berries, peaches, melons…. Find great recipes and ideas in Diabetes Living Magazine Summer 2017 edition, or go to diabetic living online. Don’t be fooled by the term “diabetic recipes”–any recipe that is healthy for someone who has diabetes is healthy for all of us!

Meals that are based on a green salad can be much lower calorie than meals based on meat and starch. Watch out for high calorie, mayonnaise based dressings such as bleu cheese, ranch or thousand island; these tend to be very thick, so take a lot to coat all of your vegetables. Try making your own dressings substituting some yogurt for some of the mayonnaise. Vinaigrette dressings are great, because they are thinner, so take much less to flavor your whole salad.

Check out some ideas for salads and dressings below.

Savory Summer Salad

Green salad made with greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula…) + a variety of raw vegetables (chopped carrots, radishes, cucumber, cauliflower, tomato–whatever raw veggies I have on hand). Top green salad with ½ cup beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, pinto or white or edamame) + ½ cup frozen corn + ½ can tuna or salmon, or 2-3 ounces shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork + a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or chopped nuts + 1-2 tablespoons crumbled bleu cheese or feta cheese.

Vegan version: Same recipe, but increase the beans and corn to one cup each and skip the cheese.

Sweet summer salad

Green salad without tomatoes; toss with berries (fresh or frozen), sliced fresh peaches, and/or cubed melon, and/or fresh or canned mandarin oranges. Top with thinly sliced barbecued beef, pork or chicken, and toasted slivered almonds or chopped walnuts or pine nuts (toast nuts by heating a heavy frying pan over high heat, then tossing nuts in the pan until slightly browned).

Vegan version: Same recipe but top with ¾ to 1 cup cubed tofu or Tempeh

Dressing Options

Italian style balsamic vinaigrette (make in a jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid): ½ cup balsamic vinegar + 1 tbsp water + ½ tsp honey or sugar + ½ to 1 teaspoon dijon or yellow prepared mustard  + garlic and onion powder + Italian herbs + ¾ cup olive oil. Shake well. Store in cupboard rather than in refrigerator to keep oil from becoming solid.

Asian style vinaigrette: ½ cup plain rice vinegar, + 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard + garlic powder + onion powder + 1-2 tsp honey or sugar + ½ tsp yellow curry powder + ½ cup peanut oil and 1 tbsp sesame oil Store in refrigerator or cupboard.

Creamy, ranch style salad dressing:  ½ cup plain yogurt, + 1 tablespoon mayonnaise + a pinch to ¼ teaspoon each of paprika, dry mustard, onion and garlic powders and ¼ tsp dill weed. If you desired a thinner dressing, use regular, not Greek yogurt, or mix a little milk or buttermilk into the dressing.

Thousand Island Dressing: ½ cup plain yogurt, 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise + 1-2 tablespoons Catsup + 1-2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish, a pinch of dry mustard and a splash of lemon juice

Experiment with making your own dressings by varying the types of vinegar and oil and spices in the vinaigrette and the spices in the creamy dressings. Try substituting lemon or lime juice for vinegar in a vinaigrette.