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Do you dream of the lazy dog days of summer during the winter months? Then summer arrives and the summer days are anything but lazy. At my house, it seems during summer the yard and garden are calling out and the calendar fills up with special events with family and friends. It becomes difficult to find time to plan and prepare meals. The summer months provide us with a challenge to find simple solutions that keep us eating healthy.

Here are some tips on how to stay on track during the coming months:

• Get enough sleep. Research suggests that there is a link between how much people sleep and how much they weigh. A short night of sleep limits the production of leptin, a hormone know to promote satiety.

• Use recipes that require less than fifteen minutes to prepare. Find recipes that are anchored with fresh ingredients, an abundance of flavor and keep the kitchen counter time to a minimum. From soymilk with cereal, snacking on edamame, reenergizing with a soy protein bar or grilling up soy burgers, the wide variety of soyfoods ensure consumers enjoy easy to prepare food items.

• Limit the sweet stuff. Festivals, fairs, vacations and beach time are magnets to double dip waffle cones, funnel cakes and slushies. Keep balance in mind and plan ahead. Remember to keep thirst-quenching water available for the hot summer days and it will be easier to limit sweetened fruit juices, teas and sodas.

• Take advantage of the season’s fresh produce. It is easier to take a pass on fast food or a ballpark hot dog when you have a cooler loaded with healthy alternatives. When produce is in season it is at its least expensive, as well as the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here is a quick and easy recipe that includes some of the fresh vegetables that are in season.

Roasted Vegetable and Couscous Salad

3 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1/2” pieces

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1” squares

1-1/2 cups (1/2 medium) red onion, peeled and cut into 1/4” slices

6 tablespoons soy oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1-1/2 cups dry giant Israeli couscous*

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss broccoli, peppers and onions with 2 tablespoons soy oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions. Place cooked couscous and roasted vegetables in large bowl. Pour vinegar and remaining soy oil over salad and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper; toss lightly until combined. Serve warm or chilled.

*You may substitute 3 cups cooked regular couscous, brown rice, or quinoa.

Yield: 6 servings. Per 1 cup serving: 270 calories, 14 g fat (2 g sat fat), 5 g protein (3.5 g soy protein), 31 g carbohydrate, 210 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g dietary fiber.

Source: Put A Little SOY In Your Life! cookbook

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