Summer heat can make cooking unappealing as it heats up the kitchen. Hot food may also not stimulate your appetite in warm weather conditions. Let the oven rest, and cool the family down from the inside with a variety of healthy summer meals that don't require any cooking or even firing up the barbecue.
A salad may can be a hearty meal; it all depends on what you put into it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends replacing meat proteins with nuts, seeds, beans or legumes at least once a week, and salads are a great place to put this into practice. Start with a hearty dark-leafed lettuce, then add almonds, walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds for protein. Chickpeas are a great option if you want to give the salad a Mediterranean spin, or use red kidney beans for a Mexican-style salad. Rinse canned beans or chickpeas well to remove any tinny taste. Toss or top with creamy dressing. Sweeten your salad by adding raisins, apples, or currants, or use citrus fruits or peaches and plums for a different flavor and texture. Use seasoned croutons, or serve sliced whole-grain bread with olive oil for a healthy complete meal. If you're worried about picky eaters, have the kids help you pick out their favorite options. Even if peanut-and-blueberry salad doesn't seem perfect to you, they'll be eating healthy and you won't be working over the stove.
Tuna and Salmon
Canned tuna and salmon are high in protein, minerals and healthy oils. Instead of your standard tuna salad recipe, try using these items as a base for a stove-free dinner. Toss the flaked fish with chopped tomatoes, basil, and parsley, and serve it sprinkled with Parmesan cheese on thin, hard bread. You can vary the spices to your family's tastes, using cucumber, onion, olives, green pepper and feta for a Greek variation, or taco seasoning, cheddar, tomatoes and lettuce on corn chips for Southwestern style.
Your kids may turn up their noses at the idea of a cold soup, but there are as many variations on gazpacho -- a cold tomato-based soup -- as there are people to eat it. Start with any of the many gazpacho recipes, and then begin substituting the recipe's ingredients for those your family will eat. If you have a tomato-hater, try a cucumber-based cold soup. If onions make your kids go running off, try other flavorful herbs like lemongrass or fresh basil. Serve with crusty bread and soft cheese, like a mild brie or cream cheese, for a refreshingly light meal on a hot day.
On the hottest days of summer, appetites can go down as the temperature rises. To ensure your family gets proper nutrients without overwhelming them, try setting out "nibble trays" of finger foods. Fill a tray with sliced fruit, vegetables, and cheese, plus whole-grain crackers, bean spreads, nut butters, cream cheese, and dried fruits. Serve with small bowls of ranch or blue cheese dressing or mixed dips for the vegetables. It will give your family a balanced meal they can eat a little at a time while enjoying a summer evening indoors or out.
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images