When the temperature approaches triple digits, the last thing I want to do is turn on my stove or oven. So this is the season when my largest salad bowl becomes a fixture on the counter and my blender and food processor work overtime. Here are a few of my favorites.
Shift away from the comforting bowls of oatmeal and hot cereals, and start your summer mornings with a smoothie. Not only are they quick and easily portable, but packed with fruits and vegetables, they are an excellent way to get a burst of nutrients to jumpstart your day. Try the Double Green Smoothie and the Get your Greens Smoothie. These drinkable breakfasts are so refreshing and deliciously drinkable that my kids clamor for seconds.
Cool Off with Summer’s Bounty
Not only do I change the way I cook and what I eat when the weather gets warm, but my preferences change too. Gone are the slow simmered soups and stews, roasted vegetables, and baked dishes; instead I crave lighter, cooling fare, crisp and juicy vegetables that are easy to eat and even easier to prepare. Try using zucchini instead noodles in this no-cook, gluten free Raw Vegetable “Pasta”. Experiment with crunchy, hydrating cucumbers in Cucumber Radish Seaweed Salad and Creamy Cucumber Dip. Or keep it even simpler by tossing ripe tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar and some basil. Divine, cool and no stove required.
Summer is the perfect time for salad to shine as the main dish. With such an abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruit, I love to pile them high atop a large bowl of greens, and finish it off with either a flavorful cheese or a bit of cooked meat or seafood along with my dressing of choice. Beautiful, nourishing, filling. The Kale Waldorf Salad is a wonderful way to put veggies on the center of your plate.
Slaws are another favorite summer feature. Grab your box grater and put your (older) kids to work. (Mind those knuckles!) The Beet and Mint Slaw is as refreshing as it is gorgeous. I also like to mix grated beets with carrots, julienned collards, fresh basil, garlic and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. I make a big batch to feed us for several days, and it gets even better as it marinates in the fridge. Classic cabbage slaws are always a good choice too.
Try Lemony Cabbage Avocado Slaw and Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Walnuts. Don’t forget those no-cook soups too. These are a wonderful way to make good use of summer flavors. Classic Gazpacho is always a hit, but if you are feeling more adventurous, try Honeydew Almond Gazpacho or the Tropical Gazpacho.
Using pre-cooked items in your dishes is another way to neglect your stove. I like to make a big batch of beans, and then keep them in the fridge for a variety of dishes. In addition to the ever handy hummus and other bean dips, try evolving cooked beans into Pinto Bean Salad, Mediterranean Crunch Salad, and Tangy Bean Salad. Summer is also a lovely time to highlight some tropical flavors. Try these recipes with minimal heat required: Pineapple Shrimp and Shrimp Mango Ceviche.
Fortunately when it is too hot to bake, summer provides us with some of the most delectable desserts imaginable. Stone fruits, berries, cherries and melons at their peak are the perfect way to indulge. To make them even yummier, try pairing with rich nuts as in this Raw Berry Crisp. Both these recipes are versatile and easy. Use whatever ripe succulent fruit you have on hand. Adding a little lime juice, fresh herbs or a pinch of spice to fruit is a delicious way to dress up those summer gems. Instantly transform a bowl of cut fruit into a delectable dish with a squeeze of lime juice. Adding some fresh mint or basil makes it even more elegant and flavorful. Or try one of my absolute summertime favorites: cubed watermelon, lime, mint, a little ancho chili powder and a touch of smoked sea salt. I could eat it all day.
One of the great things about no-bake desserts is that you can taste as you go, adjusting seasonings and ratios to suit your liking. Play around with different nuts, seeds and flavor combinations when you make these sweet treats: Lemon Treats (my go-to sweet snack), Hempseed Apricot Chews and No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies. And while you have the food processor out, try making this vegan Raw Fudge. Incredibly simple and extremely rich and delectable.
How do you beat the heat in your kitchen?