Written by Joe Suppes

I’d love to kick off this post with the old cliche “As summer heats up…”  However, this summer’s weather is so unpredictable (at least in the American Mid West), that I’ll start this way, instead:

As summer tries to decide what season it wants to act like, people are making vacation, cookout, and party plans of all sorts.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s plenty of heart-healthy must-haves for the summer.  Sure, we tell you that a lot of the old classics are bad for your heart and you should find healthier alternatives…but that’s not to say some of them aren’t good for you.

Iced Tea

Iced tea, for example.  Natural tea is a great way to bring antioxidants (many of which have been tied to heart health and weight-loss) into any occassion.  You can ice just about any type of tea, so there’s an iced tea to fit anyone’s tastes.  This time of year, the best way to make tea is to sun-brew it.  Toss a few bags in a large glass container full of water.  The heat of the sun will cause the tea to brew naturally, and it takes very little work.  One thing to keep in mind, though, is that a lot of people dump loads of sugar into their tea.  Natural fruit juices can serve just as well!  Squeeze some unsweetened lemon juice into your tea.  Or, crush up some berries and stir them in when you add ice.  By the time the tea is completely chilled, it’ll have plenty of flavor.

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is also a popular cookout dish.  With the 4th of July coming up this weekend, pasta salad production is probably at its yearly high right now.  Well, there’s plenty of pasta salad recipes out there that have some heart health benefits!  Any salads that use mayonnaise or Miracle Whip should be excluded from this list.  Sorry.  However, those delicious pasta salads that are seasoned with olive oil, vegetables, and species are still allowed!  In fact, they’re good for you.  Olive oil is recommended for a heart healthy diet (in moderation), and the vegetables most commonly used in pasta salad have plenty of chemicals and antioxidants that are good for your heart, and the rest of you, too.

Veggie Platters

Summer is also the time for gardening.  This means that the veggie gardeners out there are probably up to their elbows in seasonal fare.  This also means that summer produce is more affordable.  Peppers, snow peas, tomatoes, beans, and carrots with some low-fat dressing is a must at most summer shindigs.  It’s even better if your healthy dressing is homemade (unflavored, fat-free yogurt makes a great base for veggie dips).

I know, this is just three instances of summer hosting cuisine.  However, I know when I go to a cookout or graduation party or whatnot, these are three things I always, always grab when I go through the buffet.  Even if it’s only 65-degrees out in July.

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