Summer Eats: Fun and Lite Fare by Julie Freeman, MA, RD, LD, RYT

Summer has come – we’ve had a few scorcher days, opportunities to go to the beach or get out on the boat.  And that is what my family and I are doing today – going sailing with a dear friend!

Of course, a picnic is a great way to enjoy a summer’s day – something light, refreshing and balanced.  Balance is key – meals need some protein, carb and healthy fat – maybe less carb and fat in the summer – and if listening to your body’s wisdom, you may find that you are not craving heavy pasta meals with rich sauces, but something light that digests more quickly.

It’s interesting how many people just assume because I am a nutritionist that I am vegan.  Not so for me – while I respect all dietary suggestions that at least have common sense, it is important for me to listen to what a person’s body needs – this may be through formal testing or an in-depth assessment/evaluation that takes place during my initial session with a client.  Look at Genova Labs and Alletess Labs   Since I’ve had a rare leukemia and chronic lyme, my body needs flesh protein.   We’ve become so far removed from listening to the wisdom of the body and often rely on the latest internet fad.   More on that topic another time!

As I thought about picnic food, portable for a boat, I decided to make this delectable cashew-chicken salad – it’s in my cookbook, Feel Great Look Great: Balanced Eating for a Balanced Life, on Amazon.  It’s lite, refreshing, has good protein and cooling carbs from the mango and pineapple.  To go with this yummy main dish, cut up veggies, a bag of delicious Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Chips – 3 grams fiber, no grains, all organic – meets my criteria for a healthy carb.

Dessert is a delicious, fudge-like cookie made from any favorite nut butter – I chose crunchy almond butter this time.  Again, meets criteria for carbs – 3 grams fiber and only 5 grams sugar.  This recipe is in my second book Sweets and Treats.

Please enjoy this cashew chicken salad recipe.

 Cashew Chicken Salad

Serves 4

1 cup pineapple, chunk, in its own juice (or pineapple/mango combination)           8 ounces chicken breast, cooked, shredded                                                                     ¼ cup scallions, chopped                                                                                                      1 ounce raw cashews (approx. 2 tablespoons)                                                                ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt, plain                                                                                      1 tablespoons olive oil                                                                                                          1 tablespoon wine vinegar                                                                                                  2 teaspoons soy sauce, low-sodium                                                                                   1 cup salad greens


  1. Cut pineapple in half lengthwise through the crown. Refrigerate ½ hour.
  2. Remove fruit from shell, leaving shell intact. Cut fruit into chunks.
  3. Combine pineapple, chicken, scallions, and cashews. Spoon back into shell.
  4. Combine yogurt, oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Serve over salad.


Nutrient Analysis:  cal 217/pro 22/carb 13/fiber 1/fat 9/sodium 112