Our favourite summer recipes

From big barbecue hits to light weeknight dinners, we've handpicked our favourite summer recipes to keep you and your tummy smiling through hot sunny days and warm summer evenings (we know - we paint a hopeful picture of British summertime!)

Summer food you crave

You may find that the summer heat has you craving more lightweight and refreshing meals, like summer salads, but this doesn't mean that summer food can't be packed with flavour. Our summer recipes range from the sweet and spicy to the sharp and zingy, with meat-eater, vegan, and vegetarian meal options.

Why do we crave light meals in summer?

There are several theories for our reduced appetites in summertime:

  • Sunlight is believed to affect our hunger levels - when there is less light in winter, our bodies naturally crave more hearty, dense food which can be stored as fat. It's thought that this is because our bodies interpret lack of light as a sign that food supply may be limited.
  • Our bodies work harder in winter - cold temperatures require our bodies to use up more energy, which in turn can require us to crave more high-energy foods.
  • Summer heat means we need to stay cooler - digesting food generates heat, and so suppressed cravings may be one way that our bodies control this workload. Eating less can also promote drinking more water which we need to stay hydrated.

Of course, summer food classics such as fish and chips, hearty barbecues, and ice creams have their fair share of fat, salt, and sugar content. It's a good idea to enjoy these treats in moderation and to keep these healthy and light summer recipes up your sleeve.

Summer crunch salad

Summer crunch salad

Vegetarian

This quick and easy crunchy green bean, mushroom, and tomato salad makes a great side dish to summer weeknight dinners, picnics, and barbecues. Cherry tomatoes supply vitamin C1, mushrooms vitamin D2, and green beans vitamins B93 and K4. Parmesan adds a delicious twist while providing calcium and healthy essential fats5.

Get the recipe here

Pear and walnut salad with ginger spiced chicken

Meat

This summer salad is anything but bland, combining sweet pears (vitamin C), nutty walnuts (antioxidant6), and warm ginger (anti-inflammatory7). This salad contains chicken, meaning it is high in protein8, while olive oil and walnuts supply a dose of healthy fats.

Get the recipe here

BBQ jackfruit pulled 'pork'

Vegan

Who says vegan barbecue food is boring? Jackfruits, onions, and vegan barbecue sauce can be used to create a plant-based alternative to the classic pulled pork burger that's just as tangy and tasty. As well as being great at mimicking pork, jackfruit contains vitamin C, vitamin B69, and potassium10. This indulgent summer recipe can be enjoyed occasionally and goes well with potato salad and green salads.

Get the recipe here

Sticky soy citrus baked salmon

Pescatarian

One of the simplest summer dinner ideas, this salmon recipe is big on flavour and takes just 30 minutes from start to finish. Salmon is a great source of protein and also contains omega-3 fatty acids which support a healthy heart11. Feel free to pair with your favourite summer salad recipe or vegetable stir fry for a light and vitamin-packed dinner.

Get the recipe here

Baby stuffed peppers with lemon and basil ricotta

Baby stuffed peppers with lemon and basil ricotta

Vegetarian

This deliciously moreish barbecue side dish is a real crowd pleaser. Roasted pepper skins are sweet, smoky, and high in vitamin C, vitamin B9, and antioxidants. While this creamy cheese-filled summer recipe is certainly indulgent, ricotta is a low-fat cheese. Feel free to substitute for goat's cheese, another good source of protein and healthy fats. This is a great side for all your barbecue favourites, from grilled chicken to burgers.

Get the recipe here

Lemon drizzle cheesecake

Lemon drizzle cheesecake

Vegan

Equally zingy and creamy, this vegan cheesecake makes a refreshing and mouth-watering summer dessert. Most of the fat content comes from the nuts, which are packed full of healthy fats and other nutrients. Lemons and dates are the real flavour heroes of this dish while supplying vitamin C, fibre12, iron13, and calcium14.

Get the recipe here

Eton mess frozen yoghurt

Eton mess frozen yoghurt

Vegetarian

Finally, this twist on a classic Eton mess is one of our favourite sweet summer recipes and takes just 20 minutes to make. High-fat whipped cream is substituted for Greek yoghurt, full of protein, calcium, and probiotics (good gut bacteria)15. Berries and almonds add plenty of sweetness and texture while also supplying fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Get the recipe here

Further reading – nutrients and vitamins

  1. Harvard Chan school of public health "The nutrition source – vitamin C".
  2. Patient "Should you take a vitamin D supplement every day?".
  3. Harvard Chan school of public health "The nutrition source - Folate (folic acid) vitamin B9".
  4. Harvard Chan school of public health "The nutrition source - Vitamin K".
  5. Patient "The truth about the fat it your diet".
  6. National Institutes of Health "Antioxidants: in depth".
  7. Harvard Health Publishing "Foods that fight inflammation".
  8. Patient "How much protein do you need to build muscle?".
  9. Harvard Chan school of public health "The nutrition source – Vitamin B6".
  10. Harvard Chan school of public health "Potassium".
  11. Patient "Do omega-3 fish oil supplements have a proven health benefit?".
  12. Patient "Sneaky ways to eat more fibre".
  13. Patient "How to avoid iron deficiency".
  14. Harvard Chan school of public health “Calcium".
  15. Patient "The 5 best probiotic foods for a healthy gut".
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