Summer is coming to an end! Labor Day picnics mean one thing: delicious food. Healthy summer side dishes, grilled main courses and fresh, fruity desserts are on the menu!
When you’re on a weight loss journey, one of the best ways to stay on track and still enjoy yourself at a summer gathering is to bring something that works with your plan and that everyone will love to share.
Start with one of these 23 summer side dishes that your friends and family will rave about: They’re not just delicious and easy to track for your Flex Meals, but many of them can also help you reach your four daily servings of non-starchy vegetables—a key factor in staying full and healthy while you progress towards your goals.
This salad has it all: Sweetness from the peaches and tomatoes, bite from arugula, creaminess from feta and hearty protein from chickpeas. The homemade dressing couldn’t be simpler: Three ingredients—olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar—bring all those components together in a perfect, peachy medley.
Get the Tomato Salad with Peaches recipe.
34 teeny-weeny calories! This salad is gorgeous to look at with bright red, green and purple hues. It’s also refreshing to eat: The mint and cucumber give it a cooling effect that’s like a breeze on a summer day. It’s a snap to whip together, but double—or triple!—the recipe, because everyone’s going to be back for seconds.
Get the Tomato, Cucumber and Mint Mediterranean Salad recipe.
Give your pasta salad a Mediterranean kick—and a kick of nutrition, too! This orzo salad is loaded with crunchy vegetables like cucumber, red onion and chopped bell peppers, plus herby flavor from both mint and parsley, all topped with a zingy lemon dressing. Want to give it even more flavor? Instead of cooking your orzo in water, boil the little pastas in a low-sodium chicken broth to infuse it with even more savory flavor.
Get the Greek Orzo Summer Salad recipe.
This side adds a filling, protein-packed ingredient your average potato salad doesn’t have—hard-boiled eggs. These help add creaminess and make the salad a belly-filler. And the dressing adds an extra protein punch without sacrificing flavor: Greek yogurt is swapped in for mayo, giving you all the creaminess you’re used to, but with nutrients that will keep you feeling fuller, longer.
Get the Red Potato Salad recipe.
Not Napa, California—Napa cabbage! This Chinese variety has a crisper texture and less bitterness than “regular” cabbage and it pairs perfectly in this simple-to-prepare slaw with chopped apples, shredded zucchini and fresh mint. The honey-lime dressing is sure to make it a favorite topper for tacos or a side all on its own.
Get the Napa Mint Slaw recipe.
Roasting peppers brings out their natural sweetness and pumps up their flavor—and when they’re jalapenos, adds a smokiness that will have everyone thinking you’re a master chef. But really, you’ll be the master of healthy, filling sides: Besides those smoky peppers, this salad comes with a double-whammy of protein, a nutrient that helps you feel full faster and stay feeling full for longer—chickpeas and quinoa, one of the highest-protein grains on the planet. Add avocado for some healthy fats and there’s one word for this salad: satisfying. Well, also tasty. So two words.
Get the Roasted Jalapeno Quinoa and Chickpea Salad recipe.
Who says greens can’t be hearty? These thick slices of cabbage bring serious crunch and delicious, flame-grilled flavor to your side repertoire, all topped with a zippy lemon and tahini dressing. And they only taste hearty: At just 121 calories per cabbage steak, you’ve got plenty of room left in your daily plan for dessert.
Get the Grilled Cabbage Steaks recipe.
When the weather heats up, we’ll take every opportunity we can get to enjoy the fresh, cool taste of watermelon: We love it as the star of summer side dishes and fruit salads! The creaminess of feta and the cooling flavor of mint do the impossible in this easy recipe: They make watermelon even more refreshing. If you love that bright pink summer flavor, this salad is a must-try.
Get the Watermelon Quinoa Salad recipe.
This salad is bringing the heat—literally! A splash of sriracha sauce in the dressing—or more, if you’re daring—gives this simple, crunchy salad serious bite. But don’t break out the fire extinguisher just yet. The dressing also includes cool Greek yogurt so your tongue is tingling, but you’re saved from racing for a jug of water. The yogurt’s protein, plus the fiber from the salad’s two types of cabbage, means this spicy number will also help you feel full fast and stay feeling that way for longer.
Get the Spicy Sriracha Slaw recipe.
Jarred salsa is great, but in the summer, everything’s fresh—and your salsa should be, too! This pico de gallo recipe makes it easy to savor all those seasonal flavors, and savor them as much as you want: This homemade salsa is made entirely of unlimited foods, so you can top your tacos, eat some on the side and have as much of this fresh, lime-dressed summer salad as you like—without counting or worrying about derailing your awesome progress.
Get the Pico de Gallo Salad recipe.
Who says the grill is only for protein? Giving your summer vegetable side dishes some charcoal kisses brings out their flavor and makes “just a salad” transform into a serious side. Case in point: This grilled romaine and corn salad looks and tastes gourmet. It’s topped with a delicious, weight loss-friendly lemon and tahini dressing that you make with just five simple ingredients, then brush on to lock in flavor.
Get the Grilled Romaine and Corn Salad recipe.
This recipe packs a lot of flavor into just four steps: After tossing bite-sized pieces of eggplant in cornstarch and sautéing them, they’ll get tossed with garlic and green onions before everything gets coated in a simple soy-ginger sauce. With cornstarch to thicken things up, your guests—and you—won’t believe it’s just 119 calories per generous serving.
Get the Chinese Garlic Eggplant recipe.
By swapping out full-fat mayo for light mayonnaise, this simple salad brings the calorie count way down. The addition of chopped dill pickles and dried dill turns the flavor knob way up! This egg salad is anything but boring and couldn’t be simpler to make: It’s the perfect addition to your table of healthy summer side dishes. We also love it on top of the Nutrisystem Honey Wheat Bagel for a filling kick of protein at breakfast.
Get the Dill Pickle Egg Salad recipe.
Summer means those fresh, local tomatoes are sweet, abundant and ready to be the star of your summer side dishes: Tell the lettuce to take a break while you enjoy this delicious, pomodoro-powered Heirloom Tomato Salad. Plus, it’s got the power of protein with chickpeas and edamame. Two cups of spinach pump up your plate with fiber and iron. And it’s all topped with another bright, summery favorite—citrus dressing made with orange and lemon juices.
Get the Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe.
Get ready for this simple, sweet summer side dish recipe to become a family favorite—and with how simple it is to make, it will be a favorite for the cooks in your family, too! This easy recipe is the perfect way to use up your tomato garden harvest. Just toss some halved grape tomatoes into a mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Roast until caramelized and then top with sliced basil, and … that’s it! Do all the tossing and mixing on the baking sheet and you’ve whipped up a sweet, satisfying summer side dish all on one pan—without dirtying a single bowl. And at only 42 calories per serving, it’s a healthy side you’ll be happy to roast again and again all summer.
Get the Oven Roasted Tomatoes recipe.
Here’s another way to make your watermelon summer even sweeter: Add berries. A cup of blackberries and the addition of feta to your bowl of sweet melon cubes solves a major watermelon problem—the melon itself isn’t filling, so you’re tempted to eat it all! But the fiber in the berries and the healthy fat in the creamy cheese will help you feel a little fuller without blowing your calorie budget: This minty salad has just 92 calories per cup.
Get the Watermelon Berry Salad recipe.
Get ready for this slaw to be your new favorite salad: The simple sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce and rice vinegar gives it a hearty kick with plenty of bite. The vegetables and chopped peanuts provide the most satisfying crunch you’ve ever had in a side dish. It’s perfect with pork, bodacious with a burger, makes your chicken plate chock full of flavor—you get it. In a world of slaws that disappoint, this spicy peanut number is king. (Feeling daring? Add a squirt of sriracha on top to spice things up!)
Get the Spicy Peanut Slaw recipe.
Take your fruit salad to the next level: Give it a dressing! The lemon juice in the dressing for this simple salad actually makes your fruit taste brighter and sweeter. A bit of chopped mint or basil gives it a refreshing bonus kick. It’s a sweet treat that feels indulgent. However, at only 76 calories per serving, it’s one you can feel great indulging in.
Get the Summer Fruit Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing recipe.
Americans throw away 80 billion pounds of food every year—that’s enough to fill the Empire State Building 1,000 times! It’s not skyscraper big, but one small change that can reduce your overall waste: Eating broccoli slaw. Yes, really! Broccoli slaw mixes are often made with broccoli stems, which get tossed out in favor of florets. The good news is that when you enjoy those stems in this slaw, it tastes like anything but waste: With sweet dried cranberries, tangy lime juice, extra crunch from jicama and the unmistakable flavor explosion of cilantro, this slaw is a celebration of broccoli—and a side your guests will be scooping up for seconds.
Get the Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Lime recipe.
Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon … if summer melons aren’t on your list of go-to healthy side dishes, you need to try this easy recipe! A sweet and savory combination of summer melons, cucumber slices, fresh basil leaves, prosciutto slices and mozzarella balls are topped with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a simple summer starter that comes together in a snap.
Get the Easy Melon Prosciutto Skewers recipe.
Pasta salad is an iconic summer side dish. We’re giving it new life (and flavor) with seasonal veggies and creamy dressing. Featuring whole wheat pasta and creamy ricotta cheese, this easy summer salad recipe is sure to be a hit at your next barbecue. We’re serving up two summertime staples—zucchini and sweet corn—in one delicious pasta salad.
Get the Zucchini and Sweet Corn Pasta Salad recipe.
Save room on the grill and stovetop by making your sweet corn on the cob side dish in the air fryer! This recipe is worthy of a fiesta, featuring a creamy Mexican street corn sauce, cotija cheese and cilantro, it’s a flavorful, fiber-packed dish that you’ll be making all season long.
Get the Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn recipe.
Nothing says summertime like fresh, seasonal fruit in your summer side dishes. Celebrate the season and enjoy a rainbow of healthy fruits with this simple fruit salad that’s colorful and flavorful. It has an easy, two-ingredient fruit salad dressing made from lemon and honey, so you know it’s a sweet side dish that everyone will love.
Get the Healthy Fruit Salad recipe.