By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
Here in the South, we’ve experienced above normal temperatures that started even before summer officially began. In fact, it’s been well over 90 degrees with no rain to speak of. When it’s that hot outside, it’s hard to consider heating up the house when it’s time to cook a meal. It’s even too hot to stand over the grill outside! For me, that means I lean into some simple no or “low” cook meals. I’ve got a few tips to share along with some recipes that can help keep mealtime at your house bearable too.
First of all, there are lots of partially prepared items that you can pick up at the grocery story to avoid heating up the house. Rotisserie chicken is my go-to, ensuring that we have a tasty chicken to pull from without heating up my own oven. Pre-cooked frozen pasta, rice, and vegetables and shelf-stable grains that can be microwaved are another convenience that makes cooking without overheating really easy. Any of these options would be perfect for building a delicious power bowl. Finally, pulling out the slow cooker and electric pressure cooker ensure that even hot meals can be served without cranking up the heat.
Next, this heat really calls for cold meals in my book. That means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Salads are an easy option and the options are endless. Try these creative salads (that don’t even call for lettuce!) if you think salads are boring. Another cold option is the very popular charcuterie board (snack meals in our house). Not sure how to compile that? We’ve got you covered with three tasty options here. Finally, if all else fails, nothing beats a PB&J at our house. But don’t be afraid to get creative and sub fresh fruit for the jelly or go savory with some sriracha, cilantro and cold shredded chicken added to your PB.
Finally, if you want to be extra, but don’t want the extra heat, get creative with this spicy peanut sauce that goes with everything. Make some fresh spring rolls and use rice noodles (they just need soaking in hot water for 10 minutes), fresh vegetables, and herbs. Or spread the sauce on a wrap and fill it with tempeh, veggies, and pickled onions like this Bahn Mi Wrap.
Just because it’s hot outside, doesn’t mean it has to be hot inside. And it also doesn’t mean you have to eat takeout. With a little effort – most of these ideas can be made in under 30 minutes – you can have an amazing meal and still beat the heat.