Lady eating salad

Eating well is important for all age groups, but especially as we get older as it can help us to maintain our strength and energy.

Whilst appetites tend to decrease as we age and we become less physically active, we still need a lot of nutrition.

Eating healthy meals can also help with a variety of medical conditions. There are certain foods that are good for people with diabetes and for those of you who need extra wide fit shoes for swollen feet there are foods to help with oedema.

So, with summer just around the corner, we look at the top healthy summer recipes that you may want to try. We’ve included dishes from the UK and the rest of the world.

Açaí bowl

Perfect for: Breakfast

Açaí breakfast bowl

Ingredients:

- 8oz frozen açaí pulp cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup of chilled water
- 1/3 cup guaraná syrup or honey
- 1/3 cup crushed ice
- Banana and granola to serve on top (can add other fruits)

The açaí bowl is a typical Brazilian dish that is often consumed at breakfast over the summer months. The açaí is the fruit of an açaí palm tree and it boasts lots of health benefits with energy-boosting, immune-stimulating and antioxidant properties.

Denise Browning, a professional chef and author of Easy and Delish, says: “I would recommend dishes that are refreshing yet packed with nutrients and water for hydration. Brazil has a tropical climate and it is hot most of the year. This is how we stay hydrated and mostly in good health.

“I would definitely recommend an açaí bowl, a refreshing and creamy smoothie served in a bowl topped with bananas and granola. It's an energy-booster and contains fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.”

Recipe:

  • In a blender, mix together the chunked frozen açaí pulp, water, guaraná syrup or honey, and the crushed ice, until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, you will need to stop the blender and stir. Pour mixture into one medium or two small bowls.
  • Serve the açaí bowl and top with banana slices and granola.

Herb omelette with fried tomatoes

Perfect for: Breakfast

Herb omelette with fried tomatoes

Ingredients:

- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- 3 tomatoes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped basil

This healthy omelette is perfect for breakfast or brunch as it is easy to make and can be on the table in just 10-minutes. It is packed with protein and as a result is very filling, which will help you to avoid snacking.

Omelettes have lots of healthy benefits and these range from being a great source of energy and being rich in vitamins to helping strengthen your bones and even relieving stress.

Recipe:

  • Firstly, you need to heat the oil in a small non-stick frying pan, then cook the tomatoes cut-side down until they start to soften and colour. Beat the eggs with the herbs and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Scoop the tomatoes from the pan and put them on two serving plates. You should then pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Stop stirring when it’s nearly cooked to allow it to set into an omelette. Cut into four and serve with the tomatoes.

Octopus salad

Perfect for: Lunch

Octopus salad

Image Credit: Sarah-Jane Begonja, Chasing the Donkey

Ingredients:

- 2.5kg medium or large octopus
- 1.5kg waxy potatoes
- 1 large Spanish onion, finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper

Not your typical British meal, octopus salad is a popular food eaten in many countries around Europe. Like all seafood, it is low in calories but is high in iron and vitamin B.

Sarah-Jane Begonja, the editor at travel and food blog Chasing the Donkey, tells us why it’s a great option for a summer meal: “A perfect summer dish from Croatia that is suitable for all ages is an octopus salad. Typically from the Dalmatian region, an octopus salad is easy to make, only requires a few ingredients and is great in the fridge for a few days if you want to make it ahead of time. The salad can be a stand-alone meal or served as a side dish.”

Recipe:

  • In a large bowl, put your octopus and potatoes (with their skins on) and fill it two-thirds of the way with cold water. Add a pinch of salt to the water.
  • Make sure you bring the water to the boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender. Remove the potatoes and allow to drain.
  • Continue to boil the octopus until tender. You might have to add more water to keep it covered. It generally takes around one hour.
  • After your potatoes have cooled, you need to remove the skins and slice the potatoes into a large salad bowl.
  • When the octopus is tender, you will need to allow it to cool and then chop it up and add to the bowl with the potatoes.
  • After adding the octopus, you will need to add the garlic, Spanish onion and parsley and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Finally, mix all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Harissa chicken salad

Perfect for: Lunch

Harissa chicken salad

Ingredients:

- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 avocado
- 1 head of romaine lettuce (or a few cups of salad greens)
- 1/4 cup of tahini
- 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt

Another healthy salad you could try over the summer is harissa chicken salad, which is low in carbohydrates and packed full of protein and flavour whilst being very filling.

Laura Agar Wilson runs the Wholeheartedly Laura site and she says any salad with fresh vegetables is really healthy: “Salad bowls with lots of fresh vegetables, wholegrain and some beans, lentils or fish would be a great summer meal. Fresh raw vegetables are hydrating as well as packed with antioxidants. Wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa or freekeh (which you can easily buy ready cooked in a packet) provide energy and fibre, and beans, lentils or fish add some protein. For extra flavour, add a dressing with olive oil which is brilliant for heart health. One of the reasons I love salad bowls is that they are quick and easy to put together.”

Recipe:

  • Place the chicken in a plastic bag, then add the harissa paste to coat the chicken. You should leave it in the fridge for a few hours to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°c and place each chicken breast in a square of foil and gather up the sides to create two foil parcels. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  • To make the dressing, juice the lemon and combine with the tahini and salt, adding water until you reach the consistency of single cream.
  • Then place the sliced lettuce or greens into a bowl, slice the chicken and place on top, then slice the avocado (half an avocado per salad), and finish with the tahini dressing.

Colombian cream of avocado soup

Perfect for: Lunch or a quick dinner

Colombian cream of avocado soup

Ingredients:

- 6 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- 2 avocados – halved, stone and skin removed
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ tbsp freshly ground cumin
- 600ml cool light vegetable stock and 5 ice cubes or 700ml stock
- 250ml coconut milk, coconut yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, almond milk, lower fat crème fraîche or cream
- A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
- For the garnish, you could pick chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, shaved fresh coconut and/or coriander leaves

Colombian cream of avocado soup is perfect for lunch or a quick dinner. It’s an incredibly nutritious meal and is packed full of vitamin B, C and E.

UK-based Kellie, a cancer health educator and healthy recipe developer, shares her recipes and foods via her Food to Glow blog.

She highly recommends the Colombian cream of avocado soup and other blended foods: “Eat foods that you find easy to digest. Sometimes cooked or blended foods suit us better than raw, so instead of grilled meats and raw salads, perhaps go for cool blended soups, homemade smoothies and trendy smoothie bowls (much less sugar than bought ones), and thinly sliced, grilled or lightly roasted summer vegetables. These all contain loads of essential nutrients that are easy on the digestion.”

Recipe:

  • Put everything except the stock in the blender and blitz until completely smooth.
  • Remove the stopper on the blender lid and gradually add the stock while the machine is running slowly, then replace the cap and process on high for a few more seconds.
  • It is now ready to garnish how you wish (tomatoes etc.) and enjoy!

Grilled salmon steak with mustard dill sauce

Perfect for: Dinner

Grilled salmon steak with mustard dill sauce

Ingredients:

- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dill weed
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
- 2 salmon steaks (for 2 people)
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise (for sauce)
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard (for sauce)
- 3 tbsp dill weed (for sauce)
- 1 tbsp sugar (for sauce)
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar (for sauce)

Salmon is extremely healthy as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk factors for disease. This dish is also a great source of protein, is high in B vitamins and is loaded with selenium – a mineral that helps bone health and reduces the risk of cancer.

Recipe:

  • In a resealable plastic bag, combine the white wine vinegar, sugar, dill weed, salt and pepper and add the salmon. Then seal the bag and turn to coat. You need to refrigerate this for one hour and turn occasionally.
  • Using a small bowl, you will then need to combine the sauce ingredients, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • After this, you need to grill the salmon on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with the mustard dill sauce.

What healthy meals should you try this summer?

There are lots of healthy options available to try this summer and as well as the dishes above, we’ve made an easy-to-follow list below:

- Açaí bowl (breakfast)
- Yoghurt parfait (breakfast)
- Porridge and berries (breakfast)
- Herb omelette with fried tomatoes (breakfast)
- Octopus salad (lunch)
- Harissa chicken salad (lunch)
- Colombian cream of avocado soup (lunch)
- Grilled salmon steak with mustard dill sauce (dinner)
- Shrimp and fresh greens (dinner)
- Steak tacos with strawberry salsa (dinner)