It’s summertime and the livin’ (and cookin’) is easy! Flavourful salads paired with grilled meats or fish are staples of my summer meals and perfect for entertaining (which I think I have forgotten how to do, it’s been so long). Now that the pandemic is under better control and life is starting to return to some semblance of normalcy, you might be itching to have a few friends over. So this Middle Eastern-inspired kabob menu serves six and can easily be scaled up or down.
For anyone who might be disappointed (given the title) that my menu doesn’t include a popsicle recipe, you may wish to try these Honey, Lime & Mint Popsicles. Tasting like “a mojito on a stick, minus the booze”, they would be a sublime finale (pun intended)! As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes and share them (and the food) with your family and friends!
Summer on a Stick for Six
Appetizer: Spiced Halloumi Kabobs (I may be developing a halloumi habit but the za’atar makes these extra special – read on for more about this Middle Eastern spice blend)
Main: Mango Chickpea Salad with Grilled Chicken Kabobs (this is a wonderful combo of fresh flavours, textures and temperatures; make extra lemon tahini dressing to use on salads and slaws all summer long)
Dessert: Fruit Kabobs (these are wonderful as is but you can fancy them up by drizzling with some dark chocolate or serving with a yogurt and honey dip; use any fruit you wish but I love fresh summer berries right now – read on below for why)
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A few featured foods …
This spice blend hails from the Middle East. Think of it as magic dust that elevates anything you sprinkle it on. Different countries have their own recipes but most include dried thyme, sumac, roasted sesame seeds and salt. It is herbaceous, sour, earthy and nutty. The sourness comes from the sumac (made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower) which adds a tangy, lemony flavour.
I purchase za’atar from Toronto’s own The Spice Trader. They don’t include salt so you can add it to taste. It’s fantastic on halloumi but also mixed with olive oil as a dip for pita and on grilled meat, fish or veggies. I like to sprinkle it on salads, soups and eggs too. Spice blends are a great way to make something special out of everyday ingredients. And they are full of health-promoting phytonutrients!
My favourite part of summer (besides long days and sunny, warm weather), is the availability of fresh, locally grown berries. In a recent blog post I encouraged you to make calories count by choosing nutrient dense foods and berries are right up there!
One cup of raspberries and/or blackberries (coming into season now) provides about half of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C as well as manganese. Both are vital for a healthy immune system and for collagen formation, needed for healthy joints. Think “manganese for the knees”!
The same one cup gives you a whopping 8 grams of fibre so they are great for keeping blood sugar steady as well. And eating berry fruits may improve brain health and prevent memory loss caused by ageing (according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry).
And all this is just for starters. The antioxidants in berries are known to help lower inflammation, improve the health of your heart and skin and may even help protect against certain types of cancer too.
Cooking your own food is the single most impactful step you can take to improve your health and energy!
I hope you enjoy Summer on a Stick for Six. Sign up here to receive the download link for this latest Menu of the Month. And if you want to cook more of your own food but don’t know what to make or have the time to organize your own menus and shopping lists, The Nutritional Reset offers a meal planning service. It makes preparing tasty, nutritious meals a snap. Click here to find out more.