Photos courtesy Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Summer dinners made healthy with Pennington

Bathing suit season is here, and we’ve been told it’s all about what you eat. While decadent evenings out are necessary every once in a while, the key to creating healthy habits is learning how to bring meals to life in your own kitchen. Whether through simple recipes or something more advanced, the process of cooking at home allows you to be more mindful of what is going in your food and just how much of it. Plus, it gives your kids a chance to join in on the fun now that school is winding down.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Metabolic Kitchen is hosting a free Healthy Summer Cooking Class tonight, May 9, to give guests the tools for success in the kitchen this upcoming season. However, because the class registration filled up so quickly, we wanted to fill the void by rounding up some of Pennington’s healthy summer recipes that have graced the pages of past issues of inRegisterTo read the full stories, click on the recipe titles below:


3 cups cooked shredded chicken*
1 (14-oz.) bag cabbage coleslaw mix
1 (10-oz.) bag shredded carrots
1⁄2 cup sliced green onion
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeños
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds
1⁄4  cup light mayonnaise
1⁄4  cup light sour cream
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1⁄2 tsp. green pepper hot sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sesame oil
1⁄2 cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
3 (10-in.) tortillas
To make slaw, add chicken to a large bowl and toss with coleslaw mix, shredded carrots, green onion, cilantro, jalapeños and sunflower seeds.
Create dressing by whisking together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, hot sauce, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and sesame oil. Pour dressing over slaw and toss together. Place a few slices of cucumber and tomato and about 1 cup slaw in the center of each tortilla. Roll tortillas up and slice in half. Makes 3 sharable wraps or 6 servings.
*To cook chicken, we added 1 1⁄2 lbs. raw chicken breast, 1 sliced onion, 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, 1⁄2tsp. onion powder, 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water to a stock pot, covered it, and boiled over medium heat for 30 minutes. Chicken can be removed and shredded and the stock saved for soup.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 360 | Fat 13g | Saturated fat 3g | Monounsaturated fat 4g | Polyunsaturated fat 5g | Carbohydrates 32g | Fiber 6g | Protein 28g


2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Zest of ½ lemon
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 pears, sliced lengthways top to bottom
7 oz. Halloumi cheese, sliced into 6 pieces
2 avocados, sliced
5 cups mixed salad greens
½ cup walnuts, toasted
Optional add-ins:
Crumbled cooked bacon
Green beans
For dressing, in a small bowl or a blender, mix together first 7 ingredients; if using a bowl, whisk olive oil in once all other ingredients are mixed together. Add chopped basil last, and stir to mix thoroughly. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
For salad, preheat a grill pan or grill over high heat. Brush pear and Halloumi slices with a little olive oil on either side. Depending on size of grill pan or grill, you may need to work in batches.  Cook each slice for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. The Halloumi tastes best with a nice crispy char on the outside. You can also grill the avocado slices or serve without grilling.
Place mixed greens on a large serving plate. Arrange pears, cheese and avocado slices around top of mixed greens. Halloumi can be cut into smaller pieces if desired. Drizzle dressing on top of salad and sprinkle walnuts on top, along with any other desired add-ins.
Makes 5 servings.
Nutrition info per serving:
Calories 370 | Fat 32g | Saturated fat 9.8g | Carbohydrates 12.1g | Dietary fiber 3.9g | Total sugars 0.9g | Protein 11.8g


2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup shallots, chopped
1 whole egg, beaten
1⁄2 Tbsp. Dijon or Creole mustard
1⁄2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup kale, stems removed and chopped finely
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. oregano, chopped (fresh herb is best!)
16 oz. ground chicken
1⁄4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning and lemon pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Form into patties and place on a pan lined with waxed paper; cover and let sit in refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and cook on hot grill, pan fry on stove, or bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 to 400 degrees, until juice runs clear from center of burger when pierced with tip of knife. Patties can also be frozen and cooked later. Makes 4 (4-oz.) burgers.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 257 | Fat 15g | Carbohydrates 10g | Fiber 2g | Protein 22g

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