I love to cook…or to be more truthful, I love home cooked meals. As a dietitian, I feel that preparing a majority of my meals at home is a top “must do” to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, between the dog days of summer and my impeccable knack of picking out living establishments in which the kitchen seems to absorb heat, home cooked meals can become a daunting task.
So over the years I have experimented with different tricks of the trade to allow for my home “cooked” meals without sweating it out in the kitchen during the hotter months. Here are some fun tips to keep healthy this summer while staying cool.
Put It on a Grill
Ok, you’re still probably sweating outside, but you get to enjoy nature and avoid heating up the house with your oven. If you’re not a grillmaster, don’t let that stop you. Try this recipe for Spicy Grilled Peach and Chicken Kabobs.
Fill Up on Appetizers
This may sound strange at first because nutritionist usually say to avoid apps. But, I have on numerous occasions picked up a veggie tray, added some diced fruit, cubed cheese, and pecans or almonds and called it dinner. You can also experiment with some lighter dips like bean dip, hummus, or Baba Ganoush for a little pizzazz. I enjoy dinners like this because it’s easy to prepare and something out of the ordinary, but still provides a great amount of nutrition and variety.
Sass-up the Sammy
Sandwiches make a great no-cook dinner and with some creativity you don’t have to have the same-old boring lunch sandwich. Like this recipe for Asparagus Salmon Spring Rolls.
Dress Up Your Salad
Salads are fantastically refreshing and light on those hot summer nights. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Some of my favorites salads do not even include the traditional lettuce, like this Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad. I add red onions to mine and have a whole-wheat pita on the side. Or you can try this Arugula, Italian Tuna, and White Bean Salad for something even heartier.
Make Your Side Dish the Star
You can make some delicious no cook sides instead of a time-intensive main course. This Strawberry, Cucumber, Basil Salad would pair perfectly with a a rotisserie chicken from the grocery (let them heat up the ovens while you stay cool at home). I replace the sugar with Stevia to reduce calories and I just like the taste.
Eat Out…At the Grocery Store!
Grocery stores have expanded their deli sections to provide more and more healthy, ready-to-eat options that you can take home on those hot or busy nights instead of fast food or restaurant foods.
Look for foods that are grilled, broiled or baked to keep calories in check and pair with an assortment of veggies. Don’t forget dessert- no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream and fruit is always a sweet surprise.
Yep, I said soup. But I’m thinking chilled soups for summer. I used to turned my nose up at cold soup until I tried a cold peach soup and I was hooked. There are so many delicious options and combinations: Gazpacho, avocado and cucumber; it is endless. Instead of sugar, try a dash of Stevia in this delicious Watermelon Soup for a fresh summer meal without the extra calories.
Bonus recipe: Iced Sun Tea
Sun Tea was a staple in my childhood home and nothing is more thirst quenching on hot summer days than iced sun tea. I sweeten mine with a touch of Stevia to keep it calorie free and natural.
Carolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.