As the weather starts to change and gradually becomes warmer, we all enjoy eating outdoors, whether at a picnic, on a beach or just on your own patio or stoep. The kind of food we choose to eat during this time of year, is often different from the warmer cooked meals or one-pot-meals we prefer on colder days.

The spring and summer seasons bring with them, a wonderful selection of fresh ingredients to make part of our meals. These include young veggies, a wide range of fruit to enjoy and lots of fresh herbs. The other reality of this time of year, is that many people try to lose a bit of the extra weight gained during the winter months.

Keeping dishes as fresh as possible does not only require less cooking, but will result in lighter and fresher meals, typically with more salad ingredients. One of the best ways to keep meals healthy and lighter, is to try and reduce the amount of starch-based foods, like potatoes, pastas or breads. If you do want a more filling element in a dish, rather opt for ingredients like butternut, cauliflower, baby marrow or sweet potato, rather than bread. When you do choose to eat bread, pita or wrap, rather enjoy a wholewheat version, than the more refined white versions.

Outdoor food often consists of snacky kind of food. It’s always a good idea to rather prepare some homemade eats and treats, than just relying on shop-bought options. Making your own dip is really easy and so much healthier and more enjoyable than another pre-prepared version. Plain cottage cheese is delicious seasoned with a dollop of wholegrain mustard and chopped herbs or prepare roasted chickpea dip to serve with veggie sticks. lightly roasted nuts or even homemade popcorn are all quick and easy to make.

Whatever you decide to prepare and serve, always plan the meal, from snacks to dessert, to be as healthy and well-balanced as possible. And remember the one important guideline from Cooking from the heart: enjoy all portions in moderation.