Cool Foods for Hot Weather

Craving lighter fare and don’t want to heat up the kitchen? Healthy eating guru Mary shares her favorite ways to cool off with Summer’s Bounty.

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.

Summer Smoothies

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 opens in a new tab and the Get your Greens Smoothie opens in a new tab. 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” opens in a new tab. Experiment with crunchy, hydrating cucumbers in Cucumber Radish Seaweed Salad opens in a new tab and Creamy Cucumber Dip opens in a new tab.  Or keep it even simpler by tossing ripe tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar and some basil. Divine, cool and no stove required.Slaws, Salads and Chilled Soups

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 opens in a new tab 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 opens in a new tab 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 opens in a new tab and Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Walnuts opens in a new tab. Don’t forget those no-cook soups too. These are a wonderful way to make good use of summer flavors. Classic Gazpacho opens in a new tab is always a hit, but if you are feeling more adventurous, try Honeydew Almond Gazpacho opens in a new tab or the Tropical Gazpacho opens in a new tab.

Maybe just a little precooking….

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 opens in a new tab, Mediterranean Crunch Salad opens in a new tab, and Tangy Bean Salad opens in a new tab.  Summer is also a lovely time to highlight some tropical flavors. Try these recipes with minimal heat required: Pineapple Shrimp opens in a new tab and Shrimp Mango Ceviche opens in a new tab.I was going to include some no-bake desserts but the post is getting long so I’ll save those for the next one.How do you beat the heat in your kitchen?

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