It’s going to be 90 degrees today, with a heat index near 100. Lately, I find that I eat a small meal at around 3 pm and even though I cook dinner for the family, sometimes don’t eat again in the evenings.
It’s just too hot to heat up the kitchen and too hot to eat!
When it’s too hot to cook, summer meals can look a little different. Here are some ways you can lighten up and cool down dinnertime in the summer.
Avoid using the oven and other hot appliances
This means cooking more with your slow cooker or toaster oven (a rice cooker comes in handy here too, as do Instant Pots and other nifty kitchen appliances that use less energy and don’t heat up the house). When it’s really hot here, I sometimes put my slow cooker on the screened-in back porch so the heat stays outside.
Of course, grilling out is a great way to keep the heat outside where it belongs. Just don’t do it too often, as grilled meat is carcinogenic.
Prepare cool food
Instead of a meat-and-three, why not keep it simple by preparing food that’s served room temperature or cool? Some ideas:
- Main dish salads – Chef’s salads and other salads with beans and/or meat are filling and the crunchy-cool texture is just right in summertime. Don’t forget, up to a 1/2 cup berries are fine in “S” fuel setting.
- Sandwiches (yes, THM types can eat sandwiches!) – the variety is nearly endless. Chicken salad, tuna, egg salad, traditional meats and cheeses, avocado and tomato are all easy and cool.
- Raw vegetable crudites with homemade dip (try mixing your favorite herbs or spices with sour cream or 0% Greek yogurt, there are also delicious dip recipes in the THM cookbook). Hummus is lovely too, but make your own with less olive oil to keep it a clean E fuel.
- Cottage Waldorf Salad – an easy, refreshing light meal from the THM cookbook
- TrimHealthyMamas can choose from an endless variety of smoothies. These don’t just have to be for breakfast or snacks!
- Sometimes nothing goes down better on a cool day than a bowl of cool 0% Greek yogurt with fresh fruit (E) or peanut butter or nuts and berries (S). You can even top your yogurt with a THM-safe granola recipe.
- Make overnight refrigerator oats in small Mason jars for breakfast – no cooking required.
- Cottage Berry Whip – sometimes I have this for a meal because it’s cool and delicious (and filling!)
- Tuna cucumber cups or tuna with bell pepper slices
- Cook a large piece of meat (whole chicken, beef roast) in the slow cooker. Then, cool and shred or cut into fine slices. Use this all week for cold protein with your meals.
Eat more E meals and snacks
Our bodies seem to crave lighter foods in summer – foods with a high water content such as melons and fruits, chilled bean salads, fruit salads, crunchy green lettuces. No doubt this is due to our bodies requiring extra Vitamin C in summer.
“The ascorbic acid in vitamin C helps keep your sweat glands in good working condition. Vitamin C is also a preventive step toward protecting your body from heat strokes and heat rashes during the summer months.” – Source
A few delicious, light E meals and snacks:
- Orange Creamsicle Shake – this one is so nice when you’re coming in from the pool. It’s reminiscent of an Orange Julius
- Peaches and cream smoothie – when peaches are in season, pick up a few at the farm market for this recipe
- Three Bean Salad with Artichokes – see recipe at the end of the post
- Sweet Potato Toast – serve with a low-fat protein source
- Cook several sweet potatoes in the slow cooker and serve with cottage cheese (or other low-fat protein source), non-starchy veggies
- Cold lentil salad with tuna (here is a THM-E lentil salad recipe, I like to add tuna for more protein)
- Find more about how to get enough E meals and snacks here.
Choose entrees that cook quickly
Omelettes are a main dish, and although we don’t often think of them outside breakfast, in France omelettes are not eaten in the morning but rather for lunch or supper. They’re on the table in less than 5 minutes so no heating up the kitchen! With a green salad you have a well-rounded meal.
Speaking of the French, how about a charcuterie platter? It’s simply a collection of meats, cheeses, bread and fruit laid prettily on a plate. No cooking required. Of course, it needs to be modified slightly to be THM-safe. No jams here unless they’re homemade and sugar-free (the berry jam in the THM cookbook is delicious and so easy to make), and choose berries instead of grapes if you want to stay safe in S fuel mode (or just enjoy the Crossover).
Quesadillas (using a sprouted grain tortilla or Joseph’s bread to stay on plan) and stir-fries (here is an easy THM stir fry recipe) also cook quickly and won’t have you sweating over a hot stove all evening.
Shrimp cooks in just a couple of minutes and is a Fuel Pull, so it’s an ideal protein to eat in the summer. Serve with lemon juice and herbs atop zucchini noodles (which don’t need to be cooked at all, or just warmed in a non-stick pan with a little coconut oil spray. Or pour boiling water over them in a colander and allow them to drain), or an on-plan pasta or brown rice, along with plenty of non-starchy vegetables.
Three Bean Salad with Artichokes
2 cups white beans (Great Northern, navy or Cannellini), drained (canned beans are fine – use one can for each)
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained
2 cups black beans, drained
1 jar artichoke hearts (marinated or not), drained and chopped roughly
1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 T minced garlic
3 T olive oil (this amount keeps the fat content below 5 grams per serving, keeping it an E fuel)
3 T red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, etc)
½ tsp black pepper
sea salt to taste
optional: 2 cups cooked green beans, drained
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, ideally overnight, before serving. Lovely served on top a bed of green lettuce.
How do you prepare meals in summer when it’s too hot to cook? Please share in the comments.