Don’t Put Away the Slow Cooker: Make one-pot summertime meals

 Don’t be so quick to retire your one-pot meals as it gets warmer. Eating in-season vegetables and hearty grains can still be quick and easy – and who doesn’t want that during the summer months? Less time cooking, less time cleaning, more time for fun in the sun. Here’s three simple steps to keep your summer meals quick and easy. 

Step One: Grains 

Switch fettuccine and spaghetti for whole grain penne or thin spaghetti, which cook faster and are lighter choices. Or, switch out pasta entirely for brown rice. Choosing whole wheat pastas or brown rice will ensure that your family is getting the recommended servings of whole grains, and will fill you up for outdoor adventures!

Pro tip: Swap pasta noodles for zucchini noodles. Use a vegetable peeler or box grater to cut the zucchini into “noodles,” then sauté the noodles with olive oil for 2-3 minutes, and add them to your favorite recipe.

Step Two: Vegetables

Now it’s time to add some vegetables! Some fresh summer vegetables you can add to your one-pot meal include:

  •  Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

The best thing about these vegetables, besides being chock full of nutrients and flavor, is that any of them go well together. Mix and match any of these veggies into your dish, and it’s sure to taste terrific.

Pro tip: Throw in frozen vegetables you have on hand into the pasta water when it’s halfway done cooking to save time!

Step Three: Seasonings and Extras

There are plenty of bright flavors you can add to your dish to give it a little something extra without too much hassle. Herbs and spices are great ways to add flavor without adding sodium to your meal. These are just a few you could use in your dish:

  •  Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Cumin
  • Mint
  • Dill

Pro Tip: Add coconut or pineapple to your dish to add more “summery” flavors!

Add in some cooked summer sausage or shrimp to add protein to your meal. Chickpeas, lentils, or beans make good plant-based protein options, as well. These are all sources of protein that take less time to cook than beef or chicken.

Throw these all together, and you have a quick meal that will fuel your family’s next summer adventure! Use these steps to mix and match any of these suggestions to build a meal your whole family will love. For more recipe inspiration, try summer vegetable chow mien or pasta primavera!

By Allie Moseley

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