1000 x 90

Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Thinking Lighter, Simpler Meals As The Heat Rises

By Sherrie Norris

As we transition into the warmer late days of spring, with summer just around the corner, it’s only natural that we start thinking of ways to keep the kitchen cooler and enjoy lighter, simpler meals.

It’s a busy time right now with the end of the school year in sight and most families with school-age children hustling to make every 

minute count. Whether on the way to the baseball games or other late afternoon and evening functions, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush and miss out on nutritional meals at home. Let’s make it simple this week with some fun food ideas for the family to enjoy together.

Light Mushroom Pizza 

1 (10 oz.) can refrigerated pizza crust dough

1 tsp. salt-free Italian herb seasoning mix

½ cup no-salt added canned diced tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms

1¼ cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unroll pizza dough and place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; press dough into a 14 x10- inch rectangle.

Sprinkle dough with seasoning mix and bake 7 minutes.

Spread tomatoes over crust and spread mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until crust is crisp and cheese melts, about 5 minutes longer.

Pineapple Pudding Cake

1 pkg. yellow or white cake mix

1 lg. can crushed pineapple

½ cups milk

1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding

2 cups cream, whipped

1 cup coconut, lightly toasted 

Bake cake according to directions on package. When done, poke holes in top of hot cake. Spread the crushed pineapple over it, juice and all. When cake has cooled, mix milk and pudding and fold in whipped cream. Spread over cake and top with toasted coconut. Refrigerate for at least 8 before serving; keep leftovers in refrigerator.

Light Chicken Salad

5 cups cooked chicken, diced

2 cups pineapple chunks

¾ cup toasted almonds or cashews

2 cups seedless grapes, halved

2 cups celery, chopped

¾ cup diet mayonnaise, more or less for desired consistency

1 cup plain yogurt

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/8 cup pineapple juice

Combine chicken, pineapple, nuts, grapes and celery. Mix mayo, yogurt, sugar and juice together and pour over other ingredients. Mix and refrigerate until time to serve.

Berry Fruit Dip

1 pkg. (8 oz.) fat-free cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. fat-free sour cream

2 Tbsp. honey

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen strawberries (thawed)

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen raspberries (thawed)

In food processor, mix the cream cheese and vanilla. Add sour cream, honey and cinnamon, mixing well. Add berries and mix lightly until chopped coarsely.

Serve with your favorite sliced fresh fruit.

Quick and Easy Nachos

Nacho chips

Canned hot dog chili or refried beans

Taco sauce or salsa

Shredded Cheddar cheese

Layer ingredients as listed onto large microwavable plate, (spread chili/beans over chips to cover.) Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream, shredded tomatoes, lettuce, olives etc.

French Toast Sandwiches

4 thin slices ham

4 thin slices cheese

8 slices buttered bread

2 eggs, slightly beaten

½ cup milk or cream


Place slice of ham and cheese between 2 slices bread, making 4 sandwiches. Combine milk and eggs. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture. Brown on both sides in heavy skillet or on grill, using butter as needed.