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Friendly Fare

These three simple summer dinners are light on work and ingredients, but Heavy on flavor and nutrition

With the start of summer comes an opportunity to find a more casual approach to preparing meals, along with an invitation to make those meals a bit healthier. There is a time and place for elaborate three-course dinners, fancy kitchen gadgets and exotic ingredients. Now is not that time. Now is the time for longer days, bare, sandy feet and spending time outside with friends and family. Summer invites us to kick back and relax over simple, healthy fare that feels lighter to eat and less cumbersome to prepare. When making an effort to eat in support of your health and wellness, resist the urge to overthink and overcomplicate matters. Healthy doesn’t have to be hard!

The following recipes barely feel like recipes at all; rather, they can be seen as suggestions for a creative way of assembling fresh, seasonal ingredients. Feel free to modify them to suit your dietary needs — or the particular contents of your fridge on any given night. Wholesome ingredients are the foundation of any healthy dish, and you don’t have to do much to them in the way of cooking to make them taste great. In fact, you really shouldn’t do much to them; stellar ingredients taste best when left alone, paired simply in the right combinations of flavor and texture. When shopping for produce, buy the best in quality and freshness that you can afford, and buy local and organic when you can.

The recipes here require very little actual cooking; it’s more about some light chopping and assembling. Each one takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and requires only six or fewer ingredients, excluding some pantry staples such as olive oil, salt and pepper. They’re simple enough that you could invite your grandkids into the kitchen to help — or maybe even your spouse (yes, the one who is usually relegated to dish duty). When it comes to cooking for health, it’s pretty simple: The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to actually do it.

You’ll notice a discernible favoring of plants over animal products in these recipes, and that’s no accident. Adding more plants to your diet is the easiest and most effective way to improve your overall health and vitality, and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to do it. So, whether you’re just back from a leisurely day at the beach or a long day at work, give these three simple summer dinners a try. Your body — and your taste buds — will thank you.