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Stay Cool in the Kitchen When the Weather Heats Up

Quinoa with pumpkin, spinach and avocado. Healthy quinoa bowl.

Long, care-free days by the pool, popsicles, and bare feet — don’t you wish summer days could stretch into infinity?

Fun as they are, with warmer temps, the thought of turning on the oven may feel well…a little too hot. But, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo healthy homemade meals all summer. The availability of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables make summer salads an obvious choice. But, when you’re looking for something a little different, keep these quick, easy, and satisfying meals in your back pocket for those hot days when you’d rather have your toes in the sand.

  1. Overnight Oats. A cool twist on your morning oatmeal, overnight oats are best made the night before so the raw oats have time to soften and absorb the liquid. New to overnight oats? Here are a few recipes to get you started.
  2. Chilled Soup. Think soups are just for cold winter days? Think again. Gazpacho and other chilled soups make the perfect summer appetizer, side dish, or light main.  As an added bonus, they make great leftovers so you can spend more time outside and less time in the kitchen. Try cucumber-avocado soup, zucchini-yogurt soup, or a fun twist on the traditional with our watermelon gazpacho.
  3. Summer Rolls. These versatile rolls will wow guests (or your family!), but are simple and quick to pull together. Or, better yet, turn it into a rolling party. Use pre-cooked shrimp (check the Seafood Watch guide for best choices) or raw tofu to honor the no cooking required rule. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your fillings and sauces. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you get started.
  4. Powerful Bowls. Ok you caught us — this one may require a little heat (ahead of time), but if you cook your grains and proteins in advance (or make extra from another meal), you’ll have yummy fixings for these cool bowls. Also known as macro bowls or nourish(ing) bowls, it’s essentially just a balanced meal in a bowl that is super flexible and requires no real recipe.  And if you have the ingredients prepped ahead of time, they come together in just minutes. Start with vegetables (cooked or raw), add a grain (or don’t), and top with your favorite protein. Drizzle a homemade dressing or marinade like this lemon-tahini sauce for flavor. For staying power and extra flavor, add chopped nuts, avocado, or a sprinkle of cheese. Feeling fancy? Here are a few ideas to step up your bowl game.
  5. Go Poke. Pronounced poh-keh, Hawaii’s wildly popular bowl is traditionally made with rice, raw fish (typically ahi tuna), seaweed, and a variety of toppings. But many chefs around the country are now serving up creative takes on the standard with a variety of bases and toppings, and you can too (start with these recipes). If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to sushi grade, you can use cooked shrimp, tofu, or even watermelon.

The beauty of summer food is that the ingredients require little prep to make them shine. So, you can spend your days enjoying the heat and sunshine outdoors and know that you can have a wholesome home “cooked” meal as the perfect complement.