Summer Food Entertaining

When we think of the summer holidays, we associate this with family, friends, plentiful food and holidays that keep rolling on.  Yes, holidays can be an indulgence – however if you eat smart, plan well and adapt a few dishes, your body will thank you for the nourishment that you provide.

Centre your entertaining menu on vegetable sides and salads.  Who says that meat needs to be the “hero” of every meal? For each main protein (eg chicken, fish, roast meat, leg ham), cater for three vegetable sides.  If two proteins are on the menu, then choose six vegetable sides for your guests.  Think colour, vibrancy, variety and freshness when adding vegetables to your serving table.  Add some wow factor …. with additions such as roasted pumpkin, pomegranate, walnuts, dollops of labne yoghurt, roasted chickpeas, shavings of parmesan and grilled haloumi in lemon & mint.  Make your own jar dressings with combinations of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (red wine, balsamic, white wine), mustard (Dijon or seeded), lemon or lime juice and citrus zest, grated palm sugar or vinecotto.  Home-made dressings are a fraction of the cost, they are natural and flavoursome, and they can be added to the salads just prior to serving.

Vegetable dips like guacamole, beetroot dip, sweet potato dip and roasted pumpkin hommus dip are healthy, fresh and nutritious.  Team up your dip platter with an assortment of vegetable crudites (celery, capsicum, carrot), green beans, baby cucumbers, snow peas, broccoli and wholegrain seeded crackers.  A seasonal favourite is a small skewer of cherry tomato, bocconcini and basil leaf, arranged on a starter tray with drizzle of pesto or balsamic.

For many of us, the hot weather calls for cold proteins such as seafood platter, confit of salmon, ham of the bone and cold BBQ chicken.  Serve these up with an assortment of mustards, salsa verde, mango and chilli salsa or herb mayonnaise.

Cheeseboards and grazing boards are on trend, but often can be loaded with processed meats and cheese.  Stand out and be vibrant with your cheeseboards and keep to two cheeses.  Add colour to your board with grapes, strawberries, figs, grape tomatoes, blueberries, olives, nuts and nut clusters to pack a punch.  There are many seeded wholegrain and gluten free crackers on the market to complete your cheeseboard creation.

Traditionally most desserts tend to be high in added sugar and fats.  Select and enjoy some of your favourite desserts, but combine them with nourishing choices as well.  You could also opt for having a dessert buffet with individual desserts or make your own dessert stations (eg mini pavlovas, fresh fruit, dark chocolate shards, lemon curd, sorbet or Greek yoghurt).  Be sure to also offer some frozen fruit delights (grapes, watermelon), frozen yoghurt icy poles, fruit jellies, sorbet cones, watermelon pizzas and fresh fruit platters.

Set up a drink station of chilled water, home-made infused fruit teas and mocktails to add some chilled thirst quenchers for your guests.  Keep yourselves and your children active with a game of back-yard cricket, beach volleyball, croquet, bike rides, swimming or surfing.  Move more and eat nourishing meals, and beat the heat throughout your summer holiday.