Summer Food Swaps

By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN
Clinical Nutritionist/WIC Nutritionist
Harbor Health Services, Inc.


Summer is a great time to be outside and share a meal with family and friends! However, food options at a typical BBQ can skimp on the nutrition!

Here are some tasty suggestions to try to maintain your healthy eating pattern during the summer months!


Serve Kale Chips instead of Potato Chips


Kale is in the same family as cabbage and broccoli. It is pack with nutrients such as Vitamin K and calcium, and has other nutrients which help prevent cancer. Kales chips are a wonderful crunchy alternative to regular potato chips. There are different types of kale, so see which you like best for the recipe. Enjoy!


Superb Kale Chips!


1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt (optional – see below for other flavor ideas)



  1. Preheat oven to 400◦F
  2. Dry Kale very thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle the kale with oil. Mix well. Fill 2 or more large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap.
  3. Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes total.


Spice it up! Want an extra punch to your chips? Add spices such as cayenne pepper, curry powder, or cinnamon!


Grill up Portobello Mushrooms instead of Burgers

Mushrooms are filled with Unami taste, which is rich, brothy, meaty and satisfying! Both the shape and taste make it a natural swap for a hamburger. Grill these just like you would burgers. Make some delicious toppings like sautéed spinach or caramelized onions and then lay them down on a hearty whole-wheat bun. Pile high with lettuce and tomato and viola, you have your grilled masterpiece! Also try marinating the mushrooms beforehand to give them some extra flavor.

ice cream


Try Banana Soft Serve instead of Ice-cream

Frozen bananas are a delicious, satisfying treat to enjoy as ice-cream. Serving this dish helps to get some extra fruit into everyone’s diet!



4 large frozen bananas

3-4 tablespoons milk (any type will work)

1 cup (or more) strawberries cut into large chunks



  1. Process bananas and milk in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add strawberries to mix. Pulse about 4-5 times, more or less depending how smooth you want the strawberries.
  3. Place mixture in Popsicle molds and freeze.


Want some nutty flavor? Swirl in 2-3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter! Add the peanut butter before the strawberries to mix it in.

Give your drinks a twist!



Fruity cocktails are synonymous with summer. Use these tips to help lighten up the summer drinks.

  1. Try using seltzer instead of tonics or soda.
  2. Muddle mint and berries into drinks instead of adding juice.
  3. Use fresh lime and lemon instead of sugary margarita mixes.


Here is a tasty, but light version of the Pina Colada!


Pina Colada


2 oz. coconut rum

3 oz. coconut water

2 oz. pineapple juice


  1. Add ice and all three ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake.
  2. Add ice to a tall class, pour mixture into class.
  3. Serve with a piece of sliced pineapple on the rim.





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