A healthy diet with your favorite summer recipes and sustainable food

Making Healthy Summer Recipes

Each day this week, Tom Barton, the executive chef at Northeastern’s Boston campus, will provide a new tip to help you make healthy summer recipes. The recipes follow the principles of the Menus of Change initiative, which was founded by the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to help people make healthy, sustainable, and delicious food choices.

Day 1: 'Hot Days, Cool Drinks'

Keep cool this summer with a twist on traditional iced-tea.

Peach Thyme Iced Tea

Yields: 6

  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 cups water (2 cups at room temperature, 6 cups boiling)
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen peaches, sliced
  • 10 regular-sized black tea bags
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Thyme sprigs and lemon slices, for garnish

Menus of Change says…

  • Fill half your plate with produce, including fruits such as peaches
  • Limit your use of added sugar
  • Drink plain tea, which is calorie-free and contains antioxidants
  1. Place honey, chopped thyme, room-temperature water, and 4 cups of the peaches in a pan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir and reduce heat to low.
  2. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, for about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer, pressing solids to extract juices.
  4. Place tea bags and remaining 2 cups of peaches in a 3-quart heatproof pitcher. Add boiling water, let steep 15 minutes, and discard the tea bags.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and peach syrup. Serve over ice. Garnish with thyme sprigs and lemon slices.

Day 2: 'Kick Up Your Corn'

Forget the salt and butter. Use cotija cheese, cilantro, and chili powder to put a twist on this classic summer dish.

Mexican Street Corn

Yields: 3

  • 3 ears sweet corn
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 lime, quartered

Menus of Change says…

  • Buy fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, including corn
  • Limit your use of salt
  1. If you are going to bake the corn, leave the husks on. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the corn directly on the oven rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the corn is tender and juicy. If you are going to grill the corn, you can leave the corn husks on or take them off to produce some pretty grill marks.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder with the mayonnaise. Place the cotija cheese in a shallow baking dish or a plate.
  3. When the corn is done, remove the husks and brush the corn with the garlic mayonnaise. Roll the corn in the cotija cheese and sprinkle it with cilantro and chili powder. Serve with the lime wedges to squeeze over the corn.

Day 3: 'Shake Up Your Marinades'

Save time by making and storing your marinade in a mason jar.

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

Yields: 6 to 8 Servings

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, washed, dried, stems trimmed slightly
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried, stems slightly trimmed
  • 2 ounce red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 to 12 ounces olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water

Menus of Change says…

  • Eat mostly plant-based foods
  • Limit your use of salt and replace it with flavorful herbs and spices
  1. Roughly chop the parsley and the cilantro and add to blender or food processor.
  2. Add all other ingredients except the water and half of the oil.
  3. Turn on the blender or processor and blend for 30 seconds. Slowly start to alternate drizzling in the rest of the oil and the water. Continue to blend for 1 minute.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Dressing may be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks.

Day 4: 'Savory Summer Sweets'

What happens when you pair fresh strawberries with balsamic vinegar? You get the perfect summer dessert.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Yields: 8 servings

  • 8 cups fresh strawberries, thickly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream
  • Freshly grated lemon zest

Menus of Change says…

  • Fill half your plate with produce, including fresh strawberries
  • Limit your use of added sugar
  1. Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, honey, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and set aside at room temperature.
  2. Place a serving of the strawberries in a bowl, top with a scoop of ice cream, and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Day 5: 'Summer food safety tips'

Make sure hot food is hot and cold food is cold—and don’t leave it out for more than four hours.